Not Bad for a 100 Bucks!

We martial artists are not very good as patients and can get quite impatient when it comes to injuries.  So I thought I might go and see the sports doctor specialist, who I had been  consulting for my back.  Although my back seems to be fine the root cause of it is still pestering me when I do my training.  I told him about this pain on my hip flexor but he could not locate the cause of the problem, although I told him it was the tendon of the hip flexor (Dr Chris found it).   He came up with a non specific answer and told me to be patient and respect pain.  ‘Are you kidding, I thought. You don’t need to tell me that, we’re in the business of pain’.  I just wanted him to jab a needle into my leg with a bit of cortisone and be done with it.

The doctor told me to squat and toe-touch to see if there was any pain; no good!  He ran me through some other tests to see if he can induce the pain but nothing happened.  So I did some of my own, by getting down on my knees and into the hurdler's stretch and then into the inner thigh stretch, the kind of thing we martial artists normally do but I couldn't get the thing to 'ouch' me either.  His eyes lit up in amazement and told me what I was doing are well beyond a normal person can do.  He could not believe, it was possible with my old injuries and recent back injury (that's because he is not a martial artist).

Dr Chris and I concur it takes a martial artist to know a martial artist.  It’s the way a martial artist thinks and Chris is no exception to this rule.  A few months ago with the back injury, no doctor could find the cause of the back pain even with CT scans but Chris picked up on it immediately (without scans) whilst I was on the mats.  It must be a martial arts thing.

Dr Chris has done it again when he pin pointed the recurring pain on my hip flexor in a matter of a minute whilst my specialist struggled to give me an answer (not trying to take anything away from the doctor because he is one of the best around).  The doctor said, 'no needle for you'.  Anyway, Chris has found a way to treat the problem.  It takes about 2 minutes.  I have had two sessions so far and the pain seems to be improving significantly.  Then Chris can really concentrate to improve my BJJ game.  Beware wishful thinkers.

What does this tell us?  Martial artists are different!  I didn’t get the needle but I did get a few compliments.  Not bad for a 100 bucks!

A Rag Doll May be Just What you Need

You see it and hear quite often such as a team having home advantage or a boxer fighting on his home turf with most of the crowd cheering him on.  What about a football team on a  winning streak because they have one of the best coaches, and a couple of good strong players; and a police officer in full uniform has better control of persons and situations than a plain clothes officer.  These are examples of psychological leverage.

There are other forms of psychological leverage.  Whenever I can’t solve a problem or find an answer to a question I will often talk to someone about it hoping they can help me.  Amazingly, I usually find the answer or solution myself just by discussing it with someone.  The process of explaining it, in such a way to get an answer, is what does it.  Get yourself a rag doll if nobody’s willing to listen to you!!!

If you’ve had any experience exercising with weights you usually seem to lift a lot more when somebody spots you ie slightly holding onto the weight bar.  Nine times out of ten, you end up doing the lift yourself, only because you believed you were getting help.  It wouldn’t ordinarily happen if the spotter wasn't there.   

Psychological leverage is quite ubiquitous at tournaments based on reputation, rank, size and demeanor.  How does one overcome a situation if you come up against someone with that type of leverage?  I remember coming up against the Australian Karate Champion in the early ‘80’s and this guy had a bad reputation because he would take your head off if you upset him or he didn’t like you.  In this situation I just took a very relaxed approach.  He gave me the dirtiest look when we were at the starting lines.  I just threw him a friendly gesture only because I was worried what he might do to me. 

The fight started and I scored the first point (there was hard sparring in the early days).  Then he scored one on me.  The bout kept going and it was getting really rough until the referee had to intervene a number of times and you can see the really angry look on his face.  I just patted him on the shoulder as he walked back to his line which seemd to passify him and I acknowledged some of the points he scored on me by nodding my head.  The scored reached 5 even.  I was pretty sure I scored more than he did but I think the referees didn’t want to see him lose the fight.  I was more worried he was going to take my head off.   He got the last score in which declared him a winner.  He ran and picked me up with a big hug.  I wonder whether he would’ve done the same if he lost.  Everybody applauded because it was the best bout of the day.  What I learned that day was relaxation gave me confidence.  I was truly amazed with myself that I had almost beaten somebody who appeared to have it all over me.   From then on, I found competition easier because I had psychological leverage over others. 

