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Remember, remember, the Fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot

For many of you reading, you may have never heard of this once famous poem. For others, you may remember it from the movie based on the comic books v for vendetta. Some of you will even know it’s origin. 

Guy Fawkes the once infamous traitor of the British Empire attempted to blow up Parliament in 1605 using about 2.5 tonnes of gun powder. For a time this was something worth remembering. Yet as times change it is fading into the memory of the past. For most of the world, this evil plot in British history is not very relevant, so forgetting it might not seem like a big deal. But what about events which not only affected the whole world but also changed it forever. Are these things worth forgetting too? 

lest-we-forget.pngYesterday was remembrance day and I ask did you remember or did you already forget. I worry that with each passing year and each additional death of the Veterans of the great wars (WWI & WW2) of the 20th century so to will the remembrance of November 11th. 

Recently a British Instagram star named Freddie Bently on the show Good Morning Britain said that he felt we no longer needed to learn about world war II because it might be too traumatic one such quote is as follows “I totally get that, but I don’t think it need to be put in such a way to young children mentally, to their mental health, that “‘this many people died for you,’” he said. “My God, it’s so intense.” He is basically inferring the new generation cannot handle or learn about the harsh realities of the past. The past which we often learn from to grow is more important now than ever yet so many are finding it to easy to forget.

How easy it is it seems for generations once, twice removed are now not only forgetting the reason from remembrance but want to erase it from the history books because it bothers them. With each new mind pushing in this direction because of progressivism the closer we may be to repeating the mistakes of old.

This same remembrance weekend I was away out of cell reception, and when I came back I found out that the news of the day was the hockey broadcasting legend Don Cherry had been fired for making racist remarks. Don, by the way, is a much older individual and has on occasion said things that even I think were pushing the line. But when I found out what he was fired for and why I was shocked. He said when referring to immigrants “You people … you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that,”

Heres the thing, while remembrance days or variations of it are western in nature the World Wars were global in nature including both the west, Asia and Africa. This includes many of the countries that immigrants to Canada often come from. As I Canadian and as I have written about in the past I have noticed fewer and fewer people wear poppies. It could be because there are more immigrants who don’t care because “it’s not their history” or because the younger generation doesn’t care about the past at all for reasons I cannot quite fathom. But what he said was in my opinion far from offensive. He is simply pointing out that immigrants don’t seem to care much about the culture of the country they are in. And while this does not apply to all immigrants of course, in my own personal observations as well as conversations I would say it does apply to many of them.

For those of you who have forgotten, or choose to ignore the realities of the past here is a video explaining it in more detail:

There are many more examples in the west, and Canada of the clear sign that the newer Canadians of all types are willingly choosing to forget or not learn the past, to ignore it and belittle it.

Remembrance day is the reminder of what great sorrow can happen when we let things get far out of hand. Yet modern politics and progressivism now use  Nazism and fascism (or their idea of it), the only thing most people seem to remember about WW2 as a means to scare those who would not agree. Yet they do not even understand what they shout when they scream nazi or fascist others that it is something bad. They probably don’t even know that Nazi’s and Fascism were not even part of the first World War but who knows what else such people believe. The same people who do this have forgotten the difference between the world-changing nature of the 2 great wars. Wars the were fought for the right reasons and confuse them with the wars of today which might seem like pointless wars indeed. Yet we must remember the sacrifices, the history, and the tragic losses. It is not about embracing war but about the tragedy associated with it, Should this not be in line with progressive ideology? or perhaps this ideology is simply about being as loud and obnoxious as possible rather than being about anything meaningful.

Without remembrance, we will only ever fade into the darkness without a light to guide. Without remembrance, we don’t comprehend how that light has created the path for the progress and positive lives we now live thanks to those wars.

Freddy Bentley and those who caved to online pressure to fire Mr. Cherry should be ashamed and we should all be saddened by the newest generations’ call to forget the past. For a war of such magnitude would be disastrous if the newer generation were ever forced to fight against evil. For those who have forgotten may have lost the strength of old needed to stand up and fight if true evil should ever rear it’s head again.

So I ask that you remember, remember the death, remember the suffering, remember the torture that it took for us to live in the wonderful world we live it. For it is through this remembrance we can strive to be better. Without it, the light that was found in the dark will be extinguished forever and we will once again wonder blind stumbling in the dark. 

So I say never again, I will always remember and so should you.

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number one bullshit

You started Krav Maga, or a generic self-defense program. perhaps another martial arts style offering self-defense classes. Often they say it is subjective but really it’s easy to determine if a technique is on the better end of the spectrum or the less effective end.

Of course, it should be mentioned that everyone says they are the best or what they are teaching is the best because of well Ego and other factors. If this sounds familiar just know you can objectively determine if a technique is a general good or not and if it works for you in general or not.

