Auditing Your Time Leaks

Sensei Posted in Articles of Interest
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If you are like me you have a million things going on at the same time which equals a million distractions when you are trying to focus on one thing. The following is a useful list of 12 things that should help you better identify where your time is going and rechannel that time to better use.
1. Starting a job before thinking it through
2. Doing unproductive things from sheer habit.
3. Keeping too many unnecessary records.
4. Paying too much attention to “low return of investment” items.
5. Failing to anticipate crises.
6. Making unnecessary visits or phone calls.
7. Socalizing at great lengths between tasks.
8. Failing to build good barriers against interruptions.
9. Doing things that should be delegated.
10. Doing things that aren’t part of the job.
11. Failing to plan regularly with your boss/staff/schedule.
12. Engaging in personal work before starting business work.
I know that I am and have been guilty of almost every one of these items. If you want to truely succeed you must get your time leaks under control so you have time for success!! Good Luck. 🙂

Picking a Martial Arts Studio

Sensei Posted in Articles of Interest
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Graciously provided by our Guest Blogger – Mitch The Window Manager His reader “Mobius” sends in the following question:
I’m in LA and a regular reader of your wonderful blog (Mitch: Flattery will get you everywhere). I was hoping to get your help in finding a good place to get martial arts training in the area. The one place I’m talking to is asking ~$350 for 3 months, 2-times/week. I don’t even know what the avg price is around the area and your help would be very useful.
While this question is specific to SoCal, here are some tips that everyone should use when looking for a martial arts studio:
1. Technique – The first step in picking up martial arts is to decide which technique you want to study. There are literally dozens of martial arts techniques, and this web site has summaries on most of them. I take Tae Kwon Do, which is from Korea, but there are techniques from Japan, China, and even some home grown U.S. techniques.
For deciding which technique to pursue, I would answer two questions: what do you want to get out of the sport, and what are you physically suited for? For me, I wanted to have an exercise regimen that would help me lose weight, which means I needed something with lots of movement and kicking. I decided I wanted to do this even though – at the time – I wasn’t very suited for kicking since I had low flexibility. This means that my learning curve would be higher in TKD than other techniques where I would be more “natural”.
I started off not very good, but my body adapted – and is still adapting – for increased flexibility. At first I could kick only about waist high, but can now kick at head level. It just means that it took me more time to get there than others who walked into the dojong with natural flexibility.
In contrast, if you wanted something that wasn’t too strenuous, and would actually be more helpful for self-defense, a “grappling” martial art like Aikido or Hapkido would be ideal. Lots of older people take these styles since there is little strenuous movement, no attacking, and little if any kicking. And as “defensive” arts, they are actually more likely to come in handy in a back alley than a TKD spinning heal kick.
2. Cost – Here is what I look for: what does a membership cost at the local 24 Hour Fitness?
As noted above, I see my TKD class as an exercise regimen, so this is a good comparison. However, I also have developed friendships with both my instructors and classmates, and the dojong is actually a place to hang out and talk, as well as exercise, so it is also like a “club” in many respects.
My school works like 24 Hour Fitness in that they put me on a yearly contract and charge my credit card every month, which I find pretty convenient. I pay a yearly initiation fee and $110 a month, which is about the same as you are being quoted. The only difference is that my price is “officially” for three classes a week, although I usually go four or five – they don’t charge extra for the few of us that come more often.
The other thing to look out for are uniforms and rank tests. Usually for a “intro course” a uniform (gui in Japanese or dobok in Korean) is thrown in, so I would negotiate that in if it isn’t in your current offer. If you need more than one uniform (I do – I sweat like a pig), find out if you have to buy uniforms from the school (with their logo) or can save a little and get it on-line.
Most schools charge for rank tests, and this usually varies on the level of the test. For example, at my school the first rank test (yellow belt) is a $30 or $40 test fee. Down the road when you are ready for Black Belt, it is on the order of $300. Since I see this as my “hobby”, I just budget for these things, but it is something to keep in mind.
3. Reputation – The last thing I would look for in a school is the reputation and caliber of the school. Who owns it? Who actually teaches the courses? Is it a “belt factory” where they just churn people through as a business, or are they really serious about teaching both the physical and mental aspects of the martial arts? What size are the classes you would be in and what is the instructor/student ratio? For the day classes I take, there are usually only 3-5 students, so I get great workouts and individual attention. In fact, on some days when everyone else is busy, I get private classes.
This is a hard call, and is something you will have to ask current students about and talk to the people who work there. Note that many martial arts schools get the majority of their revenue from kids (i.e. sub-teens), so make sure that you are in a class that is reserved for adults. You don’t want to get into a situation like Seinfeld’s Kramer, where he was the only adult in his karate class.
The thing to remember is that if you do start a school and decide it is working for you, don’t give up – try another. Chances are there are dozens of schools from a variety of techniques near your home and one of them will be just right for you.

