Posts Tagged ‘UTKM’

Blog views

For once we actually bothered to look at the metrics for this blog. We were surprised to see how many countries around the world have looked at it even if just once. It is amazing how a small Krav Maga School in a small-medium sized city can reach around the globe. Once upon a time this kind of reach would have cost a fortune and had a great risk to life and limb Too bad the messengers of old risking their lives didn’t know Krav Maga.

While these numbers are by no means amazing as the internet goes, we think it’s not too bad considering we are not an international school, nor do we travel like so many other Krav Maga Instructors spreading Krav Maga.

To us, we see this as just the beginning if this is the kind of reach we have gotten so far with very little effort we can only imagine the bright things in the future of UTKM.

Advertisements

rcmp

I’ve been at the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) training academy, better known as Depot, for two months now.   My experience here so far has been amazing, and a major part of that is due to my Krav Maga training at UTKM.  Krav Maga has helped me in more ways than one while I’ve been at Depot.  Of course, there’s the obvious, such as doing the Police Use of Force classes, that I have an advantage because I am familiar with being in a combative environment and learning the techniques comes with ease.  But the bigger role that Krav Maga has played for me is the mental strength to keep going forward.  Just like when defending yourself, one of the objectives is to keep moving forward (of course with the added continuous strikes to your attacker) and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.  Taking on one task at a time and progressively always moving forward.  Even if I’m not exactly sure what to do, doing something is better than doing nothing.  For example, if you need to defend yourself against a person with a knife and your not sure what to do, its much better to do something, like a punch, kick, bite, eye gouge (even if that’s not the correct defence), than stand there doing nothing.

A moment in training that Krav Maga has been the most helpful for me was overcoming extreme physical pain.  One thing at Depot that all Cadets must go through is getting OC sprayed, commonly called pepper spray.  And that day came for me.  I had a bit of an idea that being OD’d was gonna sting the eyes. My thought was that it was gonna feel like the burn you get when sweat runs into your eyes.  Wow, was I ever wrong.  As soon as the OC spray hit my face it didn’t feel too bad.  I blinked once or twice and then BAM! The pain shot through the roof! My eyes completely shut and stung like acid was just poured onto them and my entire face felt like it was engulfed in flames.  But of course, we are tough RCMP Cadets and must run an obstacle course that combined both physical parts and thinking parts.  Immediately when I felt the pain, my Krav Maga training kicked in.  I pried my eyes open using my hands and moved forward and didn’t stop until the job was done.  In a way, I related this experience to one of my belt tests I had done earlier at UTKM before Depot.  It was essentially the same but trade the pain for exhaustion.  Even though I felt so tired during my belt test that I thought I was going to pass out, I still had to keep going.

The “mental conditioning” that Krav Maga teaches is truly something great.  The ability to overcome, fight through and always be focused is very important.  Not panicking in a situation where you need all your energy and focus to get through is something I’ve learned at UTKM and am truly grateful for my instructors sharing their knowledge, experience and skills with me.  Krav Maga is more than self-defense, it’s your fighting spirit.   ”

Editors note: This is not RCMP Training but a comparable scenario. I have been Bear Maced and had a face full of Military Grade Tear gas, it is not pleasant but can be tolerated if the need arises. However, I do not recommend you try this at home or with out proper supervision and medical personel available.

Part 5: A Land before time – Day 5 – The Lost Canoe

“Today, today, live like you wanna,
Let yesterday burn and throw it in a fire, in a fire, in a fire,
Fight like a warrior,” – Matisyahu – Live Like a Warrior

Isolation can be one of the worst forms of torture a human can be exposed to. Loneliness can cause a person to die slowly from the inside out. But what about when a person chose out of their own free will to isolate themselves. With no constraining walls or man made rules, just the laws of the universe.
For so much of our history, so many would live isolated alone or isolated in small communities. There would be little stimulation out of a task or job and the work it took to functionally survive. In many cases, there would be no free time, in others nothing but free time.

Camp my way seems to wish to remove the unnecessary stimulus to allow individuals to focus on the self, while still with people there to support. When Isolated by choice, and in nature, this can be a good thing. There can be no better isolation, no better satisfaction even if for only a brief moment, isolated on the top of a mountain with nothing but the world around to stare and admire in awe. If this is something you have never done, get up and get out, find your mountain top and climb it.

In the literal sense, it can be inspiring full of beauty, wonder and accomplishment. Climbing your internal mountain can be the most isolating of all things, for overcoming that which is in your way can become an isolating journey for it is yours and yours alone. For some, this mountain is too much to climb and too much to over come, but for others, it is simply another challenge to be beaten. So if over coming to your mountain, what ever is holding you back is too much, why not try something more tangible, and climb a real one. Find the kind of isolation that inspires and plants the seed of growth, don’t let it overwhelm you, and if need be, bring those who support you to challenge it together, because after all, we are social creatures. So find your mountain, and climb, experience and overcome.

 

Lonley Mountain.jpg

The Lonely Mountain From a Hobbit an Unexpected Journey

 

Finally, we would be leaving our campsite some to return home but a few of us to climb that mountain. There had been some confusion as to when John had to be home, as he originally said we could return on Saturday, but as it turned out, he had a wedding to get back to just after noon. But it was decided that there is no way were not going to climb the mountain that had been promised. It would have been easy for me to say no, and just leave in a relaxed fashion as I do hate to rush. But it seemed to Terrance it was important, and to me, it was simply something I felt I had to do for what ever intrinsic reason

So the remaining campers set out in the two canoes we had and the rest of us climbed into the two tin dinghies. We still had to pick up the lost canoe we had beached yesterday. Being as we woke up just after sunrise around 5 or 6 am the wind had not had time to pick up yet. This was the reason we were supposed to leave early on previous days yet never did. Of we went.

Calm and quiet. Only us on the lake. Too bad we did not have time for fishing, it would have been a perfect time. Instead, I would have to settle for the view as we slowly made our way back. A mother eagle was perched on a dead branch looking out over the lake. Her nest was 100 meters farther back. We all pondered what could be going through her mind as she watched us in the tin and carbon fibre boats on the way to much gear loaded on. “Foolish hoo-mons, they know nothing” is what I imagined her thinking.

