Posts Tagged ‘Mental Health’

 

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Yes, an actual VHS Cover.

 

The land before time was one of my favourite movies when I was a child. As is with most children’s movies there is so much lost on the child when it comes to the contents of movies. Sometimes, with children’s movies, the jokes or dialogue is intentionally written so that the child does not understand but the adult watching it does. Sometimes though, it is more nuanced. The title of the movie, whether intended or not, to me, now has so much more meaning.

The land before time implies that the dinosaurs lived in an age of no time. It implies that time is a human construct.

Yet Einstein famously theorized that time is relative.

A watched pot never boils as the old saying goes but what does it mean? Really, time is simply the measurement of the relative position two points in space from one instant to another. The movement as provided by the energy is what time is. Take away the energy, or hit absolute zero and time ceases to exist. Or at least this is my rudimentary understanding of such things.

And yet to us humans, time has so much meaning, and so little. We can be slaves to it or forget it even exists. Yet it rules everything no matter how we perceive it as with out it the entire universe might as well be a picture frozen in well…time.

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These are things I forget to think about because I am too busy or I don’t have enough time. Yet from time to time, I find the moment in time to have some quiet time to myself to contemplate time.

Had enough yet? Well, I suppose it’s all about your perspective, I mean time is relative after all isn’t it?

So what then got me on this existential thought process regarding nature or time and humans reality. Or even how little foot from the land before time could even understand what that even means.

Well, Recently I met a man named Terrance Kosikar and even had the pleasure of sitting down with him to do a podcast. Long story short, he invited me to partake in one of his initial exploratory camps from his creation Camp My Way.

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In his struggle with PTSD (though he hates to call it that) he found true recovery, or at least the process in it by spending time in nature, near his cabin in the interior of BC. He spent time, in the mountains, by the glacial rivers admiring the stars and contemplating. Away from the big Cities to which he grew up in, away from the bad influences that lead to his troubled past, away from the noise, away from the busy lives we all lead. To realize that time is relative and we focus so much on it when never take the real time to notice that sometimes it doesn’t matter at all. He realized that if he could heal away from time so could others and thus the idea of camp my way.

Camp my way to sum it up, it’s a place for first responders suffering from PTSD and recovering addicts can go to hit the reset button, with out time and in the peace of nature, that place we all came from.

So here in this Multi part post, I will talk about my experience and why I think more people should forget about time more often and get back to nature.

Part 2: Day 1 – An Attempt to relax

Please help Camp My Way become the program I know it can be and DONATE TODAY!

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Life:

noun
1. the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.
2. the existence of an individual human being or animal.

You have to want it

But what is life really? This is a question so many of us ask our selves, as is simply existing life or is it something more.

As always when teaching students Krav Maga inevitably come students that are not quite aggressive enough. Upon teaching one student recently I told them, “cmon you have to want it. ”

You have to want it more than youre afraid of itThis got me thinking. In Krav Maga, wanting it is committing in an aggressive fashion apply Krav Maga principles and retzev while being relentless until the threat has stopped. In this case, wanting life is due to an immediate threat to life. If you hesitate or let up, there is a good chance in a violent situation things might not go your way. In Krav Maga, wanting life is about commitment to your action, in an almost singular focus driving forward with constant pressure until you are sure your life guarded. In such cases, you wanted your life bad enough to do what it took to survive.

In some ways, you might say I have adopted this attitude towards many aspects of life, hence the saying Krav Maga is a lifestyle and a way of thinking.

As an instructor, teacher, coach or what ever title some wish to give to me, I find my self often giving out advice to students or people outside of Krav Maga class. Sometimes it’s wanted, and sometimes it’s not wanted but needed. The thing is my advice often ends up being the same. You have to want it!

On Mental Health:

I often tell people the story of my manic depressive episode, which I won’t go into lengthdesire-to-change here. But for me, it was a 2-3 week period where things were not the way they should have been. After realizing things were not right, I got my self off the couch, I got my self-help and I did everything for my self to get better because I wanted to. In my case, those around me didn’t know how to help or didn’t recognize a problem so I did it my self.

