Why Are You Hitting Yourself???

I’ve occasionally written some posts that have elicited some pretty “strong” responses from people. Especially within certain sports and martial arts circles, some old school practitioners aren’t always game to hear about things they don’t want to change.

That being said, I want to discuss a particular bad habit that some modern martial arts practitioners have adopted in the past two decades: holding one’s hands on front of one’s face.

There is a significant difference between boxing and the martial arts. Boxers train for hours on end to endure repeated hits to the face and body, all while delivering them to their opponent as well. It is a sport. Mixed Martial Arts, or “mixed up” martial arts as some associates of mine have called it, have included these aspects into their fights as well. Although not boxing specifically (I’m guessing this is where the “mixed” part comes in), MMA includes many of the characteristics of boxing.

Boxers and some MMA fighters tend to square off by keeping their hands close to the sides of their faces. This is intended as a means of guarding the face and making it easy to block incoming strikes to the head and the deep bend of the elbows helps to block shots to the body. Unfortunately, to the traditional martial artist, this is a HORRIBLE way to face an opponent.

The big problem with this type of “face guarding” is that it has a tendency of blocking part of your field of vision. You’re effectively preventing yourself from seeing all around you. The other big downside is that you’re leaving your hands very close to your face, which can lead to an unintentional game of “why are you hitting yourself.” Especially when your opponent crushed your own fists and forearms against your face because you didn’t see their attacks coming due to the decreased field of vision. From your hands. Because of your shitty fighting posture.

When squaring off in a proper fighting stance, one needs to stand comfortably with the feet equidistant apart. the hands should be closed into fists and the arms should have a slight bend and at chin level. The hands will be well away from the face in front of the body. This allows a full field of vision around your immediate area and also allows you to respond and block much quicker than if your hands are right in front of your face.

Obviously, this information is based on opinion and the techniques used by my specific style of karate. I’m certain that some of my counterparts would have some “corrections” or style-specific differences. The takeaway here is that when practicing, you must train yourself to keep your hands at a relaxed posture, away from you face. this allows for the best field of view and best ability to properly execute blocks in a real fight situation. Although the normal human reflex is to cover up when someone is throwing punches, overcoming that fear and being able to trust your hands will help ensure you prevent getting smacked in the face. ☯


The Times, They Are A-Changin’…

The world is a constantly evolving creature. Much like each individual person grows and alters with their environment, the world as a whole tends to follow suit. Aspects of the world that don’t move along with the times tend to get left behind, almost like the weaker member of a herd that gets ditched to the rear of the pack. Such is the nature of life.

This concept tends to apply to most aspects of our society. Just think back to the decades preceding the internet. Landline telephones and phone ordering through catalogues were all the rage. But landline telephones have essentially gone the way of the dinosaur and most retail companies no longer entertain the aspect of a catalogue, especially with shopping sites like Amazon floating about. The industry had to follow the times.

The same applies to the business world. Most little mom and pop businesses are slowly disappearing in favour of large chains. Most people tend to forget that those large chains originally started off as mom and pop chains. That being said, it’s important for smaller businesses to understand that they have to keep up with the times as well.

Time for a story…

Last week, I had an unfortunate run-in with a local business. Despite my best efforts to meditate and keep a cool head, I often tend to let my mouth run off before I can stop it (I can almost hear my wife’s head bobbing in agreement…) This generally tends to happen most when I’m dealing with stupidity! But as usual, I digress…

For liability purposes, I won’t name the business in question nor will I specify what the problem was. But needless to say, we had an emergency within the home that required professional help. Given that it was a Sunday afternoon, our options were limited and we already knew we would likely be paying a hefty amount for calling someone out on a weekend.

While I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off, my wife was calling the only available option. The person we called, who was obviously the business’ “on call” person, gave us an unreasonably expensive hourly rate and advised that regardless of job length, we’d be billed for a minimum of an hour. I’m not saying I was happy with that, but I expected it. Our situation was dire, so we had no choice.

