No Bully Zone

The thing about bullying is there is no one solution to ending the problem.  There are a lot of resources of how to deal with it (as shown on our website) which may be of some help but the truth is the victim has to build confidence and self esteem because I don’t believe written material is enough.  It is a world known fact the martial arts have been making a positive impact on youngsters out there crying for help.  Most young people will not admit to their friends, teachers or parents of being bullied because they believe it to be a sign of weakness or may even fear reprisals from thugs.  Most parents, including me, choose to believe it does not happen to their children but the stats say 1 in 3 Australian children will experience bullying.

What makes me an expert on this subject is I, too, was a victim of bullying at school wh ich went on for years and this is why I took up the martial arts.  I had to work out different routes from class to class to avoid confronting bullies but they would always catch up with me eventually.  I would be fighting in the stairwell, classroom, school playground and en route home.  There was no end to it.  I never told my parents and I never told the teachers or my friends.

There was very little known about the martial arts at the time but it sounded a good idea at the time.  Training, especially those days, was a lot of hard work and my main motivation, at the time, was to get back at these thugs.  By the time I got good enough I was happy to take the thugs on but they shied away, to my disappointment.

Bullying causes scarring which never seems to go away.  How many times do adults look at people and say in jest, ‘that guy must’ve been belted up at school’ but what they are really saying is that person must've been bulliled atg school hence their behaviour. 

The martial arts builds confidence and self esteem the fun way.  One thing for sure, the martial arts school is a 'no bully zone' where they can talk and make friends in a non-hostile environment.

Remaining Young as Adults

The Australian College of Sports Development, in Bendigo, saw an attendance of over 80 Black Belt Instructors recently at a seminar (see previous blog).  It was amazing how many hands went up when the question was asked, ‘how many of you started training as a result of your children in the martial arts?’  Equally amazing was the number of those parents taking up martial arts Jimmy and the boys at West Pennant Hills after being asked by the instructor, whilst sitting in the waiting area over a period of 3 months or more. These people now run their own schools.  Our Qld Head Instructor, Darren Grieve, had taken up the martial arts with his kids in the mid ‘90’s.  Darren now runs the Qld branches, teaching Karate-Jitsu, Kickboxing, MMA & BJJ.

Whilst emphasis is placed on children in the martial arts, equally important, are adults.  The difference with adults is they all have varied reasons for doing the martial arts whereas the kids think of it as a challenging sport and fun thing.  Whilst the parent benefits a number of different ways from training, other members of the family also benefit indirectly.  What better way to represent the family with a father who is physically and mentally fit, confident, healthy and is in a better position to protect his family; the same goes for a mother. The physical benefits for an adult in martial arts are tremendous!

Parents like to spend time with their children as much as possible and I could not think of a better way for families to share the same interest and passion together.  You can really see it in the school.

Remaining Young

A lot of good things had come out of last week’s seminar in Bendigo at the Australian College of Sports Development (ACSD).  One of the discussions was about youths in the martial arts.  Most of us can give many reasons why children should be in the martial arts such as anti-bullying, obesity, discipline, self esteem and the list goes on but there is something we might not be aware of. 

According to the ACSD martial arts training is ideal for physical development in children.  Young people’s skeletal structures, muscles and ligaments are in the growing stages and the martial arts will greatly assist in building and strengthening their bodies as they mature.  This results less prone to injuries in later life.  As parents we should not forget these important reasons for our children training in the martial arts.  With this in mind, if ‘little Johnny’ says ‘I’m bored’ it is up to the parents to take a stance because they know what’s best for their kids.  Instructors are always happy to discuss such a situation.

Mental challenges, increased confidence and focussing are some of the other things children can expect from the martial arts; not to mention keeping away from bad company.  They will learn to recognise the difference between good and bad.  What is also another important factor is that children in the martial arts are more likely to keep up some physical activity for the rest of their lives in order to stay in shape, feel young and enjoy a healthier life style. That's the secret of remaining young.

At the end of the day, there’s nothing better than a child achieving these mental and physical skills and be awarded a black belt doing their family and friends proud.

Seminar & Grading – Sunshine Coast

Another great 3 day weekend on the Sunshine Coast at our BKJ Martial Arts schools re gradings and seminars.  Many thanks to the Head Instructor, Darren Grieve, who picked up me and the Black Belt twins from the Airport and hosted us for the weekend.  He does a tremendous job of going out of his way to make sure we have our creature comforts.  Also, in attendance, were a number of other Black Belts including the original Head Instructor, Richard Payne, with Dean, Lee and Pat who do a great job running one of the schools.

