Where are all the children?

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Articles of Interest, OffTopic

Today I had to visit the DMV.  For those of you not in America, that stands for Department of Motor Vehicles, or as I like to call it Department of the Mentally Vacant.  But I digress, while I was standing in line I spent about 20 minutes next to the free brochure rack.  This rack contains all of the useful tips and information that every bureaucrat thinks you need.  As I looked over the selection I realized something.  There were three tri-fold glossy brochures dealing with pets, how to make your driving vacation comfortable for your pet, the dangers of leaving a pet in the car during periods of heat, and, pet auto safety.  There were zero brochures on child safety. This gave me pause but it wasn’t until a little earlier when I was driving on the highway and I saw a bumper sticker that I felt compelled to blog about this.  A car had to bumper stickers that read “choose life, adopt a pet”.  It all crystallized at that moment.  Where are all the children?

Today if you suggest a woman should “choose life” you are vilified. You regularly hear about pet-issues.  People take their pets to daycare centers and spas, their kids are left to wander the streets.  We hear about animal rights and humane treatment but little about nurturing our children.  I recently found out that there have been 48,000,000 legal abortions just in America since 1973.  Yet there are animal shelters in almost every major town, for fear the animals will be put to death.  Where is the humanity in that?  I bet most people reading know where there is an animal shelter, but do you know where there is an orphanage?  Perhaps that is because unlike our animals we deal with our orphan problem differently.

I know there are still children, I know school populations have risen, so what.  The point is, where are the children in our thoughts and our media and our actions?  Count the bumper stickers and brochures you see and then answer that question.  Perhaps then we will begin to understand the problems we face with our youth, why we face 25% high school graduation rates in Detroit and Baltimore, a 35% graduation rate in New York.  Those are typical graduation rates nationally in case you are wondering.  How can our children succeed or care about themselves if we put them on a back burner, if we value them less then we value our pets?  The message is clear, “choose life and adopt a pet”, and our children are listening all to well.  Think about that the next time you are wondering how we are failing our children and why they have such little self-worth.

Always Remember

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, News

Sorry This is late, but we must never forget.

The Three Rs

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, Training notes

Response, Reaction and Reflex

In any hostile situation it is important to maintain control.  Often people think of control as a well thought out process where you act like a Chess Master to subdue your opponent into submission.  In reality thought has little to do with it.  I continually drill my students to stop thinking, breath and just be.  But what does this mean in a real life situation? In a hostile situation you need to be in command of the three Rs, Response, Reaction and Reflex.

Response: Our immediate Response to any situation can determine the outcome by maintaining advantage over your opponent(s).  Responding weakly may give us the advantage by drawing in our opponent(s) with a false sense of security.  Responding aggressively may discourage our opponent(s) from picking you as a target.  This first R, response, requires us to quickly assess the situation and determine our course of action, weak, strong, strong then weak, weak then strong, or some other response will drive our next move.

Reaction: The word reaction is often taken to be an emotional response to a situation, that is NOT what we are talking about here.  To react indicates an immediate action that occurs without thought.  Without training our reaction typically reverts to the flight or fight model though I add a third reaction to the standard two, freeze.  Freezing typically occurs during a moment of indecision or just before flight.  We train to avoid the Freeze or Flight reaction, we train so we can Fight if necessary but mostly to maintain control of our reactions.  Our training removes the emotion and limits fear from the reaction to a situation.  The more we train the more we react with muscle memory to a threat increasing our reaction time.  Muscle memory is devoid of emotions like fear.

Reflex:  Even with muscle memory coming to our aid in reducing fear and increasing reaction time there is still one R remaining.  We may have the correct response and we may even give the correct reaction, but without the proper training our defense will fall apart quickly.  Why?  Muscle memory is only good for the initial few seconds in a situation.  After that you will have to rely on your knowledge and skills to protect and sustain you.  Soldiers are forced to do repetitive training for a reason, it builds a long term procedure for a given situation.  Perhaps we should name the third R repetition however that is only the tool to attain the skill we want.  Given proper training when hit your body will respond to soften the effects of the blow similar to the way your leg jerks out when the doctor hits your knee!  The key component is repetitive training, a common theme.

