Can’t

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Articles of Interest, Quotes, State of Mind, Training notes,Tags: , , , ,
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Words spoken by others are powerless unless we give them power.  “Sticks & Stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you”.  I’ve spoken and written on that in the past.  That is not the topic today but it is an important backdrop.  While we should be thick skinned when people speak hurtfully or hatefully towards us, this is only half of the equation.

Words do have power.  Words can define our being and our existence.  The words we use, think and in some sense feel can affect us both mentally, physically and spiritually.  Can’t or Can Not is just such a word.  One of my students reminded me of this last night.  We were working on a new block drill which he was having a hard time with.  In trying to correct him he got frustrated and said “I Can’t”…and that was the end of it.  You see, “I Can’t” turned into he couldn’t because he believed it and more importantly he quit with that proclamation.  It didn’t matter that I knew he could.  It didn’t matter that he knew how to do the block already.  Through his proclamation, “I Can’t” he made the possible, impossible.  He changed the state of his mind from positive effort to negative reservation of defeat.  I spoke to him about this and having no affect had him sit out the rest of that drill to reflect.

Later in the class we were doing bag work, a standing side kick to be specific, and I corrected something he was doing wrong.  After a couple of corrections he began to say ” I c…” I was ready for him and abruptly cut him off and admonished him to not finish that statement.  I then helped him focus, reminded him of the correct technique, distracted his mind and within three attempts he was doing it correctly!  Unlike the first drill, I had stopped his negative statement before it became his truth and in doing so helped him succeed.

Hopefully all of my students learned from that event.  I commented on it to drive the point home.  The power of “I can’t” or “I don’t know” or negative statements like them are underestimated by most.  Often people use them as an excuse, for it is easier to say “I can’t” then to try and fail.  Some are so afraid of failure that they would rather never try then to admit they are lacking, in that way they can always fantasize that hey could have, would have or can ‘when they are ready’.  This is perfectly normal among children, it is part of growing up, dealing with fear and personal limitation, however left unchecked it can handicap the adult they will become, leading them to a life of mediocrity filled with missed chances.  ‘Should of, Could of, Would of’ is what they will see when they look back on their life.

Words are powerful.  But the power resides in ourselves, what power we give them, how they affect what we believe about ourselves.

The following quote isn’t in perfect alignment with my above thoughts, but it does speak to staying positive and always giving everything your best effort, regardless of how things seem or the opinions of others.  It may take you more attempts then others to accomplish something but I guarantee if you stay positive and keep trying you will accomplish more then most.

If successful people have one common trait, it’s an utter lack of cynicism. The world owes them nothing. They go out and find what they need without asking for permission; they’re driven, talented, and work through negatives by focusing on the positives.
– Mike Zimmerman

Is Your Jar Full?

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Articles of Interest, Quotes, State of Mind,Tags: , , ,
2

When things in your life seem almost to much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar……and the beer.

A Professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.  When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.  He then asked the students if the jar was full.  They agreed that it was.

So the Professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.  He shook the jar lightly.  The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.  He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed it was.

The Professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.  Of course, the sand filled up everything else.  He asked once more if the jar was full.  The students responded with an unanimous “Yes.”

The Professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty
space between the sand.  The students laughed.

“Now,” said the Professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things – your family, your children, your health, your friends, your favorite passions – things that if everything
else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car.  The sand is everything else – the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first”, he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.  The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.  Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.  Play with your children.  Take time to get medical checkups.  Take your partner out to dinner.  Play another 18.  There will always be time to clean the house, and fix the disposal.  Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter.  Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

When he had finished, there was a profound silence.  Then one of the students raised her hand and with a puzzled expression, inquired what the beer represented.

The Professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked.  It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend.”

— I couldn’t have illustrated it better myself since the sad truth is most of us spend all our time dealing with the sand in our life.

Everyone Has a Story

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, Fun Stuff, State of Mind,Tags: , ,
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Turns out it was true!

Like the title says, everyone has a story. I do. You do. Everyone does.  So what!

