Why Martial Arts Instructors (& Stunt Performers) Make Bad Patients

Why Martial Arts Instructors and Stunt Performers Make Bad PatientsOver the weekend, my dojo was rented by Jitsu Canada to run a local grading. I hold an intermediate rank in their style (Shorinji Kan Jiu jitsu) in addition to being a Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu 5th Dan. Helping out by being a partner/attacker for these gradings is a guilty pleasure. I like helping out by putting a little extra pressure on the candidates while using my skills to help keep them safe while doing so.

Early in the grading, they were doing a striking “V”, basically an intensity drill to test their ability to strike incoming attackers. The candidate was moving in aggressively as I stepped into attack, leading him to step into my foot, catching my big toe and injuring it. It hurt quite a lot at the time, but I tried to soldier on to keep helping out, insisting I was fine. It wasn’t very long afterwards that a white belt happened to innocently step into my foot and bump it slightly, causing me to step off the mats again. Chris Sensei (who is ranked Shodan in that style in addition to Can-ryu) told me I should get off the mats. As I started to protest that I was fine, he asked me would you let one of your own students continue in this situation. I opened my mouth, then closed it again and stepped down.  (more…)

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How I Fended Off a Dog Attack

How I fended off a dog attackYesterday, I took my Bengal cat Kaylee out for a leash walk. Much like a dog, she likes to have the freedom to roam, and now associates the leash with doing so. On our walk, we encountered a man who had two dogs on a leash, one was a smaller black Scottie, the other was a larger dog, maybe a smaller Great Dane or a Great Dane cross of some sort (something like the dog here on the right).

We were about 50 feet away when we saw them. The man said to stay back because his dogs would go for Kaylee. As I started to draw her away, the larger dog charged towards us, catching the older owner off guard and he lost control of both dogs, and they barrelled toward my cat at full speed. (more…)

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Why I Sometimes Envy My Cats

Why I Sometimes Envy My CatsI am a cat owner with two bengal cats named River and Kaylee. I’ve always loved cats, but these two lovely girls are the first ones I ever owned. Because of their breed, they have an interesting mix of intelligence and wildly active natures, as well as the calm, cuddly characteristics of normal domestic cats.

I often look at my cats and feel envious of the way they live. Without even trying, they manage to live my ideal life. They run, jump, and play, essentially doing parkour all over the house. They play fight, and quite skilfully I might add. When they go outside, they are fully appreciative of nature all around them. They sleep well, always. They are friendly & social, and enjoy playing with the guests that come in and out of our home. They even meditate, sitting calmly for long periods, not looking at anything in particular, fully immersed in the moment. They don’t worry about the future or obsess about the past. (more…)

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Making Time for Goals When Time Is Scarce

Making time for goals when time is scarceRecently, I’ve been very busy working on film sets. When you’re busy working 4-5 days a week with many 12-hour plus days, if that work isn’t directly related, it can be a challenge to keep progressing toward achieving your goals. In my case, these goals are related to the development as a martial artist, as a stunt performer and as a writer.

I find that if you stop working on your goals completely when life gets busy, it can be hard to come back to it after work lets up. I’ve seen this time and time again with my Jiu-jitsu students. Their work life or their family life gets busy, so they stop training to focus on those things. After the busyness eases up, they are usually out of the habit of training and they find it harder to be motivated to do so. They may have replaced the habit of going to class with some other form of recreation or stress relief, whether it’s watching TV, playing video games, or some other pastime. (more…)

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How to Deal with Subtle Acts of Sexual Harassment

How to Deal with Subtle Acts of Sexual HarassmentAs many of you already know, I work in the film industry as a stunt performer. I also work as a background performer in between stunt days, to keep gaining on-set experience, keep up-to-date about industry goings-on, and to make extra cash. In doing so, I end up being put in social situations to help manufacture the atmosphere of the film.

Since you don’t always get to choose who you’ll interact with and the ways in which you’ll be interacting, sometimes you end up having to be in social situations with people you might not be 100% comfortable. Now if all people involved behaved in a way that was purely professional, without crossing natural personal space boundaries, all would be good. Unfortunately, not everyone abides by the same code of conduct. While it is rare that someone would do something that was clearly crossing the line, a lot of subtle personal space invasions occur on set, ones that are harder to identify as such. I imagine this sort of thing also happens in the normal working world, but when you’re on set, people are more likely to do it in the guise of trying to “set the scene” and “act in character,” making it easier to dismiss as an innocent mistake, either in the mind of the recipient as well as in active defense of the perpetrator. (more…)

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Man of Tai Chi – Movie Review

manoftaichi.pngI don’t know how fair it is for me to review a martial arts movie after having spent 7 hours filming use of force training videos for a security company. Especially a movie that is closer to the art half of martial art as Man of Tai Chi. Since I have just spent considerable time focused on efficient, simple, and relatively easy to learn techniques that have demonstrably high success rates, trying to appreciate a showy Hong Kong style fight movie presents a challenge. I will endeavour to do my best.

