Monday, January 26, 2009
Why do we train?
Sure, on the surface, learning martial arts is about preparing ourselves to defend ourselves against physical attack - but the truth is, most people continue with martial arts training because they want to feel more empowered, they want to feel stronger, they want to feel better about themselves.
We all want to have some measure of control over the world we live in. Having control over ourselves and our physical environment is something that man has always strived to accomplish. At the heart of it, it is about control, about confidence, about feeling more powerful. The world we live in can be a hostile place; the martial arts can arm is in many ways. It starts in the physical and bleeds (excuse the pun) into the mental and spiritual. The challenge of training in an art like BJJ is extremely rewarding. in dealing with the challenges it presents, we learn skills that help us prevail and prosper in the world we live in.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Fifty odd years ago, there was no internet, no Nintendo and no Playstation; the thing every kid did do, was read comics, collect marbles, catch lizards and the like. Most comics featured Superheroes of various sorts; Superman, the Green Lantern, Spiderman, Thor, the Hulk, etc. That was also a time where such comics featured a swag of ads promising a hundred ways to disable and humiliate the sand-kicking bully. ‘Fear No Man’ and “Secret Weapon’ adverts were full page and in colour; far beyond the ability of an eight year old to resist; at least I could not! And so I did my chores, saved my pocket-money and sent away for a drawer-full of Ju Jitsu and Karate booklets; some of which I still own. Such things were my prized possessions and the secrets contained therein, fired my imagination no less than the Playstation and Nintendo games of today – arguably, even more so. And that is where it always starts – in the imagination!
The imagination is a powerful thing. And the seed, once planted, receives it’s nourishment from the imagination. And so it was that my seed grew and my imagination kept feeding it. The life I have created for myself has grown from that small seed and I have never stopped watering it. Even now, my mother tells me that my imagination will never allow me to ‘get a real job’.
In each of us there lies a seed; a seed that wants to grow and shape our lives into something wonderful. These seeds need watering, they need to be tended by our imagination, they need to be ‘allowed’ to blossom. Most people find themselves too distracted by the social norm, too harnessed by fear or too tied by logic to persist with the watering of their ‘seed’. This is one of the tragedies of life.
Should you discover that you have a seed deep inside you somewhere; then find the courage and determination to nurture it. If you do this in a way where you are harming no others, then you are living your life the way it is mean’t to be lived; with full ownership and with passion and purpose.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Central to the whole idea of martial arts is the idea of SURVIVAL.
The study and practice of martial arts INCREASES our chances of survival - on a number of levels. Through the rigors of physical combat, we develop certain skills that increase our probability of survival should we ever be assaulted - that's the obvious part; but we also learn many other things that impact on our survivability on almost a daily basis. When we improve the way we interface with other people, we improve our chances of job survival, relationship survival, etc. When we improve our fitness, we improve our chances of surviving illness, heart attacks, etc. When we build our confidence and our decision-making skills, we improve our chances of doing better financially and in business, etc.
Being adept at survival is about making good decisions, about perseverance, about the ability to act under duress. These are qualities that can be enhanced through good martial arts training. Life on the the mat will put all of these qualities to the test - and do so daily. Life on the mat is not only a metaphor for survival - it is nursery for those ingredients that go toward baking our own perfect survival rations.
Be a survivor - adapt and evolve.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The fact is, that I have never been motivated by money or wealth; rather I have always been driven by my passion for the martial arts and other things that lift my spirit and inspire. So about ten years ago I made the decision to go and talk to a couple of financial advisors to help me get a better grip on money matters and all things pertaining to financial independence, etc.
The first lesson I learned was that it is very difficult to obtain independent and unbiased advice; most of these people are out to sell you something. As soon as I realised this I decided to take a different approach. I sought out two different advisors and explained to both that I wanted to pay for a one-time advisory session and that they would never see or hear from me again; I wanted their unbiased views. The end result of that approach was that they both pretty much told me the same thing. And ere it is for those who are interested – free of charge might I add.
Firstly, pay off all credit card debt; that is real a killer. Secondly, start a savings plan and be disciplined about it. A good rule of thumb is to save ten percent of everything you earn. Thirdly, start a Superannuation plan, the tax advantages of this are considerable and later on when you turn 55 or 60 you will be very happy you did so. Fourthly (is that even a word?), buy a property (even if it means taking in two renters as I did with my first property) and start paying it down. When you have paid it down to the point where it is very comfortable, learn about leveraging off it to buy another one.
So pretty much that is it. Sure there were a lot of charts and data that these professionals took me through to help clarify the logic behind all of those strategies but basically that was it. One thousand dollars worth of advice, and I have never regretted paying for it.
Since that time though, I have come to understand an undeniable truth; one that both professionals failed to mention, or even hint at. It should come as no surprise really; because there I was taking financial advise from two people stuck in their offices, working a fifty hour week, and not looking al that healthy or happy. I am not impugning their advice, a lot of it was good; it’s more what they didn’t say that that is of greater interest to me nowadays. And here it is …
In my view, the single greatest investment you can ever make is the investment you make in yourself. I know a whole lot of very successful people and they all have one thing in common – they continually invest in themselves; physically, emotionally and mentally! I have long since allocated myself a ‘self investment budget’; and I spend every cent of it, every year! When I look at the return that different investments have given me over the years, my ‘self investment budget’ has returned me well over 1000% per year.