When we beached we began the arduous task of returning all the canoes and gear began. Those who had to leave helped pack up all the gear that needed transporting to Terrance’s house while Terrance and another set out to return the canoes to all his neighbours.

Everyone except John and myself, packed up said their goodbyes except Terrance and company who were still taking the canoes back. Now it was just John, and I left alone to sit and think and talk.

It must have been two hours, and Terrance had not returned yet. I decided to go and check, yet as luck would have it as I was half way down the road to the lake Terrance turned the corner in his Jeep. If you have never seen his Jeep, it is unmistakable, for on the front is a moose skull and it is covered in sponsorship stickers left from when he flipped the tire up Blackcomb mountain. It like Terrance was a head turner destined for big things.

Back in the cabin, and tired we decided to take some time to rest and nap. It seems on this trip I had returned to my liking of mid day naps. Something the past months had not allowed me to do regularly. I can certainly say there is some merit to the siesta even if you are not in the hotter Mediterranean countries. I think perhaps because it forces you to slow down and take a break. Something that sometimes the hectic life of the city does not allow.

Awoke, and ready we loaded up into my Tacoma for despite the moose head on Terrances Jeep mine was in better condition (and probably safer) to take the long unpaved roads up the mountain. Terrance and company decided to sit in the truck bed, with John and me in the front. Terrance explained that he was always the one driving and never got to sit in the back of his jeep. I allowed this only because we were out away from the city and such things I knew to be common. Of course in the city, I would never dare, because I would most likely get pulled over. I think there is much debate about such actions and reasons for or against, but out here there are far fewer rules. Personally, while I fully understand the safety around such acts, as I have grown older I feel we have are too fear full of injury and death and have over regulated ourselves into the depressed insanity that we live daily in the cities. This whole thing would lead to a discussion later when we reached the top which would give me a lot to think about.

First, we had to make our way past the native reserve and the hydro dam. Then we had to find the entrance off the main road. Another almost barely marked unpaved road that would be easy to miss. This lead to some 20 or 30 switch backs up the mountain. I thoroughly enjoyed the drive up; I went fairly hard on the straight aways and cautiously on the corners. I would have wished to push it and test the Tacoma, but with Terrance and company in the back, I didn’t feel it was safe to do so. I kept thinking about the famous Pikes Peak Rally course and how this compared.

As we reached what appeared to be a mountain top radio receiver station, we veered off on to a heavily brush covered maintenance trail. Thankfully due to the power lines, these trails ran all through the mountain range making it possible for vehicles to navigate the beauty they had to offer. Well, off road vehicles at least, I would not suggest taking your mom’s Honda civic unless you are planning on getter her a new car. Switching the Tacoma to 4 X 4 Low, it was slow and steady as we navigated through the tree covered trail. As we got higher and higher, the trees thinned, and eventually, we came to another fork. Terrence told me to hit a right and park the truck as it would not be able to go further. The next bit of road was probably at a 30-40% incline. We decided to take a break and eat some food, as after this it would all be on foot.

 

IMG_20170825_182559.jpg

The Beginning of the Hike

Terrance commented on how dangerously I was driving. I was not impressed. For me, it hit a nerve, why I couldn’t tell you. Looking back, I suspect it might have had to do with his previous experience in rescuing people from this very trail. Realistically, there was no way for Terrance to know that I am an excellent and controlled driver with hundreds of thousands of KMs under my belt. While once upon a time I might have taken unnecessary risks now I do not do anything I don’t think is reasonably safer. I also tried to tell him how sitting in the back is probably far more dangerous than the way I was driving. For him though, perhaps it was the perception of the freedom not being trapped by the walls of the truck should anything have gone wrong. He figured he could just jump out of the bed if the truck started to go off the cliff, I am not so sure how safe that would be with out injury. I think this was something we would agree to disagree.

Issues like this always strike a nerve, thinking about it now it’s probably the hypocrisy of it. It’s like the people who yell at me for driving fast at night (20km an hour) in my complex yet are wearing dark clothing making them hard to see. It’s the kind of thing where people try to put their safety in the hands of others with out taking responsibility for themselves.

Anyways, off topic.

Packed up and ready to go, leaving the troubles behind it was time to start the hike. By now it was probably 6 or 7 pm. There was not too much of a climb to the top, but we still wanted to get there before sunset. The climb reminded me again of the forced marches in the army, a struggle but still something to enjoy..well after the fact. In this case, there was no rush, and we took our time to enjoy the scenery. Terrance kept asking us to stop to get some footage for marketing for future camps, which we were happy to oblige. Eventually, we got to the windy yet clear mountain top.

Dropping our packs, we set out to explore. On the top, we found an abandoned and now smashed radio station probably the predecessor to the one we passed down the mountain. It must have been built sometime during the war or after but all that was left were the foundations some of the walls and supports and various construction material. We also found a plaque of some kind that was almost impossible to read. It must have been put there well before the radio tower. Terrance told us how many years ago this was one of the few places there was reception for TV. A friend of his one of the local natives used to climb up here to watch TV on the few stations he could get. I imagine that this was back in the day when rabbit ears were still a thing for TVs.

We realised that the wind might be a problem when setting up the tents. I found a spot and decided to leave off the rain tarp from mine to allow the wind to blow through. Though this prevented the wind from moving my tent too much, it also meant that every large gust of wind would lead to a long and restless night of half sleep. Terrance and crew wanted to find a place less windy, but except for the large crevasses in the rock formations, which would not have been comfortable to sleep on there were no such places.

 

IMG_20170825_191632

Loneliness or chosen Isolation, You Decide.

