Author Archive

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!

 

Advertisements

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.

Music a Tool to change mood: A Personal History – Part 2

 

Depression in nabulus.jpg

Depression near Nabulus

 

Fast forward to the middle to later part of my service. Stationed in Nabulus (Schem) on a mountaintop next to a Jewish Settlement overlooking numerous Arab villages. It was a particularly stressful time with little sleep, constant guard duty, pointless riot control that was like a stupid game of cat and mouse. At the same time, my best friend at the time and Spotter had been selected to go to sergeants school which means he would be gone. At the time I didn’t realize how having him, there was helping me to keep my sanity, but apparently, my commanders noticed a drastic change in my behavior after that.

Outside of the army, almost all the people whom I had moved to Israel with had either moved off the kibbutz where I was living or were people I disliked or vice versa. Nothing had gone to plan, and I felt isolated and alone with no support. I was spiraling into a deep depression and didn’t even know it at the time. Thankfully I rediscovered the album Kaleidoscope by Tiesto which had been released a little over a year previously. Though controversial from his fans as it branched away from his traditional style, it might have literally saved my life.

I found myself when not on guard duty, putting my headphones in and putting one or two of his songs on repeat. I could be seen pacing around our room or the base listening to it on repeat on what could probably look a zombie with earphones. At this time the album was the only things that brought me any Joy. One song often found itself on repeat. Here On this Earth feat. The Cary Brothers

“And the sun has fallen, and the backbeat’s telling truths
That you want to hear, and you want to hear again
And the closer that you get, with the force of all the weight
And it’s also clear, do you want to feel her

Want to feel her, want to feel her

For as long as you are, here on this earth
I feel alive
For as long as you are, here on this earth
I feel alive

And you take your time, because we’ve got all night
Saturday or nothing, we can do what we want
I’m a sucker for your game, it’s the way you tease
And it’s so unreal, when we touch the ceiling

For as long as you are, here on this earth
I feel alive
For as long as you are, here on this earth
I feel alive

Make it so, it shakes your heart
Nice and slow, but can you let it go
And you feel life fall away, and you have no fear
And you let it go, just let it go
And you feel life fall away, and you have no fear
Can you let it go, let it go

For as long as you are, here on this earth
I feel alive

Feel alive, feel alive, feel alive, feel alive
Feel alive, feel alive, feel alive, feel alive”

Though the song talks about love, and a person existing giving the person meaning for me it was the chorus that helped me.

“For as long as you are, here on this earth, I feel Alive”

For me, I put myself in place of the lover and the protagonist and as long as I was here on Earth, I felt Alive. Just like the Warrior I had imagined myself before coming, I felt alive, and I was fighting for myself emotionally though at the time I didn’t know it. It wasn’t until much later after I returned from Israel and had a manic depressive episode that I even knew I had depression. But this song grounded me at what would be one of the darker times in my services.

Music. A powerful tool. Intuition says so, Science says so. So how are you going to use it? Early in my life, I used it to enhance my mood negatively. Later, I used it to motivate and drive me forward. Then I used it to stay alive and feel alive. The trick is not just finding music because it is trendy but finding music that not only speaks to you personally but music that can be used positively to enhance your mood. Don’t listen to music to enhance dark moods for this will only make you feel worse. Find music that inspires and motivates and keeps you feeling alive. Use it as a tool to help you with your mental challenges so that you can once again walk in peace.

Conclusion Note:

When I chose this topic to write about I had an entirely different idea in my head of what the final product would look like. But then I started writing. I began to listen to the songs I discuss, some of which I have not listened to in a long time. Not surprisingly to me, though slightly unexpected and certainly surprising to anyone who thinks they know me these songs brought back some relatively strong emotions as I re-lived these times in my life.

This just shows the power of music and its effect it has on emotion. Despite what people think even my self the robot is only human and is still subject to the same general biological rules as everyone else. I thought, am a warrior at heart, and accept my humanity, even if I think emotions cloud judgment far too often for far too many people. So if you have a hard time with emotional control find the tools and use them positively, music is just one of the few tools that can help.

