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Sometimes the answers we seek have already been learned but we are too proud, to scarred or too weak to accept the reality. Sun Tzu knew this thousand’s of years ago in ancient china. The full quote goes as such:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

There are two aspects of this quote, one the good strategy of studying your enemy is something I can talk about another time as I want to focus on knowing your self.

Fear is a powerful thing. It is a built-in biological mechanism designed to protect us from harm and death. Once upon a time, this was good when the threat was lions and tigers and bears, Oh My! But now in the modern world, we are still using these mechanisms designed to protect us from predators against things like homework, large social structure, modern workplaces, social media and generally far too much stimulus than we are really designed to handle.

What this means is that we often create fear where none need exist.

but did you die.jpgI often say when teaching the only real fail in self-defense or in general is death.

So you are worried about being judged, even if you are judged, did you die?

So you lost your match, but did you die?

So what, you failed your final exam, but did you die?

We often for one reason or another either from external pressure or internal ones activate the fear mechanism to not do something or to stress out when we dont need to. This is not good. If you are stressed due to a perceived fear then you will not be able to focus or perform as well as you can. Which means it might just actually all be in your head. This is what the knowing your self aspect of the quote means. If you are unable to control your emotions and fears in any given situation you will not be able to do the best that you can. If you take every “Failure” as a learning experience then you will ever grow stronger. But if you perceive every “Failure” as a near-death experience your body will treat it as such and you may just spiral into an unproductive fear loop that paralysis you and prevents you from the growth you know you are capable off.

Ask your self honestly, how well do you really know yourself. If you look deep and dont like things about yourself or your life then change it. If you learn what the issues are that are causing the fear it may even help you move forward. One thing is for certain is that if you only ever dwell in your fears than it won’t be better. For you and you alone have the power to change how you perceive things. Whether your fear something or not ask your self honestly, will fearing that thing or not fearing that thing cause you immediate death? If the answer is no, then guess what you have nothing to fear but fear its self.

So how well do you know your self? and what are you afraid of?

P.S. If you lived a full fruitful life, then death is not even something to fear for you will have left a lasting legacy behind you that hopefully caused the growth and development of the next generation of humanity.

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This week’s Krav Maga curriculum: Sept 16th – 22nd

Posted: September 16, 2019 by urbantacticskravmaga in Weekly Curriculum
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If you arnt first you are lastIn the Will Farrel Movie Talladega nights, Farrel plays a Comedic NASCAR Driver Ricky Bobby who always wins.  He was driven to win by the fact when he was a young boy his dead beat and AWOL dad told him, “If You Ain’t First you’re last.” From this point forward he took it to hear and basically made winning everything.

The thing is Winning isn’t everything. The only people who ever truly believe that are perhaps people who have never lost or those who have never won. In either case, there may actually be an element of mental instability. Some may say that having the focus and drive to give it your 100% is what makes winners and champions. Statistically, whether you like it or not this usually is not true. You should, however, always give it your best and try your hardest and keep a positive attitude but the thing is, not everyone can be a champion.

When I was growing up in elementary school they attempted to address this by not giving out 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place winners but rather participation ribbons. Even at 10 years old I knew this was a bunch of crap because it was clear to me the other teams or individuals were, in fact, better at me in those particular things.

For most, as we are all human the realization that you may not be very good at the thing you like, or that you simply are not good enough to win can be one of the biggest blow to the ego possible.

Whenever we ask champions and winners how they got there we often hear things like, hard work, never giving up, belief in my self or other such statements. These things are of course, very inspiring. But if we always use the outliers to set our personal expectations of success we may be sadly disappointed. I won’t try to discuss this concept in-depth, I would rather recommend you read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

What I will say is that for most of us, winning can be a great goal, and some of us may achieve it, but most of the time it cant be everything. This is both so we can live healthy productive lives mentaliy, physically and socially.

So if winning is not everything can we re-frame what is? Heres a thought.

Learning is everything.

Growing is everything.

Improving is everything.

Being better today than yesterday is everything.

With these things you may just find the happiness and growth you are looking for.

The ego is a sensitive thing and needs to be managed. If you change your focus from winning to simply being a better version of yourself, then you may find you are in a much happier place. And who knows, eventually you may even start winning. Because really, if you weren’t winning before you may have been focusing on the wrong thing. Then when you focus on the right things the change you want to see may start happening.

