Writing a post on self defence is bound to open up a massive can of worms with people chipping in from those who have experienced real world violence, all the way to the ever present keyboard warrior calling themselves an expert in self defence. This post won’t focus on the perfect technique to defend against a big haymaker, or the best way to escape being choked. We’ll look at one simple tip – leave if you can. Sounds simple right…
Violence is chaotic and as a result of this it is unpredictable and ever changing meaning:
It can come from nowhere
Things can seem calm until, out of the blue they aren’t any more. You take a second to process and the fear and adrenaline kick in and it could all be over by then. That split second could mean someone is lying down unconscious after being sucker punched and the attacker is maybe being held back by a few people? Sound a familiar situation? I’ve certainly seen this before!
There’s no time limit for self defence
Like the scenario above, fights can be over in a split second, one punch and it’s done. Alternatively, a fight can take one minute, 5 minutes or even 10 minutes or longer. There is no way of knowing.
Violence is not a static thing. You could think you’re out of harms way one second, then BAM, the fight has come to you and you are forced to take action. I’ve seen this happen on numerous dance floors where for a minute you think you’re out of the way then suddenly you’re being pushed into the bar and people are fighting around you! Not nice!
Bystanders aren’t always out of the firing line
As in the situation previously, you may not even be the one fighting, yet before you know it you’re in the middle of a group that are and as a result, taking a few shots yourself. If you’re near a fight, you’re at risk. I remember my housemate at University being sucker punched just due to the fact we were too close to a fight and we got inadvertantly dragged in.
Even if the fight is over, you’re not necessarily safe
A fight can end but then just as quickly start up again with the wrong comment or look, especially if the loser is trying to get even!
This all makes sense right? yet as soon as a fight breaks out, people rush to it like 14 year olds at a Harry Styles sighting, or David Cameron at a pig farm. People take out their phones to record the fight, later uploading it to social media for the world to see. We like watching extreme situations, the Jeremy Kyle Show is testament to that, even if it puts us at risk. We can also learn new behaviours however, and that’s why sometimes the simplest advice can be to simply leave the situation if possible, rather than going in for a cheeky look!
Many of us who have studied martial arts, especially for a reasonable length of time will find that it becomes more than a hobby but rather, a passion. It gets to the point where it becomes a way of life and we eat, sleep and train martial arts. We train and research martial arts, we socialise with other martial artists and we invest both time and money in getting better at the martial arts. There is an endless list of things we all love about the martial arts, but here are my top 5!
This one is pretty obvious right? We all love to train. We love getting on the mats, getting a sweat on and trying to decipher and work out the great big puzzle that is martial arts. It’s a great feeling when we leave a class sweating, smiling and wanting more, hoping that we’ve managed to slot another piece of the puzzle in. No matter what discipline we train in, we sometimes get those eureka moments where a technique just feels right or suddenly it just makes sense. Granted, you can have one, then have to wait for years for the next one, but hey that’s part of the fun right? We get on the mat to train, to get fitter, to learn self defence, or as a form of therapy, but regardless of the reason we train, we do it for one overriding factor – we love it!
As we progress up the grades and delve into the martial arts further, we may start doing a little more research on our chosen martial art, and indeed other martial arts too. There’s a wealth of information out there on a wealth of different martial arts and if we look closely enough we begin to see that many of the martial arts have similarities. Judo will have some similarities to wrestling, boxing to jeet kune do as at the end of the day we have two legs and two arms and there are only so many ways to punch, kick and throw. Body mechanics and the physics of martial arts remain the same regardless of whether the style is Chinese, Japanese or Reality-Based. The more research we do the more we see these similarities.
Research can also mean tracing the history and lineage of the martial arts which can be fascinating it itself. Finding the roots and origins of your martial art and the main pioneers and their histories can take years and give you a great insight into what they wanted their martial arts to become. So get researching, it’s fun!
