Adapting to Change

We’ve all heard the saying, “The only constant is change”. I think that rings especially true for the martial artist. We’re trained to be observant, to watch what’s going on around us and to adapt to the situation. One minute we’re friendly and nice the the next we’re a raging bear protecting our cubs. Martial artists are ready to spring into action, to defend themselves and others, changing personalities and attitudes quicker than the David Banner turned into the Hulk.

Is this the only time a karate person can use this skill? Nope. Absolutely not. It doesn’t have to be a moment of danger for this to be a valuable skill set. Most martial artists I know also work a day job. Being able to read the situations going on around you and making adjustments to your reactions is invaluable. I’ve worked in the corporate world. Its fast. Its intense. And it is ever changing. Being able to think on your feet, to change a presentation and read the people in the room helped me to not only do a good job but to get ahead.

Think about that when you’re wondering why you should put your child in karate, or if you should train. The skills you learn in the dojo translate to the real world in a big way. Being a martial artist helps to instill and foster confidence and a unique mindset. You’re ready for whatever the world tosses your way.

Karate. It is more than a sport. Its a way of life.

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Always Be Aware

There are no words I can say about the recent events in Las Vegas that would truly express how I feel. So, instead, I want to offer up something else – about personal safety.

Let me start by saying there is NOTHING the people at the concert could have done to stop what happened. NOTHING. They were not at fault, they were just out to have a good time.

Wherever you go, I want you to be aware of what’s going on around you. Locate your routes of escape before there’s a problem. You don’t have to be paranoid and ducking for cover at the least little noise but know where the safe places are. And teach your children.

Look at what’s happening, instead of studying your phone. Eyes up makes you safer.

React as quickly as you can.

And help others in need. I’ve read so many stories of heroes who protected, and in some cases, gave their lives that others might live. For each of us it’s a personal decision in the moment of crisis. We don’t really know what we’d do. I’d like to think I’d help others. I’m not a hero, just someone who cares.

Lastly, stay calm. That one’s hard. How calm can you really be when the world is crumbling around you? Personally, I think it goes back to knowing your escape routes. If I know where I’m going there’s a little less panic. Calm is a relative term in times of crisis. Do the best you can. Duck and cover if you need to.

And always, be aware.

Staring into the face of danger

Yesterday, unexpectedly, I got to train in the class I teach. It was so much fun to partner up and do the drills. There’s nothing like banging a bag and slamming kicks in on a Monday. Just the best feeling to get some energy flowing out and releasing any and all frustrations.

It was a particularly fun class because I had a great partner. We locked eyes and went hard with each other. I couldn’t help thinking what it would be like to be face to face with a crazy person intent on hurting you. Literally staring into the face of danger. I wonder if it’s harder for women than men, something about the way we’re raised. I’m not positive but I’m pretty darned sure I wouldn’t have an issue. Let’s face it, if someone wants to hurt me, I’m not going to take my eyes off that person. Everything…absolutely everything in that instant depends upon it.

As an instructor I’ve seen how hard it is for a student to maintain eye contact. It’s something I focus on in my classes. It’s that important. Training isn’t just going through the moves, its about learning skills – lessons that will save your life. Karate is more than kata, a set of choreographed moves. Karate is about focus. And nothing demands focus like staring into the face of danger.

Could you do it if you needed to? Would you be aware of the next attack? It takes practice. And attitude. Start training with that in mind today.

Be Aware

In this crazy mixed up world, you can’t be too aware of what’s going on around you. Every day when I read the news posts or watch on television it seems as if something else has happened. People hurting people. Not only does it make me sad but it also makes me want to scream from the rooftops, “Be aware. Watch what’s going on”.

The other day I was talking to a student about that very same thing. I don’t want to have to use my martial arts skills. I want to be cognizant of what’s happening in my environment and control it by using simple things like my voice or removing myself from the situation before it unfolds. That of course, means I have to rely upon the age old ‘trust your gut’ – the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach that something isn’t right.

All too often I see ads for women’s self defense tools and I cringe every single time. Most of the devices being sold require that the woman be close to the attacker. Letting them get close to me – that’s the last thing I want to do. Distance is my best friend when it comes to defending myself. If you can’t touch me, you can’t hurt me. Unless you have a gun. Or a car. And there seems to be a lot of that going on lately. Like I said, this crazy mixed up world is making me sad. Be aware of your surroundings. Move and get away.

Be safe. And say a prayer for the latest victims – those in Spain. I loved the time I lived there and seeing terror flooding through the streets makes my soul cry. Make your little corner of the world safe. Be aware.