This is a topic that can be found all over the internet, entire Instagram accounts are dedicated to asking if a technique is objectively realistic or not. Discounting the standard internet trolls and those who cannot ever be please there is a general consensus of good and bad techniques.

Recently I watched a video posted by a local Krav Maga school, that belongs to a considerably reputable organization. By all accounts, the instructor is quite legitimate with a military background and extensive martial arts training. Yet when I saw the video of the technique being posted I couldn’t believe my eyes at the ridiculous nature of the technique. I felt bad for the students for they were clearly being sold a false sense of security by someone seemingly legitimate. I don’t know if this technique was standard for the organization or just the instructor but I was shocked.

(I will not re-post it so as not to draw attention to that school or instructor or organization so you will just have to use your imagination.) I will, however, post this youtube video of similarly bad stuff.

The technique involves one person being held back by their wrists, while someone else choked them from the front. The technique involved the defended rotating their head out of the choke and then spinning into the person behind or something like that. I may have burned it from my memory slightly.

First off, if someone is holding you from behind the most likely scenario is that they will be beating you, not choking you. but hey never say never so I guess I can let that part slide. The issue is that objectively there was zero resistance from the attackers nor were they being aggressive. Additionally, the attackers were not much bigger than the defender. had even one of the attackers been aggressive with resistance there is not a chance in hell that technique would work 9 times out of 10. But hey never say never I guess. Still a shit technique and delusional but oh well.

If that was me in that scenario I would stick to principles of keeping it simple, be aggressive and use your most effective tools. Largely kicks, head buts and aggression.

Of course, I always ask my students in scenarios like that. HOW THE FUCK DID YOU GET THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!! You clearly failed to pay attention, practice avoidance or strike pre-emtively. Unless you are living in Mexico in some perpetual war against the cartel such scenarios are not as common as people would make you think. Either way several poor life choices happened in order to get into such a situation.

This begs the question of how as an uninformed student or potential student objectively asses a good technique. Here are some things to consider, this is not an exhaustive list just some ideas.

bell-curve

Most people are in the middle, whether we want to accept it or not. Thus this is what techniques and training should be aimed at. Working 80% of the time for 80% of the people.

  1. Will the technique work 80% of the time for 80% of the people most of the time? First, one thing that needs to be established is no one technique is 100% foolproof for everyone at every time. Different body times, capabilities and other factors always play in so nothing is 100% that is why aggression training is so important. I like to apply the bell curve model. There are 10% of people who probably should just avoid physical conflict and it won’t matter what technique they use. there is another 10% of people who are so athletically gifted they can rely on that alone much of the time. Meaning that we need to teach to the majority. So if a technique works for most students, most of the time with no pressure and with pressure then it is a better technique than others.
  2. Is the technique relatively easy to perform for the majority of people after a short amount of time? This does not mean master but means can it be done regularly and reasonably well within a few hours of practice. One way to know is if it relies on gross motor movement rather than fine motor movement. Take joint locks. Mechanically sound techniques that take a fair amount of training and skill to pull of much of the time even against mildly resisting opponents. A groin kick, for example, is very easy to learn and will work most of the time. After learning it, its simply a matter of practice to train your nervous system to perform it well under duress. If a technique is hard to pull off under duress or takes a long time to learn well then for basic self-defense purposes it is probably not a good technique.
  3. Will the technique work against someone bigger and stronger than you or work in with a set of other fluid techniques to overcome the size and strength advantage. First, I would like to point out there is a point where someone may be too big and strong to use the technique thus you must fall back on aggression and the will to survive because nothing is 100%. Going back to the joint locks, let’s say a wrist lock. On average if a person is much stronger and resisting it is a very difficult technique to pull off. Contrary a groin kick works 9 out of 10 times at least to cause a major disruption in the attacker for most people.
  4. Are you able to eventually get it to work on it’s own or in a sequence of moves under duress? If you never train the techniques with resistant then you are probably not training good Krav Maga or self-defense. Hitting pads is one thing trying the technique against different sized and strength people is another. So get practicing or go to another school if this isn’t happening. You may quickly find out which techniques work more and which work less.
  5. If and when the technique fails, are you able to fill in the blanks to survive? This is arguably the most important thing. As techniques don’t work all the time no matter how good they are the real key is you knowing what to do when failure occurs. If you are regularly and consistently unable to adapt, you are either not training hard enough or not training properly. This is sometimes a school thing, sometimes an instructor thing and sometimes a you thing. So figure out which it is and make the changes!

The last thing, the ego can be a hard thing to deal with. Especially when as instructors we like to teach the best thing and after all, we are here to help. Except if you never challenge your techniques or make changes accordingly you are only doing your students a disservice. I can say over the years I have probably changed the UTKM curriculum 4 or 5 times to work for the majority of students or fill in technical or training blanks. If you are only ever teaching the same thing that your instructor taught you, you must objectively asses are really doing the right thing or are you just selling a false sense of reality to your students.