Had a bad day at the office or your girlfriend/boyfriend/cat is giving you the silent treatment? Martial arts can be a great way of letting out some aggression in a controlled environment, getting a sweat on and basically doing a form of therapy. Getting on the mats, smashing some pads with friends and having a great class where you feel you’ve learnt something can change your mood from shit to great in as little as an hour, such is the power of a great martial arts class!
Let’s face it, we all like to feel we are improving, learning new skills and developing as humans. This is where the martial arts are great and gives you very clear goals through a structured grading system. Some people don’t like grading systems, others do. I like them as it gives a clear goal to work towards and something tangible to attain e.g. a belt or a band. There’s also grading days where you can show you skills off in front of friends, family and of course, the instructor! Martial arts gives a clear progression and path up to black grade then up from there and this is one of the things I like most about it!
The number one thing I like in the martial arts is the people and the friendships I have made. Martial artists seem to fall into one of two categories. Either they’re the most open people ever, willing to give you everything they know and genuinely passionate about the martial arts and developing people. Or they’re dicks. Dicks in that they’re in it for the money, want you to only train with them and have a 15th degree black belt in bullshit-jitsu. I’ve met some truly fantastic martial artists and truly fantastic people on my journey so far such as Eddie Quinn, Andy Norman, Anthony Pillage, Russell Jarmesty & Scott Caldwell among many others. These guys are at the top of their game yet there is no ego, they just want to impart knowledge and get the best from their students. This is what I love most about the martial arts – the friendships you make. It’s a special kind of friendship where you regularly hurt each other and spend worrying amounts of time in compromising positions as you grapple on the floor and I wouldn’t change it!
So tell me….what do you love most about the martial arts?
Many people go to a martial arts instructor wanting to learn a new skill, improve their fitness, and learn to defend themselves or simply to try something new. While the student learns the skills, movement and philosophy of that chosen art, what many don’t realise is that the instructor is also learning a whole lot from their students. So, as a result of that it’s time to flip thinking on its head and highlight a few ways students can teach and inspire their instructors.
1) They can teach different teaching methods
People learn in different ways and a common mistake for instructors can be that they teach every persona that walks into class the same way. People enter into the martial arts for different reasons, learn in different ways and pick up things at different paces. It can be difficult accommodating everyone in a class of 30 people, but every effort should be made to. Some learn from seeing a technique and analysing it, others learn from hearing how the technique or strike works, and some need to simply give it a go therefore learning by touch. Students can be a fantastic way of improving the teaching skills of the instructor, especially if there is a wide variation of learning methods within the class. A good instructor should be able to tell people’s preferred method of learning and adapt to it through observation, which is another key trait students can teach!
2) Observation skills
Observation and awareness skills are important aspects of the martial art or self defence. Being aware of your surroundings and aware of any potential issues are essential to self defence and even in a regular class, being aware of the people around you is a great habit to get in to. But how aware are we as instructors? Can you tell if someone is struggling or not picking up the material well? Do they feel uncomfortable with the person they’re training with? Can you spot the signs they’re ready to give up and has their attendance gone down? Being aware of every potential threat on the street is great but unless you sideline as a drug dealer, your instances of being placed in a violent situation are hopefully fairly few and far between. Far more important is your ability to be aware of the people you are around and in tune with their feelings, body language and mood, both in training and general life. Teaching your students can be a great way of developing this and if you have a high drop-out rate, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your own awareness skills!
In addition to this, students can be a great way to help you develop awareness about yourself and how you are interacting and transmitting your style. Awareness of your students is a must have skill, but awareness of yourself is also crucial, and students (especially kids) will be the first ones to let you know if you’re being inconsistent or chatting shit!
3) They can test your skill and knowledge
Students can sometimes ask some pretty tricky questions and call you out if they ever think you’re bullshitting. A beginner can sometimes ask the simplest question but it will leave you stumped! Your knowledge could be vast and have the Dalai Lama scratching his head, but if you can’t explain the reason for something as simple as your stance, it’s all irrelevant!
