Archive for the ‘Martial Arts In General’ Category

This information may be slightly out of date. It was pulled on the date of writing this article.

Since my entire month of travel has been cancelled and I now have a bit more time on my hands, I thought I would discuss the global outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, the Coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. The blog series I had recently started makes the point that self-defence is not just physical; there are often many other areas of life that require a bit of Critical thinking and self-defense strategy. Living in a pandemic is just such a scenario. I am definitely not a expert on diseases or epidemiology, but I can apply reasoning and critical thinking to know that, while the Coronavirus is definitely cause for concern, the global reaction is very much one of panic in the face of a lack of planning. But don’t just take my word for it, see the stats for yourself in this awesome info graphic (left).

Or, if you want a more in-depth explanation from an actual expert, listen to the Joe Rogan Experience, Episode #1439, with Michael Osterholm, an internationally recognized expert on infectious diseases and epidemiology.

Otherwise, I will attempt to sum up what he said:

  1. Yes, this new Coronavirus is concerning, but this is mainly due to the fact that it is such an easily transmittable viral strain compared to previous ones, like SARS or MERS. This is due to the fact that once you have it you are immediately able to transmit it to others. With previous Coronavirus strains you would not be able to transmit the virus until you already knew you were sick, 4-5 days in. This means that, for the current strain, SARS-CoV-2, you could have it, not know you are sick and transmit it.
  2. Unlike other strains or viral outbreaks children seem to be relatively unaffected by it. While they can contract the virus they are generally less likely to develop COVID-19. In Fact, Osterholm believes that closing schools is unnecessary and will do more harm than good, from both health and economic perspectives.
  3. The early claims about touching the face as the primary means of spreading the virus are not true. This strain is airborne, passed on by breath and breathing. As Osterholm states, trying to stop this strain outright is like trying to stop the wind. Unless you plan on being in a hazmat suit 24hrs a day, you can still contract the virus simply by breathing. His advice was to not panic and LIVE YOUR LIFE!
  4. This strain is essentially a REALLY BAD FLU for most sufferers. This means that, generally, the only people who need to worry are those past retirement age (55-65), those with compromised immune systems, or complicating heart or lung conditions. Essentially, the same people who would need to worry about getting any kind of flu.
  5. You should wash your hands regularly and practice good hygiene… you know, like you normally should…
  6. The best thing you can do, is eat healthy and be healthy. This includes continuing with exercise as normal. The healthier you are the better you can manage COVID-19, or any flu for that matter.
  7. DON’T PANIC! THIS IS NOT THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! THERE IS A LOT OF MISINFORMATION AND BS OUT THERE! CHILL OUT!
  8. I am sure there is more, but it’s a long podcast, so listen to it yourself.

I hope you get the point here; while there is a legitimate concern as the World Health Organization (WHO) has now given it pandemic status, there is a lot of misinformation and fear-mongering out there. So stop panicking and STOP HOARDING TOILET PAPER, it won’t save your life for shit! (Get it? I am punny.)

A more up to date resource for Canada can be found here!

Facemasks and Respirators:

Way back in 2008 I completed my certificate in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS). One of the areas of study was knowing how to properly use respirators, for health and construction. WAY BACK THEN, I knew that the generic surgical masks do not protect you from airborne viruses, and yet people and governments still seem to believe they do. This is because they were only meant to stop water or vapor, from a cough or sneeze, from landing anywhere other than the mask; but, because they do not create a tight seal, air and the breath of others can still get through. N95/N99 masks are far better, as they are able to create a better seal and have a more advanced filtering ability. However, the issue with these as that movements can break the seal, meaning that, while they work great for particulates, viruses are very small and may still be able to get through the edges. This is why, if there was an epidemic of an actually deadly nature, you would want a proper respirator with a rubber seal and replaceable filter cartridges. I, myself, have these, just in case, though I generally do not plan on walking around the streets looking like Bane just because of COVID-19. Though I would absolutely do this for a more serious outbreak, because, again, these work. Of course, to be absolutely sure, you should go get your mask “fit tested” to ensure it fits properly on your face.

