martial arts

The Dangerous Risk of Not Training

Last week I was talking to one of our adult students that will be turning 50 this year. We had a funny conversation that comes up fairly often when teaching martial arts about how he could beat up his former self. This student didn’t start training until his late 40s, but now that he has been training for a few years, the skills he has acquired would enable him to defeat his 30-year-old, stronger, faster, younger self in a fight.

The important thing to take away from this is that with every passing year one of two options is happening:

1. You are training martial arts. In this scenario, the percentage of people in the world that would beat you up in an altercation is decreasing year after year. Or depending on your age, at the very least it isn’t increasing as quickly as it would be without training.

2. You are not training martial arts. In this scenario, the percentage of people in the world that would beat you up in an altercation is increasing year after year.

It’s as simple as that.

Sometimes, when talking to someone over the age of 35 or so, they make the assumption that their time to train has come and gone. In all actuality, that is never the case. No matter your age, 35 or 75, it is important to train for self-defense (and so many other benefits).

While you should always try to avoid a fight, through training you are increasing your chances of being able to survive an attack.

Sometimes people say they will just keep themselves out of situations that they might need to fight. That’s really good - I will too! Unfortunately, sometimes there are situations we cannot avoid. As we’ve discussed in previous entries, men can avoid many altercations as long as they check their ego and alcohol consumption. But not all.

And if you are a woman, you have an even more important reason to train, as there is a much greater chance that you could be targeted in an abduction or sexual assault.

So, how would 50-year-old you fare against 30-year-old you? I can GUARANTEE that 50-year-old you will be much better off if he/she is consistently training.

See you on the mat!

The Rules of Normal Eating

We teach our students that there are 8 aspects of the martial arts way of life:

  1. Fitness
  2. Meditation
  3. Philosophy
  4. Yoga & Stretching
  5. Health & Nutrition
  6. Striking Arts
  7. Grappling Arts
  8. Self-Defense

A complete martial artist should be putting energy into each of those 8 aspects of their training.

Today, I have a quick video to share with you in one of the areas that is most difficult for people and is often one of their biggest roadblocks to success - nutrition.

In our nutrition and lifestyle coaching program we teach 25 habits over the course of a 1 year program. You spend 2 weeks working on each habit and receive daily lessons (online) that will help you with your current habit. Two of the most important habits in the program are eating slowly and stopping before you are overly full.

This video hits on these concepts. As Dr. Koenig reinforces, this stuff is SIMPLE but not EASY.

Listen

Hearing is, of course, one of our primary senses, but I recently watched (and listened to!) a TED talk that got me thinking about the importance of how we listen. Take a look if you’d like:

It seems as though we are losing our ability to listen, and it is hurting our ability to fully comprehend and understand other people, other concepts, and other ideas.

For the past week, I’ve been observing people in conversation as much as I can and watching how many of them genuinely listen. Sadly, it is usually evident that while one person is talking, the other is more concerned with what they are going to say, or what is going on in their world, than what the person speaking is saying.

Try it out with yourself first, and you will see yourself planning what you are going to say before the person you are speaking to is done. Before you know it, you will be impatiently waiting for them to hurry up and stop talking so that you can start talking.

That, of course, is normal.

What is happening in our world and our mind is what is most important to us, but we are missing out on opportunities to connect with those around us more fully, build more meaningful relationships, and accomplish more amazing things. We can’t do any of these things if we don’t understand each other.

This past weekend, thousands of young people marched all over our country, and lots of discussions are going on around the topic of gun reform. It seems as though the most crucial component we are missing though is listening. If I take a minute to look around on my social media networks at what people think of these issues, it is crystal clear that no one is listening to anyone with a different opinion than their own. We all feel as though the only way to win is to yell our personal opinion as loudly as we possibly can.

What happens?

All of the people that feel the same way as we do “like” it and “share” it. And all of the people that don’t feel the same way comment back, yelling as loudly as possible how they feel about it.

Arguing is not the problem.

Arguing can be so beneficial to solving problems and coming up with fantastic solutions. But arguing is worthless and futile when no one listens. When we listen, arguing can lead to resolutions.

