Thursday, 30 December 2010
Cut the Crap So You Can Cut the Fat
Topic: Trainers Log
Happy New Years! (well, almost)
So just to get this upfront, some of you are not going to like this entry. You may take it personally, you may get angry or think I'm being brash and that's OK with me. Just don't expect me to share your feelings. However there may also be some of you who jump out of your seats, point and the screen and yell "BOO YA!".... ok, maybe not that exact scenario. If you find yourself in the later category you probably do not need to read this. Those of you in the first category I would encourage you to read it, get your rage out and clear your head and read it again.
I was watching a dog training show today that had a family with an overweight dog and a daughter who was so over priveliged she could not put in correct order the importance of her social life and the health of the pet she so dearly wanted. In essence this girl was lazy and selfish and this did not sit well with the trainer who proceeded to promptly inform her of her choices in plain language. Directly after that I watched a weightloss show where families lose weight together through healthy diet and exercise. Same sort of story, only this time it was a mother daughter combo team of excuses. The doctor on the show was not impressed, but shared his feelings with the camera instead of the family. Bringing my point around, I noticed a similarity between the two different sets of people with two different sets of dilemmas. In fact they both used the same phrase, "It's just not that simple." (Those of you who know me at all realize at this point I was interchangeably laughing hysterically and shouting at the TV)
I have heard this SO MANY TIMES, and for the record my answer to this is Waaaa. In fact, I think maybe we should call a WAAAAAMBULANCE. Now, don't get me wrong, there are several terrible circumstances that happen to smart, hard working people who could not have forseen it happening. These are not the people I am talking about, those people deserve and need help and support. No, the people I am speaking of know, on some level, what it is they need to do to change and simply don't do it. That was the case with the people I saw today. Infact that is the case with many people I have met in person, some I have trained. Lucky for those people I am not the sort of trainer who is unable to face reality (there are lots of them out there), those people I informed were failing, miserably. The wonderful part is that after I informed them 90% of them corrected their shortfalls and were able to go on to success. The other 10% percent fell back into their excuses and carried on without me.
If you have heard yourself say "It's just not that simple" "I can't right now" or any other variation of excuse I am here to tell you something that will blow your mind and change your life. YOU. ARE. WRONG. Yep, you're wrong, and I will stand by that. I can hear your inside voices right now, "Well I can't fly!" "I can't make a million dollars" "I can't win the lottery". No, probably not, but come on now these aren't the type of things I am referring to. I am referring to goals like weightloss, training a dog, finances and showing up on time for appointments. Things that can make you look at a person and say "Wow I wish I was more like Bob." or "Does Jill ever have it together, how does she do it?" things that bring integrity.
Here's another mind blower. IT IS THAT SIMPLE. You can accomplish whatever it is you want and the only person standing in your way is you. Remember, whatever your excuse is, work, kids, time, money, there is someone out there with the same challenges who is accomplishing things you only wish you could with no more resources than you have. I spent hours training my dog to come back to me when called no matter what, and he does. But I spent HOURS! Lots of them, I didn't do anything special, I googled "How to train your puppy" and away I went. I skipped out on my favourite shows and couch time but now if a strange dog comes by to play I don't have to worry about him running off. People are astounded by the fact that mid play when I call him he stops and comes to me. I have no special connection with my dog, he's just my dog... I didn't have professional help, I just made a choice. I achieved a similar result with running, I was terrible at running and had zero stamina (I was probably one of the worst runners I have ever seen). But I learnt how to do it and I took the steps (even though they REALLY sucked sometimes and all I wanted to do was quit) and now I can run 5k no problem. I've even grown to love doing races and am thinking about doing a triathlon.
I am not special, I am an average person (some might even give me a handicap or two, just ask Rob) and I did these and many other things on my own because I wanted to. I fumbled, failed and had to restart many times in my life on many things but always achieved the end goal. The reason for this is when I was done momentarily wallowing in self pity I sucked it up, realized how pathetic that was and kept on going. I have seen many people I've trained do the same thing, some took a little more hand holding, while others had me in awe of their grit. They were all different ages and circumstance, some I even had doubts about succeeding, but they did it!