Friday was a BJJ seminar, followed by Reality Based Defence which were very well received.  All thanks to spending many hours with Richard Norton on the Reality stuff which I am now confident enough to deliver it to our students. The BJJ seminar was also terrific going through techniques I have learnt from Richard Norton and John Will over the years.  Then it was time for a roll; Darren is just a hard wrestler!  It must be something to do with working one out, most of the time, as a police officer.

The next morning we put on an Anti-bullying workshop (based on BJJ) for kids which everyone absolutely loved.  After that was the grading which went smoothly giving me the opportunity to demonstrate my skills to the students.  

Back home now, tommorrow work, then off to martial arts again.

Magic Steam Mop

John Will (Master Grappler) received a message on Facebook from one of his friends saying that ‘he was just mugged in the Philippines … and hinted that he was penniless and stuck there’.   John was suspicious of the wording and asked a BJJ security question, something only his friend would know the answer to.  Needless to say, it was a scam.  This happens quite often on Facebook by people who hack accounts and pose as FRIENDS.

So, too, in the big WORLD of martial arts, we can expect some sort of scamming ie people after your  money.  Because Instructors are not licenced by any government regulating body they are not held accountable for what they say or do making it difficult for the average person to know what they are getting into.  These scammers (I hope not many of them) believe they are, or pretend to be qualified in the martial arts and do very well using clever marketing.  That spells 'gullible' but you only have to look at those people who are gullible enough to buy those useless Magic Steam Mops advertised on television. Maybe, we give one of these Steam Mops away to everybody who signs up.

These type of people have a fascination with belts and ranks and and look for an easy way to get promoted.  They love to add years to their training by not mentioning they had a 10 year break in between, and there are those who claim starting training as child with the few months they did but actually started training 10 years later.  I might as well claim 20 years training in BJJ if I count from my first seminar with John Will in 1992.

As an Instructor, it is important for him or her to maintain credibility based on years of training and authentic credentialisation.  Ranks and claims that are not genuine will only disrepute the Instructor and school. 

Hint: people who are after ranks don’t usually train, people that train are not usually after ranks. 

Don’t Worry!

If we look at the martial arts as a language then we get a lot more meaning and understanding of our training.  Any language is a very sophisticated and useful tool based on many words with different interpretations.  One wrong word can lead to a misunderstanding.  If we equate this to martial arts the similarities are incredible.

The point here is there are many techniques (words) just so there are many techniques in the martial arts and they may all have different interpretations.  In fact, there are so many out there, it is impossible for one person to be able to learn them all.  Of course, each Instructor has a way of teaching and each school has a syllabus which is the minimum requirement for each progressive level, however, sometimes certain techniques may not suit every individual because not everybody is made the same.  As the Instructor, I, sometimes, need to modify techniques for certain individuals.  These individuals may not necessarily be lacking physical ability but they just don't gel with a particular technique.  Sometimes, it's just a matter of explaining it differently or modifying it.  My favourite saying, ‘problem solved!’

BJJ is such an evolving ‘language’ with new techniques coming up almost every day.  I ask, does anyone know every single word in the English language?  Of course not, but everybody tries to learn as much as they can.  So, too, in the martial arts, so there is no reason to worry for not knowing everything.

The Way it Used to Be

My first memories of karate are of a young naive kid sweating all over a rough wooden surface in a Scout Hall.  I would catch two buses and walk a kilometre to the dojo, I would never speak to the Instructor and he would never speak to me.  The training was 2 hours long, the floor had no mats and sparring gear was non existent (we sparred bare knuckle and no mouthguard).  This sounds all negative but I was truly inspired because it was an honour just to be accepted into a school.

After training I had to walk back up one of the steepest hills in the world (I reckon) and by then I had worked up such a thirst, I would reward myself with a soft drink from the drink machine which was located next to the bus stop in the middle of nowhere; must’ve been strategically put there for people climbing up that hill.

If you got injured you had to suck it up.  If you wanted to complain you went to the bathroom and talk to yourself.  Water and toilet breaks only when you were allowed to.  You did as you were told and you had to follow the rules.  All this, just to learn Karate.  No matter how bad it was, there was always loyalty and respect with each other and the Instructor which is a diminishing thing today because the new generation have their own ideas and want to question everything.  Questioning is a good thing but not to the point where it doesn’t get you anywhere and waste valuable time. 