*Originally published Nov 2nd, 2019

Music a Tool to change mood: A Personal History – Part 1

It’s actually because of Matisyahu and his music that helped convince me at the right time to drop everything, move to Israel and join the IDF. Specifically, two songs. Jerusalem and Warrior which also happen to be two of his earlier songs. But with all music, words alone cannot do them justice so here are the songs, assuming It doesn’t get pulled.

Jerusalem:

 

At one point I considered getting the lyric

“Jerusalem, if I forget you, let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do.”

tattooed on me, in Hebrew as it is a biblical verse. I am glad the tattoo artist convinced Jerislam hebrew.jpgme out of it as it is a bit too religious for my liking now. Instead, I got the Hebrew word for life tattooed on me, to symbolize that I chose life, which I put in the center of my black and white star of David. It not only expressed my identity, as I am a proud Jew even if I have great disdain for religion but also that the universe demands unity of everything. Male and female, right and wrong, and good and evil.tattooed on me, in Hebrew as it is a biblical verse.

However, the second verse of Jerusalem, in particular, spoke to me, which goes as follows:

“Rebuild the temple and the crown of glory
Years gone by, about sixty
Burn in the oven in this century
And the gas tried to choke, but it couldn’t choke me
I will not lie down, I will not fall asleep
They come overseas, yes they’re trying to be free
Erase the demons out of our memory
Change your name and your identity
Afraid of the truth and our dark history
Why is everybody always chasing we
Cut off the roots of your family tree
Don’t you know that’s not the way to be”

It references the Holocaust and how history has attempted to destroy the Jews as a people, uproot us and destroy our lineage. Did I mention I am a proud Jew?

I decided to accept my identity of as a Jew not because I care about the Torah, not because I am religious, not because I like the holidays but because of history. In the end, it does not matter what I think, whether I accept myself as a cultural Jew, a religious Jew, or a genetic Jew. Those around will always see me as a Jew.

Hitler determined that if you had two grandparents that were Jewish, even if you weren’t a practicing Jew you would be considered a Jew and thus subject to the atrocities that were committed under his orders. This was even used in the construction of Israels Right to Return Laws.

Despite claims that there is no anti-Semitism in this world, it is a false narrative. Even when there are mass protests, like the misguided love trumps hate rallies, many of those who claim to operate in the name of love still hate Jews. For antisemitism is real and strong as ever. As such, no matter what I think those who would hate Jews will always see me as one no matter what I think.

This song, as well as the hate of others (irony), made me realize I must accept who I am and be proud of my heritage even if I don’t plan to continue the Jewish practices. This song helps me solidify who I am as a person. It helped me know who I am and accept it. It helped me understand the meaning of the Term Never Again when referring to the Jewish People in particular with that second verse and come 2008/2009 when I decided to move to Israel to join the IDF this was one of the reasons I convinced my self to go.

The second of Matisyahu’s two songs that helped me decide to go to Israel was Warrior

With this song, the line in the chorus,

“You’re a warrior, Fighting for your soul”

spoke to me.

For I am a warrior, fighting for my soul. Lost and unhappy and looking for a purpose.

For I am the Lion, The Wolf and the Fox, and I will fight for me because no one else will. Though I add the animal analogy as I write this, the three animals which I think embody UTKM, the rest was true at the time. I decided, yes I am a warrior. I don’t care if others look down at me, berate me, hate me, or deny my talents and potential. I will do it for me.

I even thought of my Grandfather who was a proud veteran of the Canadian Forces and a proud supporter of Israel. Outside of my Israeli Cousins, I would be the only of his children or grandchildren in North America closer to him that would continue the military tradition. I know he would have been proud of me, though unfortunately, he passed before my service, the memory of him and his dedication along with the song and what it means to be a warrior further pushed my decision to join the Military.