I wrote this article to share the frustration I was feeling about several people lately who I've seen excuse themselves from life, both people I know and people I don't for reasons varying from fear to laziness to a family member not supporting them. I am also hoping that since it is New Years and many people make resolutions this time of year, that this blog entry might just give you a kick in the pants you need to really meet your goal this year.
In short, I do in fact love our dojo family and my clients and want nothing more than their success. But, I also believe in tough love, so here's my closing thought to you my dear friends, when you start to think that there's no possible way to do it.....
Suck it up Buttercup!
Monday, 13 December 2010
Keeping Motivated During the Cold Months
Topic: Trainers Log
So today I saw a post asking trainers how they motivate their clients to stay active during the colder days of training and thought perhaps I would write an entry on my personal tips for keeping moving this winter.
First of all choose your weather wisely, if it's -30 perhaps trying an outdoor run is not in the cards. I find the best days for outdoor exercise are around -1 to -10 anything else is just a little to cold for me. Watch out for wind, the forcast may say -10 degrees but it's really -20 with the windchill.
Second, dress for success. Always cover your hands and your ears while exercising in the winter, they are some of the first places to get hit by frostbite. If you find yourself getting overheated try wearing a headband instead of a full hat. Also, make sure you wear removable layers. It may be cold when you start but if you're cross country skiing you may find yourself swealtering before to long. Don't forget your footwear! Winter means ice, and ice means slips. Nothing will slow you down faster than an injury from falling, if you like to run outdoors make sure you outfit your sneaks with some rubber cleats. They are available at sport specialty stores, and I have seen them at drug stores aswell.
Third, act like a kid! Like to multitask? How does blasting mega loads of calories while creating lasting memories with your kids sound? Running through deep snow in heavy boots is an excellent way to burn fat, have a snowball fight! Or try making a snowman or fort, lugging all that heavy snow will work your entire body out and you'll get a lovely happy glow from acting so silly.
Finally, have a treat when you're done! Hot chocolate is delicious and can be made to suit the health conscious. Here's a quick and easy healthy recipe.
- Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until steaming (but not boiling).
- Add cocoa powder and sweetener.
- Whisk the cocoa powder and sweetener until well-blended.
- Pour into favorite mugs or cups.
Makes 2 servings.
-Courtesy of Suit101.com
Winter is your friend, and trust me you'll feel better for having made the effort, there are cross country skiing groups and snowshoe clubs. You can even take fido out and play a game or two. Whatever you do keep moving, you'll feel good for it I promise.
Cheers to Winter Cheer,
Thursday, 9 December 2010
Topic: Trainers Log
So I was asked to share my morning smoothie recipe with the world. This is something I have for breakfast on most mornings for the past 2 years. It's delicious and easy, all you need is a blender.
I'm going to share 3 of them with you;
1. Berries & Orange
1 small-med banana
1 handfull frozen mixed berries (I like raspberries)
1 handfull of fresh berries (I like strawberries)
Cover 3/4 of the way with orange juice and blend until smooth
2. Pomegranite Yumminess
1 small- med banana
1 handfull frozen raspberries
1/2 of a pomegranite worth of seeds
Cover 3/4 of the way with orange juice and blend until mostly smooth (This one will never be 100% smooth, the pom seeds provide a little bit of crunchy texture, but I like it that way)
3. Protein Power
1 small-med banana
1/2 cup any frozen berries (I sometimes like cranberries too)
1/2 cup SOY milk
1/2 cup orange juice and blend until smooth.
The reason I love these smoothies so much is based on something called the "Food Combining Theory" which basically suggests that different foods take different amounts of time to digest and that eating certain foods together (ie in this case fruit with animal protien like whey or milk) does not allow proper absorption of all nutrients available. Fruit has many health benefits and according to the food combining theory they must be eaten on an empty stomach and left to digest 1/2 hour before any other food is eaten.
Of course there is a lot of literature on this subject in both the pro's and con's, but frankly I find them delicious, energizing and feel good about eating at least 1 vegan meal a day.