The nail in the coffin came when we asked to be billed or invoiced, since we were trying to keep things under control at the house and couldn’t leave until the issue got rectified. The on call person made it clear that he would require payment on site and that if we didn’t have it, he wasn’t coming. Just to be clear: He didn’t say he COULDN’T come or that his company’s policies wouldn’t ALLOW him to come. Her very much said “I’m not coming.” I would have likely discussed the possibility of letting him do the work while I went out and got some money, but he couldn’t give us an idea of how long it would take. Hence, no idea how much money to go get. I asked how he expected us to arrange payment if the job ended up taking a few hours and we had no idea how much money to obtain. He seemed unmoved by our plight.

I won’t go as far as to say that I begged, but I repeated the urgent need to be billed or invoiced, which he curtly and adamantly refused. When I began explaining that most businesses in the city would usually bill for payment at a later date, he made it clear that his business has always done it this way and that they’ve done it this way for over thirty years. He also seemed insulted at being compared to these other businesses. The conversation pretty much ended there.

We weren’t able to get anyone else to come help until the following day. The delay caused a mess and some mild damage within our home. I don’t think I need to explain that I was NOT a happy camper.

I consider myself somewhat “old school” in the sense that I’m the last person to jump online and start bashing a business that gives me bad service (or in this case, no service). As a general rule, I’ll simply avoid using said business in the future. But I have to say, this business pushed my buttons.

When I started to read some of the reviews of this business online, I came to realize that they had a history of problems of this nature with a number of clients. This led me to wonder what has kept them in business for as long as they have been, considering the person we had to help us the following day went above and beyond what we needed and at almost half the cost!

Folks, the world won’t stop changing. That much has been made clear, over and over again. So for the business owners out there, I’m the last person who will ever say that the customer is always right. But in the interest of continuing to have a prosperous business, the customer does still need to be ACCOMMODATED.

Just because something has “always been done this way” doesn’t mean it is right. It may no longer be a viable method of performing your specific task. And this is true of all things in life. We often spend our lives in a routine setting. But eventually, the routine may need to be altered in order to keep up with the ever changing face of the world. Food for thought… ☯

Life Is Short

David Wong once wrote, “…life is a flickering candle we all carry around. A gust of wind, a meaningless accident, a microsecond of carelessness, and it’s out. Forever.”

The fragility life is no secret. No matter how strong or healthy we happen to be, the way life ends is the same for all of us. And there is ultimately no avoiding it.

Regardless of what your beliefs may be, religious or scientific, death is a contemplated reality for all of us. We’ve all wondered and pondered about it at some point. For the most part, our ability NOT to think about it on a constant basis is what makes it possible for us to make it through life every day without freaking out.

Lately, I’ve begun realizing that I have reached the point in my existence where life has started to take away more than it gives. Although life is a balance of give and take, eventually the well dries out.

About a week ago, I heard about a work colleague who passed away. It was tragic and sudden. He was out with members of his family and just… died. The only thing worse than passing away like that is doing it in front of family. What struck me most significantly is that this colleague was the same age as I am. Sort of got me thinking.

Sometimes we take life for granted. We neglect to take note of the beauty and the blessings in our lives. It’s human nature to find it easier to complain than praise. But we need to realize that problems can be dealt with, money can be earned but time can never be taken back. So appreciate the life you have in the moment. If your life has aspects that make you suffer, make a change. Do whatever is necessary to keep that smile on your face! ☯

Even If You’re Hard-Headed…

I wrote a post a few days ago about the reality of fighting in the street versus how they happen to be portrayed on film or even in the context of a class or gym. Following that, I had some people ask for clarification regarding the comment I made about how getting struck in the head is likely to put you down.

