Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Getting a workout in could be as easy as challenging the kids to a “sit-up contest” (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

When my first daughter was born, my martial arts training faded into the rear-view mirror, and my overall fitness with it. It is a big adjustment to have another human being be more important than you in your own life. At some point you have to make serious changes to compensate for the new stresses, obligations, and pitfalls, otherwise you are in danger of becoming someone who you don’t want your children to look up to.

Finding the “Time”

I am a firm believer that, as a parent, you don’t “deserve time to yourself” (“deserving” things is a marketing ploy, an appeal to emotion in order to sell you spa packages and chocolate), in fact, sacrifice is your new normal. However, as parents we are still human (mostly), and therefore still NEED to take care of our bodies, maintain social ties, express creativity, and pursue passions; otherwise what type of role model are we?

Let’s be honest, we all “found” the nearly 3 FULL DAYS it took to watch all 8 seasons of Game of Thrones, so we aren’t really talking about “time” here, we are talking about “energy.” At the end of a long day you are tired; work, life, and the kids/partner have drawn the life force from your body, and the last thing you want to do is expend more of it on exercise.

Ironically, multiple studies have indicated that as little as 20min of low-to-moderate intensity exercise, just three times a week, can reduce feelings of fatigue. Whereas more committed regimes (30-40min of moderate-to-vigorous) will improve on your mood and fitness, in addition to your energy levels.

Logically, if you improve your energy level (and mood) you will find that you have more “time” for your family and a greater willingness to attain the balance we all need between Family and being human (ie. your physical, emotional, mental health)

Beyond energy, overall fitness is important for a few reasons:

  1. Maintaining your fitness means you will be around longer for your family.
  2. Physical fitness contributes to mental and emotional fitness, allowing you to contribute positively to family interactions.
  3. Teaching your family good health habits will mean they are happier and around longer too.
Finding the Actual Time

“I don’t have time to ______, I have kids!” is a classic excuse for not doing … anything. Once we have tackled the real, underlying problem of energy, it can, depending on your family’s schedule, be difficult to find the minutes or hours to engage in non-parenting activities. (Remember that “sacrifice is your new normal” concept?)

Step 1 is to make good health a priority. Not just “make time for it”, but actually make mental, emotional, and physical fitness a family value; talk to your kids about what you are doing, and teach them why it is important (especially as you get older), and invite curiosity.

Common tips for carving out this time:

  • In the morning
    • Get up before everyone else and fit in a work out, read, or meditate. Everyone else is asleep, so they won’t miss you. (Sleeping in is bad for you anyway!)
  • At night
    • As above, but hit that 40min routine after the kids are in bed.
  • Break into small chunks
    • If you cannot find a solid 30-50min span during your day, then sneak in exercise in the smaller gaps without being totally absent. I find that opportunities for an elevated heart rate arise throughout the day with my kids; running beside them on bike rides, playing tag, swimming,etc.. HIIT routines are great for utilizing gaps in the day, as they can be done effectively in as little as 20min (though you may need a quick clothes change and wipe-down if you are doing it properly).

Remember, this isn’t just about “working out.” While exercise has knock-on effects for your emotional and cognitive well-being, you should be seeking opportunities to maintain balance in the non-physical aspects of your life as well. If you can make time for exercise, you can make time to call an old friend, draw, meditate, etc..

Make Self-care a Family Activity

A fourth tip (more of a philosophy), for finding the actual time for your health and wellness is to involve your family in the activities you are engaging in. Combine any or all of the first three tips and incorporate the rest of your clan, directly or indirectly. For some families this becomes a bonding experience, a point of pride, or even a family tradition.

Whether you are sharing time in calm silence, challenging each other’s creative skills, cooking (a great way to teach nutrition, self-reliance, and science/creativity), or starting a basic exercise routine, you need to be aware that you are working in a group with varying levels of ability. Make sure that your expectations are realistic and plan accordingly. For example, have variations of each exercise that your kids can do safely, give time to your less proficient readers and have material they can work with, allow kids to “help” you if they can’t do something themselves. (I got lucky, both of my girls are very physical and are fascinated by the martial arts)

There is plenty of advice out there for how to tweak the activities you already love so that your “new recruits” can participate: Icy Mike, over at Hard2Hurt, has a great video on pad holding when training martial arts with inexperienced family members. And horror/B-movie superstar, Bruce Campbell, espouses the benefits of “Lollygagging” as a means of mental health maintenance. He defines Lollygagging as “the act of doing exactly what you want for an indeterminate period of time (preferably outdoors) for no particular reason.”