Your students can also test you physically. I’m around 5ft 6 and about 72kg, but some of my students are over 6ft and over 16 stone! Some have door work experience and so if something isn’t working for them, they’ll let you know! Demoing with different students not only helps them grasp the technique better, but also allows you to work with people of different sizes and weights to test your techniques.
4) They can be an example to you
Do you have that one student who is always early to class, always enthusiastic and always trying their best? That’s the inspiration. Instructor’s are human and will sometimes have a bad day and not be in the best mood to teach. We’re imperfect. It’s important not to let your day enter the class however and leave any trouble back at home for a few hours while you instruct. This is where we can find inspiration from our students who always turn up with a smile, willing to help and enthusiastic to help you pack away after class. These are the students who will eventually become instructors themselves and run their own classes and be inspired by their own students. Keep them!
So there we have it, 4 reasons why students can sometimes be the ones teaching the instructors a thing or two. As instructors we can sometimes become so focussed on transmitting knowledge that we forget to take information in ourselves. Your students can be a perfect way of doing this. So learn, enjoy, and instruct with passion!
In order to progress in the martial arts, we have to train and train well. Not every session should feel like you’ve just done 12 rounds with Mike Tyson as you emerge bloody, broken and physically exhausted, but some hard training that puts you under pressure occasionally is a great way to test your skills. Harder training where you get a good sweat on, take a few knocks and really see how you cope with the pressure should be built up to, not started with. New students entering the gym or dojo can be intimidated enough without being repeatedly punched in the face the first class! It’s not character building, it’s mean! So here are 5 steps to get you into the mindset of training harder and upping your skill level.
1) Improve your fitness levels
Regular training will gradually improve your fitness levels, but if you’re really looking to up your training levels you’re going to have to put some hours in outside of the class too! Training harder in terms of sparring or pressure testing can REALLY take it out of you, FAST, and there is a world of difference between repping a technique in class and trying to make it work for real. Preparing your body for this is therefore essential and so it’s time to get fitter! High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is fantastic for martial arts and involves short periods of intense exercise followed by periods of rest. This not only sends your cardiovascular endurance levels through the roof, but also builds lean muscle through employing fast twitch muscle fibres. This means you become a lean, mean, ass-kicking machine, fast!
2) Find a good training partner
I’ve spoken before about the importance of finding a good training partner to progress in the martial arts and this is especially true when it comes to upping the intensity. Having someone you know and trust won’t take your head off immediately is essential to building up your training. A good partner will know your limits and take you just slightly beyond them when you’re ready to be pushed. The same can be said for both sparring and pressure testing in the reality sphere, build it up and find a partner you can push it with!
3) Do your research
Unless you’re seriously committed, you’ll normally be training around 2-3 hours a week. This isn’t a lot over a week long period, but it’s necessary when you start out to avoid burn out and condition your body to get used to martial arts. You can still research and expand you’re knowledge even when you aren’t physically training however. Study the best martial artists out there, the innovators and the specialists and look at their movements, angles, positioning and striking or grappling. There’s a wealth of information on platforms such as YouTube (some good, some bad) all at your disposal if you look for it. I study, train and teach mainly in Defence Lab now, but still watch Aikido, Jeet Kune Do, Ghost, and Boxing among other systems to see power generation, positioning and movement. Learn what you can, regardless of style.
4) Ask your instructor
Your instructor is your instructor for a reason and hopefully they’re open and approachable enough to talk to. If you want to train harder in class let them know and chances are they’ll know the right way to give you that progression and they’ve probably been there and done it themselves. Hopefully they can advise you if you’re looking to step it up to the next level so ask and see what happens!