The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020

For some strange reason people have decided that the most important thing in the world is toilet paper. When I have talked to my friends we all are scratching our heads as to why this, toilet paper, is the item people are hoarding in a pandemic. Not water, you know, the thing we need to live. Not food, also the thing we need to live, but rather a thing we have become accustomed to for comfort.

I thought I would take this time to remind people that before toilet paper people managed just fine. Its called water, a leaf, or washable cloths. Would I enjoy wiping my ass with a re-usable cloth that I need to wash? Not particularly. But, am I going to wake up 2 hours before Costco opens to wait in line for toilet paper? Absolutely Not! Or, assuming running water is still there, you can always get in the shower.

Seriously people, what is wrong with our priorities?!

Coming to Krav Maga Classes:

Given that the best defence for this virus is to stay healthy, if Krav Maga, or any martial art, is your primary means of exercise, then you should still come to class.

The only reason you should not come to class is:

  • You have cold/flu-like symptoms.
  • You are coughing or sneezing regularly.
  • You are feeling “sick” in general.
  • You are injured to the point of not to be able to train (though we still recommend you come and observe in this case).
  • You have traveled out of country recently.
  • You have tested positive for COVID-19 (Self Isolate!)

Aside from the last two, these are basically the same reasons you shouldn’t come to class under normal circumstances.

Coming to Class:

  • Wash your hands as soon as you come
  • Wipe down any equipment you used
  • Feel free to wear face masks in class

So, in summary; stay healthy, WASH YOUR HANDS (like normal), and come to class.

I hope this clears up any confusion and assuages fears that you might have. As for me, at least at this stage in the pandemic, the existence of this virus simply isn’t a good enough reason to not come to class (unless it mutates, then I might reconsider)

So stay calm and carry on. And, for the LOVE OF GOD, please stop panicking!

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Turning Up

With Krav Maga classes, as with almost everything in life, turning up is the first key to success. Now, by this I don’t simply mean being physically in the room, yes, getting to class on time is important, but turning up for your classmates and instructors means more than that.

Come to class regularly. This is important. Often concepts and techniques build on one and other, and if you consistently miss classes you will eventually fall behind. You won’t be able to keep up with the more complex techniques or concepts, which means that either your partner or the instructor will end up having to stop and explain things to you; which means less active training time for you and your partner. This also means that you may struggle to perform more complex movements, as you have not adequately practiced the basics to a level where you can build on them.

Pay attention. You need to ensure that you are mentally switched on while training; meaning pay attention to your instructors. Once again, just because you are there, and there regularly, doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to learn anything (lets face it, not many of us can learn through osmosis). Actively listen when things are being explained, and while chatting with the person next to you might seem like fun, it’s rude to your instructor; and if you disrupt class then it’s rude towards your fellow students as well. Furthermore, if you are chatting or daydreaming, you aren’t listening. As noted above, if you don’t listen when drills are being explained you might find that you are wasting valuable time trying to play catch up, or worse, you are in the wrong place at the wrong time and end up getting kicked or punched by your partner (though this often makes for a quick learning curve).

Actively participate. If you’re in a classroom or lecture hall raise your hand and ask or answer questions, if you’re in a Krav Maga class speak up when you’re asked for input, and then do the drill. Sure, no one likes to be the dummy that’s getting kicked in the groin, but that’s a part of Krav Maga training. You take the fun with the not-so-fun. If you’re not giving every part of the drills the same attention and enthusiasm, on every drill, then you’re not really actively participating in the class. If you don’t understand something, ask; just keep the questions relevant.

Keep the energy up. Now, I know we don’t all have the energy of a 5yr old after their 5th espresso everyday, but you need to turn up to class ready to commit to a full class. If you’re not providing a committed and energetic attack for your partner during drills, then you’re not giving them the opportunity to learn what a realistic attack feels like, and if their technique could successfully defend against it. Even in between drills, whether it’s getting pads or putting on gear, do it with a bit of pep in your step; don’t waste everyone’s limited training time just because you’re feeling like taking it a little easier today. I don’t mean you have to be rushing every time you go to do something, but keep the tempo up, act with a sense of urgency, and don’t let your heart rate drop too much.