Of course, it is entirely natural to believe what you think is right, but typically the answer to a lot of our problems is found somewhere in the middle and less on one side or the other. 

We have to recognize that so much of what we think  (and as pointed out in the video, so much of how we listen) is influenced by filters such as culture, values, beliefs, attitudes, expectations, and intentions. Pay attention to how you may listen to what someone says and instinctively have reactions against what they are saying sometimes before even thinking it through.

These are serious discussions that we need to be having. Which means now more than ever, if you want to accomplish things, resolve conflicts, have better relationships with everyone you encounter in life (hey, and even master your martial arts!), I encourage you to "empty your cup" and listen.

Confidence Developed Through Training

I’d like to share with everyone a message I received from one of our female students this week. Afterward, be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for an important announcement!

Random fun story:

Last night I was the designated driver for a part bachelor party and part everyone get together for dinner and drinks. We parked in a random, not particularly well-lit garage. At the end of the night, the guys decided to continue the festivities and catch an uber back home.

So I was going to drive myself and another girl home. Her husband was not keen on us going home by ourselves. Honestly, I got annoyed and was trying to insist that we were fine.

Long story short, after thinking about it later, I realized that while of course, bad things could have happened, I felt capable of defending myself. I mean had the guy walked us to the car, I was more equipped to fight back than he was!

I’m not a fearful person, AT ALL! Mostly, I am just stubborn.

But last night was the first time I felt confident because of my skill set.

It was even hard to catch that I felt that way. I had to think about it for awhile because my actions were not any different than normal. I always would have resisted help because I’m just stubbornly independent and just would’ve believed that nothing was likely to happen.

In the deep parts of me, however, there is something slightly different now about how I feel about it.

These kinds of messages are some of the most fun for me to receive. I have also talked with female students after something physical actually happened, and while of course, I am incredibly proud of them for capably defending themselves, I would have much-preferred nothing ever happened.

We were talking last week about one of the differences between men and women training martial arts. Both will receive the confidence like in the story above in feeling capable of defending themselves, but it is a much more important skill set to develop for women.

Why?

For men, the majority of situations that we could find ourselves in could be avoided by not getting drunk, and keeping our egos in check. For example, I know that chances are much smaller that I’ll ever be in a street fight because I feel totally secure in walking away from some angry person that’s had a bad day (or life) and is taking it out on me.

We know that walking away from a fight is the best answer, for many reasons, but one of the most obvious is that you never know what could happen. The opponent could pull out a knife or gun for example and change the whole scenario!

For women, however, they are preyed on much more frequently than men. They can feel just as strongly about walking away from a fight and still be much more likely to be attacked than their male counterparts.

Therefore, we view empowering women with awareness, self-defense skills, strength, and confidence as one of our most important jobs.

Female Black Belts at PMA!

Female Black Belts at PMA!


With that said, I’d like to announce our next free women’s self defense seminar on Saturday, April 28th from 3-5 PM!

As a treat for our blog readers, this is the first place we’ve announced the seminar because these fill up really quickly. You can reserve your spot now at the link below (it’s free, but a $20 deposit is required to hold the spot).

This edition of our popular women’s self-defense courses is going to focus on worst-case rape scenarios. We will spend the majority of the seminar on the ground learning how to survive and ultimately get away from the attacker.

It is open to ages 13 & up as always, but parents should keep in mind the mature content of the seminar when registering their children and we will require that a mom or female legal guardian participate in the seminar also.

Due to the content of this seminar, we will need to limit it to just 20 participants. Tell your friends, and don’t wait to sign up! Once we email this out to our database, it can sometimes fill up within a few minutes.

More info and register online:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/evade-escape-now-to-gain-safety-a-womens-self-defense-seminar-tickets-44235078310

The Reality: Routines, Time, Priorities, and Your Life

We are nearing the end of February, and you are probably comfortably out of the holidays and back into the grind of your routines. 

Your New Year’s resolutions have probably been squashed. You had tons of enthusiasm a couple of months ago but maybe now you are facing REALITY. You might think to yourself:

"Those dreams and goals I had were too lofty."