This isn’t meant to trivialize your story, but try to keep it in perspective.  We all have or will have health problems.  We all have our crosses to bear, if you don’t…you will.  What is important is how we deal with these crosses put upon us.  How do we deal with them… how do you deal with them?  Sometimes they turn into excuses.  The important thing is to stretch to your limits.  Like stretching a muscle you might just find that after a while you can stretch further then your could before.  Maybe that hill wasn’t as steep as you thought.  But most definitely you are not the only one who has climbed that hill or another just like it!

Life happens all of a sudden and not usually in the way we expect, the trick is accepting the blessings and curses as gifts.  Do this and you will find the value in the gift no matter how it changes the direction of your life.

Train hard, Stay Safe, Have Fun…but stop whining!! 😉

True Enjoyment

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Diet, Fitness, Quotes, Recipes and Health Facts, State of Mind,Tags: , , ,
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“True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body;
the two are united.”
Alexander Von Humboldt

Given the recent posts on diet and exercise I thought I should find an appropriate quote to exercise your mind as well.  As a Martial Arts student you should have figured out by now that your mind and your body are connected.  Check, that was easy.  But which is stronger?  I mean can your mind get you off the couch and make you exercise?  Can your mind stop you from eating those fatty brownies your co-worker brought to work?  If not then your mind and body are not on the same page.  Think about that.  Your mind isn’t in control.  Isn’t that one of the first lessons you learn when you become a Martial Arts student?  That your mind is not in control of your body.  In this case your body is the spoiled child who just wants what he/she wants!  Give me those brownies…or else!!  Because your mind is not in control, your body wins, eat the brownie.  Oh, your mind thinks it’s in control!  You are an adult, you can eat what you want, you are hungry, you are stressed, you will exercise this off later, and the seductive list of excuses goes on and on…  They are excuses that make your mind feel better for letting your body run the show.  Your mind is deluding itself so it doesn’t have to face reality, it isn’t in control!

Luckily we Martial Artists learn to control our bodies, to master them, to help the mind to take control.  So prove it, find true enjoyment by uniting the two with the mind in control and the body in motion…exercising!

As always have fun, stay safe and be well.

Loser

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes, State of Mind,Tags: , , ,
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I realized today that I am a loser.  It struck me just like that, no doubts just a sudden clear understanding that I was a loser.  Oh I could make a million excuses for being a loser, they would make logical sense, but it wouldn’t change the fact, I am a loser.  Now that I know this I can see it in the way I walk, the way I carry myself, the way I compensate in so many ways.  But I wasn’t always a loser.  So why now?  Well if I wasn’t a loser I could probably tell you, or better yet write a book and become a rich non-loser!  Hmmm…  Seriously though, I think my loser state has to do with not taking any chances.  Somehow I have become frozen like the proverbial deer in the headlights.  When faced with a decision I choose…indecision.  I think it is for fear of being wrong.  Like I said I can think of a lot of reasons for this but they all sound like excuses, which of course is what losers do…  I guess I need to stop making excuses and start believing in myself and taking some chances.  I know writing this that, that is a long way from happening… They say the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one…Maybe that is enough for today…

— Anonymous

The above got me to thinking about my own life, about how caught up we get in daily stress and minutia.  So much so that we kind of stagnate, I think I like that term better than loser.  Stagnate: To cease motion, activity, or progress; to cease to advance or change; to become idle or cease to flow.  I think that is what life does to us if we let it and sometimes even if we try not to let it.  It is important to remember also that success can be defined in so many ways, not knowing the reference point of the above writer makes it difficult to gauge the depth of their ‘loser-ness’.  I think many of us place goals that are to difficult to achieve, we set ourselves up for failure.  I am not advocating “settling” or having an ‘this is as good as it gets’ mentality!  But similar to setting a New Years resolution you have to set realistic goals you can achieve.  I think that is where success comes from, setting achievable goals that move you towards some much bigger goal.  It is easy to get lost along the way, to stall in your efforts, to stagnate.  It is easy to rely on excuses to keep yourself in a state of stagnation.  The easy way out, is to feel like a loser, that is the path of a quiter, not a loser.  I think becoming a loser comes from quiting once to often.

