Archive for the ‘Mental & Physical Health and awareness’ Category

Cliche New Years Resolutions

These are all good goals, But are they objectively achievable and enjoyable in your life. If you really want them to be, they can be.

Another year has passed and its time for another cliche post about the new years and what to do. Cliches are annoying because they just remind us of things we know but often refuse to accept. Sometimes boring is boring because it works and though we love being creative as it makes us feel special we really should just stick to the cliche because then it would not only be easier but we might actually see more results.

As it is the end of the Christmas week, and moving into the new years its time for those cliche new years resolutions. So in the Cliche, Christmas and New Year spirit lets take a look at some cliches to help guide for the New Year.

The first cliche is to remind you of one of the UTKM Core Principles,

“We never stop learning and growing”

this means no matter what your goals, dreams or wishes for the new year are so long as you learn something and get value from the experience it was well worth it. So Empty your cup and start your journey.

It seems that the path to success is different for everyone. Yet one of the most consistent pieces of advice is to learn from your failures because it will only make you better. Refuse to learn and you might find things rarely go the way you want. And choosing not to do, for fear of failure is just as bad. So what are you waiting for? Have you made your new year’s resolution yet? Made your plans for life changes? Are you ready for personal growth?

If that wasn’t full of cliches hear is another one, though it is a valuable one so remember it well.

“Make realistic achievable and measurable goals”

Its a fairly straight forward one. If you make a new year’s resolution or set new goals and you rarely complete them its probably because they are unrealistic. A surefire way to fail is to set a goal that you cannot actually achieve. Either because it’s more than you can handle. You didn’t think it through completely or you were not being objectively realistic.

For example, if you are 200lbs overweight and you say you are going to lose it in 3 months then you have not just set an unreasonable goal but also an unhealthy one. A more realistic one might be to lose 100lbs per year for the next two years. A plan of action would include hiring a nutritionist and personal trainer to help you on your path. Or if the money is not there then the time to do the research on the internet is an alternative option. Though as we are social creatures it is often very important to know that sometimes we need that extra push from some external supportive source.

Easy so far? I hope so. Heres the last one,

“Make it enjoyable and make it a lifestyle”

If you hate every moment of your New Year’s transformation then it is not likely you will stick to it. If you don’t stick to it you will probably just make the same goal as next year. In relation to the previous point part of making something, a realistic goal is to ensure you can do it. Part of that is not torturing yourself over it.

For example if you know sugar is bad for you but you’ve had it most of your life, going cold turkey might be a miserable path to failure. Instead, curb your sweet tooth cravings with healthier alternatives like honey or maple syrup. This way you can still get your cravings but with a better alternative. Eventually, as you cut back your sugar intake you might find you can go days or even weeks without it.

My New Years Plans

So what am I planning for the new years? Nothing crazy or unrealistic. I Will be going at the end of April to some fairly intense training. So with the encouragement of my significant other, I will be doing an elimination diet with them to reset my system. I will also be getting back into a slightly more rigorous training regiment in order to prep for the training in April.

The goal is simply to get healthier and slightly back in shape so I can peak for the actual training without dying. So I have a realistic timeline to stick too, about 3 months.

The diet its self is meant as a re-set diet to curb any inflammation in my body. Starting with 2 weeks of a nordic Inspired diet, mostly fish and greens. Then 2 weeks, Keto and the 1-month paleo. Starting with the most restrictive diet and then moving towards the least restrictive. Often the hardest part of such diets is the social aspects. As I am doing it with my partner we can support each other and enjoy our meals together. This allows me to maintain the social aspect of eating without the strain of making two sets of food. It also helps us keep each other in check. The original plan we looked into is actually much longer but as we want it to stay enjoyable we figure the 2 months leading up to the training will be much more bearable.

The other thing with reset diets is despite the marking fads they are rarely meant to be long term. The last time I did a strict diet, was only about a month but I saw wonders as it completely reset my metabolism and has since then been fairly easy for me to control my weight and physique without to much work.