Be prepared. “Turning up” can begin before you even get to class. Make sure you have all of your protective gear; groin guard, mouth guard, helmet, and gloves, and bring a water bottle (tip: try to show up hydrated!). Periodically check that your uniform is clean, no one wants to train with the guy who’s shirt smells like B.O., and if you’re anything like me (who sweats) bring a towel. Because, while I don’t expect to come out of class without getting a little of someone else’s sweat on me, it’s a good option to be able to wipe down yourself or the equipment you’re using.

Help out where you can. If you’re working with a newer or less experienced person and they are having trouble, help them out if you can; just be careful not to start teaching. At the end of class help clean up and put away the equipment used. Being a good student and good classmate doesn’t start and stop when you bow in and out; if you are “turning up” for your school, take a little pride and do your part.

These are some of the things that “turning up” means to me. It may mean more or less to you, but if you have never thought about what it means, or wondered if you are, this should serve as a starting point for you to decide what type of student you want to be.

Are you a good training partner?


Are you the guy that as soon as the instructor says pair up everyone looks at hoping you will train with them or are you the guy the people avoid making eye contact with until everyone else has pared up and you get a reluctant partner. So, what makes a good training partner? Here is a list of what I find to be some of the most important points.

Turning Up


In my experience training martial arts as well as working with teams of people in the construction and hospitality industries first and foremost the thing that makes a good partner in any situation is turning up; not just being there, but being mentally focused and physically active. Especially in martial arts, where someone not paying attention can mean injuries, you need to be focused on the task at hand, knowing what both you and your partner are expected to do and executing those duties with enthusiasm and commitment. No one wants to train with the guy who is constantly asking what they are supposed to be doing or just lacks physical commitment to the training; whether that means holding pads or playing an aggressor.

Listening to the Instructors


Secondly, once you have turned up pay attention to your instructor and listen to instructions! There is nothing worse than performing a combination or series of techniques and your partner isn’t where they are supposed to be or isn’t reacting appropriately. I experienced this recently, while practicing getting up from the ground as an aggressive attacker approaches you. The drill goes like this: the attacker pushes the defender with a kick shield, the defender falls to the ground and performs a break fall, the attacker then walks towards the defender, the defender stabilizes themselves and kicks at the attackers knees (of course protected by the kick shield), keeping them at distance, and then gets up, facing the attacker in a fighting stance. My situation was that my partner pushed me with the kick shield, but, as I performed my break fall, stood 4 feet away from me and didn’t move in. So it was impossible for me to complete the technique because my partner was a) in the wrong place and b) standing static not moving forward; all because they didn’t listen to the explanation of the drill by the instructor.

Pad Holding


There is somewhat of an art to holding pads well, and it does take a little time to learn, but there are some basics that you need to grasp; not just to give the best experience to your partner, but also to avoid injuries (yours or theirs).

The two main types of pads we use are focus mitts and kick shields, so I will limit my discussion to these. When using focus mitts, the mitt itself typically represents your opponent’s head, but in some cases their body or groin. With that in mind, hold them in a position that corresponds to those body parts. For example, if your training a jab/cross (1,2) punch combination keep the pads at your head height, and close to where your head would be (though not right in front of your face, as you risk a blow to your face with the back of the pad.) Avoid holding them more than shoulder width apart, as this is not a realistic target for your partner and is a good way to injure you own shoulder. As the strike connects with the mitt treat it like catching a ball; you want to add a little forward force so there is resistance for the person punching, which helps them to avoid hyperextending their elbow.

Kick shields, as the name implies, are typically used for striking with legs and feet. The key with this type of pad is to hold it tight and close to your body. People have a tendency to try holding this type of pad off their body, assuming that the shield will absorb all the force, but what really happens is the shield is slammed back against your body. This also allows for a lot of movement in the shield and often results is your partner’s kicking foot sliding off at an unexpected angle; possibly hitting you and/or causing a ankle or knee injury to your partner.