 

I began to think that it was going to be much colder than we had thought and none of us had any winter clothes. I was certainly happy now that I had sprung for the -40-degree sleeping bag. Unfortunately for the rest of them none of them had the same luxury. Someone suggested they all sleep in the same tent for warmth which I then strongly encouraged. While I have never had full hypothermia, there was one time I was showing the early stages, and I didn’t think this would be a great place for any one to get hypothermia. Especially considering we had no reception and no GPS signal (NOT ADVISABLE), there would be no quick rescue should something of this nature have happened.

Eventually, the tents were set, and we enjoyed the sunset around 8 or 9. As it started to get dark, I made some food, and they attempted to find some materials to create a windshield for their tent. As Darker and darker it got. It also got colder and colder. I had no gloves and other than my thermal underwear and shirt I was not wearing much else. It was getting cold far too quickly for my liking. I decided the only good place for me was now in the sleeping bag even though I was not that tired. Boy was I right.

Panoramic of Sunset on the Lonely Mountain

IMG_20170825_201728

Moon of my life, My Sun and Stars

 

I was glad that I could see the stars, for falling asleep the other day with out the tent and a clear view felt great. I probably could have done the same as the tent didn’t provide any protection from the elements, but I had it, so I guess I just set it up with out thinking. Eventually, I fell asleep though it was more of a constantly disturbed nap. At one or two points in the night though I could not entirely see where the rest of them were in their tent I could certainly hear them. I don’t think they got much sleep either.

I had set my alarm for 5 am, to watch the sunrise. 5 am arrived my alarm went off, and I awoke. The problem I felt was that it was still far too cold to get out of the sleeping back, so I decided to stay in, which was probably a good idea.

A while later, Terrance came over to the tent and told me that it was too cold to stay so we were packing up to go. I had to quickly pack up all my stuff myself, which was difficult especially with out gloves. Did I mention it was cold? By the end I could barely feel my hands and clipping in the straps of my bag was difficult. I would periodically have to stop to warm my hands up so that I could function. Once again I was reminded of how much I hate the cold.

After, as best as my hands would allow me I saw them laughing and talking. And here I thought there was a sense of urgency to get off the mountain lest we all freeze. I may not have been the most polite, but they didn’t seem in that much of hurry. Maybe they had better cold tolerance than me, or maybe they just enjoyed being cold. I couldn’t tell you, but I am fairly certain I said, “I have some good advice, Stop talking and let’s get the fuck off this mountain.”

Again, and I can’t stress this enough, despite being Canadian, I dislike the cold very much. Israel and its awesome climate ruined the cold for me, and after I came back to Canada I was never quite the same in my ability to tolerate it. Oh well.

Down we went. It was much quicker the way down than the way up. I guess that’s how gravity works. Up is hard, down is easy. Well except on the knees. I had considered bringing my carbon fibre knee brace before this trip, but I thought it was a bit much. It turned out to be fine, even if I almost ate shit on the way down once or twice.

The truck at last, what a great sight for cold eyes…

 

IMG_20170826_064823.jpg

Except for my Ridiculous outfit, this could be something out of a catalogue #Tacomanation

 

We packed up chatted for a bit and headed down. This time with everyone in the cabin. I definitely went slower on the way down, because well gravity and also because I didn’t feel like getting into another dispute.

At one point someone saw a Bear cub run up a side trail. We attempted to follow for a second just to get a better view for a photo but I opted not to go too far. This mainly because where there is a Cub there is a mama and well this was a new truck. I am not sure how to explain bear claw marks to the insurance company (Which is BC is TERRIBLE, and despite the fact everyone hates them they still have a government supported monopoly…).

We chatted on the drive about what ever and eventually made our way back to Terrance’s house. I was glad we made it up the mountain and back. Terrance had kept talking about what a great view it was, which of course he was right. Also, the climb is supposed to be part of the full Campy My way experience. As Terrance explained it to me, eventually this would become a two-week program. Starting at one end of the lake, to where we had been camping. Then a short portage of the gear. Then the mountain and then trekking the second of two long lakes eventually ending in a hike ending in Lillooet.

You may have noticed by now I have not given away the exact location of this whole experience, but that’s because I want you to figure it out for your self. OHH, how interactive.

At Terrance’s We separated our gear from his and said our goodbyes. Off John and I went.

Terrance was right; the road back looked a lot different in the day than night. A cliff on one side and a mountain on another. Though not as steep or windy as the road we were just on there was far more traffic. Truck, Truck…wait is that a neon with a spoiler? And Terrance thought I was crazy here was a fully loaded Neon with a spoiler gunning it on the mountain roads. If you didn’t know, as I know, as I once drove a neon they are toasters on wheels and can barely handle paved roads.

I once again enjoyed having the truck. I haven’t said it yet but #Tacomanation all the way. It was a beautiful drive back, and I kept my eye out for any for sale signs. Having a property in a place like this was a new goal. Though this will not be happening anytime soon, it is a good goal to have. Back through Merrit, then Whistler then Vancouver. John would make in time for his wedding after all.

I though roughly enjoyed this trip. Once of exploration of both myself, others and beautiful British Columbia. It got me thinking I wanted to get back into nature more often. Now I had the means; I just need to find the time and the will.

The Next Day, it was back to the grind in what would be working for seven days straight on various things. Man what a change of pace it is. It makes a difference, but I was glad I made the Journey.

Camp My way is a Brilliant and yet simple idea and is something though I know it needs a lot of work to become something great, its concept is already something great. It is a cause that I look forward to supporting in the years to come. I hope you enjoyed this adventure story I sincerely hope there will be more of these in the future.

My Time in the land before time was short, though eye opening. In the city, we measure everything so precisely and are bombarded with so much stimulus. One of the things I did upon returning home was cover all the lights on my computers and electronic devices with tape so they would no longer affect my sleep. I also decided that I would always sleep with the blinds open to allow the air and sounds of the water in the park next to me to sing me to sleep naturally, just as the river at camp had done. One day, I will find and make my home in nature, and live a life without time. But in the mean time, I will continue to build UTKM to give people around me the strength to live better, happier and safer lives. Just like Camp my way gives people the time to look within. I will do what I can to give people the skills they need to do the same. For Krav Maga, is not just a set of physical moves, it is a way of thinking and a lifestyle.