The other thing that makes this a reasonable goal is that it fits into my lifestyle already. It’s just a matter of being a bit more disciplined than normal. I usually work out or do martial arts every week, and I generally eat fairly well that combined with the timeline will make this a good experience indeed.

So thats my plan for the new years? What cliche resolution will you be making? Just remember, whatever it is. Learn from it, Make it objectively realistic and something that you will enjoy.

Happy Holidays and I wish you all the best in the New Year.

 

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Find your inner athlete, become the Lion over time what was impossible will be possible with consistency and dedication. Your inner Athlete Awaits.

When I was growing up, I was not much of an athlete. I was put in pre-hockey, soccer, baseball and probably more than I cannot even remember. What I do remember, is I was never picked first and was always on the worst teams. It did not inspire me much to try harder or put in the effort. Eventually, I stopped doing anything athletic and started putting on a bit more weight than I should have as a kid in elementary (grade) school.

At some point between grade 8 or 9, I was getting tired of being picked on. I on my own, cut out most sugar from my diet and started hitting the gym. I lost a lot of weight and got in better shape than I was before. I even when I had the option in Grade 10 opted to take the fitness-based gym class rather than the regular one. Despite this, however, I was far from the athletic prowess of the naturally talented athletes in my high school.

Despite this and despite not coming from an overly athletic home I was always drawn to some level of physical activity. Pre-Army (IDF), I trained a lot to get ready. As things didn’t go the way I had hoped I ended up in the regular Infantry and lost much of my motivation to stay in more shape than I should have been often choosing sleep over physical activity when free time was available.

Once again I watched as the naturally physically gifted soldiers made the rigorous training look easy from a physical perspective while I struggled. I did, however, learn as a consequence that if you are not physically as capable and you are pushed to your limits more often you may find yourself developing a mental strength you never thought you had. This strength that only the best of the naturally talented individuals will also develop while most of them did not because it was never really that hard for them anyways.

Later out of the army, I finally really started my Martial arts Journey. While I had trained Krav Maga prior to the army, and a little in the army it was after when I started to train more seriously as well as adding BJJ and a variety of other styles into my training.

Again, I was never an athlete capable of keeping pace with the best. But I enjoyed it and kept training. While I did start teaching Krav Maga this was not due to my athletic prowess or skill but rather my ability to teach its self and my understanding of Krav Maga and a more modern holistic approach.

Fast forward to today. With 11 years of Krav Maga training, 7 years of teaching and 7 years of BJJ (Almost 8). I find my self being told by individuals who are just starting out how impressive I am athletically.

That voice in my head always tells me that no I am not an athlete as to me if you are not training full time and doing it professionally than I am not an athlete. Yet to the new people who I can often run circles around in their eyes they see an athlete.

It is now only in this past year that I am starting to consider my self an athlete (A casual one, but still). While Life has not gone the way I would have liked where I can focus all my efforts on training I in many cases am finally starting to possess the skills and ability that many consider athletic.

This past year for a few months I was fortunate to be able to train with individuals who I would consider at the higher levels of skill and in many cases during training, I was able to keep up or and excel past what they were doing. This was the first twinkle I had internally that maybe I might just be an athlete.

In BJJ, I find my self outpacing and often beating people who I used to struggle against and whereas I used to have trouble against younger, larger athletic white belts I now can quite handly beat, much to theirs and my own amazement.

While I am still no genetically gifted individual, I am starting to see that yes, I am finally finding my inner athlete.

The thing is it is no secret, and you too can do it. It simply takes time and consistency.

It’s not so much that I am more athletic than I ever was it is simply a matter of my body has learned how to operate more efficiently. My mind has a firm grasp on the skills that I have learned enough that I can finally adapt and modify as I need, rather than waiting for the answers to be given. and that the hours are really started to add up.

The 10,000-hour rule is something I have often talked about and it is quite a lot of time to put into a specific subject. The thing is that it is for mastery. If on any given thing you only put in 3000 hours you will still be far better than someone who has put in only a few hours.