Monday, 8 November 2010
ignorance [ˈɪgnərəns] n lack of knowledge, information, or education; the state of being ignorant
Todays article is brought to you by the letter "I", I for ignorance that is. I keep seeing other martial art styles (most under ten years old) boasting about how useless traditional martial arts (specifically Karate) are, and how inapplicable they are to self defense today. Well, ignorance is bliss so they say. Which is how I suppose they can cheerfully claim that what they teach is best, marketing is important after all. So I decided after seeing one of these posts today that I needed to address the situation via free speech, so I ripped a quote right off their website. The following paragraph has not been altered in anyway, shape or form but I have decided not to name the school from which I found it (I don't think they'd appreciate that, and frankly this article isn't about dojo bashing I just want to set a few things straight). "Why study Mixed Martial Arts, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai instead of Karate or Taekwondo? Having long since moved away from teaching actual self-defense, these “styles” have devolved into something more closely resembling a point fighting game and/or martial arts calisthenics. Without growing and evolving over the years to deal with modern threats, many of the techniques which are taught in these systems, and more importantly the training methods that they utilize, could result in the practitioner getting hurt if he/she were to try to apply them in a real self-defense situation. Having spent the majority of their training time fighting “imaginary opponents,” many martial artists are unfortunately filled with a false sense of security and that is a very dangerous thing! Why not Traditional Karate or Taekwondo? Sadly, for real self-defense, these styles fall short in just about every area!"
-A mixed martial arts schools website
I remember the first thing you're supposed to do when proving a theory is to state the facts (mind you this comes from highschool science class) so, here's what they are referring too.
Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full contact combat sport that allows a wide variety of fighting techniques and skills, from a mixture of martial arts and non-martial arts traditions, to be used in competitions. The rules allow the use of both striking as well as grappling techniques, both while standing and on the ground. Such competitions allow martial artists of different backgrounds to compete. (Wikipedia)
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art, combat sport, and a self defense system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. The art was derived from the Japanese martial art of Kodokan judo in the early 20th century, which was itself developed from a number of schools (or Ryu) of Japanese jujutsu in the 19th century. (Wikipedia)
Muay Thai is a hard martial art from Thailand. It is similar to other Indochinese styles of kickboxing, namely pradal serey from Cambodia, tomoi from Malaysia, lethwei from Myanmar and Muay Lao from Laos. Descended from muay boran, Muay Thai is Thailand's national sport.(Wikipedia)
Karate is a martial art developed in the Ryukyu Islands in what is now Okinawa, Japan. It was developed from indigenous fighting methods called te (手, literally "hand"; Tii in Okinawan) and Chinese kenpō. Karate is a striking art using punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands (karate chop). Grappling, locks, restraints, throws, and vital point strikes are taught in some styles. A karate practitioner is called a karateka (空手家). (Wikipedia)
Taekwondo (태권도; 跆拳道; Korean pronunciation: [tʰɛkwʌndo])[a] is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae (태, 跆) means "to strike or break with foot"; kwon (권, 拳) means "to strike or break with fist"; and do (도, 道) means "way," "method," or "art." Thus, taekwondo may be loosely translated as "the art of the foot and fist" or "the art of kicking and punching." (Wikipedia)
Ok, those are the facts that Wikipedia presented me for each style. For the purpose of this article I am leaving out Tae Kwon Do, I am proficient in Karate and it's history and tradition but couldn't tell you much about Korean Martial Arts.
1. "Having long since moved away from teaching actual self-defense, these “styles” have devolved into something more closely resembling a point fighting game and/or martial arts calisthenics." Actual traditional Karate not McDojo Karate (a term representing a dojo more interested in profit and removing threats from possible injury lawsuits than teaching their members Karate) involves intense one on one and randori practice in which the opponent is very real AND trying to hit you. Often this is done with multiple attackers, but it is done, and often. Yes Karate point fights, but so does Brazilian Jiu Jutsu so I see that as a moot point as to why they are better. As for resembling a martial arts calisthenics, absolutely it is a practice to make Karateka bodies stronger and more muscular while doing something that has to do with their art. You may do Tricep push ups to make your punches stronger but next time you get into a scrap I'd love to see you push up your way out of it.
