Injury Free Week

If anybody out there has an injury free week please contact us so we can throw a party!  It is a fact of life that nobody can escape injury, because at some stage or another, we beings will fall over, get our fingers caught in the car door or even break a foot etc.  Sportspersons can be prone to injuries because of the activity they do but the trick is to minimise the risk.  Ironically, most students receive injuries outside of martial arts. 

Sometimes, we perceive injuries to be worse than what they really are and we unnecessarily allow them to get in the way of what we need to do or want to do.  The golden rule is 'don't do anything which may aggrevate the injury' but that does not mean cease doing everything.

Temporary injuries may bring your life to a halt and sometimes those injuries will change the way you do things because of limitations to what you can do.  In the martial arts,   Bill 'Superfoot' Wallaceinjuries (temporary or permanent) have been a blessing in disguise for some people forcing them to seek other avenues and discover hidden talents.  Those who do not know Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace (former World Champion Kickboxer), he became a legend with his incredibly effective and fast kick (approximately 100kph).  It was because of a right knee injury which forced him to kick with his left leg only.  Bill could kick the front, right and left side of anybody’s head without putting his leg down and there was nothing anybody could do about it.  Many talents have been stumbled across like this but I’m sure this is not just limited to the martial arts.  I had a talk with Bill recently at the Supershow in Sydney and I asked him if he still ate hamburgers (he's the real hamburgler).  He replied with an absolute yes and he still loves training which showed at the seminar, however, he does not like beetroot on his burgers; and I told him that we do not like pickles on our burgers. 

Not everybody can do what others can do.  Some are super strong, some are super flexible etc so you do what you are capable of doing.  This should be no different to any limitations based on physical abilities or injuries ie you do what you are capable of doing.  Discoveries may only a matter of changing course; sometimes injuries or limitations will prompt you to change course.

Master Instructor or Master Student

Being a student in BJJ and attending seminars has its advantages.  Instructors can lose touch with what it feels like to be a student after a few years of teaching devoting all their time standing in front of the class, and not in the class.  Time is needed for Instructors to do the class rather than take the class (I hope that makes sense) so they can see through the eyes of the student.  It was only the other day, Richard Sargeant, brought up the conversation that being a BJJ student, would put me in a better position to teach BJJ than other people at my level.  What better way to understand students than being a student yourself?  As a student I have the chance to analyse what is being taught and decide the best way to teach it (this includes the Jiu Jitsu in our Karate).

 Nobody knows it too well, other than Instructors, how mentally exhausting it is to have the responsibility of teaching; you have to think for everybody in the classroom.  I have been asked to expand on my schools and classes but I like to set aside time for just being a student.  If money is invested in a full time gym then that has to be recouperated it may mean the Instructors's training and progress may be compromised in order to pay the bills.  I've heard the saying, 'Full time Instructors become slaves to their schools' but not everyone, who has a full time school, falls victim but it has happened to some.

When a student becomes a Black Belt they should renew their vows as a student, however, the difference being, a Black Belt should be able to help others attain their Black Belt. 

Personally, I don't like being referred to as a Master because 'I haven't climbed Mt Everest yet'.  It also has a negative tone to it, by people who misrepresent themselves with belts and titles.  But on second thoughts, I don't mind 'Master Student'. 

BJJ Kata?

This blog will probably more interest, the BJJ students, but this can relate to all martial arts.  There are so many techniques in this art and Instructors are always endeavouring to come up with solutions so most of this stuff sticks.  In BJJ it can get quite difficult trying to remember the many techniques, especially, when  they each involve a serious of little steps which can really test the memory.  Realistically, it’s difficult for anyone to come up and fluently demonstrate eg all the chokes they have learnt over the past 6 months especially when the techniques may have been taught in an adhoc fashion. Katas/patterns have been practiced in the traditional styles for many years preserving the techniques of each particular art and making them easier to remember.  Something similar can be used for BJJ, which I call the flow.  So here is my Choke Flow:

Choke 1 – Bow & arrow choke from guard
Choke 2 – Double lapel choke from guard
Choke 3 – Guillotine choke from guard
Scissor sweep (to change into mount position)
Choke 4 – Front choke from mount
Choke 5 – Half nelson lapel choke from side mount
Choke 6 – Repeat same on other side
Choke 7 – Take back and apply rear naked choke

After being shown how to do the techniques in that sequence, it is now simple for anyone to recall and practice the moves which only takes about a minute or so to go through them all.  Good way to practice, good way to remember and a good way for the Instructor to ensure their students practice what they need to know.

The Dark Side

This is the thing about competition.  Students go there to win which is the right mindset for success but the reality is not everyone is going to win.  Those who don't win (rather than saying 'those who lose') may find themselves on the dark side because of the negative perception being associated with not winning.  Philosophically, I take the attitude, ‘go there to learn’ rather than ‘go there to win’.  There are people who are  lucky enough to win their first comp and there are people who win big on their first lotto.  But for the rest of us, we have to keep putting in our entries to increase our chances of a hit.  The more martial arts competitions you enter, the better you will be thereby increasing your chances of winning.  Winning aside, the best attitude is to go there and learn.  In that way, you will not be disappointed if you don't win on the day. 