Providing a Realistic Attack


Providing a realistic attack is another key to being a good partner. If you are training to block a punch to the head I’m not suggesting you try and knock your partner out, but if they do nothing, or offer a weak block, you should make light contact with their chin, nose, or cheek bone (depending on where you were aiming). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve faced punches that were falling short (by several inches) or landing way out to either side of my head. This is obviously not a realistic attack. As a result I have to perform a different movement to “defend” the attack, and this isn’t the muscle memory I want to train. Similarly, if you are putting chokes or holds onto your partner use enough force that they have to fight to get out of it. If you offer no resistance to the defense they are training they will be stuck wondering why its not working, and probably really shocked at how it feels, if it ever happens in real life.

Watch Your Distance


Everyone’s range is different, and all of your natural weapons (legs, elbows, kicks, knees, punches, headbutts, etc.) have different ranges. You need to match your range to the range of your partner and what they need for the weapons they are using. So, if you are working with someone much taller or shorter than you, don’t stand where your range is, stand at, or hold the pads at, their range; so they can correctly train the strikes they are practicing. It is also important to maintain this range when we train in a dynamic mode; if your partner moves in, move back to match, if they move back, move in to match.

Watch Your Power


Power control is one of our most important training concepts, especially when sparring but also when working with pads or holds and grappling. Often, rules set out a 10-15% power limit, but, if you are much larger or stronger than your partner, remember that your 15% is likely more than theirs. So, try to let your partner set the power level if they are smaller or less experienced. Likewise, if you are using pads and unload on a kick shield held by someone 40lb smaller than you, you will probably send them flying across the room.

Final Thoughts

I will elaborate further on each of these points in subsequent blog posts, but the basics are here. If you want to be a good training partner, and always have people happy and wanting to train with you; turn up, listen to your instructors, hold your pads wisely, provide realistic attacks, watch your distance, and watch your power.

And please, for anyone that trains with me, please call me out if I’m not being a good training partner. I promise I won’t take it personally.

Written by: Evan J

UTKM: Yellow Belt

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.

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.

Master ken seminar

So to should a good seminar!

When it comes to martial arts or self-defense there are many reasons a person may choose to go to a seminar. For some, its because they do not have the time to train regularly, for others they want to supplement their regular training. At UTKM we have attended many seminars on many topics from leadership, how to teach, Krav Maga, Self Defense, Martial arts in General and we have learned what makes a good seminar.

Who is teaching

The person whos teaching is a world champion. The person whos teaching is famous for… The person whos teaching regularly teaches classes. Therefore, they must run an amazing seminar. WRONG! The thing is running a seminar is different than teaching a regular class, with regular students. It is also clearly different than performing.

We have gone to seminars for people who are the heads of seminars who teach all the time and who have developed champions and yet the seminar was mediocre at best. We have also gone to seminars from people we have never heard of and had an amazing seminar.

Don’t just sign up to a seminar because you like the topic, or the person has a name to them. Ask around, do you know anyone who has gone to the seminar with that person. Find out if it was worth the price of the seminar and if they learned anything. (Just make sure your friend isn’t a seminar junky who things they are all great) If they tell you it was worth it and they learned a lot then this person is probably great at running seminars

Content of Seminar

A good seminar, picks 1 topic or maybe 2 or 3 related topics. From there, there should be a clear structure for the seminar. It should start with the basics of that topic and build it up. For example, let’s take a gun disarm seminar. If it doesn’t start with the basics like how firearms work, firearms laws and basic safety then you may be missing out on super important contextual information. If they really know their stuff this can take 5-15 minutes as they will be able to sum it up.

The topic is always great as it is often the reason people sign up, but it is not enough. There must be contextual information allowing you to have a framework to build off of mentally for the rest of the seminar. Often good instructors will lay out how they are going to run the seminar so you have an idea. The structure and context of the material is super important. While we often go to seminars thinking we are going to be constantly going, a good seminar should be a mix of explanation, demonstrations and drill time.