*Originally published Oct 26th 2019

Music a Tool to change mood: A Personal History – Part 3

Your musical brain.jpg

Music is something that has been in the history of man for as long as most can tell. It is sound, vibration, the transfer of energy that creates soothing, or intense emotional reactions. Some of us, are even lucky enough to get goosebumps when we hear music, myself included. Music is ingrained in most cultures in one form or another and can be used for the most beautiful of intentions or used to manipulate you into buying something you wouldn’t otherwise have done.

In 1991 a French Researcher Dr. Alfred A tomatis wrote about something he called the “Mozart effect” in his book Pourquoi Mozart? Tomatis did research into auditory effects of music to help with various mental ailments.

In a follow-up study published in Nature in 1993, Rauscher et al showed using the Mozart effect that listening to particular music could definitively help with spatial reasoning and enhance IQ scores.

In short, something we have always known intuitively, that music enhances mood was shown by the Mozart effect and numerous other studies that music can improve performance and mood both for good or for the bad.

Now that the obvious is out of the way, let’s get into my personal history with music and how two artists, in particular, helped inspire me and get me through some tough times.

When I was younger at home, my parents used to put on things like classical music, opera, or some form of news radio. I used to fall asleep to things like Enya, Sarah Brightman, Andrea Bocelli and Peter and the Wolf as narrated by Captain Jean Luc Picard himself Err, I mean Patrick Stewart. I often forget that when I was younger, I was exposed to such things as it was so long ago, but once in a while when I take to time to think back I remember, I do like such music. Outside of that, however, music was not a part of my life as my family, in general, is not of the musical variety.

As I grew older in Elementry school, for some reason or another, I lost interest in music completely. I didn’t understand my peer’s obsessions with the top 10 hits on the local radio stations. Among other things, this was the begging of my realization that I am not really like other people. Perhaps I didn’t understand why they all just blindly liked the same thing like sheep and I rejected music because though I didn’t know it yet I am and always have been a wolf. Because of this at the time, I never used music for the good or the bad.

Enter High school and the standard years of angst. I don’t recall exactly how or why I started listening to it, but I began to listen to angry music like Slipknot, D12 or other such things. At the time I used it to enhance my anger, my hate and the feelings of loneliness and despair as I slipped closer to the Dark Side. Though I had “friends” I certainly never fit in, and looking back I feel like they only kept me around out of boredom or to have another person for their games. Post army, learning what real brotherhood and friendship were like I realized none of them ever were my friends. It’s a shame I didn’t know that at the time for perhaps I would have found different friends and had a happier time.

Later, in high school, I found a different group of friends, those who were also social outcasts but not socially inept. Through them, I found things like classic rock, The Beatles, Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC and at the time my favorite Led Zeppelin. Though not any happier with myself or any less angry at least I found music that would no longer enhance such emotions but instead would foster a more open view of the world around me.

As time passed, happiness, finally free of the prison that is the school system. A place not for people like myself, who don’t fit the mold in any way shape or form and someone completely, to this day, unwilling to be a sheep and conform to the lies and laziness of the powers that be.

It was at this time I started branching out into alternative music and EDM and other similar genres.

On January 18th, 2006, only a few months free, while watching the late-night show I saw this performance:

Yes, you guessed it, Matisyahu. If you had read my series on my Camp My Way Experience you would have noticed several of his songs. Though Matisyahu has evolved from his previous personal as that Hassidic Jew singing reggae his music has always spoken to me. Though I am not in any way a religious man in any way I think Matisyahu’s lyrics and music do a beautiful job at capturing what it means to be human.

Whether I knew it or not, like the butterfly effect, changing the channel on this night at this time would set things in motion for things to come and lay the path of my future life.

*Originally published Oct 19th, 2017

Music a Tool to change mood: A Personal History – Part 2

This year I awarded my 5th and 6th Krav Maga green belt under our UTKM curriculum. For the 5th (Click here for the experience) It was a special occasion as it was not only the first women to get a green belt at UTKM but also the youngest person.

If you had told me that when she first walked in our doors at age 15 she would be the first female green belt I probably would not have believed it. A non-athletic teen with bad posture who was fairly quiet.

They say first impressions matter, but in this case, my first impressions were very wrong.