The Importance of Technique

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, Training notes

The definition of technique is a “method of accomplishing a desired aim”. In the Martial Arts our aim is mastery of our bodies, minds and self. Like everything in life the road to mastery begins with the basics. The basics of the martial arts lie in technique. The techniques we learn are precise having been developed and perfected over hundred’s of years.

There is a famous saying “1,000 days of training a beginner, 10,000 days of training, a glimpse of the mysteries”. This saying is a quote by Mas Oyama, the founder of Kyokushinkai Karate. Before we discuss the meaning of the saying we should put it into perspective. 1,000 days is equal to 2 years and 9 months. 10,000 days is equal to 27 years and 5 months. Could this be correct? That is a LOT of time! The times may vary but the message is most certainly true. We are all beginners in life no matter what our age. While this is not the reason I am writing this article it is important to maintain our perspective.

The above quote is meant to drive home the point that no matter our age or level of experience, only with constant dedication and commitment do we attain Mastery and thereby gain a form of enlightenment. In ancient times, new Martial Arts students were required to practice the same movement everyday for one year. The purpose was to perfect the technique of that one movement. While mainstream Martial Arts rarely uses this form of instruction, the principle remains to be true. This is why even the master does not neglect the warm-up and routine exercises used to help the beginner learn.

What does daily practice have to do with technique? Technique is everything in the martial arts and life. If a builder does not follow proper techniques when building a structure, it is sure to fail. Do not mistaken; the structure may look perfect but when put to the test it will most certainly fail. The basic techniques we learn in the Martial Arts are our foundation. If we neglect them not only will we never attain Mastery, we will meet with disastrous failure when put to the test.

When teaching a favorite reference is the original “Karate Kid” movie. This isn’t a joke, that movie portrays true karate and the importance of learning the basics well. The Karate Kid also uses the teachings of Mas Oyama! Daniel uses one of Mas Oyamas books in the movie when practicing. Here we have a student (Daniel) eager to become a Martial Arts expert so he can defend himself. His instructor understands that we can gain nothing worthwhile quickly and begins to teach Daniel the basic techniques thereby creating a strong foundation. Watch the movie to see if you can pickup on all the other lessons it contains.

Too often Martial Arts students skip the basics so they can learn some Jackie Chan style moves. Too often Instructors are willing to skip teaching the basics so they can keep their students interest and increase their profits. The problem with either situation is the foundation suffers; these students do not have the foundation to perform correctly use and adapt the basics in a real world situation. In the beginning of the “Karate Kid” Daniel gets into a scuffle on the beach, while he knows the basics of Karate he lacks perfection of these basics. As a result, he loses. Focusing on learning the basic techniques to perfection provides a solid foundation from which to build Mastery of all techniques so they become second nature. When no thought is necessary your reaction time increases significantly and this gives you a distinct advantage. Of course reacting quickly is useless without the correct reaction! This is the importance of technique. Without mastering the basic physical techniques, a Martial Arts student has no hope of attaining the higher rewards of dedication to the Martial Arts. The student will never know inner peace, self-control, personal achievement, and the true nonaggression that is the Martial Arts.

Village Idiots

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Articles of Interest, OffTopic