This is not an infommercial for tournaments, but the sole purpose of competition should not be based for a moment of glory, but another strategy to learning.  There is a lovely process going on before entering a tournament.  The fact you have to make a decision to do this; for some people it will mean overcoming fear.  Then there’s the mental and physical preparation, and finally, the actual participation where you get pressure tested.  I have always been a good kata practitioner (putting modesy aside) which was a result of regular competition ie putting in the hours to train and perfect.     

Whether you win or lose, the arena experience will help you decide where you need to improve. If that’s not a positive way of looking at competition then we need to retrain ourselves in the way we think.  For those who don't do comp, they should at least be involved in the process of those who do, so they get some benefit out of it as well as the competitor.  May the Force be with you!

The Complexes Just Got Easier

I dropped in at work the other day and had a chat with my one of work colleagues about how it’s almost impossible to keep up to date with technology.  Nobody can escape it.  We once thought death and taxes were the only things you can’t escape but now you can add technology.  But there’s an upside to this; keeping up to date with what’s going on will allow you to make more informed decisions such as whether you buy the latest 3D television right now or the later version which is being developed where you don’t need to wear glasses.  In this case, a little voice in my head said, ‘wait’ because there's something better around the corner; now that's one good reason to keep up to date.

Surprisingly, technology in the martial arts is no different.   A couple of Sundays ago, I found myself staggering around, on my crutches, at the Fitness Expo and I was absolutely astounded with what’s out there today.  Where do I start?  Somebody must be out there doing research and sums to come up with new equipment.  I particularly liked this ‘do it yourself’ focus pad machine.  The Expo is about technology – all about the latest and greatest inventions and developments on display.

Technology also involves the martial arts industry – new skills and training methods (apart from equipment).  It was just the other day Shihan Norton had found a much easier way to learn and teach the Black Belt Complexes. Simply just tweaking a technique or coming up with something better deserves a standing ovation; this process involves everybody because inventions and ideas don't always come out from a laboratory.

Booted Out

FOR SALE – 1 Pair of Canadian Crutches, excellent condition, fastidious owner, and 1 Walking Boot (fits both left and right), A1 condition, rare colour (black).  Walking boot – great as a spare ski boot.  Bonus gift – free  set of steak knives (one of them cuts through steel pipe).  They will make a great gift for anybody.  Will arrange delivery if required. POA. 

I have officially been given the thumbs up by the doctor so now I can hang up the crutches and boot but, like the doctor said, I have to wait for a few more weeks before I get into the hard stuff.  I must confess I took things in my own hands, a couple of weeks earlier, by giving the boot the boot as a result of my supposedly better judgement.  People often ask me how bad was the pain and the answer is ‘no’ and this has nothing to do with being tough (the doctor asked me the same thing today).  When I first visited the hospital, they wanted to pump me with pain killers and medical staff wouldn't take 'no' for answer.  I guess pain is something I have been acclimatised to.  If you have never been choked or kicked on the leg, then get ready with the first one because you need 3 o 4 of them before you become desensitized to that sort of thing.  First time in battle or any street confrontation can be a shocking experience for anyone.  A few of those will sort out the adrenal overdose and pain drama.

During recovery I was able to notice the very tiny improvement each day being no different to seeing the grass grow but there’s an explanation for this.  In the martial arts, you learn to notice subtle changes and improvements of everything you do.  I was fairly confident, after 4 weeks, I could give the walking boot the boot but to keep everyone happy I stayed on the stuff a bit longer to keep peace with the close people around me.  My left knee is also on the road to recovery.  I am looking at another 4 weeks before I get the green light to return to full duties and being let out to deal with civil unrest.       
PS: There’s a spotter’s fee for anyone finding a buyer (lol).

Belts for Sale

Today, it's not difficult to obtain a Black Belt as any martial arts store will sell you one and nobody really cares if you buy one anyway.  Has it lost its value?  I  remember the days when you walked into the store and a Black Belt was something which had to be brought out from a vault.  The vendor would be inquisitive and interrogate you under a spotlight before handing it over.  God help you if you got caught wearing one if you weren’t a Black Belt; it was sacrilege. You'd be on the front page of every newspaper and stoned to death in Martin Place!

I earned my Black Belt in the days of ‘only the elite few will get it’.   The gradings were long and hard – no mercy, no complaining, no break, no water!  Your fitness and spirit were ultimately put to the test to see if they could break you; if they succeeded in doing that then you'd have to wait for the next grading which was only a year or two away.  Of course, times have changed and that culture is virtually non-existent but it is a shame things can go completely the other way.  Changes are good but not when they go overboard.  Just look at discrimination laws, ethics and politically correct statements gone mad.  It gets to the stage where it is difficult to know whether you're on the right track anymore.

However, it was time for a change in the way we graded people especially to Black Belt because it had to be achievable for a larger part of the population. Another reason was because some of the new styles that came later on the scene did a good job of marketing themselves at no consideration of jeopardising their integrity. This put pressure on the older and more established styles to make changes in order to compete. I remember one Instructor advertising you can get a Black Belt in 6 months.  You can't roast a leg of lamb any quicker.  Maybe, the Black Belts he was giving were microwaved.  That 6 month thing didn't work and didn't last long.

Today, good schools maintain a certain standard in the grading system to ensure the belt you earn means something, otherwise, it is only a piece of material you buy over the counter.