So what about you?  Have you given up on your goals because they are to hard or there are to many available excuses?  Where you to busy or tired to workout this week?  I know, you’ll start next week or someday.  Someday. That’s a dangerous word. It’s really just a code for ‘never‘.” [source: Knight and Day].  It is never to late to change but that change has to start some where…some time.  Don’t stagnate, take a chance, move forward, small goal by small goal…

Am I off base or full of it?  Let me know in the comments section!

Sticks & Stones & …Words?!

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, For Kids, Politics, Questions, State of Mind, Training notes,Tags: , , ,
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I got this notice in a Barnes & Noble advertisement (along with links to anti-bullying books).

OK, I know as a Martial Arts instructor and Self-Defense advocate I should be totally on board with the new Politically Correct drive to stop bullying, but this just goes to far.  I am very against this type of campaign.  I have never been afraid of words, haven’t met one yet that could do me any real physical damage.  Today our children are taught to treat words as dangerous tools, weapons capable of causing great personal injury (minus the bruising).  Though in fairness I should note that the term bully is being used interchangeably with bullying and picking on.

We are officially living the in Bizarro word of Seinfeld, Up is officially down, hot is now cold, sticks and stones won’t hurt you, and Men are the new Women.  Hmmm….  As a society we are failing our youth by …wimpifying them!  Some prefer the Pu..ification term but this is a family blog so will stick to Wimpification.  How far can we turn away from reality before we are forced to face that which we pretend can be solved with a slogan.  What is the point of this new campaign against bullies?  Bullies exist and will continue to exist forever…period.  Maybe tomorrow they will just speak in a nicer tone.  So what is the point?

Perhaps a better campaign would be ‘Sticks and Stones Will Break Your Bones and Names Will Never Hurt You‘.  Some moron forgot the Never and no one called him or her on it.  I know I am being harsh and probably ruffling a few feathers, to bad.  What we should be teaching our children is threefold; believe in yourself, stand up for yourself, and; keep things in perspective.  I know some are saying…Huh?  Let me explain.

Believe in yourself – Have some confidence in yourself.  You do this by knowing who you are.  Unfortunately many kids are brought up in such a void of morals and beliefs that they are encouraged to discover who they are, like they are lost?!  So what is a child to do who is given no direction or sense of self?  That’s right, listen to their peers.  If their peers tell them they are great, well then they must be.  If their peers tell them they are a loser, well they must be.  The PC (politically correct) crowd like the former but not the later situation.  The problem is not everyone can be great.  Perhaps it would be better to raise our children know who they are so that others will not have that much effect on them.  (Notice I said ‘that much’ as I understand it is impossible to completely unaffected).  But if the child (or adult) knows who they are and has a sense of their worth, they can knuckle down and get through this unpleasant chapter in their life (being bullied/picked on).

Stand up for yourself – But what if the person doesn’t back down?!  Good question.  We all win and lose some fights, the important thing is how we walk out of the room (chin up or head down).  I can speak from personal experience here; at a certain point it is much better to stand up for yourself.  I advocate defending yourself anytime someone touches you in a threatening way, no hesitations, you take control of the situation.  I am not advocating fighting over an insult or comment, take the source and ignore it.  That leads us to the final point…

Keep things in perspective – I always ask my students this question “do you value this persons opinion?” they invariably say No!  If you react to words then you must really value the opinion of the Bully’s opinion.  Though if you do not believe in yourself (see the first point) you might just hold anything anyone says about you as a possible truth. But if you stand up for yourself by not being affected by mean spirited words you can walk out with your head held high, chin up.  There are to many techniques to cover now on deflecting insults and such.

Bullying and ‘Picking-on’ each other is a normal part of growing up.  It is the ugly truth.  Should we step in and engage kids when we can, yes but not at the risk of making them a bunch of wimps.  There is an old movie, The Bells of St. Mary’s, that shows the differences of how things have changed.  In the movie Father O’Malley and Sister Benedict differ on how to handle the school wimp and the school bully.  The Sister adopts Father O’Malley’s approach, she helps the wimp stand up for himself.  If we simply correct the Bully, the wimp is still just a wimp without a bully.