Don't ask me where to find these rag dolls!

WARNING – to Easily Bored Readers

An Instructor has to be many of these things to some extent or more.  They include mentor, teacher, coach, leader, manager, supervisor, first aider, public speaker, accountant, counselor,  office administrator, website administrator, philosopher, (bored readers, Alt F4 now), decision maker, problem solver, examiner, staff trainer, time manager, staff supervisor, motivator, networker, social worker, social organizer, consultant, observer, time manager, equipment vendor, equipment trader, programme organizer, assessor, businessman, communicator, promoter, secretary, interviewer, reporter, school news publisher, receptionist – and not necessarily in that order.

An Instructor is expected to be skillful, likeable, approachable, interesting, well mannered, believable, credible, creative, analytical, helpful,  compassionate, polite, eager, patient optimistic, ethical, efficient, enthusiastic, personable, presentable, computer literate, knowledgeable, caring, charismatic, energetic, intelligent, vibrant, reliable, dedicated, kind, considerate, understanding, dependable, responsible, resourceful, informative, innovative, healthy, updated,  fit (don't tell me there's more because nobody's going to hand out a free set of steak knives).

Now the word’s out, I may have just killed 10,000 people's dreams of taking up martial arts instruction.  It takes years to acquire many of these things which starts the moment you walk in front of a class.

I can’t tell you how nice it is when I sit in the class as a student.  It’s relatively easy work, just turn up and wait for instructions. 

The Challenge – It’s on Again!

 The martial arts is not just about what happens in the school but what happens outside the school .  So the challenge is on again!  Richard called me,  ‘this is the challenge to end all challenges, so you better get yourself in shape, Adams', and hanged up.  We're both recovering well from our injuries so there are no more excuses.  The last challenge, which left me in several pieces on the ground was not enough for Richard, because he says that I keep getting up and coming back for more! 

Richard's now spending a lot of time in the gym (he must be worried).  In fact, he called me, the other day, about this 'never seen before' high tech weight machine from Europe he's been working out with and that I better give it up (the challenge).  I said, ‘you’re going to need all the help you can get, Mr Norton’. 

This got me thinking.  What is it about challenges?  It’s really all about the journey, not the destination (nice cliché).  When I took up training BJJ three years ago it was time for another challenge – this has got to be the mid life crisis of martial arts.  At first, you see just a couple of guys rolling around on the mats trying to tear their heads off.  Eventually you realise how deep and meaningful it really is.  Is it complicated?  I prefer the word, challenging.   

I'm now approaching 35 years in the martial arts.  I despise how people say they have been in the game for so long, by counting their toddler years, 15 years break in between and their school hopping years (never really getting good at anything)  My BJJ training is relatively new but few people would do what I do because my approach is different to that of a student.  I now have over 420 hours experience on the mats which includes instruction from the very best, Richard Norton, John Will, Steve Perceval and Rob Naumoski.  Not to mention seminars with Rigan Machado, Paulo Guimaraes and teaching my students in Sydney, Canberra and Qld.  This has been a great boost for my confidence since my accident in 2002. 

I remember, John Will, showing an MMA takedown which he improved as result of caressing his knee after surgery.  Well, that now has just opened up a new ball game for me.  With my injuries, that is going to put John out of business!  I have to find ways to make things happen which actually end up improving the techniques.  One of my senior Black Belts, Dr Chris, showed me his way of doing a Standing Guard Pass which is so easy to do and minimises potential back strain; that come about of necessity because of his back concerns.

Getting back on our feet, the BJJ would not be much use to us without the stand-up training.  A bit like a sprinter who can't swim.  So I am very consciouss of my grass roots before getting on my knees. 

Back to the Challenge – I know what the prize is and Mr Norton can have it!

What to do Without a GPS

When you take on a new move in Jiu Jitsu, you begin with basic directions to get some idea of the technique.  A bit like  someone giving you the bare minimum to get from point A to point B.  Once you have the basic picture you are likely to ask for more information such as particular landmarks, the service station on the corner etc.  Then it might be roundabouts, distinctive buildings, parks, etc.  Now the trip from point A to point B is whole lot more than you thought it was. 

