You may have seen enough of these signs displaying, ‘old but new’ (usually found at furniture stores) which may appeal to many people because ‘old’ is back in fashion.  We now have new cars, with modern technology, looking like the  old -Volkswagon or Mini.  When it comes to martial arts, I particularly like the ‘old’ techniques (or should I say the basics) because of the little discoveries on each visit, and then suddenly, the old stuff now seems like new!  When I throw out a basic punch there could be a ‘thousand’ things going in my mind.  To a junior student they may only see 2 to 3 steps to finish the move.  I might see 10 steps. 

Watch the same movie a few times and you will pick up on things you didn’t notice before; that’s because you start paying attention to detail once you get the big picture (pardon the pun).  You go through the same process in martial arts when you keep revisiting a technique.  Basically, it’s fine tuning ‘old’ stuff. 

Techniques are always evolving particularly in the non traditional martial arts and there you might find some of the ‘old’ techniques being brought back to life. 

Old Ideas, but new way of thinking.

Water Under the Bridge

Decisions are best done with a bit of thought and discussion if the situation permits.  When emotional, a person might be feeling distressed and  thinking a little irrational at the time, which may result in negative fallout.  Making a decision or saying something, if not urgent, are best done sitting back and relaxing until you gather your thoughts together giving you a chance to think of any consequences down the track.  Thinking things over will allow you more options.  Making the wrong decision, as a consequence of haste, may be pretty hard for anyone to double back and pick up from where last left off, especially, where frienships and relationships are involved.  Remember the cliche, don't burn your bridges.  If you stuff up, better to owe up, rather than weave a web of lies.  It’s much more embarrassing getting caught rather than fronting up.

Martial artists need to be aware of this because they interact with many people.  Never judge people of what others say but just keep in mind what you have heard.  ‘Trust but verify’.  Always consider the 'pros and cons', 'advantages and disadvantages', and 'two sides to a story' etc. 

Every day is a good day if your head is above ground, and the rest seems so unimportant.  There is always a humourous side to things if they become nasty; nothing seems as bad as they appear to be, especially, if you allow a bit of time for the dust to settle. 

Best advice: Enjoy your life and time on earth and forget about the things that waste our time.

Border Patrol

Listening is about allowing the information to get into your head in which you can then process the information.  In the martial arts we are trained to absorb information because we want to learn as much as possible but, sometimes, we just don’t want to step out of our comfort zones  to do that.  Over the years martial artists have tried to resist the temptation or consideration in cross training (Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Reality Based Self Defence) probably because most people are just happy doing what they’re doing or not interested in doing a little bit extra.   

If martial artists are interested in the reality aspect of martial arts then there should be no borders in training which means stepping out of the circle but they may not like or appreciate components of other martial arts at first.  They’re like an acquired taste and you have to give it time before making long term decisions in other aspects of training. 

Most systems/organisations have their ‘core business’, ie karate, hapkido, tae kwon do and are absolutely fantastic with what they offer and teach.  I like to think of our school like Europe where you no longer need a visa to cross borders.  I remember the days (over 35 years ago as a white belt) when I used to get into a back stance with a knife hand block and challenge anyone.  I didn’t really know what I was going to do but I was so confident that nobody would dare have a go at me.   The mystical days are long gone and today I like to make sure I cover all bases in my martial arts training.   

I take my hat off to people who specialize in one style because it takes hard work and a very long time to become good at the one thing.  I became very good at the one thing but it was not until 20 years ago I decided to cross train.  I have been crossing the border, since.

Then it Dawned on Me

Jiu Jitsu, particularly BJJ./MMA, is quite in depth because of the numeorus steps required to complete techniques.  If any of these steps are missing, it's no different to leaving a part out of a motor – it will probably not work at all.  We’ve all experienced it.

I am a student in a sense and I am no different to anybody else learning.  I have to be shown things, over and over, and practice to get them right.  Quite often, getting it right the  first time doesn’t always work out for me so don't despair if the same goes if you're a student.  Usually, it takes several persons to show me, in their own little way, before I get a good grasp and complete understanding of the techniques.  As an Instructor I don't settle for anything less than 100%.  That's the difference between an experienced martial artist like myself and a brand new student in BJJ.