Often when I talk to students or people about mental health issues, I will listen and in the end, the advice is always the same. How badly do you want to get better and what are you going to do about it. The choice is simple, you have to want to get better and you have to take the actions (not words) in order to get better. The choice is easy, the execution is hard, and so many are too fearful to make the required changes. In such cases, can’t is often won’t (Though in some cases biology wins out and medication or other things may be required to create a baseline level)

 

 

Mental health can be tough, and for some, they need out side help. But remember, YOU HAVE TO WANT IT. YOU Have to get better and YOU have to take the actions to make your life the way YOU want it.

On Entrepreneurship:

You have to hard workOn this topic I often find myself banging my head on the wall because I see the same thing over and over. I see people who like the idea of being a business owner or entrepreneur but fail to understand what that means. What it means is working 60 + hour weeks, working second jobs, being your own marketer, being your own carpenter, being your own driver, being your own well EVERYTHING. Why? because unless you are lucky enough to get large investments and I mean LARGE investments you will not be able to hire the people with the required skill set and drive to do those things for you. Because trust me, the people who can are worth a lot. Volunteers and helpers unless they are as driven and hard working as you will often just be a hindrance or at the very least a great source of frustration.

So you want to be our own boss, and take your life into your hands. Well, guess what, YOU have to want it. YOU have to do more work than you ever imaged. YOU will deal with the hardships and the millions of non-stop obstacles that other people and the world will throw at you. Belief is not enough if YOU don’t do the work.

There was a myth propagated a while ago by the book The Secret that many people bought into that if you simply believe you will get what you want. The issue is the common thread among all the people used as examples was that they all put in lots and LOTS of hard work and time.

If YOU aren’t willing to put in more than you thought you would and YOU are willing to forgo your social life or other things to make YOUR life the way you want it through business and entrepreneurship then YOU are only lying to yourself. so are YOU going to want it bad enough for your own life’s sake?

In General:

I could apply this to numerous other situations but in order to simplify it and keep this short, I will say, in general, YOU need to want what ever it is you want. So long as you keep it legal, and do not physically harm anyone in the process then YOU need to do what ever it is YOU need to do to get where you want. YOU want to survive a violent situation, then YOU have to want it by applying the appropriate force and strategy even if it hurts or is not comfortable or pushes your boundaries. YOU want to get better from mental illness then YOU need to take charge and make the required actions in your life including hard changes to get better. DO NOT BLAME YOUR MENTAL ILLNESS, or use it as a crutch or excuse. YOU need to take charge and move forward. YOU want to own your own business so take charge of your life then YOU need to do the work until it has been built into something more. No excuses, YOU just need to do it and move forward. YOU, not other people.

So life, do YOU want it?

Warriors Den Podcast

Download on iTunes Today! https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/urban-tactics-krav-maga-warriors/id969549693?mt=2

 

Terramce Flipping a tire

Terrance Flipping 200 kilogram tractor tire through the back roads east of Whistler, B.C., while wearing nearly 25 kilograms of steel chain for awareness

 

Project Power Gym Local

John Sambo

John Sambo doing some heavy lifting.

Mr. John Sambo asked us a while ago to plan a podcast with Terrance J. Kosikar founder of Camp My way. After hearing about the camp we of course agreed. John Sambo is a powerlifter & Strength athlete, bobsledder, musician and an all around great guy. Terrance was the first responder who attended the Fatal accident that occurred at the 2010 winter Olympics and subsequently developed PTSD or PTS Injury as Terrance prefers. This caused a downwards spiral mentally which eventually lead to his self-isolation out near Lillooet BC. This gave him the ability to heal and subsequently found Camp my way a place dedicated to helping First responders and recovering drug addicts recover from PTS. Terrance is also helping get legislation pushed in BC to address this increasing problem of first responder suicide by getting them the help they need sooner. See information on this Bill here. UTKM is proud to help promote this non-partisan cause and support Camp My way to grow and achieve its goals. You can support Terrance by donating via his website at Campmyway.com or by using his #itsnotweaktospeak which can also be found on the website itsnotweaktospeak.com.

 

A long but well worth it listen to any one struggling with mental health issues or is a first responder who is affected or has friends affected by this silent injury.

 

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If you are a regular audience of my Warriors Den podcast, then you know that I have a long-standing battle with depression. No, I am not talking about the kind that SJWs have because they can’t handle a bad grade or the reality that shitty behaviour can get you fired in the real world and makes you unhireable. I am talking about chronic depression which I have had my whole life. I always recognized that I have experience some problems throughout my life, but I couldn’t figure it out. It took a manic depressive episode several years ago for me to finally realize the issue.