With this, I end with another Matisyahu video – Live Like a warrior. To encourage you to have the spirit to live life the way you want to so long as it makes you happy and does no harm to others around you. With, Of course, the exception of Self Defense.

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

 

rollercoaster_ride.jpg

What becoming a UTKM Assistant Instructor looks like to Karch. Isn’t it beautiful?

 

The instructor program so far has been a wild, and enigmatic ride. From long winded discussions to unexpected challenges, there was always some sort of lesson to be learned. Whether it was from the lesson itself, or listening to Jon and Andrew argue about miniscule details, exploding into something completely unprecedented from the original thing they were arguing about. I knew that every Friday night I would have the pleasure, or discomfort that I was going to be learning something new.

Jon is best described by a quote I once found deep inside the depths of the internet,

“The best teachers are those who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see” famously quoted by Alexandra K. Trenfor.

Every lesson given, every story told, always seemed to have an underlying meaning behind it, and we were always left to wonder and think what else we could have been missing.

Learning how to critically think has been the greatest take away for me so far in the program. There are many of times where we are placed in a situation where we confronted with a predicament where we must quickly analyze and act. I use to freeze up in moments such as these, my brain would suddenly shut down and I would draw a blank, and I would either just follow the crowd or just stand there with drool dripping down the side of my mouth. In the instructor program, we’re often taught the importance of quickly analyzing a situation, whether that be in class or outside in the real world. I’ve noticed within myself that I freeze less often now, and act a lot quicker within precedence. Of course, I still have a long way to go, but it’s better than it was before.

The instructor program had definitely has been one heck of a journey so far, and I can’t wait to see what else it has in store for me. Whether that maybe more lessons, more test that don’t include multiple choice answers, and or more challenges for me to overcome. I know that by the end of this journey I will become a stronger person, and will have attained the necessary skills to be a certified UTKM assistant instructor.

Karch Tan.

Part 4: A Land before time – Day 3 & 4 – The Fairy Grove & FIshing

I Must Not Fear 1.jpg

I have talked about the litany against fear many times. It is from one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time Dune, a true masterpiece and one of the few books I have read that truly changed my perspective on life and how to interpret it and the people in it. The litany against fear is an important moral that we should all learn yet don’t. It discusses fear but not in the way you might think at first. There is a concept of No Fear, and it was even a popular slogan trademarked by a clothing company many years ago. The thing is, however, that a person with out fear is dangerous. This is because they are out right ignoring their intuition, that feeling internally telling us there is severe risk ahead. It is foolish and often leads to actions with little regards to those around us. The litany against fear, however, talks about overcoming fear through acceptance. About allowing us to use the fear as a productive tool to move forward and build inner strength. I find too many people live their lives through fear for what ever reason. Fear of failure and fear of the unknown are two of the biggest things I see controlling people and their decisions. Instead of accepting these fears and moving forward and growing to many individuals choose stagnation rather than facing their fears. This mentality is one I hope people to over come through my teachings in Krav Maga or these blogs. So that they may walk in peace allowing their fears to pass over them and through them to be better, stronger and happier.

Today was suppose to be the day we got up to go on that mountain trek Terrance had kept telling us about. It was, after all, suppose to be the second part of the camp. For numerous reasons and set backs on all camps, it never quite happened. We ended up waking up late for what ever reason, I suppose people were all too comfortable letting go and relaxing. It wasn’t a bad thing. When I awoke, after coffee I immediately started to pack up my tent and gear because for me rushing is not something I like to do. Like a good soldier, I was ready to go at moments notice knowing the wind and lake conditions may affect departure as this was one of the reasons we held of leavening the day before. After another late breakfast, there was a discussion of whether we should go or not. The waves though not too bad were certainly not calm. The assessment of whether the risk was worth it was the real challenge. Several of us decided that we would try our luck and go out on the canoes to the second beach where the therapy had taken place before. If we could comfortably do it, then we would leave camp a little later. We made it no problem, and I ended up hearing some of the stories of the both Terrance of the others during their drug rehab and before. Perhaps we hung around for too long, but when made it back Terrance was cautious, and the others were unsure as to whether we should collectively leave or not. I voted to go now before it got too bad. For if you allow fear to overcome you and you keep putting things off then things will never get done. Again, I do not allow fear to control me when I consciously can. In the end, I was outvoted, and the decision was to stay for another day even though it took a long time. For me, there is nothing worse than indecision. For me, the longer it takes, the longer things may pass you by. This and having not been on medication (SSRI’s)for a few days made me irritable, and it reminded me why sometimes I just don’t like people.

Either way, we waited too long, and the waves picked up. My point about indecision was proven correct, though I didn’t say much about it. We could have left earlier if we had stuck to the plan yet didn’t. Now with the rest of the day free, it was decided that we would walk up the river and do the walking meditation that several of the group had yet to experience. Eventually, we found a log crossing that had been constructed previously, by settlers or campers, who knows? There was a more modern rope on one side indicating that someone had used this crossing more recently. Eventually, we found the abandoned cabin again.

I was surprised at how quick a walk it was considering it was in the bay over that we had previously canoed too. Another discovery at least to me is that at one time this cabin had numerous fruit trees, some of which were still producing fruit. We explored the cabin a bit more and then picked some apples. Terrance asked me to explain how the walking meditation works to everyone and again one by one people set out. This time I went second to last.

We admired the waterfall once again, this time with more pictures. Someone noticed another trail that went farther up the mountain, and we decided to go up to the second water fall higher up. This time it was less of a calm winding path and more of a steep hike. I was starting to understand why so many hikers take hiking polls. At least we didn’t have our backpacks which for me made it easy work as my Vibrams allowed me to stay low and nimble. The second waterfall was probably twice the size of the first and much farther back in the mountain. We could only watch from the cliff side as it would be impossible to safely access this pool with out serious climbing gear and experience. Again we noticed that there was another less obvious path going further up the mountain. Terrance had never seen the next waterfall and suggested we explore. So up we went.