5) Enjoy the journey
Martial arts are a marathon, not a sprint so don’t rush the journey, enjoy it! There is always more to learn, even when you become a `grandmaster` or some other egotistical title. Let natural progression occur. You’re system should have a syllabus that progresses individuals step by step so that when you reach your black belt level you should have a fairly high degree of competency (note I say should!). Training is meant to be fun and push you both physically and mentally but never forget to enjoy the journey, movement, exercise and friends you build along the way, piecing together the jigsaw puzzle that is martial arts.
So those of you that follow the facebook group, or me personally on Facebook will know that myself and my good buddy Lucci Del-Gaudio (Martial Artists Supporting Children with Cancer founder) have a book out this year! What’s it called I hear you ask! Well folks it will be called `Martial Masters Volume 1` (That’s right there will be more than one volume! The idea of it is to bring out some of the best martial artists in the UK right now and basically have a lovely chat with them! We have reality guys, sports guys and traditional guys so there’s a fantastic mix of characters all with brilliant stories to tell!
Martial Masters will be out Spring/Summer this year so keep an eye out and for now check out a mini interview with myself and Lucci on some more details for the book! Follow us on Facebook too at `Martial Masters`to keep up to date with all the latest and get sneaky peaks as we work on the project! It’s going to be a fun few months getting to speak to these amazing people about my favourite subject! Martial arts and Self Defence!!
Today we have a fantastic guest post from a good friend of mine with a rich history in Martial Arts. Declan Lestat runs Aikido Shugyokan in Minnesota as well as holding black belts in Kung Fu & Kickboxing and is a JKD instructor. Here he writes a great article on why exactly we train in martial arts! Hope you enjoy!
Let me ask you a question. It’s a question that, if you’ve been in the martial arts for any period of time, you’ve probably been asked or pondered over countless times.
Why do you train in the martial arts?
You may have more than one answer, maybe it changes over time (Like mine does). Maybe your answer is vague and only you would really get it. Maybe you don’t even know.
Here’s another question, this one a bit tougher but quicker to answer.
Why do I train in the martial arts?
Maybe I train for street fighting. Maybe I want to compete. Maybe I’m of an age and level of experience where I don’t need to train formally in self defense so I attend classes for other reasons like fitness, stress relief, interest in other cultures. Maybe I want to make friends. Maybe I’ve been training so long it’s just a habit now. There’s even a chance I train because *gasp* It’s fun!
I know exactly why I train, but the point is that anybody else – obviously – couldn’t possibly have a clue. And of course, I don’t really know why you train. I could maybe guess, but I don’t know for sure.
The other day, somebody I’d never met and didn’t know and never had any contact with before or since, commented on a video I shared: “Aikido is ineffective. For self defense learn wrestling.”
Like I’d asked him.
But to be fair, he’s far from unique. Post anything on Facebook or click on any clip on YouTube and you’ll find similar comments, though many not as polite. The comments are usually from people who don’t understand what they’re even watching, thinking chi sau or randori are being presented as actual examples of “street effective” technique and not as what they actually are – exercises. They’re no more street effective as push ups or squats, but no less important. And don’t get me started on the morons who rant about a clips obviously filmed for entertainment or demonstration purposes.
Still, my critic made a major mistake in assuming that a: The clip was supposed to represent a self defense technique (It wasn’t), b: That I don’t know what does and doesn’t “work” in the street, and c: That I train for the same reasons as he does.
But from the point of view of a practitioner of, say, MMA, Aikido is indeed ineffective. I know this, because many of their proponents aren’t too shy about telling you this on YouTube. Unfortunately for them, I don’t train Aikido for self defense. I train in Aikido for personal growth reasons. Thanks to Aikido, I have greater respect for all people (Which is why I held back on responding to this guy’s comments), humility, empathy, mindfulness, self control… So when I look at an MMA champion like Conor McGregor, I’d have to say MMA is ineffective.
But then again, what is “Street effective”? 2 minutes on YouTube will reveal thousands of clips to make you think. I found one of a BJJ guy taking down a boxer, but just when I was thinking I should train BJJ for self defense, I found another clip of a boxer defeating a BJJ guy. One of my best friends has had precisely zero martial arts training and I’ve never seen him lose a fight (And I’ve witness many!) so maybe we’re all wasting our time.