Now, some years later and 2 years on SSRIs have helped me to get my depression to a reasonably manageable point that is allowing me to move forward with my entrepreneurial aspirations.

First off, I would like to say that if you are what I would consider “functional with a diagnosed mental health issue” (by functional I mean employable and or capable of going to school or operating fairly normally), then I don’t think you should ever use your mental health as an excuse to skirt responsibility, which a lot of people do. Sure, it’s ok to have a down day or even a week, but if you use it as an excuse to get out of homework, work or other issues, then you are either just fall into the category of non-functional or you just need to learn better coping mechanisms. At the end of the day, your problems should not always be the problems of those around you. Just saying. Moving on.

Some of you may also know that 2016 was not a great year for me with regards to physical health. Early 2016, I tore the cartilage in my left foot, which made it very painful to run or jump or move properly. Also, I do not believe in medicating the pain away, so it was a great discomfort. When that was finally clearly up, I tore my ACL in my right knee, which basically killed my ability to move forward in my BJJ training. Last December, I finally got surgery and have been recovery rather speedily thanks to the fact I have projectpower.ca attached to my UTKM gym giving easy access to rehab tools and advice. This helped me to keep up with my rehab training, even when I didn’t really want to because it was right there in my regular training environment. Convenience helps!

Recently, I have been amping up my training with running. Finally! After well over a year of no running, I can run again. As well, I’m doing more regular weight training.

Here is where the factor of depression comes in. I noticed that my recovery and increased training coincided with the weather having finally started to warm up and be nicer. I realized, here I am as someone battling with clinical depression and heavily affected by SAD (seasonal depression) and heavily injured and unable to train properly for the last year or so. Man, 2016 was a shitty year! (And not because Trump won because I actually won a bet because of that.)

I have been told by countless people that they are  astonished by how unfazed I am by major complications in my life. I am generally fairly steadfast, and while I may be super disgruntled during a moment of crisis or when a problem arises, I always think that I need to keep on trucking. Resilience is a skill that so many people today have forgotten about. Personally, I can’t say why I’m particularly skilled at resilience, but I know now how important it is to general success.

Anyway, I have been thinking about why I am so motivated to train now. I did not realize how much the injuries had affected my general motivation, mainly due to the aforementioned attitude about resilience. I also don’t think I realized how much the seasons affect my motivation.

It’s easy for experts to say, “Exercise helps with depression and makes you happy!” For the most part this seems to be true, but when I am depressed, I generally don’t want to exercise at all. Add that to the fact that I couldn’t do much physically…

A big wake up call for me happened when I was holding my last Yellow Belt Test in March. Most people didn’t notice, maybe a few probably did, but holy shit was I out of breath! I often write about how being an instructor should not be about how great you are as a practitioner, but how great your students become from your training. Yet, I think in this case, my students are my motivation to become better. Realizing how out of shape I was made me think to myself, “For my student’s sake, I cannot be this out of shape.” Not that I was ever really an athlete, but you know…

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You guys keep me going.

 

 

With my regular depression mildly under control and seasonal depression nearing its end and my crippling injuries behind me, I now find the motivation to train from my students (and the sun), which is something I did not fully appreciate until now.

I am not sure what I am really trying to say about this topic other than that living with depression can be tough, especially when you are high functioning. At least in my case, so many people depend on me and my ability to function. It’s especially hard in this industry when there are so many hyper athletic, super motivated people around me getting better and better as I watch and think, “Man, I wish I could be that motivated.” What is your motivation? No matter what level of intrinsic motivation you have and no matter the condition of your mental health, people still need to find their motivation.

rawI supposed I have found mine in my students and those who depend on me. It is good to know because without knowing that this motivates me, I would only be a facade of an instructor, telling my students to do something that I struggle to find on a daily basis. Though my students may not realize it, I am grateful that they are there to continue to drive me forward so that I can offer them the best training experience possible.

If you struggle with a mental health issue, don’t let it get you down (pun intended). Don’t let injury cripple you and keep looking for what keeps you motivated. Slow and steady is better than nothing at all. Two steps forward and one step back is still progress.