Are we there yet?

Sensei Posted in Articles of Interest
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This article is courtesy of Barry our new Guest Blogger!
One of the things that is true about most of us is that our thinking is linear. We start here, we end there. Time lines, graphs , charts, lifetimes. Things have a begining and an end. I read somewhere that a problem with the Hubble space telescope (what a fingerprint on the lens? I’m not sure) allowed space physicists around the world to make requests for data that the telescope COULD gather (which was diffrent from what it was intended to gather? I guess?) that allowed them to pinpoint, within a decimal point and an amazing amount of zeros, the begining of the universe. Thus proving The Big Bang Theory and Genesus in one fell swoop. Wow a begining. and, If we extrapolate that into the future, an eventual end. Ok. Linear. Good to go.
My favorite song from Dinsey’s Lion King is “The CIrcle of Life”. Uh oh. Non linear thinking. what’s up with that? Well, I believe stuff isn’t really linear at all it’s circular (elliptical actually. I think) Eienstien suggested that if you left a point and traveled in a straight line from that point you would eventually come back to that point from the other side.(I’ve known some people who argue like that). That’s pretty much a circle by anyone’s definition (more correctly an ellipse I think, certainly not a pure circle, but then I’m no mathematician).
My point is: no we are not there yet and we never will be so shut up and enjoy the ride. “what does that have to do with anything? ” you ask. (I certainly do, just where the heck are we going with this?) Well it has to do with our expectations. Once again the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. A result. An end. Most of us know someone whose lives “peaked” , ended really, in high school and they’ve just been running in place ever since. Their “victories” lived and relived again and again till the grandkids get tired of hearing about it and disapear into their Ipods. But for most uf us life just continues to be a revisiting of similar challenges but with (hopefully) different results, that is if we’ve continued to grow and evolve and get on with stuff. A re-cycling (or re-ellipsing) of stuff so that maybe we get it righter (certainly never right) every time we go through.
I”ve been thinking about this because of my seemingly endless battle with this cancer thing that I’ve been harping on in these blogs I’ve been writing and I find myself wondering “when will it end?”. (How will it end is more important I think. The “when” I don’t think I want to know unless it’s like 50 years from now), I’ve managed to be a bit of a coward and not go in for my latest blood test (although I’m going to suck it up and go this wednesday) because I didn’t really want to know. That’s linear thinking at it’s finest (if it’s this then that must mean this and then bla bla bla to the end). But the truth is that everyday is a chance to start over again and cycle through the stuff and get it righter this time so that tomorrow I can start all over again.
Thus continually circling and circling like a Hawk above a Hare. Only the Hare isn’t the goal. The goal is to keep on circling. No line, no end point, no real objective (oh boy, We western, goal oriented, management by objective, carrot and the stick, linear thinkers really have a problem with that) except to just keep circling, cycling and ellipsing for………ever, thank you very much.
It has occured to me that the secret to eternal life is to wake up in the morning. E v e r y morning. To not look to the future but to look at the present, to not look up and out but to look down at your feet where you may be stumbling over treasure, to listen to the beat of your heart as proof of life and to continue without fail to breathe in and out. Mostly though I just want to keep to the circle, keep to the cycle and keep it elliptical because that’s what’s keepin it real.
(I applogise to all those English majors out there who had some trouble with my use of righter rather than more right [hey, It’s my post , I get to make the rules] and any misspellings. Spelling is highly overated and is like Math skills just a way for prissy little prims to show off. I also credit the Tao Te Ching for the metaphysics and my own sense of the absurd for the point of view)