Bad seminars, especially in self-defense, will just teach a bunch of random unconnected techniques. You have limited time in a seminar so there must not be too much information or techniques taught or else it will be difficult to retain the information for most people. Another bad seminar is one where they spend a large portion of their time telling stories without giving much practice time. While this can be educational you should have time to develop your skills. Alternatively, a bad seminar is one in which you are simply doing things the whole time with no explanation at all.

This is why if they start with a basic overview, explain, demonstrate, give drill time and correct as needed it should be a good seminar.

Length of Seminar

A seminar, if it is any good, will almost never just be 1 hour. 1 hour is enough for review of material that you already know and not for new material or material being taught from someone you are not familiar with. A good seminar should be between 2-4 hours. Anything longer than that is more akin to a course which would be 8 hours plus. A seminar needs to be a quick overview, of a topic, idea or concept to be taught in a relatively short period of time.

Anything less than 2 hours then it is unlikely there is enough time to give an appropriate overview of that topic, idea or concept. Anything over 4 hours and peoples attention spans start to go. This is especially true if the seminar is full of people who are new to the topic or have never worked with that particular instructor.

Lead Instructor Jonathan has done many seminars, and courses ranging from 4 hours to 7 days and he can attest that even in topics he is familiar with it can be hard to focus past 4 hours let alone 4 days especially when there is both physical components and mental components.

Even better it is a seminar series, that goes between 2-4 hours each day or in consecutive weeks that expands on a specific topic. With each time review what was done before, adding on too it and allowing for a full review on the last day. Any Seminar is serious that last more than 4 separate days is probably more akin to a full-time course. If seminars are presented in series that it would be important that you attend every single one. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of separate seminars with their own loosely related topics rather than a specific series.one one topic.

Level of Seminar

The level of the seminar should have been advertised prior to it. For example, is it for beginners with Zero experience? In which case it should say Intro too or beginners. Or it could specify must have X amount of experience in X. If it is the former then great, bring one bring all. If it is the latter then it is the responsibility of the organizer to appropriately vet every person entering the seminar to ensure everyone is at the correct level.

A Seminar where the skills are wildly varying can be tough as you either have to teach to the lowest skill level or you teach to the skill level you want to. In the first case, it can be boring for more skilled individuals who wanted to update and progress their skills. In the second, it can be dangerous and frustrating to the new person who can barely keep up. In either case, people are losing out.

We have been too long seminars that covered multiple topics or areas in some we did just fine, then it got to a specific skill we were not familiar or practice in and thus that portion became very difficult and we were unable to keep up. They kept saying its easy a fundamental but as we had no experience in that skill it was neither. Needless to say, it was not a fun section and we ended up just observing.

A good instructor can read the room and adapt the skill level accordingly. There have been times at UTKM that a certain level was expected and a lesson plan was created and either the skill level was too low or too high. So we simply adapted accordingly making it easier or harder. Unless it is a graded seminar requiring a certain level of standards (Such as instructor training) than adapting to the level of the group is extremely important so that everyone stays safe and learning to their maximum efficiency.

Was it Fun!

Lastly, and you can only really know this at the end. Was it fun. Was the instructor or instructors engaging and were they able to read the room well and adapt accordingly? This, of course, is relative as fun for one person is not always for another. The better the seminar the more likely a majority of people enjoyed it. If it was, fun then its usually something you might consider again. This is a simple one, because well, nobody likes a dry seminar.

 

 

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.

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!

 

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.

I’ve been training for almost four years now. And there’s something that has often happened to me that I didn’t recognize as a problem until recently. People are afraid to hit me or don’t want to spar with me, simply because I’m female. Well. That’s annoying. I’m not going to break, jeez. I can’t speak for all the other women who train as to what their experience has been like, but I am so tired of having to constantly reassure people. I feel like I’m telling people that “you can hit harder”, “it’s okay to hit me”, “no it isn’t too hard” almost every class. Recently, I’ve just been getting really frustrated by this. So to everyone who is afraid of hitting me, here is why you should.

10089527-mma-ufc-212-galelha-vs-kowalkiewicz.jpeg

Women fight professionally too you know! They can take a punch.