On January 29th, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette implemented a Lone Wolf attack on the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City. Regardless of your opinion of Islam, in a country like Canada, this kind of thing should not happen yet it does.

I look at these kinds of events, as horrific as they are, and I am reminded why I teach Krav Maga for a living. The reality is that no matter how safe you think you are, it only takes one person to rock the boat and remind you that humans can be violent regardless of societal norms or laws.

So one may walk in peace.

The other thing I am reminded of is how little the general public seem to know about, well, a lot of things. I also knew that Canada’s media would immediately, or soon after the attack, take a strike at the already strict gun laws in Canada. In this particular event, the amount of BS I have seen on the internet within hours of the attack were quite shocking. Generally, I give the Canadian media some more points than the American media, for the Canadians tend to wait a little longer for facts to come in the midst of such chaos before spewing out nonsense. However, in this case, they also get the initial details wrong.

Not all terrorist attacks with a single attacker are Lone Wolf attacks, but all Lone Wolf attacks are considered terrorist attacks (most of the time)

Right away, I started seeing politics thrown around and read several articles about the topic of Lone Wolf vs terrorist attacks, with many claiming this attack to be purely terrorist and not Lone Wolf. This tells me that writers of such articles know little about conflict, violence, and terrorism. Aside from the fact that the perpetrator will most likely be charged with terrorism, his attack was most definitely a Lone Wolf attack. The distinction is very important.

As stated, a lone attacker does not signify a Lone Wolf attack, but a Lone Wolf attack is usually terrorism in nature (but not always). To me, a clear distinction is whether or not they had help. If they had help, it is most likely part of a larger terror network, such as Al-Qaeda or some nefariously well-hidden Muslim brotherhood affiliate. Or, to be fair, could also be  is part of some right-wing Neo-Nazi group planning their “big return.” If they did not have help, it is most likely a random guy who woke up one morning and decided to go on a rampage (of course, this is an understatement).

If your general definition of terrorism is simply “to cause terror,” then any violent attack such as a simple murder in a home could be called a terrorist attack since it definitely causes terror in a community. But does this now make such situations terrorism? I am not a big fan of word policing, but sometimes definitions matter, especially when there is so much confusion about specific things.

When a Lone Wolf attack becomes terrorism

Attacks targeting these groups can be considered terrorism:

  • Cultural
  • Ethic
  • Political
  • Religious

Also, if the attack was premeditated in any way, it can also be considered terrorism.

Definitions are important because the right or wrong word can be the difference between accurate or misleading information. Attacks that come from a single person who just snapped one day would be more appropriately termed “mass murder” which is an attack resulting in 5+ deaths depending on the regional definitions. If the media calls a mass murder situation a “terrorist attack,” it would most likely cause public terror since there could be the potential for another attack. However, in the case of the attack in Quebec, while the attacker turned himself in later, it is fairly safe to say it was a terror attack.

Another important reason for distinguishing the concept of a Lone Wolf attack is that it tells you whether or not law enforcement could have done more to stop it. Whenever a terrorist attack is not Lone Wolf and there are links to larger networks, it shows a failure in law enforcement agencies to do their jobs effectively in that particular case. However, in the case of a Lone Wolf attack, it is often unreasonable to blame law enforcement for lacking effort in prevention regardless of whether it is deemed terrorism or mass murder. The fact is Lone Wolf attacks are not on the LE radar and incredibly difficult to predict, especially when it’s by an individual with no criminal records like the Quebec case. Of course, the community could take responsibility to notice the behaviour of those close to them and recognise erratic behaviour in days leading up to an event. For example, family members should pay attention to each other and teachers should pay attention to their students, react appropriately, and possibly report to LE. However, sometimes Lone Wolf attacks can happen without warning.

 

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Alexandre Bissonnette

 

The only thing people can do to prepare for the unexpected situations like a Lone Wolf attack is to acquire the skills to protect themselves. The goal of getting people home safely every day is why I’ve dedicated my life to Krav Maga and training people how to avoid fights and how to end conflicts. In the moment of an attack, the people who can really do something to stop the violence are the people hiding in the building. The unfortunate truth is that waiting for LE to show up can be too late.