Bullies Everywhere, beware…

Sensei Posted in Articles of Interest, For Kids, Self-Defense
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My son is five years old and despite his being larger then his classmates has already encountered the classic bully. Being an innocent five year old he is unsure how to handle the situation. I must admit that like most I had a few bully encounters in my younger years, but he can hardly picture me little much less being bullied. Today in my feeds for this blog, I found this article: Boosting self-confidence a good way to teach children to thwart bullies. The article is really a pitch for what appears to be a decent program (that isn’t a review…yet) and they outline the different steps they teach the children. From the article I agree with their four ‘steps’ suggestions except they make a classic mistake in their final thinking. Their four ‘step’ suggestions are not complete, they leave you hanging with a general statement of “If a child has tried all of these things and the bully still hasn’t stopped, then the child should ask for help“. This is the ideal solution in a perfect world, it is hardly realistic. This advice will work for most cases of bullying but then again that doesn’t help all of the children/adults, does it?

I would make the following addition to the four steps suggested, fight back. Yes, physically fight, I know this is not a politically correct thing to say but then again I’m far from politically correct. Fight, why do we enroll our children in the Martial Arts is not so they will be better equip to handle themselves, with confidence and justice. My son told me he was afraid to fight back because he didn’t want to get in trouble. This is a very understandable comment from a five year old. Then I reminded him that some times we have to do things that may get us in trouble to do the right thing. Standing up for yourself is never a bad thing, but it will sometimes get you in trouble. I asked if the Bully had gotten in trouble for his behavior, he had not. So much for that fourth step! My son isn’t ready to stand up for himself and I told him that was o.k., there is no shame in that. I explained that it can be frightening, especially when you are a good boy. Ultimately I’m not too worried about it; my son will eventually stand up for himself. He will face the same fear I faced as a boy and with my tutelage he will only stand up for justice and peace, never for personal satisfaction or power. After all that is why we dedicate ourselves to the Martial Arts, it is the ultimate pursuit of peace and justice; the art of not fighting unless there are no other available avenues. So please when helping your students with a Bully situation; don’t forget to mention the all important ‘fifth step’, fight back. Remember, No One has the right to touch your person and despite the claim, help is not always readily available.

Avoidence key to self-defense

Sensei Posted in Articles of Interest, News, Self-Defense
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In Green Bay,WI,USA, a Keshena man claims self-defense in stabbing of Grignon is charged with the murder of 19-year-old man on the Menominee Indian Reservation.

This is a case with three different stories from witnesses some supporting self-defense other not. This is a good case to look at even though no martial arts are involved in the facts of the case. This case is interesting because it can be looked at from a few different generic perspectives that can be applied to our Martial Arts teachings. First let’s take a look at some of the facts of the case:

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Tracy Peters Saturday morning without incident for allegedly stabbing Sean Grignon in Middle Village. Peters told investigators he was acting in self-defense, but another witness disputes that, according to the criminal complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Green Bay. According to the complaint, Menominee County Sheriff’s Deputies and Tribal Police officers arrived at N2010 Hickory St. around 2:23 a.m. Saturday and found Grignon on the front porch of a home. He was not breathing and did not have a pulse. A puncture wound was visible on Grignon’s right chest, and officers attempted life-saving measures until an ambulance arrived. Grignon never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead Saturday morning. At the scene, Peters allegedly told an officer, “I did it. I’m the one who did the stabbing.” When asked where the knife was Peters told the officer someone had grabbed it from him. “I want you to make sure that you collect all the evidence properly because I was just protecting myself,” the complaint quotes Peters as telling the police officer.

