3 Methods for Learning Martial Arts Techniques More Efficiently

3 Methods for Learning Martial Arts More Efficiently“Practice makes perfect”, or so we were led to believe when we were growing up. “If you do something 10,000 times, you’ll be a master,” is another similar saying. But this isn’t the whole story. That’s why my Sensei always said, “Practice does NOT make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. Practice makes permanent.” In other words, if you practice a thing 10,000 times wrongly you’ll have only mastered doing that thing wrong, sealing the incorrect method into your muscle memory.

This is why it’s important to train your body to do a physical skill like a martial arts technique correctly as quickly as possible so that all your practice serves to reinforce that method, rather than reinforcing a method that is incorrect or inefficient, even if it feels more natural to you. There are methods of correcting technique to get yourself on track more quickly an efficiently, three of which I will outline in this article. (more…)

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How Not to Get HIT: A Book Review

Book Cover

HOW NOT TO GET HIT: The Art of Fighting Without Fighting | Staying Safe in a Violent World

When it comes to self-defense books, there are generally two approaches. Books that try and teach you physical skills through descriptions, photographs and books that teach awareness and avoidance tactics.

Despite being an instructor in a style of Jiu-jitsu that is primarily self-defense and law enforcement oriented, I prescribe to the awareness and avoidance school of thought when it comes to self-defense. My views on this topic mirror Lori O’Connell Sensei’s, and anyone who has attended her self-defense for busy women classes, or been taught by us at a corporate seminar can attest to the fact we spend more time on these concepts than the physical skills.

90% of self-defense, in my opinion, is awareness, avoidance and safe practices. Violence should always be the last resort, and when violence is used, it’s for the purposes of creating an opportunity to escape.

That’s how I would quickly sum up any of the seminars in self-defense that O’Connell Sensei puts on, and it’s also how I would quickly sum up this book. (more…)

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The Value of Old Knowledge in the Martial Arts

The Value of Old Knowledge in the Martial ArtsA couple of weeks ago, I went to Powell’s Book Store, a huge bookstore in Portland that had the biggest martial arts section I’ve ever seen with a variety of new and used books on every topic. I bought half a dozen books, but my most valued find was an old book, The Complete Jujitsuan, that was originally published in 1915.

I am always on the look-out for old martial arts books like that for a variety of reasons. Firstly, they’re interesting to read from a historical perspective. The writings reflect the unique attitudes toward training and combat of the time and place during which it was written. The demonstrators wear clothes that are customary for the era, which can make for differences in movement strategy. The techniques sometimes comprise of different moves or even weapons that have fallen out of favour. And sometimes you find different techniques or ways of applying familiar techniques that are new to you. (more…)

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My 36th Year Birthday Bounce

My 36th Year Birthday BounceI woke up yesterday morning to my 36th birthday, contemplating what I wanted to do to celebrate on the day. I had coffee in bed with my husband then decided to start off the day with a bang by going out for a 5k run, using the new 5k race mission that was added to Zombies, Run!, the game that got me back into the running regime.

I knew I wanted to be at the dojo for the two adult classes in the evening, even though my second in command offered to let me take the night off for my birthday. Honestly, most of my friends are through the dojo, and I haven’t been able to be at the Tuesday and Thursday classes for the past couple of weeks due to the movie work I do on the side, so I really just wanted to be there. I taught the first class and trained in the second with Chris Sensei running the show. (more…)

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Black Belt Is When the Real Learning Begins: Putting the Saying into Practice

Black Belt Is When the Learning Begins: Putting the Saying into PracticeSo many students of the martial arts make earning their black belt a goal only to be told that black belt should not be an end goal because that’s when the real learning begins. Some people think that this is just the sort of thing instructors say to keep students after they reach this milestone. Others think it is a statement to keep students humble. While this reasoning may be true in some cases, the statement is still true in its most literal sense if the student is open to it.

Making a Spectacle of One’s Self

Recently, an old friend, colleague, instructor and room mate of mine, Jonathan Jamnik, came to Vancouver for a visit and trained in our stunt throwing class. Jon, with over 12 years experience, holding a 2nd Degree black belt in Shorinji Kan Jiu jitsu, has a well-deserved reputation for having awesome breakfalls, being able to fall out of pretty much anything without hurting himself, even on hard surfaces. (more…)

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Staying Aware: 5 Warning Signs Preceding an Assault


Working as a security or law enforcement professional, you face an increased chance of interacting with people who will try to do you bodily harm. There are a number of signs to look for when dealing with a suspect or patron that may indicate an physical assault is imminent. While these signs are especially helpful for those of us in the security & law enforcement fields, they also pertain to anyone who regularly deals with the public, and especially for men who frequent bars, pubs and concerts, since the majority of assaults on men involve alcohol.

Last week I wrote an article on The Importance of Instincts in Threat Assessment. Today I’m going to further explore some of the signs you can use to spot a potentially assaultive situation before it occurs. So when the hair goes up on the back of your neck, here are a few of the warning signs to look for that someone may get assaultive. Keep in mind that most of these on their own don’t mean someone is going to attack you, but a combination of these factors can be a strong indicator of an imminent attack.


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Why It’s Important to Be Upfront About Injury in the Martial Arts

Injuries happen, even to the most skilled martial arts students. For a variety of reasons though sometimes people cover up or downplay their injuries when they happen. Sometimes it’s a macho thing and the person doesn’t want to let on that they made a mistake that led to their own injury. Other times it’s because they don’t want the person who caused the injury to feel bad. And then there are people who just don’t want to stop for an injury because they don’t want to miss out on training. Whatever the reasons behind for wanting to do so, it’s important to ignore the desire to hide an injury or downplay its seriousness. Here are the reasons why: (more…)

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The Importance of Instinct in Threat Assessment


Spotting potentially dangerous situations before they occur is one of the most important jobs security professionals have. Whether they’re bouncers at a bar, or a night watchmen at a construction site, recognizing a hazardous situation before it begins keeps people safe.

Like all skills, some people are very good at predicting & preventing dangerous situations, and some people aren’t. Why is that?

When I’m working a special event where alcohol is being served, I’ll see hundreds of intoxicated people over the course of my shift. Only a very small fraction of those individuals will be any sort of problem, violent or otherwise, and yet I can often pick out the people that are going to cause trouble from those who aren’t.


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Using Video to Improve Martial Arts Form & Application

This past Sunday we worked with local boxing champion Louis Sargeant to improve our sparring skills. In the second half of the class, we all took turns doing some boxing-style sparring with Louis coaching us. As part of the experience, we decided to film everyone’s sparring so people can watch themselves and get a better idea of what things they need to work on. (more…)

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The Misnomer of Cyber Bullying & the Tragic Story of Amanda Todd

The Misnomer of Cyber Bullying and the Case of Amanda Todd Last week, a story about a high school girl named Amanda Todd, a victim of cyber bullying, erupted in our local Vancouver area, then swept across Canada and even got picked up by some American news sources.

In grade 7, Amanda had been reaching out trying to meet new interesting people online. She met someone who told her how stunning she was, who went on to ask her to take her top off and expose herself on webcam. She chose to go along with his request. It was a decision that had dire consequences. (more…)

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