The way martial arts is today (which is far better) ie mats, drink machine, punching bags; now you can speak to the Instructor and they will speak to you and even shake hands however I believe what made us real warriors is something a young Instructor cannot convey to their students or relate to.  History always plays a part in building the future.

Tell Somebody Who Cares

In the martial arts there is complexity and there is also simplicity.  Complexity for the people who want to take their training to a higher level purely for the indulgence of the art.  Simplicity is the bread and butter stuff. Complex techniques will not readily work unless drilled many times over and even then there is no guarantee of victory in a real situation.  The problem is people spend many hours trying to make the complex techniques work because the quick and easy ones don't require much training which lacks passion with the martial arts. 

We must also remember people like the martial arts for the challenge and self defence is only a little part of it.  Of course this is going to vary depending on the individual.  A person who is a security guard is more likely to want to do it for the I do like to teach some of these complex moves purely to see what is out there; I do stress that and say 'enjoy it for what it is'.  The last thing is an Instructor to be responsible for one of their students to hurt someone or themselves as a result of being told what to do by the Instructor.   As an Instructor I like to make sure students ENJOY themselves because this is the key motivating factor for improvement.   There’s nothing better than a student coming up to you at the end of the class to say how much they have enjoyed themselves and looking forward to the next one.  I don't think any student would go up to an Instructor and tell them how good their Instructor is.  I might even get it via SMS or Facebook.  I look at every student as an individual and try to analyse and see what motivates which is what I enjoy the most. 

10 Reasons for Training Martial Arts

I put a few things together to remind ourselves how good we have it in the martial arts.  I've also posted this on a new page on the website.

1. Learn Life Skills – One of the greatest aspects of martial arts training is the life skills it instils in students. Focus, courtesy, respect and goal setting are just some of the basic to be gained.
2. Fitness – Martial arts training provides a great opportunity to get in shape and enjoy doing it!
3. Self-Defence – In today’s society, we want to know our children are safe and we can protect our families if necessary. Martial arts curriculum will enable children to understand what to do if dangerous situations occur and give them the confidence to deal with tough issues such as bullies and stranger awareness.
4. Family Bonding – It’s an experience the whole family can enjoy together.  What other activities offer this type of opportunity?  Martial arts is a wonderful and positive activity for the young and the young at heart. The entire amily can go through the process of earning belts and learning something together.
5. Individual Achievement – In the martial arts, nobody sits on the bench!  Unlike some other traditional sports, martial arts training is not a team activity. Martial Artists strive to become better than they were the day before and not be judged by the performance of the person standing next to them.  Individuals are challenged and pushed to achieve their own personal best.
6. Social Network of Positive People – The saying goes, “It takes a community to raise a child.” Martial arts is a great way to surround yourself with positive influences that will have a lasting impact on your family.
7. Achieve Goals – The built-in system of earning belts teaches setting and achieving goals and itinstils the discipline of hard work. The rewards will last a lifetime!
8. Carry on a Tradition – Martial arts training has been around for centuries, so you become a partof something special and to help carry on the tradition and philosophies.
9. Learn about Life Skills – Training is a great way to learn skills which will help or influence life in a positive way.
10. Have Fun – There are many serious sides to training; however, the best part of training is how  much fun it is. 

Take the Challenge

Martial arts is a pursuit in life teaching many things.  There is also the sporting aspect, as in football, however, everybody in the martial arts is treated equally unlike in ball games ie if you don’t compete or don't do well for the team, then nobody wants to know you.  The Instructor is always there for you, not just during the season. 

People, particularly kids, need to be roughed up a little to experience and be aware of the various elements of the environment.  As parents, we tend to be too overprotective and shield our kids from these elements.  However, nearly all parents want to know if their child can swim in the deep end of the pool.  Martial arts kind of pepare kids for this sort of thing (including adults).

The worse thing anybody can do is to give up the martial arts because it takes a special kind of person to take up that challenge in the first place, but it takes an even more special person to not give it up.  What do we think of someone giving up a uni or TAFE course?  It’s a sign of failure regardless of the excuse.  I have been told by many students, if it wasn’t for their Instructor and parents giving them enouragement, they would not be where they are today. 

My incentive for doing the martial arts is about doing the things I don't think I can do.  What I also really enjoy about the martial arts is the people who have stuck it out with me for a very long time.  Hope to see many more.