Even in the movie, Will Farrel’s character finds this out when he talks to his dad again as an adult.

“Ricky Bobby: Wait, Dad. Don’t you remember the time you told me “If you ain’t first, you’re last”?
Reese Bobby: Huh? What are you talking about, Son?
Ricky Bobby: That day at school.
Reese Bobby: Oh hell, Son, I was high that day. That doesn’t make any sense at all, you can be second, third, fourth… hell you can even be fifth.
Ricky Bobby: What? I’ve lived my whole life by that!”

So if Ricky bobby can realize that winning isn’t everything. So can you!

 

This week’s Krav Maga curriculum: Sept 9th – 15th

Posted: September 9, 2019 by urbantacticskravmaga in Weekly Curriculum
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If you did not know UTKM has 3 core principles, one of which is train people, not belts. I personally am very against belt factories or handing outranks just to keep business or make people feel good about themselves. I am after all here to teach people the realities of self-defense which are not always easy or nice both physically and mentally.

mcdojo_icon.jpgI know for some, especially in today’s world this may seem overly harsh but I think it is a great disservice to everyone to continue to allow the belt factory (McDojo), here’s your belt model.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone loves feeling good about themselves. I mean why shouldn’t they. Happy people are more productive and are more likely to stick around if they love it (whatever it is.) The truth is though A belt or Certificate does not always measure a persons skill or capability. It simply means they have completed a certain set of minimum standards to a satisfactory level.

There is a reason at UTKM or any school you will see a vast difference in skill level from person to person at any given belt level. For some, it comes easy, for others they need to work very hard to meet those standards.

A good example of this is in many styles a 10-year-old can receive a black belt. While they have certainly done well and worked hard for their achievement the reality is that a 10-year-old black belt who has not even gone through puberty yet is unlikely to beat a grown adult in a fight. Reaching such an achievement is wonderful for the child’s confidence and discipline but if they do not keep up their training into their adulthood then their black belt may mean very little in their ability to defend themselves.

In the Krav world, the disparity in skill and ability from organization to organization is quite alarming. A black belt in one organization or school may have the skill level of much lower rank at another. Yes, Krav Maga is supposed to be easy to learn but not that easy. Unfortunately, it is the way it is.

Some organizations produce monsters regularly but they do not hand outranks. These organizations may produce because they are tough and attract tough physically gifted people. Or they may simply know how to train efficiently. But comparatively, it can be difficult to tell where they stand without some kind of rank.

Other organizations hand out certifications or belts like candy which is quite a shame. In the Krav world, this is quite apparent in instructor certifications where most basic certifications are 3-7 days and spend very little time on actual teaching. So a person certified may have met the requirements of the course, but may not actually be very good at teaching classes, developing curriculum or speaking in front of crowds. This is quite possibly the reason why in some countries the Krav Instruction is quite poor as many individuals got a piece of paper which says they can teach, allowed them to get insurance and yet they really have no place teaching at all.

Regardless of where you are at skill-wise whether a champion or just beginning, you must remember to never let a rank or certificate get to your head. Because remember, there is always a bigger fish. And if you are the biggest fish remember, like anyone you cannot beat father time and eventually a younger bigger fish will get you. This is why another of UTKM’s core principles is to never stop learning and growing. I never said you have to be humble though it’s generally considered a good trait, but if you stop learning then you will run into problems when the world around you passes you by.  This can be particularly dangerous when it comes to self-defense. Because if you think your skill is more than it is you will quickly run into trouble that can potentially be life-threatening.

So even though your new rank, certificate or achievement made you feel good. Be honest with your self, is that rank, certificate or achievement truly a good measure of your skill or do you still need a lot more work? One answer will keep your thriving, growing and achieving. The other will only lead to disaster because you can only fake it so long until people catch on.

This week’s Krav Maga curriculum: Sept 2nd – 8th

Posted: September 2, 2019 by urbantacticskravmaga in Weekly Curriculum
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Post-IBJFF Worlds thoughts

Posted: August 27, 2019 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga in General
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Last week I wrote about my thoughts before going off to Worlds in Las Vegas, You can read about it here! This is a follow-up.

If you did not look up the IBJJF World Masters tournament after the last post let me tell you it is probably the largest grappling gathering in the world perhaps outside of the Olympics. It’s not just one tournament it’s actually 4. Every year during the world masters which caps out at about 5000 athletes, they also host the Las Vegas Open (Adults 18+ Gi and no-gi), The International Novice championships (White belts), and the kid’s international championships.