2. "Without growing and evolving over the years......" Karate is constantly changing, the purpose of Karate is to evolve into what the practitioner needs it to be, every instructor has a different view and there have been thousands of instructors over the years therefore thousands of new evolutions. Also, the only weapons that are different now than they were before are guns, I would love to see how someone would grapple their way out of that one. Karate teaches hand to hand combat, as well as blade/knife disarming and combat strategy.
3. " ......many of the techniques which are taught in these systems, and more importantly the training methods that they utilize, could result in the practitioner getting hurt if he/she were to try to apply them in a real self-defense situation." Absolutely true, for EVERY martial art. In any real self defense situation you must expect that you will not walk away completely unscathed, unless you are the aggressor there is someone trying to cause you bodily harm often by any means necessary. Only arrogance can explain why someone would think themselves all powerful enough to be prepared for everything.
4. "Having spent the majority of their training time fighting “imaginary opponents,” many martial artists are unfortunately filled with a false sense of security and that is a very dangerous thing!" On a personal note, I do not have a false sense of security. I would be very scared in a real self defense situation. But Karate doesn't train you to be free of fear, it trains you to think clearly while experiencing fear. Also I removed the validity of the "imaginary opponents" comment in the last sentence.
5. "Sadly, for real self-defense, these styles fall short in just about every area!" An interesting comment since one of their 2 styles branches from the same place as Karate, I am talking about Ju Jutsu. Karate and Ju Jutsu go hand in hand, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has simply taken it into a more "Sport" type of style.
For my closing paragraph I would like to point out that while Karate and Tae Kwon Do are both recognized (and usually) very highly respected sports, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are also sports. The difference is that Mixed Martial Arts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu were created as sport fighting for show, Karate was created to protect oneself from bodily harm. Saying that it is not as useful in a real self defense situation is quite a boast to make. I would also like to encourage you to consider the source in their argument. I'm not sure what training these people have that qualifies them to understand Karate and Tae Kwon Do enough to make such a rather large statement regarding their usefulness. (If I wanted a facelift I wouldn't ask a cardiologist to do it). Finally, for those of you out there who are uncertain about traditional martial arts I dare you to give me 1 year of your time, if you see nothing or experience nothing that can be considered more than a calisthenic workout I would be terribly surprised.
Shidoin Michelle Patry
3rd degree in Shotokan Ryu
3rd degree in Goju Ryu
Thursday, 4 November 2010
Another year in my life has passed and as usual for an adult I have been taking a mental inventory of the year, sometimes the simplest things make you the happiest though. I did many things this year that made me proud of myself, making the local news (for a good reason of course ), gaining a good reputation as a personal trainer and having people ask for me by name and of course my biggest accomplishment yet, creating a new life who I'll get to meet during THIS year. One thing that made my confidence soar was very, very small.
I have been informed (rather grumpily) by 2 of my Kickboxers that since reading my blog on milk they have decided to try to do without cheese for a month. I find it rather thrilling that people are taking what I say into serious consideration. However when I started chatting about the vices and virtues of dried fruit (aka glorified candy) they drew the line.
It makes me happy to know that I have the means to make change in the world, even if just a little bit. I have often had fantasies about creating giant life changing rallys, or huge protest groups for things like banning BHT's from children's foods and removing unnatural preservatives from everything.
This has given me a little pat on the back however and it makes me wonder what I can accomplish in the future? Or what some of the incredible people around me might do. Little ripples can turn into gigantic waves when the conditions are right.
Now I'm getting excited for THIS year!
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Eating Clean by Force
Topic: Trainers Log
Yes it's been a while, I know, my bad. Today, as a special treat, I have more of a personal topic for you on nutrition. Yes I know, there are a million conflicting and contradicting articles on nutrition, and there are 3 opinions for each topic. The subject I want to discuss today is clean eating.
"Eating Clean" refers to a diet of all natural, preservative free foods. This diet is supposed to bring optimum health and longevity. Here's where we get personal.