This time it wasn’t just steep, and the path was not so clear. The mountain side, littered with loose shale and steep, uneven terrain proved tricky. We hug the cliff side. Shortly after much of the group got too nervous to continue as it was not such an easy climb. My self and another decided to push farther to explore and see if this was a viable path for future camps. We discovered that shortly after the trail died in what appeared to be the scorn of winters rath, an avalanche path covered with fallen trees. Perhaps at one time, there was a trail but not anymore. After climbing up and around to look down the cliff side, we decided that there was no point in continuing as it would most likely take hours to scale to the peak and we didn’t have the proper equipment, so we carefully went back down to the group. Some indicated that it was a dangerous decision, but to me, it was just a calculated risk as the weather conditions were good. Again, my relationship with fear seems to be vastly different than others. Back to camp, we went, this time we found a path that came through the fairy grove, which was easy to find as the purple towel was still there floating suspended on some twine.

Upon arriving it was noted that something was not quite right. 1, 2 and…wait… there was no 3. Apparently, the Tin canoe was nowhere to be found. It had been left sideways on the shoreline rather than pulled right up and the best we could figure it had been swept away by the wind and the waves. Terrance and several others were still making their way back. In my head I thought, if we don’t get it now there will just be more excuses tomorrow, and we will never be able to hike the mountain. As John Sambo was standing right next to me and as he had claimed he had been in rough canoeing conditions previously I asked if he wanted to come with me to find the canoe. He obliged, and just as we pushed off into the water, Terrance and company came out of the tree line just in time to see us pushing off the shore. Theirs was a look of worry. To me though, this was a mission no different than any challenge I had faced previously.

On the way to find the canoe, we were moving with the waves, which made things easier. We, of course, made sure to take lifejackets. I should note, that had we not had life jackets there is no way in hell I would have done this. I neglected to mention earlier, that I don’t like deep water, for you see I had a near drowning experience when I was younger and since then I prefer to keep my feet on the ground. Despite this fear, I was confident in my ability to face it and overcome it…with the life jacket on of course.

We stayed close to the coast so as not to be swept out into the centre of the lake where the waves were the larger. As we moved forward, we spotted what we thought might be a canoe. Nope, just a large boulder.

We kept going, and in the faint distance, we spotted something blue. The Tin Canoe had blue wooden structures on it which I believe was at one point meant for a person to treat it like a row boat. Too bad, they were not set up as such, it would have made things far easier. As we approached, I noted that not only was this beach a rocky, bouldery one making it hard to land, but the waves were crashing onto it every few seconds. It was lucky in reality that it was the Tin boat that had been taken as it was likely here for hours and any of the fibreglass canoes would have probably been smashed up by now. Never the less we had to attempt to return this boat, so we very carefully beached our fibreglass boat and pulled it up to the shore as far as we reasonably could.

We were pleasantly surprised to find, that not only were both the oars and life jackets were still in the canoe but also someone’s boxers who had made the ill fated decision to use the canoe as their drying rack.

The priority was pulling the canoe up the shore so that we could empty the water now gathered inside. Initially, we tried to bail the water out using an old empty plastic bottle we found and our hands. This proved far too tedious with the waves crashing in every few seconds. We decided to pull it up further as we then tipped this cumbersome boat on its side to allow most, but not all of the water to drain out.

The plan was to tie one boat to another using the paracord I had brought. Then one person would get in a boat push out a bit, then the second would jump in, and we would paddle out. This, however, failed. John sambo tried twice to launch in the tin boat but twice capsized. I assessed that it was too shallow, the boat and John were just too heavy to move out safely. Plan B. I would get in the tin boat get it off the shore and John would get in the fibre glass boat and together we would go out into the wildness of the lake. This too did not go exactly to plan. While I managed to get the lead boat out and John managed to get the second boat out it was a struggle. For you see, John had clearly exaggerated his ability to paddle and steer in rough waves. I found my self-being dragged back as John paddled his boat in circles. His inability to control the direction of his canoe kept causing my starboard to be facing the on coming waves. It was now becoming dangerous as we both now risked cap sizing. I attempted to give firm clear directions how to steer while trying to do this same. After a few minutes of this I said, ” I am sorry, but I have to cut the toe line”. I pulled out my Leatherman and while keeping the canoe as straight as I could I cut the line. While team work is preferred, sometimes it is just is not possible. The waves were too big, the wind was too aggressive, and I just did not have the strength to steer and pull both boats. Off I went. I righted the direction of the canoe and began what would be a longer journey than I had originally thought.

After watching John capsize previously at the shore, I assessed that the seats of the canoe were far too high allowing for a dangerously high centre of gravity. I decided I was going to sit on the floor at the bow of the boat. It turned out to be the correct decision as It kept my centre of gravity low and kept the weight in the front preventing the waves from flipping the boat. However, I knew this was the right decision I don’t know, but it just felt right at the time. Later I justified it by explaining that by weighting the front I could break the waves easier and paddle hard to keep the front from being over come with water. The truth is it was an instinctual decision, as having little to no previous experience in such conditions and in a canoe no less I really can’t tell you how I knew other than I just did.

I looked back and saw John still paddling in wide circles; I didn’t know what to do. I yelled at him to try to get to shore and wait while I went for help. I don’t think he heard as he kept going in circles. I had no choice but to move forward. I started to paddle hard when the waves came and continuously so that they wouldn’t push me back and the little progress I was making for nothing. After a while, I started to think about all the warriors of the past that would endure such situations. I thought of the Maori in New Zealand, the Polynesians in Hawaii and the Vikings. I too felt like a modern day warrior. It was not a great situation, but I felt great. For thousands of years, these kind of situations were common. Many had to prove themselves a warrior would have to complete such tasks alone with out help. It made this easier as I fought through it and kept paddling.