"I don’t have enough time in the day to accomplish what I want to accomplish."

You can’t make it to martial arts class, there is too much going on. You can’t get your workouts in because other stuff takes priority. You can’t meditate. You can’t spend time playing with your kids. You can’t walk your dog. You can’t meal plan, grocery shop, and prepare meals either!

I talk to students all of the time that tell me when they are on the mat training they are happy and inspired to make changes in all of the other areas of their life. They might be kneeling at the end of class during meditation, soaking up the vibes of the dojo, and thinking about how inspired they are going to be to make a change starting today.

BUT THEN, they walk out the doors of the academy back into the world and get caught up in the chaos of our culture. Before you know it, work, commitments to family and friends, iPhones, traffic, Facebook, Netflix, and so many other things start to battle for our attention again, and we might never even think about those plans we had while we were kneeling on the mat.

In fact, they tell me that often they won’t slow down and think about those things again until the next time they are in the academy. It happens with their martial arts practice too, they have full intentions of going home, making some notes on what they learned, practicing a little bit or going over the techniques in their mind, but then they walk out and never think about it again until the next class. By that time it’s too late - they’ve already forgotten the technique.

*A huge tip for this one, by the way, is to sit down inside the academy with your notebook and take some notes before you leave the dojo. Then pull out your notes before the next class and go back over them - even if it is right before class! We see students that have tons of success with this formula.

I hear you. I really do. But the reality is that you have the same amount of time in your day as every other human being on the earth. And if your day truly is too full to do the things that you said you’d do at the beginning of the year, the reality is that it’s not because you don’t have enough time, it’s because your true priorities are revealing themselves.

Your priorities are what you spend your time doing. We might say that our priorities are things like our family or our health, but if we aren’t spending our time in those areas, then they aren’t our true priorities.

So what are your priorities?

If you really want to know, keep a genuine time log for a week, but don’t change anything about what you do right now. Funny thing is, you probably won’t be able to stop yourself from changing just a little bit, because when you start realizing how much time you are spending on Facebook, or watching Netflix, you almost can’t help making some changes.

Some of the things that we are spending our time on might be out of our control, but are there any areas that are in our control? And sometimes other things are genuinely just more important.

I don't want you to quit your job and train all the time. I don't want you to skip out on playing with your kids to get a workout in.

But I do want you to just stop at the store and buy a few groceries instead of waiting in the drive thru line. I do want you to put your phone down and get a workout in. 

Your health is a crucial piece to you living a long, happy, and fulfilling life. You have to make it a priority too!

The question is do we just tell ourselves that we are too busy when there is actually quite a bit of free time in there?

Try your best to just track and not change anything about what you are doing. Then add up all of the time doing the different activities and discover what your TRUE priorities are.

Now, if you want to make a change…pick one of those categories that you’d rather not be spending so much time and allot that time to doing one of the things you do want to be doing. 

You have to curate your lifestyle. You have the same 24 hours as everyone else, you just have to decide how you’re going to spend them, and then do it!

Choki Motobu - Brawler, Ruffian, Master.

**Today's blog post was written by PMA FILKENJUTSU Black Belt, Gary Hall. Today also happens to be his birthday! This was written by Sempai Gary in preparation for his Black Belt Test this time last year. This is a longer post, but a great look back in history at a prominent martial arts figure. As we have discussed in previous posts, our Kenpo lineage traces back to a man named James Mitose, and many believe Choki Motobu to have been one of Mitose's teachers.

Sempai Gary does a great job of bringing his story to us - enjoy!

- SiFu David


Brawler, ruffian, master. Choki Motobu has to be considered one of the most unconventional karateka luminaries of his very special time.

EARLY LIFE

Choki Motobu was born on April 5, 1870 in Shuri, Ryukyu Kingdom (now Japan). His father Choshin was a descendant of the sixth son of the Okinawan King, Sho Shitsu, namely Prince Sho Ko, also known as Motobu Chohei (Iwai 1994). Due to this lineage, the male members of the family were permitted to retain the "CHO" character in their given names (Sells 1996).