Give Mercedes a Chance!The other day I went to the local video store and rented Pride. I will write another post about that because it is an awesome movie. But as I checked out the clerk began to engage me in a conversation about the economy, the bad times ahead and the evils of the American empire and the current President. He began this conversation like so many people never considering that I may not share his world view, that in itself always amuses me. Not considering someone may have a counterpoint means your intellect can’t comprehend someone not agreeing with you. If you follow that thinking this leads to one of two conclusions. One the person feels they have the inside scoop on all legitimate knowledge and therefore are smarter then you, ego. Or, they their view of the world is so narrow they cannot comprehend that any perspective other then their own can exist, ignorance and ego. In either case pretty much they are the Village Idiot. I do not say that because I disagree with them, I label a lot of people who agree with me as Village Idiots too. These are people who grab a hold of the first point of view they hear and cling to it like the Gospel without question or rational thought. What I love about the Village Idiot is that they fall prey to the very thing they profess you have fallen prey to. Case and point he began explaining that America was evil and that the ONLY thing America was good at was convincing the rest of the world to do that which was bad. Then followed the classic explanation of the propaganda and misinformation the “right” put forth to keep us down. The conversation quickly degraded when I pointed out some historical facts that countered many of his beliefs. He changed course and endorsed Obama stating that there was still hope for all of us! I asked him why he felt Obama was worthy of his loyalty. He started talking about change without saying anything. I reminded him that Obama was as much a part of the establishment he loathes as the other candidates, being an multi-millionaire and current Senator with zero record of fighting the system. He immediately suggested I read a book written by someone he held in high regard feeling this would remove the blindfold from my eyes so that I could see the world as clearly as he. I didn’t have the heart or the time to tell him that I had already read the book he suggested! You see I like to understand my enemies better then my friends.

This conversation got me to thinking about the current plight of the world and my responsibility to it. Sadly I do feel responsible. I say sadly because I would like to be like so many other Americans and bury my head in the sand and focus on my family. But then I would be like so many Colonists who were willing to give England their due until their backs were against the wall. Unfortunately I am not nearly as wise or learned as our Founding Fathers. What I do do is attempt to get people to think, even the Village Idiots. Most people do not like to confront their beliefs or face confrontation. It is easier to just go along thinking that you can just get along. Unfortunately history teaches us that that just isn’t the case. The Martial Arts also teaches us that this is not the case. How many Instructors will counsel a student confronted with a Bully that they should just give them what they want and perhaps they’ll want to be their friend? If you answer yes to that then you need to either get a new instructor or send me a check for $1,000.00 a month…or else! Seriously you instruct the student to stand up for themselves. Depending on the situation that may include going to the authorities or punching them in the nose!

Why is it that the above example is so clear to almost everyone? Because it is almost common sense. For those that have never faced a conflict like that though the answer is not clear. Mostly people assume if they just give them what they want they will be left alone…wrong…they will want more. I need to say this though, many people will say fighting doesn’t solve anything. I agree but often you have no option to fight and if you wait to long you may not even have the option to fight having given so much ground that your opponent has complete power over you. Why should the bully be the only one with a voice? What does this have to do with the Village Idiot? Most of us just quietly give them voice. Perhaps I will use my voice by no longer patronizing that business, I’m not sure. But one thing that I do know and I told the Village Idiot this. Change doesn’t come from a movement for a movement is nothing more then a new establishment and you never know if an establishment will be good or bad until it is in power. Change comes from the people, not as a mob but as thoughtful individuals. The only country where that type of power still exists is in America, socialism is quickly sweeping the world into a new era of modern communism and if we aren’t careful it could be hundreds or thousands of years before our children have a voice again.

An Incredible Interpretation

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, For Kids, OffTopic, Video

This is an incredible interpretation of the Pledge of Allegiance by comedian Red Skelton.

Not what you thought was it? I want to memorize this speech…

Political Personal Responsibility

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Articles of Interest, News, OffTopic

For the first time in my adult life I publicly endorsed a candidate, Fred Thompson. Well it is now old news that he withdrew his bid for President. From my perspective this was a sad day for Conservative, Federalists who want to preserve our country and stop the march to Socialism and Communism. That one sentence probably alienated 90% of my visitors but so be it. The point is that in the process of reflecting on why my candidate falter, I had an epiphany. Regardless of the candidate we elect to any given office, WE are responsible.  Personal ResponsibilityI say this because myself and others who support(ed) Fred Thompson felt hope was lost when he stepped down. Our choices are standard politicians (on both sides) that stand on long records of lying and pandering to every special interest group. The very people our fore fathers fought to overcome have taken over the system they created!