Just to be clear, I’m not a medical practitioner. I’ve mentioned that a number of times, but you’d be surprised how often people tend to call me on the information I share, despite making it clear from the get-go that I’m not a freakin’ doctor! So keep this in mind as you read the information I’m about to share…

First of all, if you get punched or kicked in the head by another person, it causes your brain to bounce around. Seriously! Although it isn’t all that cartoony, it will suffer some movement. And because there isn’t a great deal of space in the brain pan, the brain will likely bounce and rebound once or twice.

Unlike the romanticized image that Hollywood has created, no one has the genuine ability to receive multiple blows to the head and keep on fighting with little more than a split lip or bloody nose. Even after only one punch, the receiving person is likely to experience dizziness, nausea and loss of consciousness. This is one of the reasons why real fights barely last a minute.

That’s at the low end of the spectrum. On a more serious level, getting struck in the head, even once, can result in skull fractures, concussions and damage to the brain stem.

According to an article posted by Queensland Health, a person with a concussion may or may not have lost consciousness. They may suffer from headaches, memory loss, nausea, dizziness and ringing in the ears. Since many of those symptoms can also occur WITHOUT a concussion, it’s important to get yourself checked by a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms after being struck.

The article also goes on to describe other conditions such as damage to the brain stem, brain hemorrhage or hematoma and swelling of the brain. The article can be read here: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-alerts/news/one-punch-medical-effects-can-kill

And yes, one of the myths that has at least touch of truth to it includes the fact that a person CAN actually die from one strike to the head. Ultimately, the martial artist and Buddhist in me feels compelled to say that one should avoid physical confrontations at all costs. But should it happen and you get struck in the head, the next step (once you’ve explained your actions to law enforcement) should be to consult a doctor. ☯

One Good Turn…

With everything going on in the world and some of the horrific stuff we can often read on the news, it becomes really easy to become jaded and write off the general public. Trust me, when out and about I often get to point “A”, buy whatever I need then proceed to point “B”.

For the most part, the things I see while out in public generally include people cutting each other off in their vehicles, dropping doors in other people’s faces as opposed to holding them open and general rudeness. It makes one wonder why these folks live in a large population centre when they have the manners and respect for others that would require them to live in a small log cabin in the isolated mountains. But I digress…

At the start of the week, I was out running errands with my wife and son. I stopped at the local corner store to buy a bunch of energy drinks and check my lottery ticket (I didn’t win, by the way. And before anyone gets on me about the energy drinks, my friends and family are aware that I’m addicted to them and at 3/$5 it’s cheaper than getting a daily coffee anywhere in the city, so… 😜)

While there, a gentleman was at the till. He started to place his items on the counter, and as the line formed behind him, he ended purchasing the items for the next three or four people in line. I was floored! He kept saying “add theirs to mine” over and over. These folks obviously weren’t with this guy, and some of them even looked at him suspiciously; but he genuinely paid for the stuff all these people were getting.

Now, without approaching a total stranger and asking what his deal is, I could only make a few calculated guesses. Perhaps he had won the lottery and was sharing the wealth. Perhaps he was paying it forward after someone had done something nice for him. Maybe he was simply a good samaritan and wanted to do something nice. Who knows?

The point is, the world can still sometimes surprise you. Despite how jaded we can sometimes get in relation to everything that happens in the world, some people will still go out of their way to do good. And we can help that effect by being among those who do good as well. As Gandhi once said, be the change you wish to see in the world. ☯

If You Get Punched In The Face, Your Stunt Double Will Likely Laugh At You

Everyone loves a good action movie. Especially an inspirational one. A perfect example of this is my favourite series of movies, Rocky… Although not all the sequels have received the same level of acclaim, I can watch the entire batch of 8 movies over and over and enjoy them as much as I did the first time I saw them (8 movies includes the newer Creed movies, just to be clear).

The first movie sends an important inspirational message; the unknown amateur boxer who trains as though his life depends on it and is given the chance of his career. Although he loses in that first movie, the moral victory sends chills down my spine (if you haven’t seen the original Rocky, I apologize for the spoilers. But the movie came out in 1976, people! You should probably get on that!)