Young Choki, as third son to Choshin, was regarded by the Okinawan culture of the day as the rough equivalent to a feudal lord in social status. It has been stated by the noted historian Kinjo Hiroshi that although Choki was fathered by Choshin, Choki's mother was not his wife, but a courtesan. Choki was thus only a half-brother to his elder Choyu, the eldest son in the family. It has been further suggested that he was constantly reminded of this fact as a child, and this may have contributed to his rather stern temperament. Choki's eldest brother Choyu, in the Okinawan tradition, was given a fine education. He was also taught the family's secret "Ti" (fighting art) tradition that was only passed on to the eldest son. Young Choki was never allowed to participate. By some accounts, however, Choki secretly looked on at his elder brother's training and picked up many rudiments of the art. (Ross, 2012)

MArtial Arts background

The background of these Okinawan fighting arts can be traced from their origins elsewhere up to and through China. With the coming of the Bronze and Iron ages, weaponry and the means for employing such weapons improved. Early Greece (approximately 700 B.C.) recorded a systemized and cultivated form of self-defense called pyrrhic and pankration which utilized kicking, punching and wrestling in combat. In India, around and about 1000 B.C., the warrior class Kshatriya was believed to have a martial art skill known as vajramushti. 

China’s introduction to the martial arts is somewhat vague, but according to historians, it is widely accepted that Boddhidharma, an Indian monk and first patriarch of Chan or Zen Buddhism traveled by foot in the sixth century across the Himalayas into China’s northern province of Hunan. There, he settled in the Songshan mountains at the Shorin Ji (Shaolin temple) and introduced to the priests in the monastery 18 exercises and 2 sutras called Ekkinkyo and Senzuikyo. With the passing of time, these exercises of Boddhidharma (called Daruma Tashi by the Japanese, also known as Tamo by the Chinese) which represented the movements of animals, both real and mythical, were furthered refined and developed into a fierce form of self-defense known as the Shaolin temple fist method (shorin-ji-kempo). Thus, the shaolin temple is believed to be the birthplace of systematized martial arts. This is especially significant to the development of Ryukyu martial arts, as generations of secrecy have created a veil of mystery around the development of Okinawan karate. It is known that this Chinese method of self-defense flourished throughout Asia and eventually found its way to Ryukyu archipelago. 

okinawan history

History has recorded that in 1392, 36 families emigrated from China to Okinawa for cultural exchange. It is known that among the 36 families were experts in the martial arts who solidified the growth and interest of Chinese Kempo in Okinawa. Since the Ryukyu people were able seafarers and traders who frequented foreign ports, wares purchased in Indonesia and Southeast Asia were brought to Okinawa and were reshipped to China, Korea and Japan. Through this extensive trading and foreign contact, the already existing methods of self-defense in Okinawa expanded. The establishment of the Sho Shin ruling dynasty in 1477 brought about a ban on weapons across Okinawa. This move to more completely control the citizens became a very important development in the refinement of both armed and unarmed combat.

The year 1609 remains one of the most significant in Okinawan history. The outcome of one of the many Japanese civil wars of that time saw the Satsuma clan of southern Kyushu defeated by the Togukawa clan. As per the customs of the day, close governmental scrutiny was maintained over the losing (Satsuma) samurai. By decree of the ruling Togukawa clan, the Satsuma was permitted to march against the Ryukyu islands. This was done to both punish Okinawa for its refusal to provide with materials needed by Japan for an earlier attack on China and to remove the Satsuma’s samurai from the Japanese homeland because of the persisting armed threat they posed. This military expedition effectively took away Okinawa’s independence, making way for complete Japanese control.