I looked back and saw John going in circles still and then trying to beach himself. He succeeded but then tried to make his way out to water again. It failed. It must have been 2 or three attempts in total but none worked. Since leaving camp, it must have been about 2 hours now. I must have been alone for more than an hour of it and was probably only halfway back to camp. The swells up until this point must have been between 3-4 feet, it what seems like a never ending battle with the gods of the lake. No, I don’t really believe that, but hey I was just trying to get into the Viking mentality.

Eventually, I saw the little dinghy in the distance. It so happened that the waves had calmed down and I used my paddle as a signal. They got close enough for me to yell, ” I am fine, go help John and I pointed in his direction.” as I gave a thumbs up. They received the message and continued passed me.

They too tried to help John the way I could, but even with the motor, the waves were just to pick and well, poor John was really out of his element. They eventually gave up, beached the fibre glass canoe on the beach and told John to walk. They then came out to me. It was Terrance and his helper Alex. They came around and pulled up along side me. I wasn’t sure what their goal was. I assumed that they were going to toe me, which I was mildly relieved as it was still a long way to go, and the waves were only getting bigger. I was wrong. The dinghy and its motor were not designed for these rough conditions. Back to my warrior’s mind set. They tried to tell me I needed to bail the water out of my boat which I kept trying to tell them it was fine. In the time it took them to decided what to do the boats had turned side ways. I got impatient and recognised they were not helping but making things worse. I yelled, ” either one of you gets in this canoe to help me paddle or disengage.” Startled, Alex got in the canoe grabbed a paddle. Terrance disengaged and headed back to the beach disgruntled.

So Alex and I would finish the journey, while I am fully confident I would have made it on my own, I was glad I had help. The waves were now probably reaching 6 foot or more. It would have been an epic struggle like something out of an ancient Greek story had I been required to do it by myself, but it was still epic even with two people.

We started to go on what would be another hour paddling. At some point, Alex began to chant in a loud booming voice.

“NOW I AM THE VOICE.
I WILL LEAD NOT FOLLOW.
I WILL BELIEVE, NOT DOUBT.
I WILL CREATE, NOT DESTROY.
I AM A FORCE FOR GOOD.
I AM A FORCE FOR GOD.
I AM A LEADER.
DEFY THE ODDS.
SET A NEW STANDARD.
STEP UP!”

It was epic. It turns out it was a Tony Robbin’s mantra, while I am not a fan of his, an argument Alex and I would have later, at the time it truly was epic and very appropriate. It gave us both strength for a time and quite frankly makes this story even better.

Eventually, though, the mantra wore off, and the long hard grind was starting to wear on Alex. Despite the fact I was exhausted long ago, I had to dig deep and embrace the suck. I told him this, he had to embrace it and not give up. Slowly, one paddle at a time and with a little team work we made it closer to camp. The problem was that we couldn’t simply bee line it to shore. Because of the waves, we had to paddle past the camp and then turn around so that the waves would guide us to shore. If we turned too soon, the waves would push us past our beach. Imagine, the goal in sight after what was getting close to 3 hours, but unable to reach it for a time because rushing could mean imminent danger.

We paddled passed as our comrades look on from the shore. Eventually, we got to the point where we could turn around. Unfortunately, it took several attempts as the waves weirdly kept pointing us back in the same direction (rather than flipping us). Finally, we got coordinated enough to turn around.
Finally, we were back on dry land.

As we landed on the beach, there was what I imagined a collective sigh of relief from all parties. Ironically John had just beaten us to the camp not a few minutes earlier. Perhaps We should have beached earlier too, no I thought, as then we would have been down two boats and not one. I made the right decision.

I attempted to lift myself out of the canoe but couldn’t. The moment I stopped paddling my arms gave out. It took me several attempts, but I finally managed. Soaking wet and with a smile on my face I was back at camp. I think people thought I was crazy as is common in my life but I didn’t care, at least I had something interesting to write about.

It took me a second to settle in and then me and Alex high fived. Then, Finally, some luck, while we had been struggling they had made food. At least I got to eat to replenish some strength it was a good day after all.

I then took off my wet clothes and put on my some long johns and a thermal shirt. I knew all to well from the army how quickly hypothermia can set in. I told both Alex and John they should change to warm clothes so they could avoid it as well.

The day ended with me, John and Terrance looking up at the stars once again. Discussing the universe and me attempting to explain what little I know of it from an astronomical point of view. Despite the hectic day, it ended it calm. Because I was tired and had previously packed up my gear, I decided that I was just going to sleep out in the open looking up at the stars. It was the right decision as I looked up at the milky way I smiled as I was at least for a brief moment happy. Then with heavy eye lids, I faded off to sleep.

Part 6: A Land before time – Day 5 – The Lonely Mountain

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

I was just thinking about when I started the Assistant instructor class at UTKM – was it March? It feels like forever that I’m spending Friday nights at the gym, watching presentations, discussing techniques and try to memorize as much as I can. Not to forget the tests! To become a UTKM instructor you really have to commit yourself. I guess I didn’t really know what to expect but I don’t quit because I want to become an instructor, I like teaching although I have to work on my personal approach – having a Judo background makes me sometimes very strict and I don’t like it when students don’t pay attention or are too chatty. I have to loosen up on that part and be more relaxed.

Having taught my first class on Thursday I really appreciated the students’ support and commitment – Thank you so much! I was nervous because Jon “Eagle Eye” Fader was breathing down my neck and scribbling notes that I still have to read. But knowing that I can count on you guys makes it easier.

 

Eagle eye Jon.jpg

What we imagine Jon looks like when auditing classes. 

 

 

Becoming/being an instructor comes with a load of responsibilities – I want students to feel safe and to trust me which means I have still a long way to go learning every tiny little detail of the techniques that we are teaching. The assistant instructor class at UTKM is just the beginning – it shows you the opportunities you have but also the hard work they come with and it is up to us to make the decision whether or not we want to go that way. I personally decided that I want to go that way.