The political nature of attacks and terrorism

The word “terrorism” in modern times usually refers to Islamic terror, but it isn’t always the case. It is undeniable that Islamic terror is one of the biggest problems in the world, and people who refuse to believe it are incredibly naive, but it is also wrong to think that Caucasian people and Christians don’t participate in terrorist activities. However, there is a difference between the two. By and large, terrorism from Caucasians and Christians nowadays are Lone Wolf attacks by disgruntled and, sometimes, racist people. On the other hand, Islamic terrorism is usually more systematic and linked to large terrorist groups capable of repeat or other attacks.

Again, if you are going to pick a side, then you must understand the distinct and general difference. If you want to get into history, there was a time in which Caucasians had large organized terrorist groups, such as the IRA in England or the Basque in Spain. However, to be realistic, these groups are not a problem at the moment and the immediate threat is Islamic terrorism.

To the left-wing people in Western North America, please stop pretending that Islamic terror is not a problem.

To the right-wing people in Western North America, please stop pretending that Caucasians do not sometimes create plans to cause terror.

 

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Oklahoma Bombing

 

A perfect example of the latter is the Oklahoma City Bombing, one of the largest domestic terrorist attacks in American history. One April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols blew up a Federal building, killing 168 people and injuring hundreds more (which combined with the 9/11 are the largest terrorist attacks on American soil in modern times). This shows how Caucasians can be as dangerous as Islamic terrorists. Over the last several years, there have been numerous attacks in America, such as the Sandy Hook shooting, San Bernardino shooting, and the Charleston S.C. shooting. Notice the trend?

Terror attacks, mass murder, and guns

The anti-gun bandwagon becomes more popular after such attacks, especially when the people with a political motive and the media, for numerous reasons, often jump on the opportunity to blame these attacks on guns. However, the important point to remember is that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The weapon is nothing without a wielder. If you think about the two largest terror attacks that were just mentioned, they were not perpetrated using guns but with explosives: a massive fertilizer bomb and giant planes.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

While the option of using planes as weapons has now become considerably harder with increasingly strict post-9/11 security measures, it is certainly still possible. The option of using IEDs is even easier and more effective for doing greater damage in a shorter amount of time because anyone with a little bit of chemistry knowledge can create an explosive. As such, firearms as a weapon of terrorism should be the least of people’s concerns. Immediately jumping to the anti-gun rhetoric post-terror events simply shows how little people truly know about violence, conflict, and firearms use.

In addition, Canadians and Americans forget how lucky they are to live in such relatively peaceful countries. In other parts of the world where the violence rate is high, the average person uses guns to defend themselves and the gun culture is very different. People living in North America easily become complacent about safety and security.

Gun laws in Canada

It drives me nuts when Canadians talk about gun laws as if they are living in America, which they are not. In Canada, if you would like to own a gun, you must pass a firearms safety course for non-restricted (rifles) and/or restricted (pistols) firearms, submit your test results to the RCMP, and wait for them to complete a criminal record check on you. If you have no criminal record and have never been committed for a mental illness, then you should receive your license soon after.

In addition, restricted firearms such as pistols are governed by mandatory safe storage laws, which usually require a trigger lock and a locked storage container. While bureaucratic in nature, these gun laws have drastically reduced accidental firearms-related deaths in Canada. (Notice I said “accidental” deaths. Due to these laws, suicide using firearms and death involving children gaining access to firearms have dropped.) Specifically, according to all the data I have seen, the two parts of the laws that have helped reduce firearms-related death are the background checks, including the mental health aspect, and the safe storage regulations. In the case of the Quebec shooting, Bissonnette had no criminal record and had not been committed for mental health issues and have not been reported for unusual behaviour.

With that being said, it is clear that the Brass at the RCMP and many politicians have an anti-gun agenda. They also regularly target the law abiding citizens who own guns (ie. Alberta’s High River Gun Grab in June 2013), so please do not say that gun owners are paranoid about getting their guns stolen and taken away because they are not.

Getting rid of guns would have stopped the Quebec attack, right?

 

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Lorry used in the Nice attack

If someone is truly committed to performing an attack, they would find a method. Remember the Nice, France attack on July 14, 2016?  Firearms were not the primary method for death, instead, a truck was used. Bissonnette could have just as easily taken a vehicle and driven into the mosque potentially killing and injuring even more people. Guns are not the problem.

