Train The Way You (Want To) Fight

Training the way you want to fight isn’t always so easy. . .but in a way, isn’t that supposed to be the point? That we train in order to potentially defend ourselves?

The tough reality is that what your muscles remember under duress – which is going to be what you have painstakingly programmed them to do in class, lessons, practice – is what matters.  If you train to hand the gun back to the perpetrator – even with mindfulness and the knowledge that you *shouldn’t* – it may happen in real life.  Terrifying it may be, I’ve actually heard of cases in which just that has occurred… Scary.

The other day in class, our Sensei decided to do a drill combining old school (as in centuries-old Ninpo) traditional movements with a modern-day scenario and vibe.  We had to disable our opponent with a distraction or strike, get away (using those traditional techniques), get to and behind cover, and then “draw” our weapon. The drill was one of the most fun I think I’ve ever done…but I was also so incredibly excited to have another opportunity to flesh out a possible, modern situation. No matter how old movements, or kata, or patterns may be, there are gems within them that can be adapted for, and applied to the times.

I don’t carry, for one thing…so I’m not likely to have a firearm at the ready.  But the idea was what was most important here, and learning to do all of those things – without the stress – was hugely valuable.  What makes it stick? Repetition!  Memory needs to be formed so that when we ARE stressed, we can still perform those functions. Just one day of that particular drill isn’t necessarily going to help me out if something really goes down.  But…the principles and techniques ARE ones we use every day…

We learn to strike, distract, disable…that’s number 1. 

We learn how to efficiently get away, and to not injure our bodies (or injure as little as possible!) as we attempt to do so.

We learn to asses for cover and get behind it if that’s what the situation requires (versus getting away.) 

In practicing those things, our muscles learn on such a level that we work on “autopilot” after a point.  And that’s what you want!

The difficulty in this particular environment is that we don’t have real firearms, and we aren’t truly hurting our “attacker.”  On a range, in a special type of training, an individual who DOES carry can certainly practice his or her ability to draw, aim, shoot, and make the weapon safe – frankly I think anyone in a job in which carrying a pistol is required SHOULD be doing that anyway! 

For us at the dojo, we are working on handling whatever is coming at us as quickly and smartly as possible – but again, there are some strikes we simply cannot do.  In Ninpo, strikes can be highly unorthodox and nasty – breaking fingers, ripping ears, gouging eyes…it goes on.  It’s tough knowing we aren’t going 100% in this case, but we can’t exactly…  So we have to keep in mind that in real life, were our safety on the line, we can’t play the but-he’s-a-nice-“uke” (opponent / attacker) game. It’s a challenge, honestly – how do we bridge the gap, then?  I’m not sure you really CAN because none of us are out to break another classmate’s limb!

This is – for me – where the repetition comes in.  Learning to master even basic movement can take a lifetime, forget years! But in the daily (or as many days as can be managed!) practice helps solidify as many of the effective ways in which to handle a particular threat.  There are – keep in mind – an infinite number of movements available to us, and if we could study every Art and master it in a lifetime, we’d be golden.  Not the reality, sad to say!  Learning to even do a handful of “go-to”s is great – learn to do them properly, to do them well, and to do them with all shapes and sizes (some techniques are really tough with a HUGE partner!)  If you want a real challenge, do them blindfolded.

It’s a very “wax on, wax off” concept – the drills help our bodies to do these things as involuntarily as possible so, should the need arise, we actually CAN do something about it. We don’t always have the luxury of training exactly how we fight – this isn’t the Colosseum, after all – but we *can* do everything in our power to focus, to drill, and to get our muscles so familiar with the movements that they will come to our aid when we need them most.

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Fitness Humor – Please Go Away…

I think most people can relate to this regardless of the surroundings, though it did give me a good laugh thinking about recent workout interruptions…

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(c) Sarah Andersen

You’ve been there, right?  You’re clearly “in the zone,” totally plugged into your tunes, but someone still interrupts?  Or, even better, they start waving to get your attention?

I always try to figure out what about me looking in the opposite direction, simultaneously lifting, and possibly even singing along to my Rob Zombie didn’t give the (solid, I thought!) indication I wasn’t in chat mode. 

Maybe I should try a sign??

Awareness goes a looooong way!

When Life Gives Lemons…He Got Flowers…

Last week was a busy, terribly trying week for my fiancé.  Most people would bring that home with them… It could be in the form of silence, and deliberate distance.  It could be worse, like yelling or taking out frustrations…

Instead, though, he sent me flowers.  Sunny, happy-faced, yellow blooms to say thank you…just because.

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I cannot speak for the masses, but I can speak for myself, from a heart brimming with gratitude.  The thought ALONE is one that makes my eyes well up with tears – I’d be lying if I said I don’t have them as I type.  For most of my Life (in fact, for ALL of it where significant others were concerned until he crossed my path) I’ve never known someone to be so aware, so caring, so kind…and so thoughtful.  

When we love, we always do our very best to support our partners – Life is complicated and riddled with challenging days.  But even then, days can bring us down. When we are in a partnership, remembering that another heart is at stake – and that we don’t always know everything that took place that day – is vital.  As they say, people are always fighting a battle you know nothing about.