You will likely find that there are a lot of options for getting your crew into full-body health. The earlier you instill good habits in your young people, the easier it will be for them to maintain those habits throughout their lives, seeing these as an essential art of life (as we all should!). Children often don’t know the difference between play and exercise; you can use this blissful ignorance against them!

Be Wary of the Two “Busy Parent Fallacies”

Two common imbalances that I have seen among my fellow parents come in the guise of good choices, but are, in truth, thinly veiled excuses for neglecting yourself or your family:

  • Hiding from Family via Self-care
    • This occurs when you are never around due to the over-prioritization of your own health. You are always escaping family obligation and time with your kids (which can be tedious!) by forever having a workout, training session, or other “me time” requirement. Your brood needs you. Yes, working out or engaging in self-care is harder when you have to schedule it around others, but, re-read the above tips and you will be able to figure something out. Often you will end up with a hybrid (balanced!) approach, where some activities are done together, and some are on your own. Having a supportive and informed partner helps A LOT!
  • Hiding from Self-care via Family
    • This comes in the form of justifying the lack of action on your health and mental/emotional stability (and that of your family’s), due to claims that you are over-prioritizing “quality time” with your kids, or putting their needs first. While this may be noble in intention, it is often a socially acceptable excuse to let yourself go. I’ve been there, I know! It is really easy to say “I don’t want to be tired when I have to deal with the kids tomorrow.” But, eventually I discovered that shirking my workouts resulted in it being difficult to keep up with them and lift them over my head, plus I fell out of shape I became irritable (that’s not good for me or them). Again, re-read the sections above; exercise gives you the energy and mood stability to keep up and be chill!

Ultimately, this is a balancing act (the theme!), you will find that it is probably best to transition slowly at first; do some things early, some things late, and some as a group. This is a process, don’t be afraid to re-start, re-assess, re-think, and you WILL find something that works to get you back in the gym while fulfilling your duties as a parent, or back in the family while staying fit and sane.

In Summary

The goal is balance. Doing what you need to do to maintain your family life, while at the same time ensuring that you maintain yourself (so that you are of use to said family). Let’s not forget, as a parent you are now responsible for the well-being and development of a Human. They are famously complex creatures, and, like it or not, they are looking at you as the model for how to live and act; so it is of the utmost importance that you figure out how to maintain balance between improving their mental, emotional, and physical wellness, and your own. Ask yourself, honestly, what do you want them to see when they look up to you? For those moments when you feel weak, find strength in the example you are setting.

Written by: Corey

Being a parent in today’s world can be harder than ever, not only are the choices more than ever but also the financial considerations. What decision should you make with regards to your child in trying to give them the best and most supportive childhood you can.

Recently I was listening to the Sam Harris podcast Episode 137 title safe spaces, in it the guest Jonathan Haidt discuss his new book the codling of the American mind. Though I am loosely paraphrasing (listen to the podcast if you want the actual conversation) what they talked about, they essentially talked about the toxic nature of the helicopter parent of the 90s and early 2000s that led to a generation of unconfident anxiety-ridden individuals with no confidence who struggle to make decisions and explore the world. They also discuss the “new” movement of free-range parenting, which to me shouldn’t be a NEW anything, it should just be good parenting.

To martial artists, the answer has always been clear. Put your kids in martial arts from an early age. No matter what you think about the school system it seems they are increasingly scared to allow children to be physical even in a healthy manner, being too concerned with lawsuits or costs children are no longer getting unstructured play time and good physical activity. So what is a parent to do if they feel their child just is not getting enough of what they need in school? well its simple, find a good reputable martial arts school and enroll them. Of course, my preference is Krav Maga, BJJ but in today’s world, something is better than nothing. While I dont want to be to cliche. Here are 5 reasons you should enroll your kid in martial arts now than later.

