I say this all the time, especially to our teenage students. You never get better by doing what's easy. You'll never grow if you stay comfortable. I want them to learn to despise the search for comfort. I want them to seek out challenges and opportunities that are uncomfortable.
When you learn to take a punch, and realize that it wont kill you, something changes deep inside of you. When you can get hit, embrace the discomfort, and continue to drive on, you're developing part of yourself that typically hides deep, deep down.
Yesterday I had the teens run through a very simple drill with a very simple goal: to "take just one punch that you believe would have stopped you a year ago." They students partnered up, started light, and worked the contact level up incrementally. In the end, I think everyone got that feeling that I was hoping for.
Why would I have teenagers do something like this? For starters, I'm always preaching that "you're not made of glass." Our bodies are incredibly resilient. Second, and more important in my mind, taking that one punch builds confidence and confidence is the seed of courage. It's courage that I'm seeking to build in these young people. Courage to stand up for the weak and courage to speak out against the evil around us. Courage to speak for those who can't, or won't, speak up for themselves and courage to change the world.
Courage cannot grow when you're comfortable!
Around the country, a new school year is ramping up. Some of my friends have already sent their kids back for the 2017-2018 academic year.
This is a busy time of year for sure. The roads are more congested in the morning and afternoon rush hours, and our schedules tend to begin filling up with work obligations or family schedules. This year though, why not try something new?
I know some of my dear friends out there have considered martial arts for themselves or their kids. Here's your chance to jump right into a great program.
I don't like bragging, but a lot of people have been very happy training in our dojo. I wont share specific reviews or testimonials here, but I do encourage you to check out the reviews on our Facebook page. I'm also pretty confident that at least a few of our current students and families may comment on this post:-)
While the Back to School Starter Bundle is only available to new students in our Kids Kyokushin class, I do have a pretty amazing offer for parents that I'll be rolling out in the next few days. Keep your eyes peeled for that special announcement!
For weeks now, the States have been buzzing with anticipation of the total solar eclipse that will be seen from coast to coast. Since time immemorial, we have looked at events like this with a range of emotions from dread to elation...and for good reason...it is a pretty neat thing to observe.
I teach astronomy. Eclipses are neat to me more because of the lessons we can learn from them than the few moments of "wow factor". Consider these two thoughts before donning your special glasses and, more importantly, after the event is completely finished:
Eclipse Truth #1: Small things can have a HUGE impact. In astronomical terms, the moon is a joke compared with the size of our Sun. It's practically insignificant if we only compare the mass of the two objects. In fact, we could fit more than 63 million moons in the Sun if it were hollow. However, for a few moments today that small rocky satellite will block out the Sun. Some will notice temperatures dip a few degrees. Most will observe a darkness there that would understandably terrify our ancestors. Big changes all due to a small, ordinary object.
I hope that encourages some of you to continue pressing on, to continue pressing in, and to continue being patient. Just like a total eclipse, big opportunities are rare. I hope you're ready when your chance comes!
Eclipse Truth #2: It's always there, you just can't see it. Some folks will get to see a real treat today. They will notice several heavenly bodies (stars and planets) when the eclipse is in its totality. All of that "stuff" is up there...all the time...you just can't see it because the light of the Sun is to bright. Once the light is turned down a bit, all of those other amazing, wonderful, and awe-inspiring objects become visible.
I want this truth to encourage you to turn down the light in your own life. Specifically, put your phone or tablet away. Get away from your computer for a bit. Turn off the television. Turn off the light and I bet you'll be surprised at all of the amazing, wonderful, and awe-inspiring things happening around you. Parents, lead your kids in this. It's worth the fight.
I train people to begin viewing themselves as warrior. To interpret the world around them as a warrior. To look for ways to help others, as a warrior would do, and to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Self-defense is the first step to developing the warrior inside all of us. My goal is never to teach you just enough to keep you safe. Through training, I want your home and your community to be a better place because where there was once a passive neighbor, there is now a active, involved warrior.
Wrestling with this idea a lot right now and hope to unveil a significant resource in the next couple of months.
Last night in the dojo, both the Teen and Adult classes worked on leg kicks and incorporating them into our fight game. At one point I pulled one of the younger, smaller teenagers aside and told them, "right now, with your size, you need to focus on leg kicks against guys like me," and I proceeded to compare leg kicks to chopping down a tree.
The truth is, there is more that connects fighters and lumberjacks than I'd originally thought. As I've reflected over the past few hours, I've come up with three ways that we need to embrace the lumberjack mentality in our training.
Lumberjack Principle #1: Our work is simple. Please don't confuse simple and easy...nothing we do is easy. A leg kick can be incorporated into a complex combination, but once you understand the mechanics involved, the kick itself is simple. I've noticed lately that many folks really overthink things, when in actuality they just need to practice more without arguing.
Lumberjack Principle #2: Our tools are basic. Kyokushin karate is a very practical style. While there are some amazing highlight videos on Youtube, one of my favorite fighters of all time is Hajime Kazumi. Kazumi won a record 5 All Japan tournaments and I don't think he threw any kicks above the waist. Basics, basics, basics. He stressed perfection of the basic punches and his famous gedan mawashi geri (leg kick). So, while jumping, spinning kicks may look cool (and be devastating), the basic tools are just as effective.
Lumberjack Principle #3: Don't go into the woods with a dull ax. Lincoln said it best, "If I had five minutes to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first three sharpening my axe." Our work is simple and our tools are basic, but if we don't continually sharpen those skills and techniques, we will never find our potential. Without sharpened tools, our work becomes less efficient and more dangerous. Imagine having to chop down a tree with a dull ax. You will have to take more swings and you'll likely swing much harder than you would if your ax were sharpened. Same thing with our fighting techniques. If we let our leg kicks become dull, we're going to be more careless. If our punches aren't sharpened, WE are the ones who end up getting injured. We should daily be sharpening our tools. Even for just five minutes...work on your technique.
To chop down a tree efficiently, you need to remember that you're doing a simple job with basic tools that much consistently be sharpened. I don't know about you, but that just sounds like a mentality for success in so many areas!
As an instructor, I've experienced a good amount of success over the years. Some of that success can be measured; from trophies and medals to black belts brought up in the dojo. Some success can't really be quantified...like the huge blessing that our Kids Kyokushin class turned into yesterday.
Yesterday we assembled a dozen care packages which will be distributed to homeless individuals in our community. The excitement and energy coming from the kids was amazing yesterday. The thoughtfulness of these young ones inspires me.
Kids are funny. They wanted to do so much...if they were billionaires, they would have bought homes for those in need. They've got big hearts and limited resources. I wonder when that changes for most people.
We worked on hold breaks afterwards and discussed again how to respond to strangers, but the real budo karate training for yesterday took place in building those care packages. It was one of the most successful times we've had together and I'm so motivated to do more like this with our young class!