Then again, growing up in, at the time one of the most violent cities in Europe, working private security, managing city center pubs, and sheer bad luck had given me the chance to experience a lot of nasty situations close up. And even though I have multiple black belts and decades of training, on the relatively few occasions when I was too unlucky/stupid to control a confrontation enough to prevent it becoming physical, guess which system has kept me safe? Guess which martial art has put down the bad guy for me every time?
Aikido. And here’s me saying I don’t train in Aikido for self defense!
So is Aikido effective then? I wouldn’t say that. I would say that on those occasions when I had to defend myself I did so successfully, and that’s all I could say. If I’d used boxing or Muay Thai or Judo, the same would apply. It’s not the style that was effective. It was the fighter. More accurately, it was the fighter on those specific occasions. Was I just lucky? Don’t care. Could I defend myself successfully again? Possibly. Would I use Aikido again? Couldn’t say. Every situation is different. I could beat Mike Tyson tomorrow, walk around the corner and get mugged by a 14 year old. There’s not many things in the world as random and unpredictable as a street fight, after all.
This doesn’t apply to the obvious charlatans, of course. If someone posts a “Street lethal self defense techniques” comprising of ballroom dancing, then you may be inclined to offer a correction if you have the expertise. That’s a stated promise that fails to deliver.
We may not like what someone trains in but here’s the good news for us: Our approval isn’t required. To criticize an art or practitioner for nothing more than it doesn’t meet your personal training objectives isn’t worthy of a martial artist of any style. Minds are not changed with ridicule or fault finding, nobody has ever said “Wow, I totally thought I was training traditional Karate to be a lethal Jason Bourne style street assassin. The last 15 years have been a complete waste of time, I’m heading straight down to my local Gracie academy to sort my life out!” thanks to some chump on YouTube who probably doesn’t train seriously in any style, let alone a “street effective” one.
But together, with support and a little understanding, we may not change minds but we can maybe broaden minds on both sides of the debate. I think the reality and sport based arts could have a lot to learn from the more traditional arts as well as vice versa.
And a little unity in our community has to be a good thing.
There’s a lot of negativity in martial arts. Something new is being tried, it gets a torrent of abuse as it goes against the grain as someone tries to change the way of traditional thinking. Evolution is natural to human instinct, we want the latest thing. iPhone 5 is fine, but as soon as the iPhone 6 is out, the old one becomes useless. Martial Arts are different, we cling to tradition and shun a new way of thinking. Tradition is good and should be kept in the martial arts to preserve lineage, culture and respect, but equally things need to change with the times occasionally with a new way of thinking. This is often met with harsh criticism by the martial arts world however.
In fairness, I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past, posting videos of techniques labelled as effective self defence, yet lacking a realistic framework to off of or highlighting the fact an individual has a 12th degree black belt in every martial art in the planet yet is 25 years old with no traceable lineage. Is this criticizing unjustly or simply drawing attention to the fact that in many cases these people are teaching potentially dangerous techniques or principles to their unknowing students? It’s a fine line between being an armchair warrior and genuinely wanting to show the sometimes awful martial arts out there.
The past few weeks have only emphasized the fantastic martial arts out there on display at the moment though. We have the Martial Artists Supporting Children with Cancer seminars that have now raised over £4000 in under a year, with top level instructors giving up their time to travel and teach for free. We have the UK Martial Arts show, where genuinely passionate people came to experience the best of martial arts under one roof. People laughing, training, teaching and showcasing their styles in a friendly environment. We have the Warriors Assemble Awards put on by the awesome Mr Anthony Pillage, showcasing those in the martial arts world who have persevered through things in their life when many of us would totally give up on everything, let alone keep training.