Now most people who take up martial arts practice are doing just this, they are investing in themselves. I think that’s fantastic! The paradox though, is that many, many martial arts instructors I have met seem to have let this slip and are failing to continue in the self-investment process. They were doing so when they were students, but once they became ‘teachers’, it all came to a grinding halt. Agggh! (I am sure that’s a word)
My last four weeks have been full - just before Christmas I took a plane to new Zealand to complete my end-of-year seminar circuit over there. Every single one of the schools I visited was run by an instructor hell-bent on investing in his or her further education as a martial artist. Every one of the students who attended those seminars is doing the same thing. I applaud their commitment and their pursuit of excellence; and for these reasons and others, they are all friends of mine.
The day I finished in New Zealand, I took a plane back to OZ where I visited with my family for only three or four hours before jumping right back on another flight to Bangkok. I was there for ten days – INVESTING IN MYSELF! I didn't feel like doing it; because I was very much missing my family and besides, it mean't spending even more time away from my school and my students; but I needed to do it. That self-investment budget must be spent; and spent well!
Martial arts instructors (especially school-owners) should all spend money, every year, on their own further education. It can be spent on professional curriculums (shameless plug for my own two professional curriculums); or on travel and training; or on learning about things other than martial arts; but it absolutely and definitely must be done; and it must be done every year.
Remember, the best single investment you can ever make in the investment you make in yourself. If you are a martial artist, some part of you already knows this to be a truth.
Invest wisely my friends - invest in yourself.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Just returned from a week away in Bali. it's the first time I've been back there in 25 years. I took the opportunity to catch up with a few old friends - my Bakti negara Silat coach, Bagus Alit Dira as well as two old training partners, Dewa Patra and Mardi - both fierce competitors - back in the day!g
For those who have read my Rogue Black Belt series - you may well recognize the names. Mardi and myself both came home with gold from the first World full-contact Silat Championships in Jakarta, whilst Patra managed to win the bronze. They were great times for all of us - turning points in each of our lives really.
We got together a few days ago and for all of us it was just as if it were yesterday. My heait has changed colour, and Dewa has lost much of his - but the same old jokes were replayed and stories recounted of some of the adventures we shared. it was a great experience for all of us.
I also visited the new Bakti Negara training Center in Batu Mekaum. The whole area was fully kitted out with mats - a big change from the 'old days'. When I asked where they had bought the mats - I was told that they had each been HAND-CARVED from rubber sheet. I could hardly believe my eyes. These people are truly amazing craftsmen. See the attached pics. Hand-carved!!
Meeting up with Bagus Alit Dira, my original coach, was an emotional experience for me. Again, for the both of us it seemed like 25 days has past, and not 25 years. he is an amazing individual and has headed up quite an organization. They have just over 250,000 training members in Bali at the moment - that's a swag of students!
A few weeks ago, Dewa Patra organized 10,000 of them to come to Kuta beach for a litter clean-up campaign. In half a day they cleaned up a six mile stretch of Bali's coastline - as they ran the course, armed with trash bags. Pretty cool.
Anyways - home now - and really looking forward to getting back into my usual routine. Starting tomorrow morning with the Geelong Cats - then a few private students and finally finishing off with classes at my school in the evening.
So far - it's been a great start tp 2009!
let's make it the best year yet!
Saturday, January 03, 2009
In Singapore right now - with my family - getting set to head out to the Raffles Hotel tonight for Kon and Charmaine Quek's wedding. I spent a quick sixteen minutes doing laps in their 30m meter pool while mys son Felix ran interference, I know it was sixteen minutes because of late, I've been using a waterproof MP3 player that clips to the back of my goggles and allows me to work out in the water to then sounds of Led Zeppelin and Talking heads - apologies to most of you, who may not recognize these names. For those who do - you'll appreciate the experience!
I enjoy swimming as a form of exercise that forces me to regulate my oxygen intake. When you swim you can't just breathe whenever you want - you have to keep it all very organized. For me, that is analagous to fighting. Keeping the breathing under control, allows us to keep our emotions under control and more clearly 'think out way through' the problem in front of us (read: the threat) Breath-control is particularly relevant for the grappler. Yoga and swimming - apart from actual wrestling - would be the two most useful supplementary forms of breath-control-related activities that I can think of.
Plus - it's soft on the joints. You can get the heart-rate up without placing undue demands and stresses on the joints.
A friend and student of mine, Craig Moorfoot, put me onto the waterproof MP3 player - it's called the Dolphin and needs to be purchased online. It really works well. Not only can you workout to your selection of motivational tunes - you can upload any MP3 stuff on to it - Podcasts, news items, language tutorials. (I've been brushing up on my Indonesian for example - it's been 25 years since I have spoken it. Got most of it back though, after listening to an hour or so of Indo podcasts.
We're all off to Bali in the morning. I am looking forward to catching up with a couple of old friends there - the word is, they are still training. We shall see!
I trust my enemies there have long since perished (there were only one or two that survived the ordeal - read about it in my ROGUE Series if your interested).
I am sure though, that in the end, they too had the final touches to their beauty treatments applied with a straight-throat razor. We all need to look our best!
Gotta go - apparently I don't know how to dress properly (I am sure my wife is right on this account) and so she wants to remedy the situation. Bless here golden heart. The true suffering is about to begin. Guys ... you know what I mean.
Back soon - once we are ensconced in Bali.