A number of prohibitive ordinances proclaimed by the Satsuma warlord,  Shimazu, addressed a complete ban on weapons by the Okinawans. Arms found in their possession were immediately confiscated and the owner severely punished. Many clashes ensued, with the Okinawans being forced to utilize any and all weapons available. These weapons often took the form of hands and feet as well as agricultural and fishing related. Several failed attempts of disunited resistance led to the various kempo and tode societies banning together to form a unified front. The result was a new fighting style that was simply called te and was translated as hand

During the early years of development, te was shrouded in secrecy due to draconian laws addressed at eradicating all semblance of any Okinawan martial art. Eventually, Japanese occupation ended with Okinawa becoming an official part of the empire. However, the centuries-long underground training and application of te did not end overnight, it was too ingrained. However, the passing down of these necessarily brutal techniques had been done without being committed to writing so they were effectively only handed down to a select few. With the occupation lifted, the martial art now known as karate (the name having been changed from te sometime in the 1800s) was now the fighting art of Okinawa. Methods or systems began to evolve and became categorized as different ryu (styles). These ryu took on the characteristics and thinking of those destined to become the masters of that particular system. By 1903 karate had become more or less standardized into these ryu, many of which are still being taught today. (McCarthy, 1987)

Motobu's Style

Against this history, Choki Motobu’s personal fighting style was primarily his own invention rather than a reflection of any established system of the time. He learned some of the Motobu family style by watching his brother practice and utilized the knowledge by bullying others into street fights so that he could test his techniques in action. He had a great deal of enthusiasm for the martial arts, but most Okinawan masters refused to teach him for fear he would certainly misuse the skills (Wilson, 2010). McCarthy seeks to debunk the entirely self-taught notion to some degree, “Although he was reputed by his detractors to have been a violent and crude street fighter, with no formal training, Motobu was a student of several of Okinawa’s most prominent karate practitioners. Many teachers found his habit of testing his fighting prowess via street fights in the tsuji (red light district) undesirable, but his noble birth may have made it hard for them to refuse him instruction (McCarthy, 2002).

In 1923, perhaps in an effort to find greener pastures, Motobu moved with his family to the city of Osaka on mainland Japan and was hired as a night watchman at a textile company. ( Iwai, 1994)     One day he attended a series of exhibition matches by a Russian (or German) boxer who had been touring Japan as part of a cultural exchange program, fighting Japanese jujitsuans and other martial artists (karate was then unknown in Japan). Motobu, though 52 years old at the time, could not resist entering the competition. He is said to have simply dodged and blocked the Russian’s punches for the first round, without countering. In the second round the Russian charged in and was abruptly stopped by a front kick to the solar plexus, then felled by a single strike to the temple (or under the nose). The Russian was knocked unconscious—some say he never fully recovered—to the great astonishment of the audience, who had never seen such techniques. (Wilson, 2010). This great victory, however, was the catalyst to what some martial artists would characterize as one of the most famous conflicts between leading exponents of their art, the two Okinawan karate masters who helped pioneer the introduction of karate into mainland Japan (Apsokardu, 2012).

motobu and funakoshi

As background, Funakoshi Gichin is the founder of what is now called Shotokan Karatedo. He is commonly referred to as the father of Japanese Karate, and rightly so. No one did more to bring karate to the forefront in Japan, and Funakoshi's efforts to get karate recognized by the Japanese Butokukai (the Japanese organization established by the government to oversee, preserve and promote martial arts in Japan) were immensely impressive. Interestingly, among his peers and teachers, Funakoshi was never considered a dominant fighter or technician. He gained his reputation as a gentleman of elegant thought; a man of philosophy, linguistic skill, political acumen, and of course karate talent.(Apsokardu, 2012) Standing in stark contrast to this elegant and culturally polished rival was the practical and pragmatic Motobu (his detractors were in the habit of referring to him by a childhood nickname “Saru” or “ the Monkey”. Which interestingly enough was a nod to his unusual agility).

When the aforementioned boxing event was reported in a 1925 issue of Kingu, (a popular national magazine),  it was Funakoshi's image, not Motobu's that appeared, although Motobu's name was correctly reported. Some have suggested the reason for this error was purposeful, the articles having been authored or information augmented by Funakoshi's students. Another explanation is that image of Motobu just was not available and the magazine just substituted an image. Whatever the reason, this event exacerbated a rivalry that was really based on professional and personal animus. The differences between Funakoshi and Motobu weren't just theoretical; they encountered and disliked one another. Motobu considered Funakoshi to be rather soft and superficial in his understanding of karate. He observed the changes Funakoshi was making (considered school karate) and decried them as moving away from the true core of Okinawan karate that he had seen and experienced.