It really is an event for the whole family. This being my first year down I wasn’t sure what to expect but man was I impressed and plan to go back as many years in the future as I can. On top of non-stop grappling competitions, they also had numerous free seminars with some of the worlds best and they also hosted a No-Gi Grandprix invite-only with the worlds best no-gi heavyweights. On top of that add great deals from various vendors (I bought two new gis and other gear) and basically the whos who of the BJJ community just casually walking around or even competing. So if this hasn’t convinced you to go next year then I don’t know what will but if you can only afford one trip a year and are a grappler even as a spectator I highly recommend this event.

Jonathan Securing the Round 1 win at World Masters 2019

So how did I do? In my competition, I won my first match but lost my second. Despite this loss which was my own fault for mistiming a sweep attempt which allowed my opponent to base and gain the points advantage, I felt great. For the first time at purple belt, I am really starting to feel that my game is coming together nicely. Not only this but my reaction times seem to be getting quicker and I am thinking a little less before executing my movements. As always win, lose or draw I also think about how I can get better. What I learned from my performance.

  1. Keep the cardio up – I may have slipped up on my cardio prior to my tournament which I could feel slipping a little bit which slowed me down a little. Next time I will have to time things a little better.
  2. Be patient – One of the issues I have when fighting an opponent who is fairly similar in skill is that I lose patience. This is something I have been working on. However, in my second match, my frustration with not being able to sweep with a single X led me to pre-maturely switched to an X guard which allowed my opponent to pass. So the lesson is to be patient and wait. My opponents were all clearly struggling with my guard and only ever passed or almost passed when I attempted to change what I was doing.
  3. Maintain grips – One thing I have always struggle is getting and maintaining grips. Failing to do this regularly often means I need to rely on strength or speed rather than combining everything together for efficiency.
  4. The mind is important – If you read my tournament pre-thoughts you would have read I was concerned that my mental state has always been a problem during tournaments. This time I can say that this aspect of my game is getting better and better. Mentally I felt great and never quit or self-sabotaged. Even when I was tired I kept fighting and being stubborn. To me, this improvement was my greatest win.

I also achieved my goal of making it past my first match. At the worlds, the level of competition is some of the best. And my opponent did not make it easy. Mike Hansen the black belt coach/professor at Budo Mixed Martial arts Burnaby quoted someone, I can’t recall who but it went something like this.

“In a tournament of 5000 people, 50% of people do not make it through their first match. Thats 2500 people who you made it farther than.”

To me this really is quite the achievement and my attempt to take this tournament one match at a time is something I am going to keep doing moving forward. Unless you are the type that wins often I think this is probably one of the best approaches.

Now that I know that my game is coming along and my tournament mindset is starting to be where I want it to be now I know my goal is to tighten my game and make it so solid that little mistakes happen less and less. Either way, I am happy I competed and am so happy with how I performed.

Did I mention the free seminars? Even if you went down to support your team these seminars would make the trip worth it in its self as each one on their own might cost $100-200 easily. I ended up doing seminars with Rafael Lavato Jr., World Champion and current Bellator MMA Middleweight champion, though this was by accident as I went to Xtreme Couture for a BJJ class and instead was told it was this seminar. (This one wasn’t free but still super cheap). At the actual event, I did Seminars with, Julio Cesar, Coral Belt, world champion and founder of the modern GF Team. Heavyweight bruiser Patrick Gaudio of GF Team. 10X World Champion Bruno Malfacine who was a wizard of the sport. I watched him destroy people twice his size in some open matches at the end of the seminar and think that when I can I will try to go to his school to train a bit. Followed by a Robert Drysdale seminar of Zenith and former ADCC world champion. Both of these seminars were my favorite as each of them showed they weren’t just amazing grapplers but also knew how to properly run a seminar (Something many instructors struggle to do.) On the last day, I also managed to secure a spot in the Andre Galvao, Angelica Galvao of world-famous ATOS Gym and the Mendes Bros of AOJ (Gui and Rafael) seminar. All legends and world champions in their own divisions.

Needless to say, these seminars were amazing resources to continue to develop my game. Again, if the competitions were not enough to get you to go down next year, I hope the free seminars will. While there were many more I was unable to attend them all.