About a year ago on my wedding day I found myself covered (for the millionth time) in some sort of hive/rash. After 6 ER trips, countless Dr. visits and 2 allergy specialist I had to show for myself a mountain of lotions and prescrition potions and a whole lot of steriods. Yet, on the most important day of a young woman's life I ended up with yet another bout of 'Dermatitis' also known as 'Some sort of skin rash probably caused by an allergy'. That was the day I lost faith in the western medical system and set out to discover the origins of my ailment, so of course I hit google.
My search lead me to the World Health Organizations website, a listing under Milk Allergy. Since there was a time I was considered intolerant I decided this was as good of place as any to start. I cut out ALL dairy (which was incredibly hard, did you know chips have dairy in them?! I didn't). The WHO said to do so for 2 weeks and see if symptoms continued. After two days I woke up to the most awake self I had been... well, ever. It felt like someone had lifted a veil off of me, I knew I had my answer, bye bye cheese hello clear skin!
This worked for about 2 months, I had the best 2 months of my life, no hives, burning or itching to be seen and more energy than I (or my husband) knew what to do with! Then it hit me, my mouth started swelling after eating again. This had happened many times before with no explanation. I assumed it was the dairy but there was none in my food. So I began reading labels, countless labels for everything that passed my lips. It was one day when I hadn't yet eaten I decided I wanted a Pepsi (yes I hear you tsking me.... trainers have pop too, it's a fact of life). After having ONLY a pepsi my face broke out, so again I hit google and discovered some fascinating facts about Phosphate. Goodbye Phosphate! Again I had roughly two months of good skin to show for this also incredibly hard change. (Almost ALL supermarket meat contains Sodium Phosphate as a preservative, so do MANY canned and boxed goods).
So, I had effectively cut Phosphates and Dairy out of my life, and all was well until my back started breaking into rashes after I showered. So I investigated my shampoo, Google you are a good friend to me. I found some VERY fascinating facts about sulpha's (suplates, sulphites). They have been shown to exacerbate allergic reactions... Hmm... Au Revoir Sulpha's.
Now I felt fantastic, and suddenly I had no allergies. I could cuddle my cats without benedryl, clean the house without a reaction and best of all, I could suddenly be around dogs. I have enjoyed the past 8 or so months relativly hive free, occassionally I test myself with some pizza or a little milk chocolate, and often preservatives sneak their way into my soaps or food and I suffer for it. But now I have a puppy, and a home I can clean myself, I no longer suffer everytime I have a shower, and I don't dread summer knowing that my legs will be revealed by shorts. For the first time in my life, I can live my life! As a bonus being forced on an Eating Clean diet has made me lose 10lbs of stubborn fat, and the energy to become a runner.
Am I saying you should do this too? No, but I am saying that maybe there's a reason we're the only animals to drink another animals milk. Perhaps mother nature had something in mind when carrots were grown without sulphites... And perhaps, just perhaps, all of the chemicals we pour into our bodies are responsible for the ever rising amount of allergies people have. I could be wrong, but I could be right too. Maybe Tosca Reno* has something there.
*Tosca Reno is the Author of "The Eat Clean Diet Book"
Saturday, 31 July 2010
Workout Without Working Out
Topic: Trainers Log
Hi again loyal readers (and those of you I force to follow my blog),
Todays subject is going under my new "Trainers Log" which is where I will store all of my personal training related entries.
So as we all know I am somewhat of an evil tyrant who eats excuses for breakfast (if this is news to you consider yourself lucky!). Todays menu consists of "I don't have time to workout"...
This is simply a conditioned response to something we see as negative, or hard. I'm not sure when humans changed over to such laziness being commonplace. Maybe it was around the same time as Kool-Aid, Burger King and television appeared. But rest assured I am here to banish your excuses forever. In this article I intend to prove you CAN exercise and/or be active enough during your day to day activities to have positive health benefits.
Because people are so "pressed for time" I have decided to condense this article into my very own Top Five list! Here we go.