I have also talked about consistency in training. It is simply a matter of never letting to much time go in between training sessions. While many of us would love to train full time, the reality is for must of us making a good enough living off of it is very difficult and in some cases unrealistic. BUT!, those hours do add up and if you never quit and always did some training one day you may realize you have developed your own inner athlete.

So you weren’t born a natural athlete?

That’s ok. Many coaches would prefer to have someone that is mediocre but puts in the time than have a natural athlete that is lazy. Because over time its the person with more practice that usually comes out on top.

If it takes a year, 5 years or 10 years. If you train enough, even if only once a week you too may find your self looking in the mirror and saying. “Hmm, I guess I am an athlete”

Find your inner athlete, keep training, have fun and you too will become that thing you always wanted to be.

And remember, at UTKM, our motto is Turning Lambs into Lions, so if you stick too it long enough you may find a Lion inside.

By: Jonathan Fader (UTKM Lead Instructor)

 

Just think positively and envision your future and everything will be alright. Do lines like this seem familiar? Speakers, motivators, educators, authors and more have been selling lines like this for many years now. So what’s the problem?

Lead-with-Positivity.jpgFirst, let me say having a positive internal dialogue with your self is extremely important. Seeing your self in a positive light and being objective about your strengths and weaknesses and being ok with that will lead to a much happier life. After all, confidence goes a long way.

Beliving blindly in the words of motivational speakers and beliving blindly that simply being positive will get you everything you ever dreamed of most of the time will not achieve the things you think it will. It may just make you happier in your failure but it still won’t achieve the results you want.

Yet, we love to hear it. Be positive…………and you will achieve all. This is what is sold to us because this is what we prefer to hear. If you like many, hear objective meaningful criticisms as an attack on your self and simply as negative vibes then you will try to avoid them and seek out the “positivity”. This is why it has been commercialized. Because much like sex, it sells. And for many, it has taught people that meaningful criticism from our loved ones is only negativity and must be avoided. While sometimes it is, often it is not, yet we avoid it still because our fragile egos have been massaged to seek only the positive. Yet that criticism may be the changes we needed to make to actually achieve our goals.

The thing is between the positive and achieving it, is hard work, consistency, adaptability, and luck. There is also the execution element of any idea or plan.

Planning to be positive and change your life as it has been sold is a noble cause. Implementing it in a meaningful way is the hard part. It requires sacrifice and often many uncomfortable moments with your self, your ego, and interactions with others.

To me, the absolute most important thing in self-defense is critical thinking. This skill set is also extremely important in real life and is also a skill that seems lacking in many even those who feel they have a grasp on it. This skill needs to apply even to those we look up too and ideas we hold dear. Those people we look up too after all are people too, and those ideas we love so much may actually be wrong.

Yet if we think positive it will all be ok right? It may not, but you will be happier in the process. But if things still are not working out then know positivity alone will not get you what you want.

Take Krav Maga or BJJ progression for example. You believe positively that you will get your next belt soon. You come diligently to class and have a smile on your face. Yet you aren’t getting invited for the belt test or your belt isn’t changed when everyone else did. The issue is your execution. Obviously, your instructor/professor feels you have not made the progress they are looking for either technically, spiritually or mentally. Thus your positivity hasn’t gotten you your desired goal because you failed to recognize what you needed to work on and improve thus you failed to effectively execute.

Now instead of feeling positive, you feel defeated and depressed because one thing your positivity didn’t do was manage your expectations. Yet all the books you read, all the speakers you heard said to stay positive. and you bought it and enjoyed it.

What happened is you failed to realize they want to sell you something, hence the commercialization of positivity. YOU failed to realize this because YOU failed to apply critical thinking. Positivity is a great thing for general happiness, but it is not on its own going to achieve anything. It required a combination of many things. One of which is hard work. Thought alone won’t change your world and outcome, but positive thinking, with hard work, critical thinking and a little luck just might.

So next time you are thinking of shelling out big bucks to hear that motivational speaker you always wanted to see think twice. Is that money worth it or would it be better spent on more training that would help you actually achieve your goals?