Knowing that I am as hopelessly flawed as the rest, I accept that I will make mistakes, cause frustrations, and maybe not always be able to right a bad day.  But I will always try – if nothing else – to let my love know that he is appreciated, and that I notice the efforts and kindness put forth.

How honored and blessed and touched I felt to see these “Life gives you lemons, and lemons bloom” beauties…

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Intuition

Trust it.

Without hesitation.

Don’t make excuses.  Don’t justify, internalize, or minimize. That “feeling” you have – great, bad, or otherwise?  It’s dead on.  

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That elusive, evolutionary mechanism residing within your center – brimming over with feeling, and yet altogether “emotionless”. . . That space JUST KNOWS. Humans may indeed be flawed and fragile, but we have been designed – by whomsoever you chose – to survive against the odds.  Our “gut” tells us when things may be tipping in our favor, and when they might go awry (there actually IS a sabretooth hovering in that bush behind you.  RUN.)

Modern life has someone drowned to reflex, but it hasn’t gone anywhere.  No, it’s still there, jumping up and down with red flags a-flying trying to tell you that guy isn’t good for you on any level…that the job relocation actually IS what you need…or that maybe you need to rest today instead of pushing yourself to the point of immune shutdown.

These days life is fast-paced and all-consuming – here I am typing these words, with a cell phone plugged in next to me, texts coming through…and three other windows open, one of which is e-mail.  What happened to the “down time” of old?  What happened to actually FEELING and be aware of our own physiologic sensations?  Technology?  Maybe… It’s certainly sped up the planet to a spin that’s hard to keep up with – forget about time for a coffee, let alone having a moment to catch your breath and re-calibrate with your gut. Meditation?  What’s that?

Still…despite the onslaught of time-robbing “stuff,” the intuition is ever at the ready to guide you.  That split second flutter you feel is trying to tell you something.  So even if life has gone on warp speed…take a moment to LISTEN.  As best you can.  You don’t have to take a five-minute time out…just take a breath and listen to what your body, gut, and intuition is saying.  It’s got your back 1,000% – think of it as your personal, built-in radar, programmed to keep you alive and well.

And if you are one of those people who ARE aware but choose to ignore it?  Do a little test and listen next time… Making excuses or turning our cheek the other way?  It only hurts us in the end.

I do believe that things happen for reasons – many of the lessons I had to learn stemmed from deliberately overriding my gut (consciously and unconsciously.)  Neither, I suppose, is the better teacher – one just happens to be a lot less painful.  Especially after the fact when that flutter says – in the deep recesses of silence at night – “I told you so.”

Yeah…  You did.

 

Martial Arts – Beneath The Surface

This Gif says it all so well…

Still waters run deep, they say.

Don’t trust the surface…

You NEVER know who you are dealing with.  What their training is. How strong they are.  What their (mental) stability is like…

Be mindful.

Be aware.

Be the predator that doesn’t show himself unless he needs to.

 

For more Martial Arts posts

“Smelling The Roses”

I’m definitely one of those go-go-go! people… I’m always running around, and pushing myself hard.  I’m not *quite* as bad as some of the Fashion folks I worked with – for them (and good for them if it made them happy!) “chaos mode” was not only okay, but they way they preferred to be!  For me personally, it was too much, but I do have a habit of running from one thing to the next to the point of exhaustion sometimes.

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Fortunately, I DO take time to appreciate what’s around me – I am aware of the weather, the temperature, the scents in the air, the sounds…  I don’t go about my day paying no attention to those details because they are all blessings in their own right, and I don’t want to miss them because I was too busy to lift my head away from my phone.

I needed to drop some things off at Good Will this weekend so I decided I’d take a leisurely stroll there, and back – I opened my mind and senses to the experience.  Just a walk?  Not really.

I felt the cobblestones underfoot through the soles of my boots, and the sound I made as I touched each one.  I noticed the runners who were out with their dogs, and the couples casually walking by… I took in the scent of Spring that came in gently-windy waves, admired how green my favorite creeping ivy had become, and the sound of people outside enjoying their lunch and friends…

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Even just a decade ago, I’d have had to remember the color of the petals on the trees, or the shade of blue of the water without a photo to remind me – which, I have to say, I DO feel is an important exercise (if nothing else, cerebrally!)  Nowadays, we phone cameras with which to capture some of those moments.  While I like to ignore my devices sometimes, I also appreciate that I have a camera at my fingertips – It’s still important to soak in the experience in order that our mind (soul, spirit etc) has an opportunity to form those impressions as richly as possible – but I also love that I can refer back to that “gorgeous sunny day” if I want to.

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It doesn’t matter when you take the time out – nor whether it is one minute, versus thirty.  ANYTHING is a start, and it really is vital to our experience as human beings.  Life moves far too fast- when you hop on the rollercoaster and only look ahead, you will miss the beauty around you.  

Our blessings are countless, truly – take a deep breath and just look around.  The World will become infinitely more astounding right before your eyes…and it was there the whole time!