Honestly, these are the things that should be focused on. Posting a video of a shite technique or a knife demo where the assailant slowly and respectfully tickles the “victim” with the knife always raises great discussion points, but a post showing something someone has done that has been really positive rarely generates the same amount of interest, which is understandable, yet wrong?
The charlatans and the guys who never train, or promote themselves to Soke Master, Grandmaster Shihan Dogs Bollocks 15th Dan will do their thing, but they will never amount to anything. Never be part of a great network of great martial artists and self defence instructors who are passionate about what they do and committed to genuinely empowering people to live better lives. Got loads of students but the stuff will never work in the street? Does it matter? Are they having fun? Getting fitter? Gaining confidence? Do they stand a little taller and shake that hand a little firmer in the job interview as a result of going to a martial arts class? Yes? Awesome! Who cares if it’s practical. As long as you don’t label it as something that will 100% work in the streets as the deadliest martial art on the planet. This isn’t empowering people, its indoctrinating them into a cult of martial arts where people simply follow the norm.
Focus on the good people. The bad will just sink into nothingness and people will wise up to it (I hope)! So thanks for being part of the group, discussing, sharing ideas, asking questions and connecting with people who you otherwise wouldn’t have connected with. If I hadn’t have started the blog nearly two years ago, I doubt I would be involved in such things as Martial Artists Supporting Children with Cancer, met so many wonderful people, and learnt so much from so many! So I’m grateful! The haters will hate about martial arts and the blog, let them. Keep your blinkers on and do what you do safe in the knowledge you’re learning and progressing!
As people who are on my Facebook group know, I’m fairly active on social media. It can be a great way to connect with people in your field of interest, get chatting and build connections. It can also be a great way to get your content out there such as the articles I write on this blog. However, more and more frequently I’m seeing videos and posts taken on mobile phones of people being attacked, beaten up and even sometimes stabbed and so the questions have to be asked of why is it being filmed and why aren’t people helping?
I think most of us would like to think that if we saw someone getting beaten up or mugged, our first instict wouldn’t be to pull out our mobile phones and film it, but either to inject ourselves or signal for help either in the form of finding police, shouting to attract more attention, or firing up the bat signal. However, psychology suggests that this is not always the case and human beings will not always help another human in trouble, it’s all dependent on the circumstances they are placed under. Basically studies have shown that even the most apparently norman human being can become capable of this if presented with the right triggers.
So let’s look at the `bystander effect`. Ask yourself, if you were walking through town late at night, heard a scream and some struggling and saw a teenage girl in distress, would you help? Now ask yourself the same question but instead of being on your own, you’re with a group of 10 friends. Would you be more or less willing to help?
In 1964 a woman was murdered and newspapers reported that 38 people had heard or seen the attack and done nothing. 38. Two psychologists, Darley and Latane wanted to know if the face these people were in a group played a role in their unwillingness to help. The psychologists invited people to take part in a discussion over intercom. During the conversation, one of the discussion participants would fake a seizure which could be heard through the speakers. When the partipant believed they were the only ones speaking to the individual who had the fake seizure, they rushed to get help. However, when the participant believed there were four others involved in the conversation, only 31% went to help, the rest assuming someone else would. This study has been recreated numerous times leading to the term `The Bystander Effect` whereby
Individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present
We take our cues from others not acting or tell ourselves someone else will do it. So how does this apply in terms of martial arts or self defence? Do we have a higher moral duty to interject if we see or hear something? Would we interject? Martial arts schools offer self defence training as a marketing tool – no-one wants to feel less safe and there is an instinct for us to survive and protect ourselves. We’ve spoken before about how often, dojo martial arts do not translate well into real world violence, but what about the discipline, etiquette, courage and general decency we are also taught in the martial arts? Would these traits help someone stand out from the crowd and have the confidence to speak up and act?
It certainly wouldnt hurt in my opinion.
