4 Commonly Carried Items that Make Handy Weapons

In my women’s self-defense class, I always go over the concept of weapons of opportunity. This is the use of items on your person or in your surroundings as opportunity allows in the context of defending against an attack. Professor Sylvain, founder of Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu, always liked to use the example of using a grocery can with a can of beans in it. A person on their way to their car carrying this item could swing it using the can to strike an assailant. The person isn’t carrying it for that person, they just happened to use it that way because it was a convenient way to defend themselves at that moment. 

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Combat Creativity: Finding Inspiration for the Martial Arts

Combat CreativityAt our dojo, we make room in our lesson schedule for “alternative curriculum” classes. Sometimes we use these classes to play with techniques not usually featured in our students’ curriculum, either because it’s more advanced or because we’re working on our usual techniques in an unconventional way. And sometimes we go completely outside what we usually teach to play with different concepts or techniques that the instructors want to explore to keep things interesting and to continue our development. Like with any creative endeavour, you can get inspiration for your martial arts training and teaching from a wide variety of sources. Here are just a few that have served to inspire me. Continue reading

“Fake It Till You Make It” in the Martial Arts & Self-Defense

Fake It Till You Make It in Martial Arts and Self-DefenseOftentimes when students first start training in a martial art, they feel unsure of themselves and lack confidence in the application of their techniques, even when they start developing some skill in them. This can manifest as startled expressions, diminutive postures and questioning looks toward instructors or more senior students. This is entirely understandable, but it has a negative impact on the application of techniques and can also hurt their general awareness of their surroundings.

I was recently working with a student like this who is getting ready to go for their yellow belt. The student has gained enough skill to do most of their techniques without having to consciously remember them, but is timid in their application in the way I described above. I gave this student one of the most important lessons in terms of attitude when first starting out: “Fake it till you make it.” Continue reading

The Technical Benefits of Training (Carefully!) with an Injury

The Technical Benefits of Training (Carefully!) with an InjuryAbout 6 weeks ago, I sprained my left ring finger. No, I didn’t do it training in anything martial arts related. I managed to catch it mid jump while doing squat jumps on  my stairs. It has been an annoying recovery process, having had to scale back in a wide variety of physical activities as it healed, but a couple of weeks ago, it was starting to get well enough that I was willing to try pushing it a little. A couple of Sundays ago, I went climbing at the climbing gym. Continue reading

Review: Handstand Mastery Program Video

Handstand Mastery Program ReviewI’ve been working on being able to do a freestanding handstand for a while now, so when I got the opportunity to review this video, I jumped at the chance.

Starting with Realistic Expectations

To begin with, Paul Zaichik, creator of the video, tells us that we must have a few basic requirements before we can use the video. He explains the flexibility and strength requirements to be able to make proper use of the video. This is also explained on the product page so people recognize these are requirements in the process. The only thing I might suggest is to link to his shoulder flexibility DVD on the product page so that people who need help gaining that ability can easily find it from the handstand page, but that’s a separate issue from the video itself.

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Why Pad/Bag Work Is Important for Developing Solid Striking

pad_work_bag_work_striking.jpgA while back, I wrote a blog post about why it’s important to make contact on a live training partner in order to develop good targeting. The problem with contact training with a partner is that you must exercise control and not use too much power on some targets. On other targets, you can’t make any realistic contact safely. To do this, we must use focus mitts, heavy bags and other types of striking targets. Hitting a target more solidly is not just about getting more of a workout while striking, though it does carry this benefit, it also gives us the opportunity to improving our striking technique.

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Discipline is the New “Motivation”

I was recently discussing my strength training regimen, which I have been maintaining for about a year, with someone who was interested in how I approached it. She commented that I must really enjoy it to keep it going so consistently.

I arched an eyebrow. “Actually, I really dislike the act of strength training. Lifting weights and doing exercise purely for exercise’s sake is tedious for me.”

“Then what motivates you to keep training,” she asked.

I thought for a moment, then replied, “Absolutely nothing.”

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An Introduction to Nagasu Ryu Jujitsu

An Introduction to Nagasu Ryu JujitsuThis past weekend I travelled to New Jersey to visit Sensei Damien Wright’s dojo, Wright Fight Concepts, to teach a seminar. While I was there, I had the opportunity to train in one of his classes in which he gave me an introduction to the fundamentals of Nagasu Ryu Jujitsu. I also had the opportunity to meet and have a long chat with the founder of the style, Shihan Wayne Ford, who goes by his nick name, “Papasan” (seen in the photo with me on the right). Between my time with both Sensei Damien and Papasan, I learned that our styles are quite similar in principal, but with interesting stylistic differences that are easy to incorporate as a Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu student. I’ve divided up this article into a few of the many Papasan quotes that characterize his teachings.

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How to Offer Effective Praise or Criticism

How to Offer Effective Praise or CriticismWith the new semester of Ready-Set-Kiai for (3-4 year-olds) and Jiu-jitsu Tykes for (5-7 year-olds) classes in full swing, lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading on effective teaching methods for children. While the books I’ve been reading are oriented to children’s teaching, for the most part, the suggestions offered are good advice for teaching any age student. In particular, I read about how to offering praise and criticism that motivates them to learn and helps them improve. (*The book I learned this info is featured at the bottom of this post. Be sure to check it out.) Continue reading

What Nail Polish & Nude Photo Leaks Have in Common – Part 3

Over the past few weeks, this article series has looked at different aspects of rape culture, from the gender socialization issues (in part 1) from which it’s born to the complexities of victim blaming in dealing with rape victims (in part 2). In this last piece, we’ll take a hard look at the widespread misconceptions about rape, and ultimately, what things we can do individually and as a society to address the problem.

The Commonness of Rape

One of the problems about rape is that it is seen as a rare event. If you talk about rape with people, especially guys, most will say they’ve never known anyone who has been raped. When you tell people the truth, that 1 in 5 women have survived rape or attempted rape, they find it hard to believe. Most people know someone who have been mugged, had their car stolen, their home broken into, etc. but few people can think of a single person who has been raped. They find it hard to accept that such a high proportion of the women they know have probably faced rape or a rape attempt. Their perception of reality doesn’t match up, so many distrust the statistic. The only ones they hear about are ones that pop up in the media. The truth is that many victims keep quiet about their rapes and don’t press charges. Even if they do seek support from a few trusted people, many just don’t want to make it common knowledge. They often feel embarrassed and ashamed, as though they should have done more to prevent it. With victim blaming so prominent in our culture, it’s all too understandable why they might feel that way.

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