But how much of what we see in movies is genuine and can have real-life applications? Obviously, I’m talking from a combat or fighting standpoint.

Hollywood, and mainstream sports such as boxing and MMA have romanticized the notion of duking it out, round after round, for long periods of time. Even within the martial arts, we train for hours on specific techniques, but these aren’t practical applications as they would happen in a real fight. We simply do this to engrain the technique and commit it to memory so that we can call upon muscle memory when needed.

The reality is that there is no such thing as a real fight where the protagonist and the antagonist square of and circle each other while dialoguing for several minutes before getting into an exchange that includes spinning kicks and multiple blows to the head where each combatant continues to fight it out, unfazed. All the while with a wicked soundtrack by Two Steps From Hell playing in the background…

The average street fight will last less than a minute. This includes both combatants squaring off, taking their stance and exchanging no more than three or four strikes each. This is all the time that’s necessary for one and/or both combatant to fall to the ground and keep pummelling each other until exhausted. And the reality is that if someone even matching your weight gives you a full contact punch to the head, you’re likely going down. Getting punched in the head causes the brain to impact with the wall of the skull and can cause dizziness, confusion, loss of balance and potential loss of consciousness.

In fact, in an article written in HighPercentageMartialArts.com by Louis Martin, he explains that fights “happened most often within thirty seconds” and that “after thirty seconds, the chances of a knockout or TKO dropped sharply.”

Martin goes on to explain what I described above: “Men usually charge at each other with power punches, fall to the ground, and continue punching until they get tired or knock each other out.” His article actually contains a number of interesting statistics and information regarding 200 street fights he observed to accumulate this information. (https://www.highpercentagemartialarts.com/blog/2019/3/6/how-long-do-street-fights-actually-last-and-what-can-we-learn-from-that)

Sports combatants train to build their endurance to surreal levels because they are required to last as long as possible in the ring. Martial artists will spend hours honing their skills on specific techniques so that they’ll execute them using muscle memory when the need for defence arises. But once it comes to a no holds barred ACTUAL fight against the guy who cut in line while you were waiting for your maple scone at the local coffee shop, you’re looking at about a minute at most, as far as the actual fighting goes.

So keep practicing those specific techniques. It’s important to get them down pat before trying to use them. But understand that if you get into an actual fight you’ll get two, maybe three, punches or kicks against your opponent before the outcome is decided. And in the real world, there usually are no actual winners in any fight. ☯

There’s A Reason Why Rails Are Parallel…

We often don’t realize just how intrinsic our personal values are to the jobs or careers we choose. Sometimes, the career chooses us. Depending on the career we pursue, the job’s core values can often coincide with our own. This is what makes us suited to specific careers. So what happens when those values no LONGER coincide with ours?

I’ve often felt as though my personal values were in sync with the core values of my career. It’s one of the aspects that has always made my chosen career feel natural, as though it isn’t just something I do but it has become who I am.

But in the past two years, my trust in my chosen career has become shaken. And my values and the job’s core values has slipped off the rails (hence the title). They are no longer in sync with one another. And this has caused me to lose trust in what I do. Do you know what happens when you stop trusting the career you’ve chosen?

When we reach this point, it becomes important to start looking at potential changes. Change is scary. It brings the unknown and most people are always afraid of the unknown. It doesn’t mean it’s BAD, but as a people we tend to be more comfortable with the familiar and are resistant to change. Am I just stating the obvious here? Sometimes I tend to ramble…

I think it was Ed Parker (who is the one who brought modern Kenpo to North America) who said, “The true martial artist is not the one who fears change, but the one who causes it to happen.” Trust may come and go, and it always makes life harder when the organization you dedicated your life to happens to turn on you, but if you’re amenable to change and willing to take a chance on life, there can only be good things around the corner. ☯