It's much more exciting to conquer the ones I'm having difficulty with rather the ones I get right the first time.  Recently, I was shown a particular technique (advanced armbar) which was taught to me by a visiting BJJ master from Brazil. I really enjoyed the private seminar and got a lot of out of it but something did not feel right just yet.  A workout with Shihan Richard Norton, in Sydney recently, almost hit a home run.  I said to him, "Something you just said now, I now realise what I have to do."  Then the other evening, I attended a junior BJJ class before the senior session; with everybody wondering what I was doing there.  A purple belt, taking the class, was explaining that technique in his particular way and then it dawned on me.  It was something he said which solved the final piece of the puzzle.  Technique now 99% good (no such thing as 100%).  

Usually, I like to talk quietly, through the moves, with my training partner.  By uttering words I'm more conscious about what I'm doing.  This is the same thing I do as an Instructor when I explain techniques to the students; this really helps me understand better.  It's an absolutely amazing process!  It's not a bad thing if students talk to each other in that sense but Instructors need to ensure the conversation does not divert from the subject.

People have different ways of capturing information and it may before it dawns on them which is why it's good to have a different Instructor in front of the class every so often.  

On another subject, I really like Mr John Will's last blog, GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE. What a 'blog job'!  Basically, it's based on years of friendship earning credit so that when a problem arises, there's enough credit to let the problem slide.   I take things a step further, I give some people opportunities to apply for personal loans.


Emotional Acclimatization: This is something I’ve heard a few times at Shihan Richard’s seminars.  This is not new and it refers to 'overcoming emotional infringements arising from a stressful event which is important for vital  activity' (straight from the text book).  Martial artists and other people with life experiences will fully understand this.  To give a couple of examples, the experienced doorman is far less emotional, than the average person, when dealing with confrontations, and an experienced prize fighter doesn't become overly concerned of being hit because of adaptation to the pain.

It’s quite common to feel the stress when first competing in tournaments.  In my early days of competition I eventually learned to adapt to this type of environment; there would be days where I would turn up to a tournament, after a night shift, and would have a nap until somebody would come and wake me up when it was my turn to fight.  You also learn to take pain; after a couple of full contact fights I never really got worried about getting hit. 

What’s equally important is emotionally adapting to real life self defence situations.  If you have to defend yourself for the very first time, expect emotions to escalate, which are likely to cause an unprecedented adrenal dump, resulting in considerable decrease in gross motor skills.  It won’t matter how many techniques you know because these will be difficult to recall if you're not emotionally acclimatized.  Those who disagree should think of a time where they may have over-reacted in a silly traffic incident with another motorist; this is why normal people can end up in road rages because they become too emotional and don’t know what they're doing at the time.  

We can usually choose our own environments which minimises the chances of getting into trouble but there are those who have no choice through necessity in their work, like I have!  It got to the stage, if I got into a fight, my attitude was 'I might as well enjoy it since there was nothing I can do about it at the time, but do, whatever it took me, to do the job; that was my way of overcoming fear.

Emotional acclimatization does not come in pill form, however, there is a remedy.  Remember, how painful was that first shin kick to your leg?  After a few of them, it’s not too bad.  You learn to adapt to the pain with repetition.  I am not suggesting self harm so please don't try and get the better half of a baseball bat.  What students need to do is experience emotions under controlled conditions so acclimitization can go to work.  It's OK to be man-handled by your Instructor (for the right reasons) or take a few good hits, at least you won't freak out if it ever happens to you in a real situation. This is much needed in the reality based component of the martial arts but the student must want this type of training and understand the way it should be administered.

By the way, don't stress out all over this.  Just keep in mind something which may appear bad might actually be good for you.

In Business Making People Feel Happy!

 Every now and then I run into old students especially kids who have grown up and they greet me with a bow and call me, Sir.  It's inspirational to know they still have respect, so I must be doing something right.  Just the other day, a student (in his '30s) who used to train in the ACT over 3 years ago (now lives in Perth), has contacted me via the 'on line enquiry'.  He has not been able to find a school despite recommending him some very good Insctructors:

Marc: Would like to know if Budoshinkai will ever be part of Western Australia?
Reply: It will depend if any of our Black Belts decide to live there and open up a school.  I believe you are the Marc that used to train with Damien (ACT).
Marc: Thank you for the reply.  I hope, one day, someone will!  I absolutely love what you teach and what I've been taught from Damien.  And yes, it is Marc that trained with Damien.