Yet we did not scare her away and she kept coming, again and again. Yes, I am talking about Karis. Whether she likes it or not she has become an inspiration for many of the other women in our gym. She is always there, always training and always pushing…with only minimal complaints (lots of sass though).

Consistency is key.jpgSo how did Karis go from point A to point B? Simple, she was consistent and regular in her training. It is no secret. If you are consistent and you put in quality time, you will get results. period.

My 6th Green belt was also given out to Quinn. When we still had the Richmond school he was one of the most consistent and regular students we had. Coming to Krav Maga, BJJ and Muay Thai. (Karis did too btw). Quinn is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Naturally athletic, Cycling everywhere, hiking all the time and living a super active Vancouver lifestyle. He too has made much improvement as he no longer relies on his strength alone. This is a challenge that many bigger stronger men have yet if they learn early to use more technique they will be even better for it.

So what does Quinn have in common with Karis? You guessed it Consistency. Even after the days he can train with us was reduced he still comes regularly to progress his training.

By the way, the previous 4 green belts also go there through constant regular training with extra classes, private lessons and 3-4 days a week of regular classes.

Yes, you guessed it, like any martial art UTKM Krav is no different. If you want to get good. If you want to progress. If you want to achieve your goals. Then you must understand that consistency is the path of the warrior. So quit talking, show up and train.

 

 

Over the last few days, myself and 3 of my students including 1 of my assistant instructors went down to Petaluma, California to take part in the first ever International Kapap Federation (IKF) in America. It was lead by the head instructor of the IKF Amit Himelstein. You may remember him from the last major Warriors Den podcast.

Before moving forward I should clarify that KAPAP is teg cousin of Krav Maga historically although nowadays it is essentially the same thing. For some, it is a distinction of great significance but for others it’s is not.

For Amit, the difference is far less important than providing quality and up to date training. Amit started his martial arts Journey early like many with Karate. He served in the IDF special forces after which he moved to China and studied Kung Fu, Sanshou and Shuai Jiao. He is also an expert in wrestling and modified Jiujitsu under the Machado lineage. Additionally, he has spent time training and developing CQB protocol in the IDF where he continues to regularly teach.

The course it’s self though only 4 days was one of the more intense courses I have taken so far as Amit does not just expect you to know his protocol and techniques but also show your ability to perform physically and mentally.

Days often started with 1-2 hour warm-ups. This may have been general warmups, pad work, body weight exercises or basic tumbling and gymnastics drills.

The range of techniques covered during this time covers all the standard self-defense scenarios from grabs and chokes to third party scenarios. Each day would range between 8-10 hours with a lunch break.

Amit and the IKF’s approach is simple to give you a series of progressive moves for each scenario from a simple escape to a more complex option should the first one fail. Because yes, techniques can and do fail for a variety of reasons. In order to keep it simple their approach sticks to a simple protocol that can be followed in most situations.

For myself, the only complicated part was overriding my muscle memory from the various other styles of Krav Maga I have learned which at the beginning often led to delay but in the end, under stress proved no problem. This shows that the IKFs and Amits approach really is simple and easy to learn.

One thing I will say about the IKF style is that it is much more security, police and military approach with a heavy emphasis on control and arrest. Though all the techniques and approaches showed would work just fine for civilian application through their emphasis should be more on escape and evade.

If you are a security professional or LE and you have limited time and resources to train I highly recommend the IKF course as a must to supplement any training you might already have. It is an affordable course with a wealth of information that will help you stay safe and keep others safe.

As this was the first US course there were many participants from all over the country and of course Canada. In total there was 14 of as and from what I can tell except for some bruises, cuts and my Cauliflower ear we all had a blast.

(If you are squeamish then this video is not for you)

If you do think that this certification is a walk in the park it is as not everyone passes as you must not only show a good command of the IKF style but also an ability to physically and verbally control others. To me, there is nothing more disappointing than an instructor course where everyone passes for just showing up even though it is clear that they shouldn’t be certified. This is, by the way, a big problem in North America as there are so many Krav instructors who class’ look more like a cardio kickboxing class than something that is seriously preparing students for conflict both physically and mentally.