What does this have to do with personal responsibility? In thinking this over it hit me that we do not need Fred Thompson, we need, ‘We the People‘. Regardless of who is elected locally or Federally we the people have the power to make sure they do their jobs and follow the law. The problem is it is hard, very hard. But if I am going to be part of the solution then I need to take some responsibility. So do you! The responsibility to be willing to spill some tea into the harbor. The responsibility to make sure our laws are followed by all government officials. The responsibility to argue and be involved. These are Conservative ideals. No longer can I remain silent, nor can you, Conservative or Not. To be dramatic, these may very well be the final days of this Republic and I’d hate to think I could have stopped the end if only I had acted. This is a call to action for all Americans who are interested in saving this country from politicians, foreign interests, lawyers and worse. I call you to rally not behind me but behind the American Flag, the Constitution and the ideals of our founding fathers.

Good Luck.

Putting Things in Perspective

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Articles of Interest, Video

Sometimes we need to pause and put things in perspective. It isn’t often that I run across something that covers the big picture so well, so when I do I like to share it. Hope this helps you gain some perspective for without perspective there is little we can do. Perhaps watching this will give you the perspective you need to shape the future?!

The Lesson of the 5 Monkeys

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Articles of Interest

Monkey BusinessWe begin to learn the lesson of the five monkeys but putting five monkeys in a cage and in the cage hang a banana on a string and put stairs leading up to it.

Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.

As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the monkeys with cold water.

After a while, another monkey will make an attempt at the bananas; again spray all of the monkeys with cold water. Keep this up for several days with every attempt at the banana.

Now we turn off the cold water and observe.

If, later, another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it even though no water sprays them.

Now, remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new monkey.

The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.

Replace the third original monkey with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four monkeys that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing the fourth and fifth original monkeys, all the monkeys which have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs.

Why not?

“Because that’s the way it’s always been done around here.”

———————————————————–Meditating Monkey

There are many lessons to learn from this story. Tome the first is that we should always question and seek to understand the reasons for things, regardless of the push back we get. Fortunately I live in a society where you can (to a lesser extent) still do this. There are more places (countries) then not however where this is not the case and asking questions or questioning the norm or expecting more can get you into trouble or killed. Unfortunately those who don’t question are no different then the monkeys and often deserve the cages they live in because they are not willing to take a chance or question in favor of security and comfort. History shows us that most people are sadly like the monkeys.

Another lesson here is an examination of the effects of trauma and/or stress on our reactions and beliefs. Your own reflection or discussion on that idea is left to the comments section (a challenge?!). Why can/does trauma or stress lead to otherwise irrational behavior being viewed as rational? Just to get you started…

Sodding Sugary Soda

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, Recipes and Health Facts, Training notes

Extra Big Gulp!Americans have the most access to food in the world and yet we eat the worst, what is up with that?! We eat and eat and never seem to get full too! Part of the reason for this is the lifestyle we live, the other is the food we actually have access to eat. Our lifestyle we can change but can we really change the food we have access to? The answer is that depends…if you are willing to spend the time and of course with the money anything is possible. One of the biggest contributors to health and obesity problems in this country is artificial additives, from radiating our meat to chemical flavor enhancers to the topic today, high fructose corn syrup. In the USA high fructose corn syrup is commonly used in place of sugar in processed foods. Most of us don’t even know we are eating it, as the average American eats an astounding 41.5 lbs of high fructose corn syrup per year! That means the average American is consuming 51.6 grams of high fructose corn syrup a day! The USDA daily recommends your daily diet contain no more then 32 grams (8 tsp) of added sugar per day for a person with a 2000 calorie diet (calculate how many calories you should consume a day).