A 20-year-old witness who was with Peters and several other people at a neighboring home on Hickory St. where the altercation occurred told investigators that three males walked by the home and two of them began bad-mouthing some of the occupants. The third person in the walking group, identified as Grignon, was described as trying to stop the argument. The witness, Destinee Lyons, said she was handing Grignon a beer when Peters approached her from behind and lunged toward Grignon, hitting him in the chest. She then saw a knife in Peters’ hand. Lyons told investigators that Peters was not involved in the argument and there was “no way Peters was defending himself.” She went on to say that Grignon didn’t do anything to anyone and was trying to break up the dispute.
Peters told investigators a different story, saying he stayed in the home and that Lyons told him to get out and help with the altercation. He said the young men came back three times and that the encountered escalated into a physical altercation. Peters said Lyons pushed him off a porch where he fell to the ground and was hit with clubs on the shoulders and in the throat. He then took off, was chased, and hid behind a trailer home. When asked where he got the knife, Peters told investigators he was confused about what happened, according to the complaint. The compliant states that Peters did have bruising and other surface injuries on his arms.

A third witness, Maniyan Brisk, told investigators that Grignon was yelling at the other two to stop fighting, but was punched and then got involved in the fight. That witness also said that at one point Peters was involved in the fight, according to the complaint. A detention hearing for Peters was scheduled for Monday, and a preliminary hearing was set for Oct. 5. If convicted, Peters faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.
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So what did everyone involved do wrong, especially the deceased? From the different accounts it is clear that there was an escalating conflict in which all parties seemed to have a part. First it is clear that several people were trying to control the situation which was increasing the intensity of the conflict. Unfortunately we do not know what the argument/fight was about but we will assume it was some personal issue (dating/money/racial).

Let us first look at the deceased, Grignon. If he was in fact trying to breakup the situation he did a poor job by letting himself be drawn into the conflict. Had he maintained his objectivity and distance he may have survived. Why? One of the first tenents of the Martial Arts is control, control of yourself. By maintaining control of yourself you can often bring calm to a situation and thereby control from the confidence you exude. The second mistake made was his attempt to ‘get between’ the opposing sides. This made him a target to both friend and foe since he was serving as a barrier to their objective. In this position he could not control his circle of vulnerability. So what should he have done? This is difficult without first hand information, however let’s try. The first obvious solution is that Grigno should have never gotten involved at all. The dispute didn’t involve him. Since human nature tends to push us to get involved (lack of self-control) since he did he should have maintained control of himself thereby remaining objective and in control. This is a fair assessment, he was stabbed so we can assume he wasn’t maintaining awareness of his surroundings. So we can assume that Grignon would have increased his chances of survival if he had either stayed out of it, or put himself forward as a objective, calming, control force. But we must remember that this isn’t not always realistic, some individuals want a conflict and can not be ‘talked’ out of it. It is for this reason that we must always maintain a defensive physical posture regardless of the words being spoken. I have seen more then once what appeared to be a peaceful resolution turn out to be a ruse intended to get the other’s gaurd down. On the street you never let your gaurd down. Unfortunately a mistake that Grignon will never be able to learn from.

Now it is time to look at the more difficult case of Peters actions. Here we have someone claiming self-defense yet there is an important component that seems to be missing, the lack of an escape route. When we face a situation as a Martial Artist it is often more difficult not to fight then it is to fight. We must remember that we train so we will not have to fight, yet if faced with that eventuality we will prevail. The Martial Way is one of peace through strength, confidence and self-control. The most intimidating person is the silent one who looks you in the eye without fear. So Peter was upset, he was from most accounts physically assaulted. If this was a mob he was being confronted with then perhaps his actions were warranted if it went for the fact that he got away from them first (hid behind a trailer). Giving the benefit of the doubt perhaps he armed himself for protection and went back to confront the group, is this self-defense? We must always bear in mind there are situations we create and those we do not. In this case Peters does not seem to have created the initial situation however he did create the final situation.

As in most situations there is plenty of blame to go around. Unfortunately in this situation someone paid for their part with their life. It is an interesting question to pose, if this situation would have turned out different had any of those involved been Martial Artists? I leave you with that thought.