 

People think that firearms are the most dangerous way bad people use to take out large groups. This is a myth that people believe because they do not get enough knowledge about violence and conflict. Shooting people in large groups is not the most effective way for mass murder. People have this idea simply because they are fed so much anti-gun propaganda that they believe it. If guns inherently make people wake up and decide they need to cause terror, then death rates would skyrocket in most Western countries because, well, there are a lot of guns there. The average person doesn’t wake up one morning and decide to commit murder.

People are fed so much anti-gun propaganda that they believe it.

Another issue that is more problematic than guns is mental health. It’s hard to deny that majority of the individuals who have committed mass murder in America since 9/11 had some kind of serious mental health issue. Either that or they were part of some gang violence, criminals shooting at other criminals, and thus the media never picked it up.

Finally, one more point about weapons is that people underestimate knives as a danger. I, on the other hand, am more wary of knives than firearms. Any idiot can pick up knives and use them as weapons. Only people with some kind of training can operate firearms to do significant damage. Bissonnette could easily have entered the mosque with a knife, locked the doors, trapped people inside, and started stabbing away. Firearms run out of ammo fast. Knives do not need ammo. He would have had an unlimited method of killing with a knife. For example, the Kunming knife attack in 2014 is a reminder of how quick and easy it is for a knife to yield significant damage. I emphasize this every time I teach knife-related self-defense.

The only one who can protect you is you

I wish that one day, humans would all decide they don’t want to hurt each other and then live in peace. Unfortunately, we are far from that as a species, and people attack each other all the time. What I hope for more is that, more importantly, people would wake up and recognize that humans are humans. You cannot use laws to regulate human nature and fix people’s desire to hurt others. Thus, the thing that people don’t seem to be able to grasp but need to understand is that the real weapon is the human being. The person committing the attack is the real threat and real danger, not the weapon they use. It doesn’t matter if they hold a knife, a gun, a bomb, or drive a vehicle. If a person wants to do something big and bad, they will find a way.

walkinpeaceThe best thing people can do to take real action against this issue is to acquire the skills needed to protect themselves. Whether it’s a mugging, a terrorist or Lone Wolf attack, or a school shooting, only you can protect yourself. To start, practice being alert, vigilant, and aware of your surroundings and situation (aka situational awareness), learn to identify threats immediately and get away (aka avoidance). Otherwise, you would always find yourself as a victim. Situational awareness and avoidance are tactics that people in fairly peaceful places like North America tend to forget. Just because we don’t have drug wars or tribal warfare or civil war doesn’t mean it is safe and that we shouldn’t be wary of danger.

You truly only have yourself.

It doesn’t matter what the media tells you, what you hear, and what you read about terrorism and mass murder. The most important thing you need to know is that in the moment of an attack, you truly only have yourself. Denying yourself the skills to survive is a risk. Are you willing to take that risk?

 

Disclaimer: I do not consider myself a master, and I do not accept any such recognition. I am too young, have not been doing anything long enough, have not trained hard enough, and have not experienced enough to justify any such claims. Despite not being a master myself, I can recognize and believe what true mastery should be like. All aspects of the concept of mastery also applies to things outside of martial arts.

What is mastery? A simple search will define mastery as:

mastery

Sometimes, when you read a list of definitions, you can choose at least one of them to reflect what you’re trying to mean when you say something. However, when I see this definition, I think it needs much more than the two options. Can someone be a master with simply comprehensive knowledge and skill without control? Can someone be a master with control or superiority without having comprehensive knowledge or skill?

Obviously not.

Let’s debunk some myths about mastery.

Myth 1: A master is an old man who has spent his life training in solitude, peacefully dedicating his life to his art.

Thanks to the movie industry, we have this inaccurate and ethnocentric image of mastery. Real mastery is simply building comprehensive knowledge and skill through practice and experience, and developing it long enough to show expert control in the use of that knowledge and skill.

Oftentimes, if people who call themselves experts or masters are observed in detail, you may notice that many of them lack some important aspects. Knowledge, skill, and control are three basic characteristics of a master. Many black belts out there are made up of only one or two of these traits.

Myth 2: A master is unbeatable.

A master is not invincible. Someone who fights to win every time is not a master. A master must have the ability to use control in a fight, and not just try to obliterate their opponents. Another crucial ability all masters should have is to avoid fights. Anyone can be defeated at anytime, especially if they constantly stay at the white stage of the Awareness Colour Code.