Before we continue let’s take a second and examine why we care about high fructose corn syrup. To be clear there is no conclusive evidence (no accepted studies done) that high fructose corn syrup is detrimental to your health. High fructose corn syrup contains the same amount of fructose as sugar. Despite this there is concern in the health community. The reasons include the fact that beverages containing high fructose corn syrup have a higher level of carbonyl’s (reactive compounds) which ARE linked to cell and tissue damage that causes diabetes. Also many nutritionists think that we can better process natural foods then food additives and artificial foods. Makes sense to me but my personal reasons are one foods with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup taste better; and, it just makes sense that natural is healthier. With that out of the way let’s get back to our discussion.

There is some good news and some bad news… The good news is that “added sugar” means “man added” so sugars found in fruits and vegetables are free! Of course eating fruits and vegetables is expensive but that’s not the bad news… The bad news is that the above figures do not include our additional consumption of sugar! See the key word when looking at the daily allowance of 32 grams of “added sugar“. Take a look at what comprises “Added Sugar”…

    Names for added sugars on food labels include:

  • brown sugar
  • corn sweetener
  • corn syrup
  • dextrosePassover Coke
  • fructose
  • fruit juice concentrates
  • glucose
  • high-fructose corn syrup
  • honey
  • invert sugar
  • lactose
  • maltose
  • malt syrup
  • molasses
  • raw sugar
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • syrup

So here is the bad news is that the amount we discussed earlier of high fructose corn syrup consumed doesn’t include other sugars! While most of us don’t even know we are eating 41.5 lbs of high fructose corn syrup per year; we also need to understand that the average American is eating an additional 44.5 lbs of sugar per year! That means the average American is consuming 55.3 grams of sugar a day! Combined the average American consumes 86 lbs of added sugar per year or 106.9 grams of added sugar per day! Remember that the USDA daily recommends your daily diet contain no more then 32 grams of added sugar per day. That means the average American is consuming almost 75 grams more added sugar then the daily recommended amount. Shocking or Not? To illustrate why this is bad news; by drinking one can of soda a day the average person will gain 5 lbs in one year. A can of soda contains between 31 and 36 grams of sugar or your entire daily allowance.

    Foods that contain most of the added sugars in American diets are:

  • regular soft drinks
  • candy
  • cakes
  • cookies
  • pies
  • fruit drinks, such as fruitades and fruit punch (not 100% fruit juices)
  • milk-based desserts and products, such as ice cream, sweetened yogurt and sweetened milk
  • grain products such as sweet rolls and cinnamon toast

Now that we have all of this information and a pretty good picture of what this means to our health; what are we going to do? The scale doesn’t lieI personally do not believe in sudden drastic change unless you are in an extreme situation (health, risk of death, etc). Sudden drastic change is usually to difficult to stick with which can only lead to failure. To really make a change start small, instead of cutting out snacks between meals right away switch to healthy snacks for 3-4 months, then cut down on the snacks and eventually make the jump to no snacking between meals within 6-9 months. This is a realistic plan and will help you cut your overall added sugar consumption since most snacks are high in calories and added sugars. Cutting out between meal snacks will reduce your daily calorie intake which of course will lead to weight loss. It is important that you couple the weight loss with exercise or your body will loos muscle mass before losing fat which can be detrimental to your health (watch for the upcoming article about muscle loss and maintenance!). It takes a minimum of 3 months to make something a habit but if you are breaking a life long bad habit it can take longer so be patient with yourself but not soft on yourself! Improving your diet can be costly however if you are eating less it should be a wash in the long run. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself occasionally as well but be careful it doesn’t make you fall off the wagon. Use your rewards as a goal (ice cream on Friday night, etc) but try to push yourself to better goals too. When Friday rolls around perhaps you forgo the ice cream to Saturday night or the next week, thereby increasing your willpower and shaping new positive habits by proving to yourself that you can go without those extra unhealthy sweets if you really want to, it is empowering and rewarding to have that control!

Now that you understand your diet a little better and what it presently contains perhaps you can improve your situation. The better you feel the better you can train! That’s what it is all about reaching new heights of personal achievement that is why you are working towards your black belt or next rank. Use your goals to help you improve your whole life and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve!! Good luck, train hard, train often!

And by all means post your questions, comments, personal stories and additions to the comments section!