1. Do your chores! According to Trueknowledge.com the average sized person burns 160 calories per hour doing normal house work. Yes you hate me, I hear you grumbling, but knock it off and go scrub those floors! You'll thank me when you're lighter.
2. Take fido for a walk. If you have a little dog a simple half hour walk will do (150 calories), but if you have a larger or more active dog why not try a walk/jog combo. Take him on a quick paced hike! If you're feeling zealous (and fido will behave himself) why not run? The furry love of your life will be better behaved and love you even more, AND you can drink your nightcap without remorse.
3. Fidget. Move, twitch, bounce. You've seen those people who just can't seem to stop moving, they tend to be tiny. Wiggle your toes under your desk, bounce your knee while sitting on the bus, whatever! Just keep moving. People who fidget can burn up to 2300 calories more in 24 hours than their stiff legged counterparts says Medicinenet.com.
4. Join a class. People who learn something while they exercise tend to stick with it. Join Karate, or Kickboxing, if that sounds too scary why not join an adults dance class. When you are part of a group you tend to feel accountable to them which helps you get yourself to go. (Accountable, sounds like a scary word right? WRONG, suck it up, accountability is a good thing!)
5. Play with your kids. Kids need exercise and so do you! Get on those monkey bars, climb all over the climbers, get on the sea-saw. All of these things are like the kids version of a gym. Meant to build muscle in legs, arms and core. Besides, it can be really fun! Feel like you'd look weird? Lighten up! Would you care if the other moms at the playground didn't like your haircut? Didn't think so, so stop caring if they think you're crazy. They'll be crazy jealous when they see your ripped abs and adoring child, yes your kids will love you for this one.
There you go, I have given you five ways to multitask your workouts in. No more excuses, none of these things take up extra time from your day and they all help keep your household running. But just because your such loyal readers I think I'll throw in a bonus tip and it's the best one yet. Ready........?
6. TURN OFF YOUR TV!
Have a lovely long weeked :)
Thursday, 15 July 2010
Topic: Rants and Raves
Hi Blog Readers,
So, here's the topic of the month (one day I'll have more time to write articles...) Justice. A rather petrified group of pretesters got the brunt of this explanation a couple weeks ago, and since my tangents only come when the spirit moves me the only way to share this rant is via my blog.
Lets start at the very beginning. When Gichin Funakoshi created his schools he wrote his Niju Kun, or 20 Laws of Karate practice. One of those laws said "One who follows Karate must also follow the way of justice". A very wise man, he knew that to create a system that would live on he must first create the people to carry it for him. Another of his Laws said "The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory of defeat, but in the perfection of character of it's participants" (yup, I did that without looking, the result of years of memorizing the requirement book!), I believe that to have a well developed character one must have an excellent sense of justice.
Now, I'm not entirely convinced that justice can be taught through reading and articles, after all, in University I had a professor who was teaching Ethics chastise a group of Nursing students for being smokers, calling them hypocrites... I agreed with her, except that said Professor was well over 300lbs.... A case of a pot calling the kettle black I think, and frankly, as someone who is trained to teach new generations how to perfect their character, it is my humble opinion that not many students received a lesson in Ethics from that particular class. I think justice needs to be learned through experience. I will however try to convey a view from both sides of the coin.
We can all remember being children, when mom or dad would dole out Kool-Aid or Smarties or some other highly desirable treat, and they would carefully measure to make sure all the children got the same amount. Heaven forbid your sister got 1 oz more than you did or you would go into a tizzy because that "wasn't fair!". That's what most of our first tastes of justice looked like.
Unfortunately, more than a few adults have continued through their lives with this type of one sided justice, the "I only care when someone gets more than me". You've heard the people who say "They make more money than me because life's not fair!", "Why do the Johnson's get a better car than we do, we deserve just as good of a car!", and my personal favorite "How come Timmy got his orange belt before I did? I've been training longer!".
From a certain perspective this might seem understandable to be upset about, but let's shift your paradigm for a moment. The people who make more probably had to bust their butts in University for 4-7 years, and pay back some hefty student loans to get what they have. I bet they probably didn't have the amount of freedom you did at the age of 21, I bet many a night were spent studying when your nights were probably spent at a nightclub or pub. They are now reaping the rewards of MANY years of sacrifice.