In learning new Jiu Jitsu techniques, the journey begins with simple navigation with detail being added along the way.  That's what makes it all that interesting.  If you drive a particular route everyday, the more times you do it, the easier it becomes and you can rattle off a whole lot of details you've picked up along the way.  Eventually, you go into auto-pilot mode, your subconscious mind takes over.  That's what happens when you practice your movements over and over again.    

If you like to ride a bike like I do, the fun part of it is how and where you ride it.  To improve your riding skills you need plenty of hills, twists and turns; anybody can ride a bike on a flat and straight highway (how boring).  So in Jiu Jitsu, some of the moves can get a little complicated, just like the twists and turns, but do them enough times, they become second nature.  There is no such thing as a GPS in the martial arts, that's why we have Tour Guides (Instructors), hopefully, who can steer you in the right direction. 

Enjoy the journey!

At the Hall of Fame – part 2

Make sure you read have previous blog before this one.

During one particular speech, in which you can hear a pin drop in between words, Jordan's phone goes off like a Rock Concert and he couldn’t find it fast enough bringing  everyone out of a coma.  It brought tears to my eyes.  A lot of thanks again to my mate, Richard, about the wonderful things he said about me during his speech.  As I said it made my wife very happy.  When the coffee came around it was a ‘do or die’ thing with me.  Richard knows how much I hate instant coffee and I asked the waiter, a number of times, what were they serving.  He wasn’t going to answer.  The pic says a thousand words.

At the end of the function Barry and I went downstairs to the bar to catch up and stayed there till 1.30am.  We weren’t the only ones.  More congrats to me, from people, about the speech (if I find out what it is, perhaps, I can bottle it).  In the  morning, Barry, Richard, me and the wives met up for breakfast and as always, great to talk.  After that, I went upstairs and watched the demos and seminars put on by the AMAHOF members and the new inductees.  It was very interesting to watch; there is always something new to see and learn.  I was not afforded a time slot to do my bit because of the uncertainty of my back injury a few weeks prior.  The good thing about the demos was where Budoshinkai stands in comparison with others.  Wow, I’m impressed with our system in terms of usefulness and reality.  That was pretty much it.  It was a great ‘get together’ all in the name of martial arts.  A very enjoyable weekend.  Many thanks to Richard and Judy for hosting us.

At the Hall of Fame – part 1

I thought I might just blog this out in a couple of parts – too much too read in one go.  Damien reckons I'm a ‘blog-a-holic’.  ‘Sms-a-holics’ shouldn’t talk!  The weekend was all about the Australian Martial Arts Hall of Fame (AMAHOF) which was held in Melbourne and I must admit it was a ple asurable experience, and quite prestigious to receive 'Martial Artist of the Year'.  I was also presented with a similar award from the World Karate Union which was held last week in Pennsylvania, USA. 

The night before, at registration, I put my hand up to just to make sure no speech was required at the presentation because there was no mention of it.  The Chairman jumped up and thanked me for reminding him because he forgot to tell us about making our speeches.  I had to slip out through the back door to avoid an angry mob.  Later, Richard and Judy came by and picked me, and my wife, up (daughter included) from the hotel and went to a very nice restaurant with a bird’s eye view of the trams.  That was a very enjoyable 3 hours.  My son, Jonathan, was not there with us, he flew in the next day.

The awards night went very well with Richard and Judy being invited as special guests.  As I watched every inductee go up and do their speech I was starting to get a little worried about what I was going to say.  I had Richard stirring me what I had written down in my notes for what I was going to say.  My awards were presented by none other, than Richard Norton himself.  When it was time to make that speech I just basically threw down my notes and started uttering words out.  To my surprise, it went quite well because I had people congratulating me all night, and the rest of the weekend because they said it was natural and entertaining!  There was one particular blunder (quite embarassing), I forgot Barry Johnston’s surname as I was thanking him for the person nominating me.  However, I got a few laughs out of it because they thought it was part of my gig.  In another part of the speech I mentioned what had happened to me, the previous evening, when I went to register and did not see any familiar face in the room.  One guy came up to me and introduced himself and I did the same.  He asked me where I was from, and I told him, 'Sydney'.  He then asked which crane company I was from.  I stopped and thought 'what makes him think I work with cranes'.  I then looked at a display banner which said, ANNUAL VICTORIAN CRANE ASSOCIATION MEETING. 