For me, Amit is probably one of the best instructors I have so far trained under. Not to disrespect to the others I have trained with because they all have amazing credentials and back rounds but I found Amit to be the most well rounded not just in skill which is terrifying but in experience and temperament. Amit is humble and is in it for the right reason he clearly loves training and teaching and is not just in it for the money but rather to build something greater than himself. On this course, I didn’t just find a certifying instructor but also a brother.

The UTKM squad after testing and certification. From left to right: Petra Foerster, Jonathan Fader, Amit Himelstein, Jeff Dyble, Oliver M.

I am also pleased to say that all 4 of us from UTKM passed with little trouble and now at the time of this article are the only school in Western Canada with certified IKF Instructors. On top of this everyone seemed to be in pressed with the quality of my students who couldn’t have made me prouder.

This trip also turned out to be a great bonding experience with my students and because of it, there will be some very positive changes to come at UTKM.

So for those who want authentic Israeli style training that is the most current and up to date in relation to what the IDF is doing and is also affordable then IKF is the place for you. Don’t get me wrong I still believe in training with everyone but as most individuals are not me and don’t want to travel a lot and spend a lot of money to train. The IKF is an amazing place to start.

So get up, get training and learn to walk on peace both physically and mentally.

 

MONEY FULL

What do you see in the photo above? Do you see some green, white pink smudges or do you see something more? A few weeks ago I wrote about tunnel vision and big-picture thinking and this is simply a continuation of that thought from another perspective. If you did not figure it out from the title the image above is part of a famous Monet painting. Monet was a French Impressionist painting, one of many. While I am not a scholar in Art or even really an Art person at all I still find my self able to appreciate art and in particular the impressionist movement.

What I like about them is that if you stand to close or look at only a part of the painting then you may not be quite sure what you are really looking at. But if you stand back and take a wider perspective that what looked like nothing now becomes a painting or image with what is usually a beautiful scene.

We live our lives through our eyes and other senses. Because of this, we cannot see what is not within our senses grasp which often gives us a limited perspective. As humans, we are lucky that we can use experience and knowledge to fill in the gaps but often these are just intentional or unintentional guesses.

“If you know the way broadly, you will see it in everything”

 

Additionally, the way at least western society has been trending we have been taught heavily to streamline our thinking processes for specific things such as a particular area of study, let’s say engineering or Architecture. I have found that this can often even further narrow a person perspective as this often traps them in a particular way of thinking. Take Engineers for example. They can often be notoriously rigid in their thinking as compared to say Architects who want to be a bit more free and well artistic with their thinking. Yet they both need to work together to create something bigger their respective ways of thinking and doing.

Take and moment, or a step back to remove yourself mentally from the moment and look at something more broadly can often mean the difference between success and failure.

The great Samurai warrior Miyamoto Musashi knew this well when he said,

“If you know the way broadly, you will see it in everything”

For he knew if you only saw one piece of the puzzle, or become to tunnel-visioned at the moment, then that could mean a swift demise for your self in battle. In his case, it was the swift demise of those he faced for he was one of the greatest warriors partially because he had a big picture thinking and didn’t do something just because everyone else was doing it.

According to modern science, humans cannot literally multi-task, but we must do our best to focus on multiple aspects to get the best possible results.

In Krav Maga and self-defense scenarios we must think and see as broadly as possible. This is why Avoidance is often the best choice because you are not just thinking about whether you can or cannot win a confrontation but you are also considering things like collateral damage or what might happen legally after the fact.

As Kravist we must also see the way broadly so that we are not caught off guard potentially ending in our own demise.

If you see the way broadly it can also lead to richer interpersonal relationships as it will allow you to see things from other peoples perspectives. Though I admit this is something I am still working on.

So when you look at something are you looking at it too closely so that you cannot really appreciate it in its entirety or have you taken a step back to enjoy the thing, the moment or the Monet painting for what it is. Something beautiful.

 

MONEY FULL.jpg

Working Title/Artist: Monet: Bridge over a Pond of Water LiliesDepartmen