The "Johnson's" probably don't order out as much, or go shopping as often as you, maybe they decided that instead of a vacation this year they wanted to purchase a nicer car. Prudence pays off.
Now to the applicable stuff, Timmy and his belt.
If I had a dime for every time I heard this (and I have heard if from full grown adults) I would have one heck of a dojo right now!
This is one I know 100% the answer too, Timmy worked harder. Maybe he didn't come to classes as long as Joey, but Timmy listened better, put more into his techniques, and showed more dedication than Joey. When I began my training with Shihan Patry he had roughly 60-70 students ranging from yellow to 1st kyu (right before black belt). I was the second student ever to receive a black belt under him. I passed at least 60 people, did I deserve it, yes. I can say that with the up most certainty. When we wrote a black belt exam I was a blue belt, I scored 89% the highest of all his students, at the time I was not even close to the highest rank in the club. The dedication I had to my art propelled me forward. However, this did not come without sacrifice. I went to a grand total of 4 high school parties and 1 dance. When I wasn't at the dojo, I was working so I could pay for my lessons or studying so I could get into University. Did I whine a begrudge the other kids their fun, honestly sometimes yes. Yet here I am now, I own one of the largest schools in Kingston. The sacrifice I made then has given me everything important to me now, my husband, a beautiful step child, the roof over my head and multitudes of wonderful people, experiences and invaluable lessons about life.
But back to the point. Justice has a positive side and a negative side. On the positive side, I passed many people because I worked for it, sacrificed for it and earned it.
On the negative side, many people did not go forward, and rightly so. They didn't study enough, work enough, care enough or show enough dedication. Justice goes both ways. People who don't work for their money don't earn it, people who don't save can't buy expensive cars and people who don't complete requirements don't move forward in Karate, at least they shouldn't....
The issue is when emotions cloud judgment, this is where the rant came from. I apologized to a few students for being unjust. I felt that maybe "Timmy" did enough even though he can't remember his knowledge, maybe he would grow into his belt. I felt heart sick at the thought of failing a child, but if I failed the adult who did just as poorly and didn't fail said child that wouldn't be just either. Thus my own dilemma. Deep down I knew better than that.
I know what happens when an instructor doesn't follow their facts and allows undeserving people to move forward.
It creates entitlement in that student, resentment in the other students, over-confidence when they become instructors and a multitude of other damaging problems when a person is propelled into a reward they didn't earn.
I have personally seen this turbulence destroy dojos, topple huge organizations and remove harmony from the group, all because someone in charge felt badly (or was too scared, I'll admit I've been there) to fail someone who deserved it. Now that I am choosing a successor to run the pretest board it's more important than ever to enforce justice so that I can pass it on to the next generation.
I didn't come to this revelation on my own however, I had some help in the form of an excellent book. "Martial Virtues" by Charles Hackney http://books.google.ca/books?id=2XpaPgAACAAJ&dq=martial+virtues&hl=en&ei=iV8_TLhbw6CdB9a7mKoF&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAA
This book takes readers through a thorough examination of some of the core beliefs in Martial arts and how they can become attainable. Reading it helped me to see how very unjust I was being because I was being emotionally lazy. I didn't want to be the source of someone's pain. I didn't want to carry that burden, and as a leader that is not acceptable. So I am going to move forward and try to renew my dedication to justice.
I could have written my own book on this one, but I will leave you with one final thought, the one and only person I have ever failed due to lack of ability to perform kata has proved to me that anyone, no matter body composition, coordination or age can perform Karate properly given enough time and practice. He is also the one who I am grooming as my successor, go figure.
Monday, 21 June 2010
A Renewed Focus on Fitness
As some of you might know this has been a slightly stressful week for me, lots of little fires to put out and things that needed to be planned yesterday. For the most part all thats left are smoldering ashes and a couple unfinished projects... Cest la vie.