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Understanding the Awareness Colour Code is essential to mental control. Some people are great fighters, but they lose control mentally during or after the fight despite winning. If one does not know or understand how they react to certain situations, and what triggers them to reach bad conditions like a catastrophic mental shut down (code black), no longer thinking or applying strategy.

Myth 3: Masters are always calm, gentle, and peaceful.

In my experience through the military and martial arts training, it is most difficult to train people for extreme stress. People never know how they react until they are put to the test in a real situation. Even using simulations and aggression training does not fully prepare one for a real fight. Obviously, you should not go around looking for fights so that you can practice. That is dangerous and stupid. The important point is that you do not know what will happen in your body until the time comes. If your training has been effective, you will know when your body wants to explode, but you can control it to achieve your goal (which should be to safely protect yourself and your loved ones, and then get the heck out of your bad situation).

This may seem like a unrelated tangent, but it is so very important to mastery. It’s not about being calm, gentle, and peaceful all the time. It’s about being able to maintain control even when you’re not calm.

The crux of mastery

Once, I was told by a very well known Krav Maga instructor that he didn’t like a certain organization because their top fighters are not hardcore enough. One of his friends, who was a phenomenal athlete and fighter by all accounts, was working towards a high level promotion. The final test was sparring. In the test, he was performing like a champion fighter, dominating other black belts. Finally, they asked him to display control in his fights (meaning to not simply beat everyone up), and he simply could not do it. In the end, they declined his promotion.

On another note, the instructor who told me this story is also a great practitioner. Yet, after getting to know him more, it is obvious that he also has trouble grasping the importance of controlled aggression. People who have difficulty with mental control, usually have other underlying psychological/emotional issues. Often, they eventually create their own organizations, rather than recognizing their shortcomings and then working on those internal problems. The biggest challenge all practitioners face is mental control.

At the heart of Krav Maga

mastery-peace

The goal is to “walk in peace” as stated by Imi LichtenfeldYes, aggression is a central attribute of Krav Maga, but the core of Krav Maga is walking in peace, which means both outer and inner peace.

Most of the Kravists or martial artists who I have met in my life have the same difficulty controlling themselves internally. When real violence occurs, their training and strategy goes out the window. Without mental control, even the most phenomenal athletes I know can easily lose to mediocre opponents with better strategy when it comes to a real fight.

Don’t get me wrong, all of the individuals I know who are like this are still phenomenal at what they do. I would love to train with these people and learn from them. They have valuable knowledge or skills, or both.Yet, in a violent situation, they are either burning harder than they should at code red, or they have hit code black and they don’t even know it.

What does it take to be a master?

The 10,000 hour rule is a great base. 10,000 hours equates to about 5.5 years of full time training at 40 hours a week. This is why in most legitimate belt programs, it takes 10+ years to reach a black belt. And those at that level know that black belt is just the beginning of becoming a real master.

If 10,000 hours of physical practice means you have comprehensive skill, you still need to have comprehensive knowledge and control.

Knowledge comes from both training and real life experience, and then the ability to combine and connect the two. This may require a person to step outside of the cave or the dojo in order to gather the information and accumulate knowledge.

Control is twofold. Physical control could come from the hours of physical training. Mental control, on the other hand, can be difficult to develop. The right training environment and instructor is very important. Many training environments barely scratch the surface on knowledge about the art being learned outside of techniques and moves.

They say the hardest battle you ever face is yourself

I would like to add that the biggest lies we tell are to ourselves. You can tell yourself that you have no problems, but do you really? You can tell yourself that you know your problems and are working on them, but do you really? It is difficult to have the greatest insight, and it is difficult to accept what you see inside yourself. But mental control is one of the biggest parts of achieving mastery.

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True mastery is when you can walk in peace knowing that you can overcome the challenges ahead

Ultimately, it is a combination of everything coming together. It is more than showing up to class and training. It is more than just teaching. It is more than believing that you are a master. It is when you reach the point in which others recognize you as a master. (Self-promotion is not mastery, by the way…)

A true master can physically defend him or herself, and others. A true master knows the mental struggles, but knows that he or she is prepared to deal with them.

Many people just go through the motions and lie to themselves, never accepting their shortcomings and learning to face them. Are you willing to do what it takes to achieve mastery?