And then there is Jon with his high standards. I fully understand that he wants to make sure that UTKM students get the best training which means that the instructors need to be able to provide that high standard of training. Being a perfectionist and creating a lot of pressure already by myself I sometimes feel like a headless chicken. I don’t want to disappoint or let anyone down. I know that experience comes with time and over time I will learn all these tiny little details but being patient and cutting myself some slack is not my strongest feature.

Interesting enough I also started to reflect about myself – where am I in my life? Am I happy? I have to admit that I had my life planned out differently – you know, same old story – getting married, having a kid, building a house, planting a tree. And here I am, 37, no husband (thank god! Dodged that bullet), no kids. But I am in a good place. I don’t feel I’m missing out on things. At some point, I understood that I like doing Krav, BJJ and Judo and I also like to share my knowledge.

I still think that leaving Germany behind and moving to Vancouver was one of my best ideas ever! And no, I’m not planning on going back. I like where I am and I like the direction my life is going.

20170925.jpg

Part 3: A Land before time  – Day 2 – Back to Nature

The search for purpose and meaning is a challenge for most people. Some people are lucky enough to find it early on whether through a specific upbringing or the simple lack of a series of events the lead to a passion. Others struggle to find it or give up before their passion is found or materialized. In a book written in 1946 called Mans Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl it discusses how finding purpose in life helped many Holocaust survivors survive the death camps. Those lucky enough to avoid the death marches or gas chambers had two options, find purpose and meaning in their lives despite the horrid situation they were in, or succumb to the death and despair around them. Why though would I bring up such a terrible experience in this blog series? It’s simple because our search for purpose or more exactly our own meaning in this often confusing existence can often mean the difference between finding happiness and not. Those with purpose or meaning, whether right or wrong are generally happier and live more productive lives.

So in this land before time, with no stimulus, and people who I don’t know that well what could I do with the seemingly endless time. While we had ample food, I thought about what people used to do. There were Builders, hunters, gathers, warriors, child rearers etc. Of course, given my nature, I see my self as a warrior or hunter type. As quite clearly the opportunity to be a warrior was not on the table, hunting on the other hand was. Fishing was something I saw as an enjoyable thing. So imagining that I was truly in the land before time in a tribe, finding my purpose as a hunter seemed the obvious choice. Given no modern stimulus and all the time in the world, what would be your purpose?

 

FB_IMG_1505794505870.jpg

The Fairy Grove courtesy the masseuse

 

The next two days would be mostly about doing nothing but enjoying myself, the beautiful surroundings and attempting to catch a fish.

Waking and making my self some coffee was still a luxury I afforded to myself. Luckily for me, I had a small portable MSI Burner and Tin cups which allowed me to quickly brew my own coffee without hassle. Albeit instant coffee but I was not about to be picky. Growing up I had never been much of a coffee drinker as my father hailing from England made sure that our house as a constant supply of tea, Tetleys to be exact. Though in the IDF I was exposed to the Turkish style of coffee which I would gladly have when offered but it still wasn’t something I got into. Turkish style if you don’t know, or at least the way I was taught in the army was to boil some water, put the grounds right into the water letting it boil to the point of a mild froth. Flame off, letting it cool and the grounds to settle. Then either black or with heaps of sugar. Of course, you have to be careful near the end that you didn’t get a mouth full of grounds but it taught me that in a pinch you really don’t need a filter.

On a side note, I found my fondness for coffee, like so many at University. On my second round of University to be precise. While taking a major in psychology (which I stopped in the third year for numerous reasons) I also re-discovered the Canadian love of Tim Hortons. Which was conveniently on every campus and was where every student rushed to on the breaks.

Ok so I digress, but coffee addiction is one of those addictions that seems to be acceptable, and hey most studies I have seen recently suggest it’s even good for you. The irony of such things considering several of our group were recovering addicts. The world is funny like that sometimes.

On this day, I knew I would be getting a massage from the therapist but I didn’t know when. It would be something I would have to patiently wait for. Though I had already made my coffee and had granola and honey when the group all awoke they decided to make a grand breakfast with the little BBQ that could. French Toast, Smokies and Bacon for everyone except the two vegetarians who had vegetables and other items to satisfy. Terrance has recently bought a percolating kettle but the demand for coffee and the BBQ meant it didn’t last long. Someone thought it would be a good idea to close the lid on the BBQ while it attempted to brew. As one would expect or didn’t as was the case, this melted the various plastic parts on the percolator. This also meant that any time I made my own coffee with my tools someone inevitably asked for some, which I obliged until I started to run low on the third day.

Full from 2nd breakfast it must have been close to noon at this point I decided to take a nap. Terrance and several of the others went to a second waterfall back up the lack that was safer to access. I opted for the nap because well I hate cold water. I think I made the right choice, they, however, beg to differ. I awoke probably two hours later after they came back.

I decided to attempt my luck at fishing again. Initially, as I was casting from the lake side I was only frustrated for every time I would try to reel it in It would only get caught on the rocks. I hadn’t figured out how to easily get it unstuck, something I wouldn’t figure out until the next day. As sat on the rocky beach trying to fish one of the others who had gone out on the boat managed to catch a rainbow trout. It was exciting though I was mildly jealous I just wanted to catch something. It got me thinking again about how primal humans lived. They might go days with out something and now I can begin to feel the communal excitement every time someone came back with fish or animal meat. We have the privilege today of simply walking down the street in a leisurely fashion, or rushing in a car just to point at a package, put it in our basket and walk or drive home with out much trouble. This makes it far too easy for us to forget just how hard it is to get food with out the convenience of the modern world.

It also makes it easy for us to forget the excitement from everyone, the congratulations, even a little envy that occurs every time hunters bring back protein for a village that relies on hunting for its sustenance. It also helps build a community, something often lost in the big city. No luck for me in the end, but I was happy that I was learning and that at least someone caught something.

Hobbit.jpg

A Hobbit, Barefooted in the forest…

Lunch time or what ever time it was, it was the 2nd err, 3rd meal of the day. With my small stature and bear foot nature on this trip, with all these meals I was beginning to feel a bit like a hobbit. Perhaps this life suits me. Once again, I probably ate too much. Though I didn’t feel bored I didn’t have much else to do but eat. Doing nothing still, despite the adjustment is still and always will be something difficult for me. Later some coffee again. The massage therapist came back from another session and told me that I would be next and when she was ready she would come get me.