It hurts me and my chances of survival. The reason I come to Krav every week, sometimes transiting for several hours even when I’m exhausted, is not because I want to make friends and giggle (Which I do). It’s cool if you do want to talk and laugh with others, but I’m trying to get the skills that will allow me to protect myself and potentially others. Considering my future career plans (law enforcement), being proficient in Krav will probably save me one day. Now obviously being attacked in class is very different than being attacked on the street. You have no idea what someone might do, and unlike in class, they might actually want to murder you. Hopefully, no one in class is actually trying to kill you. If it is, then it might be time to rethink your life if that’s happening… So let’s say I’m in class sparring and my partner is going slowly and not actually hitting me. When I get attacked on the street, I’m not going to be used to be punched and might drop the first time I’m hit. So much for Krav Maga…. Oh well, if I die, I won’t be alive to worry about it. Have fun living with THAT guilt. For the training to actually be effective, I need to be able to react to anything that might happen. Refusing to hit me, or not going as hard as you would normally is going to make things worse in the long run. 

It’s also a part of the class. I wouldn’t be in Krav if I didn’t want to be hit. We all signed the waiver and know the risks. If someone doesn’t like getting hit, they probably won’t stick around, or they’ll let you know. I don’t need someone constantly asking if that was too hard, or not hitting the pad or whatever. Lemme explain how pads work to y’all, cause I feel like some people don’t get it. Pads are these cool things that absorb the hit so that by the time it reaches the person holding it, you don’t feel it as much. Isn’t that amazing? Now, pads work the same for males and females. If I pass the pad to a male student, it will not change and suddenly work better. And after all the years of holding pads, I know the super top secret way of holding them to absorb the hit the best. Trust me, I can take it. 

It’s also disrespectful. I am a green belt. Yay? It’s been almost four years of training with UTKM. And if you think I was given a green belt because I was gently tapped on the head a few times and smiled at, you are so very wrong. I had to fight for it. Not one or two, but THREE TESTS, increasing in difficulty. So I hate writing blogs, but I literally wrote an entire post about the green belt test just so I could complain about how hard it was. But I went through the same test the other green belts did. People didn’t hold back during the tests because of my gender (It was after all attempt to murder Karis day but you know, only in a metaphoric way). Trust me, I had the bruises to prove it. When people come in and don’t want to spar with a girl or keep asking if it’s too hard, it’s spitting on everything I’ve accomplished. You are telling me that despite everything I’ve been through, I still need to be protected and coddled. I’m not going to break if someone hits me. Seriously. I’m honest I do recognize that sometimes people are raised to not hit females, but I would like my rank and what I’ve done to be recognized. Please get over it so we can move on with class. For the other women at Krav, we have so many awesome different colour belts who train hard and deserve to be treated the same as the guys. 

 

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Karis in action

This all kinda ties into another problem. If someone going too hard in class, you have to let them know. As someone who has been forced (Voluntold) into teaching classes, it’s not easy trying to make sure that

1) you are teaching the right thing,

2) everyone is doing the technique correctly

3) think about what you are teaching next OH AND THEN make sure no one is killing each other.

Come on. You guys can figure this out. Going too hard with each other in class or not speaking up will just lead to injuries. Classes can get pretty big and your instructor can’t be everywhere at once. Just a warning, if you EVER go full force in a class I’m teaching, prepare for death >:D. Also a tip, size reeeeeeeeeallly matters. If I’m hitting at five percent, I probably will hit harder then someone else who is smaller than me. When I’m the smaller one, I won’t be able to hit as hard as the other person. This should be obvious. Remember this in sparring, and adjust for who you are fighting. We do try to avoid injuries if we can. It’s a little difficult to train with a concussion. Just a little bit.

 

So those are the thoughts of a NOT SASSY teenager. I’m not even really a teenager JON. DROP IT. Joking aside, this is important to me. I’m getting more and more tired of this. And I’m only eighteen (Teenager). I haven’t been alive that long. This obviously isn’t my experience with everyone. I’ve had some awesome teachers and classmates over the years. So if the remainder could just stop worrying about hitting me, that would be great. However, if you just come up to me and try to punch me in the face or something, I will react and the results may be unpleasant.