It’s been said that knowledge is power and even being aware of the bystander effect can make people think twice and act when perhaps before they would have sat back and waited for someone else. As martial artists and self defence enthusiasts, we seek knowledge on keeping ourselves safe, but how many of us think about keeping others safe as well? Would we be the one to stand up and take action rather than sit back and let the bystander effect take place?
Wow what a week it’s been! It’s been so good but all flown by in a blur! Firstly the Martial Artists Supporting Children with Cancer charity event in founder Lucci Del-Gaudio’s home town in Nottingham, then a BJJ masterclass by none other than the legend himself – Royce Gracie!!
Martial Artists Supporting Children with Cancer Nottingham
I’ll admit I was looking forward to this event for weeks. The Martial Artists Supporting Children with Cancer events have been around the country the past few months, raising money with awesome events with awesome martial artists, and this one was to be in Lucci’s home town of Nottingham so was extra special! If there was a who’s who of people I wanted to train with the UK, they were all at that event! The legendary Trevor Roberts was there teaching, the awesome and inspirational Eddie Quinn who I’ve been dying to meet for a while, the fantastically practical Russell Jarmesty and the awesome Sifu Peter Mogridge among many others! Defence Lab was there being represented by the talented Charles Hartnett and Mikey Wright, Anthony Pillage was there as ever showing his support and a wealth of knowledge and talent was all placed in a sports hall in Nottingham.
Highlights? Eddie Quinn was top of the list for me, teaching an inspirational and fun seminar where he tried to condense 3 hours of info into 1 hour! We even got to play a game of Dodgeball and it was great to see a whole room full of well known martial artists dodge, duck, dip, dive and….dodge, then translate this into their striking! Russell Jarmesty was another one I was looking forward to meeting having chatted with him a few times online, over the phone and seen his stuff like his `Mean Streets` app, check the review here. He didn’t disappoint and did a great little section on practical jiu-jitsu he tested working on the doors.
What an awesome day!!
Royce Gracie Seminar
Wow, what can I say. It’s not everyday you get to train with legendary UFC winner Royce Gracie. Basically the guy that kicked off MMA and made Gracie Jiu-Jitsu the force to be reckoned with that it is today. The event was awesome, catching up with friends at Anthony Pillage’s fantastically well equipped academy in Coventry and learning some BJJ from the very best! We looked at takedowns, chokes, armbars and defences, giving a great overview with various levels attending from those in their BJJ gi’s and blue/purple belts, to others who had never done BJJ in their life. Energy, awesome, instructor, awesome, facilities, awesome, overall….awesome!
It’s going to be a great few months of martial arts, from awards dinners (nominated for an MAI Hall of Fame), to trips abroad, to trips around the UK seeing friends and learning more!
1st November we have our next Martial Artists Supporting Children with Cancer event in my home town of Lincoln! We have 10 awesome instructors lined up that I had a hand in picking and a great mix of styles! All done in the great Function First Academy! Be there people!
Martial Arts, no matter which one you do be it Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido, Karate or MMA should be a lifelong pursuit, simple as that. The day you think you’ve learnt everything is the day you should hang up your belt/gi/boxing gloves. It never stops and never stops being interesting. Having said this, it’s usual to have down periods, periods where you dont want to train, have things going on in your life that make it hard, or simply can’t be arsed! So I present to you 10 tips to reignite your passion and get you back to your usual ass-kicking self!
10 – Watch your favorite Martial Arts film!
This may sound like a bit of a dumb one, but if you look at any of the interviews I’ve done on here, in nearly every single one they quote a film that initially kick-started their interest. Normally a Bruce Lee film, going back and watching your favorite flick can help you remember why exactly you’re doing your chosen martial art. Is it for the culture, discipline, respect, fitness? Is it just that you want to look damn cool flipping people round and smashing tiles? Whatever your reason for choosing martial arts, going back to the source could easily reignite that passion within and make you realize that training feels good!