If you are a student and love your school ask your self why are you there. If you are there because you like the community then by all means stay. But if you are there to learn to defend your self ask your self, are you really, objectively learning it or just being sold snake oil.

One of the biggest challenges as a Krav Maga instructor is helping students or the general public the difference between a self-defense scenario and a fight. While you may need to actually fight in a self-defense scenario for us a pure self-defense scenario is one which is a 0-60 scenario which is started and stopped in a relatively short time. Let’s say for the sake of argument 10-30 seconds. As opposed to a back and forth match that is more a showcase of skill, athleticism, and heart.

In Krav Maga, we very much want to avoid a fight and keep it in the self-defense realm by using Retzef to surprise and overwhelm our opponents to stop them as a threat or create the space to escape and evade to safety. In a fight, we are willingly engaging in a back and forth fight where blows are traded equally at least until the point there is a clear winner.

In our oppinon if you are in a fight situation (outside of mutually agreed combat) on the street or in general you are in most cases, not applying good self-defense practices.

Drag race 2This means that a good self-defense scenario is a 0-60 esk 1/4 mile at a time drag race. Take a knife threat. The attacker shows up in a brand new shiny Ferrari in the form of a knife to your belly. They feel confident because you are driving a beat 1996 eagle talon with mixed body panels. This is the reason they chose to race. They felt strong. Just as a choice victim for a would-be mugger they picked you because you looked weak and seemed like an easy target. Little did they know, your little eagle talon has been heavily modified and is a 650hp AWD monster powered by Krav Maga. The light goes from red to green. The knife tip touched your back as they say give me your money as they slam the gas with launch control feeling like your money is now theirs. You hit your gas and shift seamlessly as you re-direct their knife slam a fist into their face, control the weapon arm so you can safely create space and then book it. Gone with your tail lights in their site and the look of shock on their face as they have now failed to defeat you in this metaphorical drag race.

Contrarily a fight can either be a failed self-defense on your part engaging in a fight or simply letting your ego get the better of you. Try this scenario, You just won the lottery and are ready to go in the world of highperfomance vehicles. Since you cannot actually buy an F1 Car in most cases lets say you just bought yourself a Ferrari. This time a thug outside of the club says you have hit on his girlfriend and is now in your face. Here you are your first time on a racetrack-ready to test your skills one on one against another Ferrari owner. The light goes from ready to green and you are off, they throw a punch and you move and then throw a punch as you hit your gas on the track. Initially, you seem neck and take as you counter the blows and land some as your own. THen the first turn comes and they throw a HARD leg kick like you have never felt before. They seemsly take the corner and you skid around it. The feeling of dread now comes in that you have now engaged with someone who is clearly more skilled than you and guess what, they had been toying with you. You throw a kick of your own trying to even it up, they perry and punch you square in the nose. You hit your gas harder knowing aggression will solve everything right? You push your self to keep up with their Ferrari giving everything you got. They stick to the track easily and are getting farther and farther ahead as they are landing more and more strikes and you can barely touch them. You give one final push as your Ferrari skids off the track and slams into the wall much like your head just did on the pavement as you got knocked out. You see, they were a proffesional of the trade and you failed to recognize it early. Instead of backing off and creating space and bailing, you tried to keep up because your ego said you could. You went from a 0-60 self-defense situation into an F1 race that you were not prepared to deal with.

I hope this analogy has made things clearer for you. Self-defense is a quick scenario where someone chose you as a target and you did the absolute minimum required to stop the threat by stoping them quickly or by getting to safety. While a fight is any scenario where there is a willing back and forth exchange of skills until someone clearly wins and one or both parties have sustained significant damage.

Often individuals come in who love to fight, and the task for me is to convince them to choose control, strategy, and technique over letting their preference or ego get the better of them. Because on the street, you must assume everyone is a better fighter than you and you must learn to refrain from being succered into a fight. Because self-defense is not a fight, and if you are fighting its because your life depends on it and there is no other choice.

So when it comes to your personal safety, in the moment, choose the drag race and not the F1 marathon! (Metaphorical of course)

 

A Harmless Man.jpgPonder these words, for they have even more profound meaning in the modern world.

Growing up in school I was taught that violence is never the answer. Yet I have learned through training and study that Violence is often the only way to deal with Violence. Yet it still must be avoided as much as possible.

While defining what is good or not good is still morally relative generally a person who has strength or power, physically or otherwise who chooses not to wield it abusively is stronger than the person who has a little power yet abuses it.

There are often those in many circles who do not want their children to learn martial arts or self-defense because they feel that it is too violent or dangerous. Thus they make the decision to “protect” their child from that violence. Unfortunately, they are depriving their children of the important education that is to understand violence and power in a controlled fashion.