Kids BJJ

  1. Build Confidence & Self Esteem – One of the biggest struggles that children have today is building intrinsic self-confidence. Not everyone fits into the cookie cutter models of most schools today and it can be hard to stay motivated and find drive and purpose. Martial arts can give children goals to build themselves up, and I am not talking about participation trophies I am talking about real goals that take work and effort to achieve. If your child works and trains hard they can build their confidence by working their way up a ranked system. Having a sense of purpose is key to any person no matter the age, and if your child doesn’t find it in school or other organized sports then perhaps this is the option for them. Additionally, because of the physical nature of martial arts, they will build confidence in their body image by working hard to achieve more. Through martial arts, they will see themselves and the strong, intelligent child they are. Especially as most serious martial arts instructors end up being more than just a teacher, but also a role model and sometimes a mentor.
  2. Build a healthy lifestyle – As I mentioned earlier many school systems are slowly winding down their physical training programs either due to overblown liability and safety concerns or budget concerns. Kids are meant to be active, and with less emphasis on physical health from the regular school system it is one of the contributing factors to our obesity epidemic. Just like mentioned about through martial arts kids will learn how to use their bodies and learn to listen to it. They will know when they feel good and when they do not. Anyone who lives a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise can tell you they feel much worse the day after they decided to have a binge day with no physical activity. If you teach your children young to have an active lifestyle it becomes a pattern that is built into them and is something they will continue for most of their lives even if they grow out of martial arts.
  3. Build social skills in a new environment – In the regular school system, it can be tricky for children to develop social skills. Some students excel and some do not. One of the best ways to build their skills further is to introduce them to another group of peers. Sometimes in school friend/peer options are limited and without extracurricular activities exposing your child to other peer groups, it can be hard especially if you dont fit in. I can tell you from my own personal experience that I did not have much exposure to other peer groups outside of those in my school, and looking back I really wish Id had, as perhaps I would have had a better time if I had friends doing a mutually enjoyable activity like martial arts. I started later in life, give your child the opportunity to learn early so even if they dont keep it up later in life they still learned social skills as well as practical self-defense skills.
  4. Learn discipline – This seems to be a popular idea. While the days of hitting your children are gone and rightfully so, it can be hard to find ways to keep your child properly disciplined especially if you are not familiar with various learning and teaching models. In martial arts children usually, learn that if they do not focus pushups (or other physical activity) will ensue. Either way, they are building something positive. They learn to focus because they dont like the push-ups, or they like the pushups and they get more physical strength. Additionally, in martial arts you can learn discipline through leadership. As your child grows in a program they may be asked to help out with classes and they will then learn to the importance of being well behaved in classes.
  5. Learn teamwork and community – Most children’s martial arts classes usually have some sort of teamwork involved. Whether it be the classical group punishment of if one child misbehaves every one does push-ups, or because the games and drills require all children to participate in partners of groups. They very quickly learn they would much rather work with partners who are serious about training and that if they want to partner with those people they better work well with others as well. Often in regular education group project are few and far between and often individuals care more about the grade than actually working well in a group. In martial arts teamwork is encouraged every class. Additionally, they are introduced early into a positive healthy community that they can be proud to be part of.

While there are certainly many more reasons to have your child join martial arts there are many others. Of Course one of the biggest concerns many parents have is the safety of their child. Always do your research and find a reputable school for your child. One suggestion I have is to make sure they separate kids 5-7 from 8-12. As far as teens, it’s usually ok for them to train with the adults pending the style. The reason for this is that the mental development of kids at these stages is different and the approach to learning is different.

For kids 5-7 the focus should be more on body awareness and fitness. and for kids 8+ of course pending the style they can learn usually just like the adults although in an age-appropriate manner.

This post is, of course, appropriately times as we at www.urbantacticskm.com recently expanded our kid’s program to include the age 5-7 age group. UTKM’s Richmond, BC, Kids program combines Krav Maga, Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiujitsu, wrestling, and judo all in to one program. So if you are in my neck of the woods feel free to inquire by emailing us at info@urbantacticscanada.com 

Richmond Kids Martial Arts Age 5-7.jpgIf not get on google, do a search and find a reputable martial arts school near you and get your child started now not later. Build their confidence,  self esteem, Social skills, team skills and show them what a healthy life style looks like. Remember, something is better than nothing but of course I recommend Krav Maga/Kickboxing and BJJ.