Perhaps that is something you will think about when (if) you listen to what your children are being taught the school of political correctness.

And let’s not forget to place the blame where it really belongs for raising abusive bully’s…their parents…bully’s don’t just happen, they are raised.  Regardless we have to learn to deal with Bully’s…

Goals & Resolutions

ktadmin Posted in Awareness, Diet, Events & Holidays, Fitness, Recipes and Health Facts, State of Mind, Training notes,Tags: , , , ,
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A few days ago most of us made some type of resolution for the new year.  You may not admit it to anyone but it is there in the back of your mind, something you’d like to change or do different this year.  Call them Goals or Resolutions they equate to the same thing, a struggle with yourself, often a battle of endurance which requires willpower!  The most common resolutions focus on our personal selves, weight loss, getting into shape, attaining our next belt, other involve our careers or station in life, we will focus on the former here but what we will look at applies to both.  The problem with the resolutions most of us make is, they require hard work and effort.  Let’s face it if they didn’t we wouldn’t need things called resolutions or goals!

I don’t normally go in for a bunch of motivational gimmicks but I found this one that actually makes sense, SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely
    (Get more in-depth details about Smart Goals here)

Basically this boils down a combination of “keep it simple stupid” and “being realistic and truthful”.  You can’t change if you set unrealistic goals, like I am going to loose 50 lbs next week, that is setting yourself up for failure, which if simply an excuse not to try.  I have known so many people who take this path, actually everyone takes this path eventually if they are not truthful with themselves.  We can learn a lot from addicts in this regard since it is easier to deny the problem then to deal with the problem.

So how do we get on track with our diet and fitness resolutions?  First keep reading this blog!  Secondly take the baby step method, I remember watching this in the old movie “What About Bob”.  You know what, it makes sense.  Break your bigger goal into achievable smaller goals, take small steps.  It may take longer to achieve your goal but the results will be lasting.  Nothing leads to short gains and long term losses then fad diets and an excessive ‘must have it now’ mentality.  The catch here is to make the goals achievable but useful, don’t be so easy on yourself that you aren’t moving towards your goal!  If you are trying to lose weight and you didn’t lose any last week, don’t have the attitude, “well at least I didn’t gain any!”  If you do, you will be saying “well at least I only gained a pound this week” before you know it.  Be honest with yourself but not easy!  This is training, no wimps allowed!!

I will leave you with this interesting study at the University of Hertfordshire which showed that the people most successful at keeping their New Year’s Resolutions did at least three of the following things:

  • broke their goal into smaller steps
  • rewarded themselves when they achieved one of these
  • told their friends about their goals
  • focused on the benefits of success
  • kept a diary of their progress.

There you have it, simple advice that will hopefully help you achieve your goals, regardless of when you set them…unless…

but you’re not that deluded…are you?

No Atheists on School Boards

ktadmin Posted in Awareness, News, Politics, Religion, Self-Defense, State of Mind,Tags: , , ,
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At least not when a gun is pointing at them!

“He was as close to me, almost, as this camera is and it was pointed right at me,” Husfelt said. “I was trying to turn kind of sideways. … It’s just all reactionary. Who knows what you do in a situation like that? We were all scared and doing a lot of praying, I can tell you that.” CNN

The story of the gunman at the School Board meeting struck me as ironic.  Here we have an institution (School Boards) which typically route out any semblance of religion or religious expression, including the Pledge of Allegiance, …praying.  Of course the article doesn’t say who they were praying to, but I think it is safe to assume it is a higher power.  I wonder if the School Board members were concerned that they might offend someone while they were praying?  It is understood that we do not know anything about these men, they all could be Church going men, but the irony in life is sometimes so striking it cannot be overlooked without comment.

