The martial arts present many challenges for the student. The student will find themselves facing a number of different fears as they progress in their learning. In our dojo, it starts on day one. Most people have some degree of fear of falling and hitting the ground. It’s instinctual. We fear that we’ll hurt ourselves… until we accept through progressions that one can learn to do it safely. Students also have to learn to make contact with their strikes so that they learn good targeting with their partners. There is a fear they could accidentally hurt someone. To keep things safe, we have students start hitting slowly and lightly, developing their control then increase the speed and power as they do so. As control increases and the student reaches the intermediate level, they are introduced to sparring. The unpredictable nature of sparring increases the stress of the training, leading to the influences of adrenaline. In this scenario, when students first start, they fear getting hit or hitting someone too hard, especially in the head area, even when the sparring is relatively relaxed and controlled. (more…)
I maintain a very active physical training regimen between my martial arts and stunt-oriented training. I train in martial arts and parkour 3-4 times a week. I do high intensity interval cardio training twice a week. I do strength training once a week. I practice fight choreography 2-3 times a week. I do weapons training 3 times a week. I can’t even think of everything I do off-hand. I do a lot. I keep track of all my training using an app called Habit List, which lets me know how well I’m keeping up with my training goals. For the most part, my physical goals are all well maintained. So why is it that my goal of doing daily stretching is in the red every week when I’m generally pretty good at sticking to my goals? (more…)
I recently made a big purchase for our dojo. I bought a soft 3″ thick portable folding mat. Considering that we already have 2″ tatami mats over top a custom built sprung floor for our dojo’s training surface, this purchase may seem unnecessary. And for anyone who is fully comortable with their breakfalls, it is. What we have is more than enough for general use, and preferable over a soft mat like the one I got for developing a better sense of the ground and how best to do a breakfall on it safely. It’s hard enough that you can feel your mistakes, but springy enough to take the jolt out of solid impacts. But I discovered that even our advanced system isn’t always enough. (more…)
I’ve been training to improve my form and structure to make my punches hit harder for 22 years. I know what it takes to hit with heavy hands and have worked hard to do so. But for film you want to “fight light.” This is a skill that can be a challenge for trained martial artists. While a trained practitioner may know better how to look the part because they know how to do it for real, they have to be able to do so, and even make contact, without making impact associated with it. Here’s what I’ve learned about doing that. (more…)
This past weekend, I spent it at Sea to Sky Stunts training with some stunt friends. One of my goals for the weekend was to spend some time applying wire work to throws to make them look more spectacular. The one we worked on specifically this time around was tomoe nage (stomach throw). You can see the results in the video below. (more…)
We all have our crosses to bear in life. We all face our own unique stresses, pressures and frustrations. Sometimes they are small enough that they can be muted when we step into the dojo and set about our training. On other occasions they creep out against our will, sometimes in startling dramatic fashion, but facing our demons is a good exercise for the martial artist and an important part of our mental development.
Demons Come in All Forms
Our demons, whether they are challenges in our jobs, our relationships, our bodies, our minds, etc, can lead to challenges in our training. Sometimes we have more trouble paying attention because we’re distracted by our demons. Other times, we have trouble getting our body to do what we want it to. We can feel more irritable losing patience with oursleves and others. On a really tough day, we can completely lose control of our emotions and break into tears when put under pressure physically or emotionally in our training, or even just from a kind gesture that opens our emotional flood gate. I’ve seen all of these happen in some form over the years. (more…)
This past week, I ran a test in which I was testing a woman who was even smaller than me for yellow belt. At one point, I switched up her partner to give her an attacker who was close to twice her size to see how she’d fare. And when faced with the additional pressure, she rose to the challenge. I couldn’t help by smile inside my mind as I checked off the technique from the sheet.
The day before the test, I went to parkour class in which we were told to do a vault of some sort and land into a full sprint. I did a kong vault, but took off a little too close, clipping my knee on the hard wood apparatus as I did so. It made a big bang, which I reacted to with a grunt of pain, but somehow still made it over and landed in the requisite sprint. While there were other people who cleared the obstacle much more elegantly than I did, somehow I inspired cheers from the whole class that weren’t there for anyone else.
We all do this. Unless we have a vested interest in a particular party, if given a choice of who to root for, we usually pick the underdog. We love underdogs because they represent triumph over a struggle. Truth be told, we all feel like underdogs at various things in our lives, so when we see someone give it their all, struggle through the effort, yet emerge triumphant, it encourages us in our own endeavours. We can believe that if we make the effort that we too may triumph over our own struggles.
The people who seem to achieve things easily, even if they had gone through their own struggles in the past, don’t usually give us this reminder. But we should strive to remind ourselves; the people we exalt most in life were probably underdogs who kept at it. Few people in the world possess what we call “natural talent.” What appears as natural talent that came out of nowhere is usually someone who just quietly put their nose down and set about working on a particular skill, failing a thousand times in the process, but failing forward, eventually achieving the skill that receives recognition they are now afforded. But at some point, they were that underdog. At some point they had a low level of skill and experience and and to push past boundaries, falling flat on their face once in a while, to get where they are today.
Find inspiration in every person’s efforts on their own journeys seeking excellence. Admire the underdog who keeps at it without the string of previous successes to keep them encouraged. Admire the people at the top of their game who keep up their training because they are the example of that hard work paying off and continuing to pay off. Apply the lessons we learn from these people on your own path toward success. We’re all underdogs at something, but it’s the way we frame ourselves and our journeys that keep us reaching for excellence on our own journeys.
The first time I saw a Fitbit on a student’s wrist in class, I reminded the student that jewelry was not allowed on the mats. He apologized, but also pointed out that it wasn’t simply a bracelet, that it was a fitness tracker that helped him monitor all their physical activities. I thought it was an interesting device, but ultimately asked him to take it off, as that was the rule. Since then, a couple of other students have stepped onto the mats wearing one, saying that they just forgot about it because they’re so used to having it on, as they hurriedly removed it and returned to their training. (more…)
The weather here in Vancouver this May has been amazing. It’s made me want to train outside more, rather than in my dark basement gym. So instead of doing my typical HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout going back and forth between stationary biking and burpees, I decided to take it outside.
For this particular workout, all you need is a hill. I happen to live right next to a park situated on a hill, surrounded by natural forest. The forest cover offers the perfect amount of shade to keep things cooler too. To use the hill for my workout, I simply run uphill during my high intervals and walk downhill during my low intervals. Hill running is really intense, working out all the muscles in your legs. I still use my typical timing for my workout, 4 minutes warm-up, 8 cycles of 90 second low intervals and 30 second high intervals, followed by a 2-minute cool-down. (more…)
It’s good to take the time to appreciate the little moments that make teaching such a pleasure. I had such a moment this morning. I received a text from one of my students, Ivette, who just received her yellow belt last night (she killed it by the way). I had used her as my demonstration partner last night, having delivered a knee strike to her lateral femoral motor point. The text she sent me today said this: “I’m so happy to have gotten my first belt… 😀 So excited still for some reason. I’m looking forward to learn new things. Also, I have a really good reminder of last night’s class… Every time I walk, I get reminded of what it’s like to get hit in the lateral femoral… hehe. So that’s two 1st timers from you, (being hit in the) solar plexus and lateral femoral… lol.” (more…)