 

Back to sitting, contemplating and fishing from the shore. At Last! Massage time. I had wondered where she kept going with everyone for so long and I was about to find out.

Into the heavy brush in the forest we went. There was no clear trail, and again I was barefoot, all the little dry twigs and uneven forest ground was a challenge yet an easy one. Eventually, after a short time, the ground became soft, covered in heavy moss. A purple silk towel hung above a circle of rocks, a yoga mat and a sleeping bag. This is what we would call the fairy grove. Clearly, the masseuse had put more than just effort into this, she put passion. It seems she at least, was one of the lucky ones to find her purpose.

Tucked away from the shore, in a clearing on the moss, I was to receive a massage. This to me is the definition of natural healing, or healing in nature, whichever you prefer. I couldn’t remember the last time I had a massage. While I fully enjoy them, they are expensive and again I have a hard time relaxing. This experience though was sorely overdue. Time continued to melt away as their hands did their work. Somewhere else in the world the same thing might cost hundreds of dollars, but without a care in the world, I think I finally relaxed. I am not sure how long it was, half an hour, an hour, I don’t really know. When it was done, we talked. Talked about our lives, where we were at and personal things you might not normally share, yet in this idyllic place, it seemed appropriate.

Dinner! Yup, it was the hobbit life for me. This would be the last day for the entire group as the Germans and Angel hands therapist would be leaving in the morning. The goal for us would be to leave the next day after a late breakfast and head up the mountain hike that Terrance had mentioned but for now food and relaxed. When it got dark the stars were out again I remember how much I missed looking up at the starry sky from the desert when I was in the Military. The milky way, satellites whizzing by, shooting stars, the constellations. All these things we sorely miss in the city and something I believe where are at a great loss for not seeing. You can’t help but wonder in Awe as you look up into the vast expanse.

 

Hubble Deep Field

Hubble Telescope Ultra Deep Field

This would be the last day for the entire group as the Germans and Angel hands therapist would be leaving in the morning. The goal for us would be to leave the next day after a late breakfast and head up the mountain hike that Terrance had mentioned but for now food and relaxed. When it got dark the stars were out again I remember how much I missed looking up at the starry sky from the desert when I was in the Military. The milky way, satellites whizzing by, shooting stars, the constellations. All these things we sorely miss in the city and something I believe where are at a great loss for not seeing. You can’t help but wonder in Awe as you look up into the vast expanse.

 

The next day rolled on by. I Awake and made coffee as was now my morning routine. The Germans etc had already left. They must have left at 5 am or so just as the sun was rising, I did manage to say good by the night before. It seemed that though the sun would rise just after 5, and up by 6 I would wake up anywhere from 7 to 8. Even if I awoke early I would go back to bed despite the fact I kept telling myself I would get up with the sun and go fishing. The early bird catches the worm after all, but alas, I was too lazy, or relaxed either justification is fine with me. It had been decided the day before that today would be a day of relaxation for all. A slow morning, and 2 breakfasts as usually. I knew though the lack of general activity would make me pay as is the nature of things. A group of us decided to walk up the cost into a sheltered bay, one in which the waves couldn’t quite reach. This we thought we be a perfect spot to fish. As we clambered across the shoreline to reach the spot we could see little minnow like fish hiding in and around the rocks. We eventually reached the spot. It turned out to be a good spot, as 2 others caught fish. for me, however, I had no such luck. Both my self and the fourth of the party continued to get our lines stuck, then I figured out a way to get it off most of the time. Except for the time I lost a lure, I think that made 2 for me so far this trip.

At some point, one of the lake families decided for no reason to come in with their speedboat stop right in the middle of the bay and then leave. This would be the last of the fish caught for the day. Some people clearly have no consideration. Back to camp for dinner and more relaxation. Tomorrow we would be leaving to start our mountain trek that had been put off in favour of relaxation.

 

Part 5: A Land before time – Day 5 – The Lost Canoe 

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

Learning Hurts

The Continuing Adventures of a Would-Be Krav Teacher.

Anyone who has taught will tell you that, at least at first, you are your greatest obstacle to being a good teacher. For a variety of reasons, it’s unlikely that a neophyte instructor is going to be particularly good right out of the gate. Sometimes it’s lack of confidence, sometimes too much confidence. Sometimes it’s just that the base -you- isn’t necessarily a great fit as a teacher. Yet.

 

This is not a bad thing because that’s what learning is all about. Before we can teach well, we have to learn well.

More than halfway through my time in the Assistant Instructor Course for Urban Tactics Krav Maga, I have (re)learned the above a few times. Multiple written and verbal tests later, it has at times been a struggle to adapt to a curriculum and regimen not of my setting, while learning skills I don’t yet have. You forget simple things – names, dates, even techniques – you knew. You trip over the different methods for teaching different people, getting the methods and even the people mixed up.

The bright spot in this has been the students. You’d think people that sign up to learn how to survive and defend themselves when things go bad would be a grim, focused lot, bent on the destruction of weakness. Not so. Krav students that I’ve met have been interested, eager, cooperative and fun to teach. Patient when I do something obviously wrong or say something too quickly to understand. It’s a cliche that teachers learn from their students as much as the reverse, but it’s a cliche for a reason.

Learning to teach Krav Maga is an exercise in not only technique and memorization but also forethought and empathy. Patience and perspective. The first two are rote – the rest is the real work of a student teacher. And to get them right means having to adjust how you think and speak and react to people.

Midterms and exams, arduous though they may be, are not where you learn what you don’t know. That comes in class when you’re in front of all those watching eyes. Actually knowing the techniques is just step one. It gets harder after that.

On the bright side, it is pretty fun and it’s a job worth doing. So, onwards towards the final and the oh so fun orange belt test. Onwards!

 

 

20170918.jpg