 

BC-Transit-double-decker

It was my father’s birthday a few days ago so this past weekend I took my two daughters (13 and 9) with me to Victoria to attend a celebration dinner.  For various reasons I decided that we would walk on the ferry and catch the city bus into town instead of driving, and this decision led to a very interesting experience.

The bus we boarded had two tiers so we went up to the top deck and grabbed our seats.  We were lucky to get in line early because the bus started filling up very quickly, and the top deck is always popular.  We were seated with plenty of time to spare so we watched everyone else get on.  One group that came up to the top were five Korean students/friends and they walked to the back of the deck and sat down on the long seat so they could all be together.  They were quite friendly and it looked like they were looking forward to an enjoyable ride into town.

People were seated and waiting for the bus to start up when another passenger came up the stairs.  He was about early 50s, Caucasian with a thin build, wearing scruffy clothes, a baseball cap, and it looked like he hadn’t shaved for a few days.  In spite of seeing that all the seats were occupied, he began walking down the aisle and said in a loud voice, “Who here is going to give up their seat for an old man?” and continued towards the back of the bus.  I’d say that most people were confused and they watched him as he continued down the aisle.  When he got to the back he saw the group of Koreans and said to one person, “Is it going to be you?”, then pointed to another person and said, “Or you?”.  By this time my adrenaline was already pumping and I was watching very carefully to see if the situation would escalate.  Initially nobody was moving, but then slowly one Korean got up and gave him his seat with a smile, and was content to stand for the trip into town.  The man then plopped himself down, sat back, and pulled his cap over his head as if to take a nap.

At this point it was clear that people were shocked at the audacity of the man and couldn’t believe that a person could do something like that.  As I looked down the aisle I was watching the situation and saw a younger, heavier set man starting to huff and puff a bit, but it went no further than that.  The bus started up, but before it started moving the bus driver made an announcement over the speakers that no standing is allowed on the top floor and that everyone needs to take a seat.  The Korean friends started looking at each other because this then meant that their group would be separated if their friend who was standing had to go down to the first level.  They looked at the man who took their seat and he stared back and asked “Who’s it going it be?”.  At this point the heavier set man said, “Why not you?” but again, that’s where his involvement ended.  At this point all the Koreans got up from their seat and started walking towards the front of the bus to where the stairway was located.  As they were walking away the man started waving after them and said “Bye bye”.

The incident made me think, “Did I do the right thing by not getting involved?”.  I feel that the answer is yes, I did the right thing by being aware but not getting directly involved.  Why?  Because the Korean friend willingly gave up his seat, with no physical altercation.  But by not getting physically involved did that mean I wasn’t aware of the situation?  Absolutely not.  From the time that the man asked who was going to give up their seat for him until well past the time that the Korean group had gone down to the first level, I was on alert.  My adrenaline was up and my senses were heightened.  Thoughts had gone through my head such as being aware of being in a confined space environment so close quarter techniques (knees, elbows) would be required, to whether or not he was carrying a weapon.  My 13-year old daughter, who is also taking Krav Maga, said that as the man was walking down the aisle towards the back she noticed that one hand was in his back pocket and as sirens were blaring in her head, she thought “Knife!”.  She also told me that her adrenaline was up and that she was jittery for a while afterwards.

Situations like this make me very grateful to my KM training.  To my surprise, the awareness just kicked in by itself and I began immediately assessing the situation in the event that the situation escalated.  Before the training, I would wish that I had the tools and knowledge to know what to do, but now that I’ve been training for almost 3 years I have the confidence and control over both my emotions and body to be ready to strike if required.  It’s not paranoia, it’s preparedness and awareness.  How do I know this?  Because I enjoyed the rest of the weekend with my family without looking over my shoulder, wondering if someone was going to jump out of the bushes and attack me.  Until the next situation should arise, the lion goes back to sleep, but always ready to wake up and respond if the situation should arise.  I am also proud of my daughter for being aware of the situation as it was unfolding.

In hindsight, the situation was a non-issue and perhaps I’m making a bigger deal over it than it deserves.  However, I would rather this be the case than be one of the other passengers on the bus unaware of how quickly situations can escalate, and not be able to do anything about it if the time came.

By: Warren Chow