But I have had many of my clients tell me about stresses in their life, and ask me how to work around it. (Hehe, they still think I have all the answers to life! At least it makes me feel special.) Well, I certainly have a lot of stress, and I do deal with it.... but I'm not qualified to tell you how to cope with yours, instead I will tell you how I deal with mine.
Coping with stress is something everyone deals with almost daily. Most personal trainers would like you to believe they deal with stress by stoically training with humungous weights and eating Fava beans. Well, I'm not entirely sure what a Fava bean is.... so I will instead share with you my secret to dealing with stress.
I create new and exciting projects, such as my current melt down product; training for a 10k race. Am I doing a 10k, well no... but I needed a distraction for a little while and this was the first thing that came to mind. So when this thought bubble passed I immediately jumped onto google (not literally, figuratively of course) and searched me up a plan.
I found one..... but I didn't stop there, I must have SOME strength training, so I busted out a text book. Hours later I had a well versed, organized and shiny (also not literally) new plan! By this time all thoughts of stressful matters where in the distant realm of my mind, a place where no respectable girl would go.
So there you go, when my life goes out of focus I move, I create, I sort or build or do. When I feel too much negativity in my life I am compelled to balance it with something positive. Some other suitable alternatives for me; Cleaning cupboards, chopping vegetables, weeding my garden, ripping up old clothes to make clothes (especially fun because it's destructive!) and my personal favourite, organizing my cloths. Basically any mindless and simple but productive activity works.
Well, there you have it, my advice for stressed out clients is do something to get your mind off whatever is stressing you out (provided that which is causing you stress is not an activity such as exercising or cleaning your house, in which case my advise is stop whining and just do it ;) ).
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Fighting, Sport or Sick?
Shihan Patry and I recently came back from Montreal after being treated to our first ever UFC fight (thanks Rishaurs!). Though our fighter lost quite badly we had an excellent time and I couldn't help but tell everyone about it. So of course when my mother called, I told her about how exciting it was, how much energy was in the room. I should have known better than to even bring it up with her, her response was "I don't know how you can watch that! It's just two men beating each other senseless, it's disgusting."
I'm not really sure what it is she thinks I do for a living, I think she must have categorized Karate Instructor somewhere around the likes of Gymnastics Coach, or Aerobics Leader (and who am I to set my mother straight on the matter?).
But her comment really got me thinking. Why do I like fighting for sport so much? I'm a very non-violent person, I avoid confrontation as much as possible and I have been in an actual scuffle once (and it certainly wasn't my idea!). I have changed quite a bit in the last 5 or so years, I've gone from being called sweet and shy, to strong willed and determined. But the non-aggressive little mouse is still in there somewhere, so how could I possibly find such glee in something so animalistic and brutal?
I think (personally) that it is because I know the power, flexibility and intelligence it takes to participate in that sort of sport and the dedication to perfection it takes to win. Combat is the oldest and frankly, most well suited, form of exercise for humans. Thinking back in history it was the warriors who were strong and fast and had the best physic. The intense training that these athletes go through, the mind games they have to play with each other. I think that's what I enjoy so much, not the high action and blood. But the precision and patience, the reaction and finding out who has worked harder off the mat.
As a pursuer of the martial arts I consider them very non-violent, knowing that a true martial artist never need raise his fist and that when in a ring both fighters know completely what they signed up for. That, I think, is the difference here. Both men knowingly challenging each other. Knowingly stepping into a possible knock out, just to prove to themselves (or their fans) that they truly are the greatest warrior. Knowing that years of practice, training and study could be washed away by a lucky punch. That takes more courage then the average person could fathom.
During one of the matches a fight broke out in the crowd not far from where I was sitting, many people found this enthralling. I just found it down right pathetic. There was no equality there, it was only drunken stupidity and over excited fans who fancied themselves fighters (I'll tell you know I bet the one will never try it again).
So that's what I see; dedication, perfection, precision, discipline and courage. That is how I justify my love of regulated fights and my full out disproval for drunken brawling.
Or maybe I am giving myself too much credit and I just like the violence, who knows? But I am sure of one thing, I can't wait for the next fight!
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