Thanks, Marc, for your wonderful comments.  I wish I could help you because you are the type of person we want around.  You are fussy, though.  Maybe, it might be easier to move to back to the ACT.

I get a lot of that and I believe other Instructors do, too.  One of my first 2nd Dan Black Belts, of the late '80's, called me recently.  He just wanted to let me know there was nobody else out there like the way I taught classes!  I was thinking what I used to teach then was based on my knowledge of that time.  Now, I do it differently because what what I teach now is still based on my knowledge, the difference being, I have more to offer! 

The martial arts has really advanced over the years.  Richard and I once discussed 'wouldn't it be great to be have been taught all the things we now know, back then; we'd be so much better'.

Just to let a few people know the residual pain from my back injury has just about disappeared.  I am starting to cause a little grief to some people on the mats and those who are in the leather exchange trade.  My Police Commander was astonished when he found out I am back pushing heavy inanimate objects.  Mr John Will caught me by surprise when he was advising me on particular techniques until I realised he thought I was still nursing my back.  I said, 'no more back injury', his reply, 'GREAT'.  There's two more people I made happy!  It will be good catching up with Mr John Will (the blog master) in Sydney this week.  To quote, John, 'you are an exceptionally good writer', he loves reading my blogs!  Many thanks, Mr Will, I love your blogs, too!

One more item: Shihan Richard Norton is in the States, once again, catching up with other friends and doing a bit of training.  Hope not for long!  I wonder whether it has anything to do with our challenge (lol)!

I Do!

Last night I was at a wedding at one of our Black Belts, Daniel Matos, who has been with us since the age of 10 years old.  It was in Darling Harbour with the best views in the world and my wife and I were sitting with Daniel's father, Victor (and his wife) who is one of our senior Black  Belts; we were very honoured to sit next to them because he said I am one of his best friends.  Same goes here.

My kids, Jonathan and Marcia, both Black Belts, not sitting far away with Dr Chris and his partner.  A bit like a Budoshinkai get together.  People develop habits seeing each other as a result of family, friendship, work or common interest.

I have found one of the best things in the martial arts is the people you meet and get to know.  Ultimately, over the years, you end up being best friends and you couldn't imagine losing that friendship.  My friends, outside the martial arts, cannot understand that and they never will!

I asked Maria how did she feel losing her son but she answered she wasn't losing a son but gaining a daughter (good come back).

When Daniel was making his speech my memories at the time were of Victor bringing him to my school for the first time.  Outside school, Victor and I would regularly meet up, with both our sons, for coffee or lunch. Now, Daniel and Jonathan are grown up gentlemen.  I am looking forward to our other young students reaching adulthood.  Thank you, Daniel and Tamara, for the invitation.  It was an absolutely sensational night. 

The couple was extremely happy but I think the father was even happier.

I’m all Ears

How does an Instructor get students to listen to them?  Every Instructor has different ways which is an important part of teaching.  There is no one way to do this because it will depend on the school’s culture, the different age groups, the level of understanding within the groups and individuals. 

 Teaching can be frustrating for both the Teacher and student because lack of connection.  If it’s not happening, the Instructor may need to take it back a couple of notches by simplifying the tasks so everybody gets something out of the session.  It is a case of not too much and not too little in order to maximise productivity.

Nothing wrong with doing the basics (bread and butter stuff), we have to always go back there at some stage of the game.  Basic training – good for the junior ranks, and even greater for the advanced students, who view the techniques from a different perspective because of their developed attitudes and experiences. 

How do you know the students are listening?  Good response to commands and counts, regular eye contact with the Instructor and they are doing what they are actually being asked.  Success should be particularly measured by any improvement of the mediocre performers, not by the exceptional few who always do well.

How well the students listen is also dependent on the Instructor's ability to communicate and their skill level in captivating the audience's attention.  But that's probably another blog.