Who is more likely to blow the horns of battle? The general who has seen battle, seen loss and seen destruction and knows that great sacrifice of many that will occur. Or the Politician or public that will only gain financially or otherwise without having to deal with the cost of war? The answer is quite easy to see. Knowledge and experience should teach that most wish to avoid war and violence. Despite what we think the 21st century is actually, in fact, less violent than the previous centuries. This is most likely because now that the average person can see the cost of violence and war there is a trend to avoid it.

This does now mean, however, that you should not be capable of it because there will always be those who prefer war, or want control or power thus there must always be those capable of stoping them. A favorite quote of mine is;

“It is better to be a warrior in a garden, than a gardener in war”

It is always better to be able to do something but choose not to than to not be able to do it without a choice.

As Humans, we should aspire to be more capable and competent as we grow as species, but having the knowledge is not enough without the skill and wisdom to wield it effectively.

They say our future is in the hand of our children, and this is always true generation to generation. So do your child a favor, girl or boy and let them learn the lessons now and not later. Get them started in martial arts early so that they can learn the difference between knowledge, power, skill and when it is appropriate to apply them in the form of violence and when it is not.

Let them learn physical, mental and personal control and learn the lesson that for every action is an equal reaction and there will always be consequences.

Teach your children to be good, strong and capable and not just harmless lumps.

Empty your cup

Posted: September 24, 2019 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga and Other Martial Arts
Tags: , ,

empty your cup.jpgWalking into a classroom of any type can be a daunting task. You walk into a room knowing you will leave havier than you did before. Heavier in knowledge, or doubt, or pride, success, failure and weighed down further by the growth you will have achieved one way or another. This is however if you went into the learning environment with an empty cup. Or rather you went in to learn with an open mind. This applies to academics, or martial arts, or any place where there is someone offering something in the way of knowledge or skills.

Yet why do so many fail to understand that if you want to learn you must go in with fewer expectations, not more?

In martial arts, krav maga or otherwise, you would think this is a given yet there are always so many with too many expectations and full cups.

One such group is locked heavily on personal preference or experience, whether it be personal or what they have seen. Some especially in Krav Maga, come in and think they know how a class oaught to be because they saw it on the internet. Or they know what they like and it doesn’t matter that there may be others in the class. Or they come in with experience but the new school is not like their old one and they remind every one about it.  This is one group of people whos cups are not empty. They came in with preconceived ideas about how their class or school should be without bothering to actually learn openly.

Another group is locked little more in their minds and a little bit in the experience. Even when standards are clearly laid out they often feel like they are ready, or not ready for a particular promotion or role. Some think they are ready to be promoted, yet they have not met the expected standards yet. Others have met the standards and have been told they are ready and yet for one reason or another they feel they are not. One of these is an overestimation and the other an underestimation. Both each with their flaws in different ways and yet they both are examples of not having an empty cup. In both, they think they know better than those who are measuring progress, have set the standards or are the ones responsible for grading. While in some cases there may be specific examples of malicious intent, in most it is simply a matter of the question, do these people meet the standards? Yes or no. While these types should not follow their instructors blindly they also show a lack of trust in the judgment of their instructors. For they have determined internally that they know what is best, even if they may not entirely.

The last are the ones who are not even willing to learn at all for they are too trapped by their own minds to start with an empty cup. They think they cant do it, and then they psych themselves out of progress. They demonstrate they can do the technique, the skill or pass on the knowledge yet they have convinced themselves they cannot. In many ways, these are the hardest to teach for there is something going on that the instructor may not be equipped to deal with. It is often something deeper in the person such as trauma or social issues. It is probably not their fault, yet they need to empty their cups of those block lest they feel even more helpless with their lack of progress in knowledge or skill and stop themselves altogether from any learning or growth at all.

These three groups while wildly different all have the idea that they want to learn. Yet they start with their cups full. The hardest part of learning is often just stepping in the door and getting started. The second hardest part is opening your mind so that you can actually enjoy the learning process. If you enjoy the style, the skill or knowledge you are learning but you are not enjoying your self, then perhaps its the instructor or the school. But if the problem follows you where ever you go. Ask your self if you fit into one of the groups mentioned above and ask your self, is your cup really empty. Or was it full the entire time.

Either way, knowledge is power, and knowing is half the battle. So which is it, is your cup empty or is your cup full?

 

Know your self.jpg

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.

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!

 

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.

Post-IBJFF Worlds thoughts

Posted: August 27, 2019 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga in General
Tags: , , ,

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!

 

 

 

Off to the World’s I go!

Posted: August 20, 2019 by Jonathan Fader in Competition, Mental Health
Tags: , , ,

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.