So I had an amazing experience and I say to you, why dont you have one too next year!

 

 

 

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Off to the World’s I go!

Posted: August 20, 2019 by Jonathan Fader in Competition, Mental Health
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No, I am not talking about competitive Krav Maga. An idea by the way I generally do not support. I am however talking about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This year will be the first year I compete at the World Master IBJJF Championship in Las Vegas. BJJ is being more and more incorporated into the Krav Maga/Kapap world as we recognized that we must improve ourselves in all aspects of hand to hand combat skills. Training in some grappling outside of Krav is a requirement to be ranked at the upper levels of the UTKM system. Yes, it is that important.

I have written before about why I compete. For me, it keeps me motivated to train. Also, I can learn what I need to work on and grow through competitions.

Leading up to the worlds I have done a few other IBJJF and other competitions. One thing I learned is that I have not been performing at the level I know I can while I am competing. When I freeroll with my training partners I perform much better than when I compete. Over the last few months, I have been trying out different things in hopes of figuring this out. I got in the best shape of my life and trained more than I normally do by far and yet something still wasn’t right. After much thinking, I realized the problem was not physical. While in the past it might have been, that is not the issue now. No, my problem, like many others, is much more complicated.

The problem, you see, has been my mental state all along.

Knowing-is-half.jpg.jpgThe good news is, now that I have identified the main problem I have something to work with. However, knowing is half the battle.

The issue seems to be that when I am rolling with people for fun I am just trying to do the best Jiujitsu I can. I take risks, play around and I have fun. I am free

In competitions, however, I am trying so hard not to screw up. I overthink it and I end up not doing what I know I can do. After losses and wins, I always reflect deeply about my performance. I started to realize that while I certainly lose sometimes to opponents who are clearly more skilled than me, a lot of my losses are because I screw up on something that I shouldn’t have. Only to be thinking, why on earth did I do that.

Then, I realized that for some messed up reason whenever I am clearly winning I managed to lose. I must at some level self-sabotage. This is quite a sobering realization. Not only that I am failing to turn on the warrior mind I know I have but it is also quite possible that I am purposely screwing it up.

The funny thing is I know (FACT) in life or death situations I do just fine because body and mind go into automatic mode and I do what I need to do. In competition, however, as I know it to be a relatively safe environment, I have yet to learn to turn that part of my brain on and not overthink both consciously and subconsciously and end up losing not just the match but to my own worst enemy, myself.

Some solutions to this problem are:

  1. Train more – This is the obvious answer which is true for any style. Train so much that you no longer need to think your body just does. While I will never not train, the level I can train is usually dependent on many factors. On a slow week, I’ll get in 3-4 hours of training. On a crazy week, I will get closer to 10 hours of just BJJ. People often ask me how do I stay motivated. The truth is, I still struggle. Sometimes I train a lot, sometimes I dont. And I don’t feel good or bad about it either way. This then, I suppose, is a work in progress.
  2. Change my mindset – When I compete I should fight to do the best I can rather than worry about points. I know, it’s cliche, but as always cliches are often right no matter how annoying or unoriginal they are. While points do matter, trying to just not lose is nowhere near the same as trying to do the best you can. This is possibly the reason that many competitions now take a submission only approach. Rather than just trying to get points they encourage you to try for the submission no matter the risk. I often enjoy these tournaments, because I tend to do better. Hmm, I wonder why.
  3. Try to turn on my animal instinct – This one is both tricky and not. I have always been a slow starter. This means if my body isn’t totally on I am going to think more rather than just act. The solution for me at least is to start warming up well in advance of my start time. This why I am not going in cold. While some people can simply jump in and compete and win (Marcelo Garcia is notorious for waking up from a nap and winning) I do not think I am one of them.

Though my revolution about my problematic mindset may have come a little to close to the World Master, I will be going in knowing what I need to work on most. I even have several days in Vegas before I compete to contemplate and work on this.

If you are reading this and also struggle at competitions, then perhaps you have not figured out what your individual issue is. Do you train enough? Are you in shape? or is there some other deeper issues you are having trouble with. No matter the reason, if you would like to improve your performance in competition, then it is never too late to figure it out. Especially in the master’s divisions.

So keep training, and for those of you in Vegas, I hope to see you there.

This week’s Krav Maga curriculum: Aug 19th-25th

Posted: August 19, 2019 by urbantacticskravmaga in Weekly Curriculum
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