Richard read a beautiful email, on behalf of Hanshi Tino Ceberano, who could not be there on the night.  I was also taken by surprise when Richard stepped up on stage again and said a few wonderful words about me which was well appreciated by me and my family.  He started off saying, "I am here to talk about George Adams, what can I say about him? Not much!" and took a couple of steps off the stage leaving the audience in laughter (which was well needed that night).   I bet he couldn't wait to get that one in.  He must've been planning it for weeks!  

Better stop here, I don’t want anybody to overdose from my blog.  Leave part 2 for another day.


Hall of Fame – Melbourne 8/8/09

I'm leaving Sydney, tomorrow morning, for Melbourne.  On Saturday night I am being inducted into the AMAHOF Hall of Fame and World Karate Union Hall of Fame.  This time I'm taking the family down so they can see Melbourne for the first time; I'm dying to jump back on those trams (my rental car will be sitting in the carpark of the hotel most of the time). 

The last time I was inducted into a Hall of Fame was in 2000.  Prior to that was in 1997, also,  1995 in Cleveland, USA.  Whilst it is a great honour to receive these awards, I see it as a great opportunity catching up with my very good friend, Shihan Barry Johnston (of the International Kenshusei College), who nominated me.  Also attending are my very special friends, Shihan Richard Norton and Judy Green, who will be sitting at our table together with Barry.  Richard and Judy are the loveliest couple I've ever come across; it's not just the martial arts, it's the friendship. Barry has invited my very good Sydney friends – Shihan Robert Janceski and Shihan Jordan Micakovski and his son, Alex, so it going to be a very pleasant night.  Geez … Barry is certainly a shaker and a mover!

I believe awards are something you give, not something you receive.  In this case, I just happen to be the person receiving.  The real pleasure of of the night is the actual company of my friends.  It would've been nicer if my 'big brother' Hanshi Ceberano could be there but unfortunately will not be back in Australia by this weekend.

A special note for the person who nominated me for the awards, Barry Johnston:  Fantastic man and martial artist who has done wonders for the martial arts industry by professionalising it through education.  I have spent many hours doing lunch and coffees with Barry, both in Sydney and Melbourne.  Barry and I need to catch up on a few hours, there is always plenty to talk about.

I will let you know how it all went when I come back.

ACA Interview

I saw that interview of Judy Green, alongside her husband Richard Norton, which was televised on ACA tonight.  Congrautlations to both, it was an excellent interview and it took real guts for Judy to get on air like that and discuss her very unfortunate accident involving a very serious head injury whilst shooting a TV documentary over 25 years ago.  Very few people would have understood how it felt at the time.  I am one of those people who would know because I had a similar injury in 1996 which almost claimed my life.  After five operations I live to tell the tale!  Also, the rehab after that was a monumetal challenge.  A lot of credit must go to her husband, Richard, who has supported and helped her over the many years.  The same goes for my wife who stood by me all the way. 

I remember John Will introducing me to Richard Norton at one of their seminars in Sydney  Judy Green & Richard Norton on ACAbefore 2000.  John told Richard about my injury and he was quite pleased to speak with me since his wife had a similar injury.  About 8 years later, after meeting up with Richard again, I finally got to meet Judy where we had the opportunity to talk about our experiences.  I now refer to her as my sister!  Richard said something interesting when in Sydney recently, 'a normal person has five or six goals in life but a sick person has one goal in life and that is to get well'.  I can vouch for that!  Richard and I have a great friendship for many reasons but I guess Judy's ordeal and my ordeal might have to be one of them.

The moral of the story: Don't take anything for granted, enjoy what you have and do the best you can for yourself and others.

Another topic – feeling confident tonight, I picked up the weights and did a whole lot of other exercises with a lingering pain to remind me that I had sustained an injury recently.  It is now two hours later and I feel fine. 

When I was suffering from my back injury I, too, only had one goal at the time.