Many dispute the fact that there are no atheists in foxholes Or at the wrong end of a gun… regardless it is doubtful there are any atheists afterwards…

On a more self-defense oriented note, the female board member that reentered the room and tried to disarm the gunman was brave and very lucky.  Luckily the crazy gunman seemed to have a problem with shooting women and let her go.  Her actions may have stalled is shooting spree enough to allow the security guard/retired police officer to get there in time to help. It did not seem that she had any formal self-defense training or martial arts skills, just a purse!  Her situation truly illustrates why everyone should have some exposure to formal training in a defensive art, you never know when or where you may find yourself in need of defending yourself.

Stay safe.

Sparring Notes

ktadmin Posted in Awareness, State of Mind, Styles, Training notes, Video,Tags: , ,
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I have been working with my students to improve their sparring skills this month, it’s a great hot weather activity! Sparring can be a tough skill to perfect since everyone wants to jump in the ring and mix things up. Sparring is a very dynamic activity but it can be broken down to individual skills which can be perfected. A short list of these skills include: technique, stamina, focus, and self-awareness. As with any skill technique is paramount to success. Put on some boxing gloves and get in the ring doesn’t make you a boxer, the same is true for Martial Arts sparring. To often I’ve witnessed students at competitions degrade their technique to wildly slapping and kicking.

Sparring matches are won by staying in control. Control comes from confidence and technique. Confidence is something people have to find within themselves. Technique is somethings an instructor can help you perfect. I won’t delve into technique specifics as they vary from style to style, but form is critical to minimizing your vulnerabilities and maximizing your opportunities. Stamina comes with the practice and perfection of your form and technique. As we get older we need to add additional cardio-conditioning! 😉 With good technique and strong stamina you are well equip to win most matches simply by outlasting your opponent.

Focus is perhaps the more difficult thing to learn, as focus is probably the wrong word to use, since you need a lack of focus when sparring. Say what?!? If we focus on our opponent we forget about our surroundings, this may be OK in a sparring ring, but in a real fight that can be fatal. More importantly though focusing on your opponent can lead to signaling your movements. When I spar I typically spar primarily with my peripheral vision, this allows me to “focus” on movements as they occur not a specific movement. Let me give an example: if someone fakes a move with their left, then follows through with the real attack with their right… If I am focused on the person, then my focus will shift to the left fake, when the right comes in, I will have to realize it, shift my focus and then react. If I am focused on the situation, using my peripheral vision then I can more rapidly react to movements in my “sphere” of focus. Basically it reduces the thought process drag that comes from thinking to much. Relax your mind and your awareness becomes more basic, instinctual and reactionary. Hopefully that makes sense, I’ll be happy to clarify any of that.

Self-awareness is probably the most ignored part of sparring, though it is the direct result of good technique training and peripheral or sphere focus. When we spar it is important to be self-aware of your vulnerabilities. It is the only way you can truly improve your art. When you begin sparring your instructor will tell you what you are doing wrong. You should take this instruction as an opportunity to train yourself to find these corrections before you are told of them. The next step of course is correcting the problem, not always that easy. For example, two of my students where sparring and one would lean her head froward after a particular move. Her opponent realized this and he exploited it, with a downward strike to the head. A very bad way to get hit, a fight-ender. After the first hit, I pulled her aside and told her what she was doing. When she did it again I saw her realize it after it was to late. The third time her realization came a little sooner but still to late. Frustration was her enemy on the last point. She has the first part of self-awareness down and is now struggling with correcting the problem. It is a process, no different then learning your first martial arts technique.

I am including these videos for two reasons, first they are awesome! Secondly, they each demonstrate important aspects of sparring. See if you can figure out the importance of each video and post your conclusions in the comments section… Enjoy and pay attention!
[zdvideo width=”400″ height=”226″]http://karatetraining.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Gorgeous-JackieChanAwesomeFight.flv[/zdvideo]

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQa7tlZZ_lM

Looking forward to the discussion…

Thought for the day…

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, State of Mind,Tags: ,
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bonsai-tree-1aspac-wp-3-1024x742

Why mess with perfection…