Positivity + Hard Work + Good planning and execution + consistency + Adaptability +luck will most likely = success more of the time than positively alone.

Long story short, the path to success is always more complicated than we would like it to be, but it is what it so stops resisting and move forward.

 

Know your self.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So you lost your match, but did you die?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning is everything.

Growing is everything.

Improving is everything.

Being better today than yesterday is everything.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Learn to hit curve balls

Life as we know it is rarely a smooth journey. We might not always get where we want to go or things might not go how we would like them. Sometimes your day is wonderful, sometimes it is not.

But sometimes a life event might hit you like a tonne of bricks. From the death of a loved one to a break up to the loss of employment to your favorite Netflix show ending. Some of these are more tragic than others but from person to person the effects may feel the same. Perhaps a sense of loss. Perhaps the feeling of emptiness has washed over you. Or even you feel without purpose. If such an event happens what can you do?

First, I think its totally ok if you need time for your self. A little time for quiet and lack of stress to help calm your nervous system might be exactly what you need. It can however easily spiral. If you find your self for more than two weeks in such a state especially if it feels more like depression than quiet reflection then it may be time to get help.

Luckily for you, if you are reading this you are probably one of the lucky ones. You already have one of your best medicines. The fact your do Krav Maga, BJJ, Karate, Kickboxing, kung fu or insert your style here. (Please note that if you feel something is seriously wrong, please consult your doctor or mental health professional preferably someone whose the first reaction isn’t to just prescribe something).

What you may fail to realize is that your martial arts school is not just an outlet to let of attitude-change-life-quotes-Favim.com-1657043.jpgsteam physically but it is also a social group which you belong too. You think you dont have friends? well, you do if you train martial arts. It is unlikely that in the entire group of people you regularly punch in the face or try to choke out you can’t find one or more people to find support from. And you might not even need to take it that far. Simply being around other people that you like for an hour or two a day will most likely help you feel a little better.

Perhaps you learned something new that gave you a sense of accomplishment to lift your spirits. Perhaps you met someone new and you taught them something and that lifted your spirits. Perhaps simply being with people knowing you are doing something rather than sitting alone with a drink helped you out. You never know what it is but something will most likely help you feel better even if only a little.

Yes I know, you may not feel like going, you may still feel immense pain inside but you need to force your self to go and train. Just do something with people around.

I can speak from experience as recently something happened that I was less than thrilled about and while I took some time for my self I told my self ok nows the time to train. I then went to all the classes I could fit in my schedule and I can say I definitely feel better. I found the support I needed, and the sense of accomplishment by training the amount I would love to be on the regular.

I know I am not the only one as at any given time one or many of my students are going through a hard time. Usually, they stray away from training and I encourage them to come and train. Lately, I think the environment has been a good one and more students seem to be coming when they are having a hard time. Just know if you haven’t figured it out by now I think this is the right thing to do.

Of course, there is always a caveat. An outlet to make yourself feel better can always spiral into an addiction. Yes, you can train too much. If you train so much that everything else in your life falls to the wayside that perhaps you can train a little less. Especially if it’s not helping you achieve other goals in your life. The other thing to be aware of is physical burn out. Know your limits stick within them. Sometimes in order to hide the pain people train so much, they end up breaking their body down in a way that is just not healthy. So you always need to do little mental and physical checks to see if you are training the appropriate amount without totally overcompensating.

For example, in a normal week, I might train 2-4 times. This past little bit I have been training 10+ hours a week. Though I feel much better mentally I can say that physically its time for a break. So as I sit here writing this I am also taking 2 days off so that my body has proper time to rest.

So just remember, its the journey that matters the most. Learn what you can and strive to grow and learn. But most importantly be happy, or as happy as you can be in the process. Sometimes it will happen in leaps and bounds and sometimes only millimeters at a time. So long as your forward momentum overall is still going forward then things are probably not as bad as they seemed. So when life throws you a screwball, train more, be around a supportive group of people who have the same goal and remember you are here to train Krav (Insert other martial art) so that you may learn to walk in peace both inside and out.