Funakoshi on the other hand looked upon Motobu with disdain due to his constant rough behavior and his apparent lack of social grace.  Funakoshi did not believe Motobu was a proper representative of karate. Perhaps this was only natural. Funakoshi was a natural politician. He was also organized and philosophical. He had been an Okinawan educator, taught Okinawan school karate, was fluent in Japanese and its social customs, and was comfortable as a karate educator in Japanese society. Motobu, in contrast, had avoided formal schooling on Okinawa, thus never became fluent in the Japanese language or its culture. Motobu's karate was also somewhat self-developed, partly from experience in small personal classes by his karate instructors, partly self-taught in challenge matches the back streets of Okinawa. In personality, Motobu was also much more direct, outspoken and opinionated. 

What is without question, is the popularity generated by this unexpected victory propelled both Motobu and karate to a degree of fame that neither had previously known in Japan. Motobu was petitioned by several prominent individuals to begin teaching. He opened a dojo, the Daidokan, where he taught until the onset of World War II in 1941. Motobu faced considerable difficulties in his teaching, chief among those was his inability to read and speak mainland Japanese. As a result, much of his instruction was through translators, which led to the rumor that he was illiterate. This rumor has been largely discredited by the existence of samples of Motobu's handwriting. Motobu was active in the martial arts until his death on April 15, 1944 in Shuri, Japan. It is worth mentioning that his legacy is being carried on by his third son, Chosei, who at age 91 still teaches his father’s style, Motobu-Ryu.

My introduction to the life of Choki Motobu has brought me back to what FILKENJUTSU SiJo Bruce Corrigan has said on more than one occasion (I will paraphrase): “We know what we teach works, the history of martial arts is populated by some rough individuals, but as a consequence of their lifestyle these techniques are street tested”. Choki Motobu was a fascinating figure to research: practical, pragmatic and dedicated to his craft. 

Gary Hall, February 2017

Gary Hall (1st on the left, back row) is pictured here after receiving his Black Belt in FILKENJUTSU Kenpo - February 19, 2017.

Gary Hall (1st on the left, back row) is pictured here after receiving his Black Belt in FILKENJUTSU Kenpo - February 19, 2017.


Works Cited

Alexander, G.W. Okinawa, Island of Karate. Lake Worth: Yamazato Publications, 1991. Print.

Apsokardu, Matthew. Funakoshi vs. Motobu. Fighting Arts. 2012. 11 Feb 2017.

Bishop, Mark. Okinawan Karate; Teachers, Styles and Secret Techniques. London: A. & C.                  Black.  1999. Print.

Iwai, Tsukuo. Koden Ryukyu Karatejutsu. Tokyo: Airyudo, 1994. Print. (Partial translation by    Joe Swift)

McCarthy, Pat. Classical Kata of Okinawan Karate. Valencia: Black Belt Communications,    1987. Print.

McCarthy, Patrick and Yuriko. Motobu Choki: Karate, My Art. International Ryukyu Karate                    Research Group. 2002. Print.

Ross, Tom. Choki Motobu: Through the myth to the man. Fighting Arts. 2012. 11 Feb 2017.

Sells, John. Unate. London: W.M. Hawley, 1995. Print 

Wilson, Wendell. Essays on the martial arts. Mineralogical Record. 2010. 11 Feb 2017.

FAQ - What is a Red Belt?

One of the purposes of this blog is to answer some of the frequently asked questions from our students, parents, and others interested in the martial arts, self-defense, or just health and fitness.

In the martial arts world, one of the things that people are often most curious about is the belt system. What do the different colors mean? How long does it take to get them? Why do various arts have different colors?

Today, let’s take a minute to clear up the Red Belt.

In some Korean martial arts, you will see a red belt used as one of the standard colors leading up to the Black Belt. That is not the red belt that we are discussing today. The red belt that everyone is curious about is the one you see the “old guys” sometimes wearing.