Man of Tai Chi is a modern take on a worn story. Usual Suspects this is not; you will not find any startling, creative story telling in this movie. Taking place in China it follows the life of Tiger Chen as he is lured into the underground fighting world. It’s a predictable tale of falling from grace and loss of innocence and the inevitable split from his honourable master. The story isn’t great, and the acting isn’t stellar, so what are the redeeming qualities?

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The Skinny On Stunt Work: The Conundrum of the Female Performer

Eating_disorderMany people look at stunts as being a thankless job. Stunt performers often train many hours a week to achieve a list of skills of a modern day super hero. They assume all the risks involved in a film’s shoot list, and remain largely unrecognized for their efforts beyond the credits at the end of the film. They may gain recognition within the stunt industry, with awards ceremonies specifically aimed at them, yet they aren’t celebrated in the more recognizable film awards such as the Academy Awards or the Golden Globes. All that being said, the performers who do work in the industry, generally love what they do, and accept the industry for what it is.

Female stunt performers, however, have additional challenges, some of which were highlighted in a recent article on Cracked, called 5 Reasons Doing Movie Stunts Is Harder than You Think. As the writer points out, stunt women often have to do stunts in skimpier wardrobe than the men do, doubling for actresses who sport outfits that leave little to the imagination with no room for the protective pads men can more easily hide under pants and long sleeved shirts. But this is only a part of the problem. (more…)

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Why I Fall Asleep Easily & Sleep Soundly

Why I Fall Asleep Easily & Sleep SoundlyThe ability to sleep well is important to our physical and mental well-being. People who don’t sleep as well as they would like often find themselves more prone to illness, stress, headaches, lack of sociability, dips in productivity, listlessness, and more conditions besides. Every person is different, however, so no one set of sleep tips will work for every person. You have to accept that you have your own unique characteristics and habits to work with. Some factors can be controlled. Others cannot.

I don’t have all the answer for all people, but I can tell you one thing. I sleep well. I fall asleep easily and sleep soundly. It’s my super power. Because of this fact, I have more energy throughout the day. I work productively. I manage a fairly physical lifestyle. And for the most part, I have a positive emotional outlook on life. Sleeping well is a significant contributing factor in my mind. Here are some of the reasons I sleep soundly: (more…)

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Bring Focus & Calm to Kids Classes with this Simple Trick

0-breathing buddies focus in martial arts.jpgI have been helping out with our new Ready-Set-Kiai classes for 3-5 year-olds since September, taking on the role of crowd control while the two instructors focus on teaching the skills and running the class. At first, the experience was overwhelming, even with a smaller class of 8 students. It took a little time for the students to get used to the structure of the class. Even now, they are familiar with the structure of the class, so it runs more smoothly than it did at the beginning, but we still have to take measures to help keep the children focused on the tasks at hand throughout the duration of the 45-minute class.

I recently read a book called Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, by Daniel Goleman (available on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com). In one chapter, he describes Breathing Buddies, part of the Inner Resilience Program. This practice was adopted at a Harlem elementary school near a massive low-income housing compound, and is credited for keeping a class of 22 grade 2 children with “special needs”, from ADD to autism, relaxed and focused. When this ritual is performed, the class’s teacher says the kids don’t act out. The one day they didn’t do it due to a glitch in the schedule the teacher described them as being like a different class. “They couldn’t sit still; they were all over the place,” explained Miss Emily, the children’s teacher. Below is a video of author Daniel Goleman talking about Breathing Buddies.

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High Intensity Interval Cardio Training for Martial Artists

HIIT training for martial artistsI’ve recently started exploring H.I.I.T (High Intensity Interval Training) as a way of doing my cardio workouts. I had heard about their benefits and that because the workouts are shorter and more intense, you can get your cardio in more efficiently. Sometimes I just don’t have time to go for a 45-minute run, so it was worth a try.

The Benefits of H.I.I.T.

There are a number of reported benefits to high intensity interval training over conventional cardio, making it a favoured style of workout nowadays. The two main ones are as follows:

  • Better for Weight Loss. While longer, less intense cardio sessions may burn more calories, a number of studies have demonstrated that H.I.I.T. burns more fat. One particular study performed by the University of Western Ontario, found that after 6 weeks of training, 3 workouts per week, subjects doing 4-6 30-second sprints with 4-6 minutes rest between lost more fat than those who did than 60 minutes of incline treadmill walking. While the reasons have not been fully explored, scientists have pinpointed a few factors, including increased resting metabolic rate for upwards of 24 hours after exercise, improved insulin sensitivity in the muscles, higher levels of fat oxidation in the muscles, and post-exercise appetite suppression, to name a few.
  • Superior Muscle Preservation. It is generally believed that cardio can have a negative impact on strength gains by reducing your caloric surplus too much, and by causing you to overtrain. That being said, the shorter your cardio sessions are the less they impair strength and hypertrophy. As a result, H.I.I.T. allows you to maximize your strength gains, preserve your muscles, while still getting the benefits of the exercise. (more…)
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