9 – Speak to others you train with
Ask anyone anything that they are passionate about and you’ll realize that passion is infectious. Anyone who makes a success in life is due to the fact they are passionate about something. You can be the most learned and accomplished individual in a particular field, but without passion it’s impossible to impart that knowledge and infectious enthusiasm that makes charismatic people a success. People you usually train with are there for a reason; they love what they do. They feel that enthusiasm, that passion, that drive to learn more and just being around this kind of energy can lift you up and shoot you back in to your training before you know it. Just as some find inspiration through watching their favorite martial arts movie, others find inspiration from the people they train with.
8 – Speak to your instructor
Part of an instructor’s job is to maintain your interest. This is a bit of a give and take as it’s not entirely an instructor’s job to make you come to classes, but they should ensure you are progressing, learning and having fun. Explaining what the problem is to your instructor may be able to help them reignite your passion and get you back to your fighting fit self. Little theme emerging here….speak to people…. instructors, other students. Lacking the motivation? Chances are the instructor did at some point too, maybe other students did. What did they do to get out of it?
7 – Write down an achievable goal for your training
Lack of passion can sometimes be the result of having no goal or development in your training. Small, achievable goals help us to push harder, increase our interest and make us feel damn good when we achieve these goals. Struggling with the warm up during class? Next month you won’t be, you’ll be at the front of the pack leading the way! Struggling with a certain technique? Get advice, research, practice practice practice! This time next month, you’ll have nailed it. Small achievable goals help us to reach the main goal, progression in the martial arts, so set yourself little ones and chip away!
6 – Improve your lifestyle/fitness
Martial arts should be physical and improve your lifestyle and health. This comes as a result of training. If you train once a week for an hour however, you won’t be seeing improvements fast. Combining training with day to day changes in your life like diet, exercise, lifestyle etc can all add little differences that in the long run will improve your overall training. You’ll be faster, more flexible, have more stamina and be able to understand more and more of the techniques and principles you are learning about. Little consistent changes eventually equal a bit change.
5 – Look for similarities in things, not differences
Lots of people cross-train and this is awesome. However, when it gets tricky is when you take on too much and feel that what you cross-train works against each other. Last week I was speaking to someone who does Aikido and Parkour and feels that sometimes these work against each other for his training. I advised don’t look for the differences, look for the similarities. What do both have in common? Both work to develop the body in a number of ways such as strength, stamina and flexibility. Both require patience, technique and self control. Both require being in the moment when you do it, not thinking about other things, but being immersed in that moment. Even if you don’t cross train, this can also be the case in your day to day life. Find the similarities in your training and your day to day routine. How many are there? What translates across? Do this and your art and your life start merging in to one.
4 – Write down what’s going on!
Physically writing something down lets us see it clearly and puts it clearly on paper, sometimes bringing clarity to an uncertain situation. So go ahead write down whatever is pissing you off and then try and find some clarity in it! All eventually leading to getting you back doing what you love!
3 – Get a private lesson
Group lessons are great, they’re sociable and you get the group feel with everyone working together! Private lessons are also great however! You get some individual feedback, some one on one training, a great workout and a great little boost that you can then take to future lessons. A private lesson with the instructor can be exactly what is needed to give you that kick up the arse and get you back to having fun and progressing!
2 – Do some research
This links to what I’ve said above. Knowledge is power. Finding something difficult? Can’t get a move, technique, principle? Research it! Ask people, look on the internet (a source of some great, and some truly awful knowledge), ask your instructor, go to DVDs, books… any resource to find the answer. Research and exploring martial arts outside of class is half of the fun for me but I’m a bit weird! Give it a go and see what happens!
1 – Just train!
Honestly, sometimes no-one feels like going training. Best remedy for it. Go to training. Once you get there, you’ll have a great time, be surrounding by good people, and be buzzing at the end of the class. Don’t feel like going training but you go and still feel crap after? Find a new club. Simply as that. The minute you stop enjoying martial arts training and can’t get it back through training there’s something wrong so at that point, it’s time to find a new club!