Different martial arts use it in different ways, but most commonly, you will see the red belt worn by someone who has reached 10th degree in their particular style. 10th degree is the highest rank achievable.

Two of the primary martial arts taught at Progressive Martial Arts Academy are Kenpo and Jiu Jitsu. Specifically FILKENJUTSU Kenpo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Kenpo has many different groups, and all have decided on different ways of using the ranks and colors. In our method of teaching Kenpo (FILKENJUTSU), we do not currently use the red belt. 

For example, the highest ranking Black Belt in our family, is my father, Bruce Corrigan. He is the only 10th degree Black Belt in FILKENJUTSU and is the founder of our method of teaching. He prefers to just wear the Black Belt with ten stripes (or even just a plain Black Belt!). He also has a Black Belt with a red border which denotes that he is the founder/head of the family.

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, at 7th degree the belt worn is red and black, at 8th degree it is red and white, and at 9th and 10th degree it is red. Check out this trailer for an upcoming documentary done by BJJ Hacks on the Red Belts - 

For more on belt ranks and instructor titles check out these posts:

Ranks and Titles, Part 1 - http://www.pmaoakridge.com/blog/ranks

Ranks and Titles, Part 2 - http://www.pmaoakridge.com/blog/titles

The Importance of the Black Belt - http://www.pmaoakridge.com/blog/blackbelt

The Black Belt Problem - http://www.pmaoakridge.com/blog/theblackbeltproblem

I did a breakdown of our different colors for our YouTube channel a couple of years ago too - 

At the end of the day, your belt is used to keep your gi (uniform) together. We often place a little too much importance on what color it is. And at a time when many martial arts have been watered down, and promotions have been sold rather than earned, what is most important is that you are training with a good teacher who also has legitimate training.

Wait, if you're reading this you are training, right? If not, please call me NOW at (865)481-8901 or email me at dcorrigan@pmaoakridge.com and schedule a FREE private introductory lesson. 

It is free, and there is no obligation to keep training afterward. Come see for yourself why this will be the best decision you've ever made.

That's enough for now, see you on the mat!

What are some of your questions? Comment on Facebook or email them to me at dcorrigan@pmaoakridge.com and I'll try to cover them in future posts!

Get Worse to Get Better

I want you to think back to the time in your life just before you began training martial arts and visualize a scenario in which you may have been attacked at that point in your life. 

Maybe you started training when you were a teenager, and a realistic scenario might be someone giving you a hard time in high school. 

Or maybe you started training martial arts during your twenties, and a realistic scenario might be someone that’s had a little too much to drink at the bar you’re at with some friends. 

Or maybe you began training in your forties, and a realistic scenario is that someone having a bad day has a case of road rage and gets out of the car to teach you a lesson!

Now, let’s imagine how that scenario goes down and how you might have responded to the attack, assuming that you can’t get away and the attack was physical. You haven’t learned how to throw a proper punch yet or how to parry a strike. You haven’t learned how to take down an aggressive opponent or escape from the mount. You haven’t learned how to prevent being killed by a knife-wielding attacker.

I am proposing that it’s possible you would have done better defending yourself in that scenario than you would have after taking a few martial arts classes.

“WHAT!?” “THAT’S OUTRAGEOUS!” “WHY AM I TRAINING THEN?”

Stay with me for a minute. The ultimate level of mastery in the martial arts is when we are performing the techniques taught to us without thought. In the Chinese arts, this is called “mushin.” 

It is highly unlikely that you will have achieved mastery with your martial arts abilities within a few months of training. Therefore if you are in the same scenarios we thought of above, but with a little bit of martial arts training, it is highly possible that you will hesitate and think about what you should do. What techniques are you going to use? 

In that moment of hesitation and thought, we could be overrun and beat up.

You may have fared better had you been attacked before you began your martial arts training because you would not have thought about what to do. When the attacker threw a punch, you would not have thought about how to block it because no one would have ever taught you how to block it. Therefore you would have just reacted with some flinch response. And whatever that response is, would have been better than hesitating while you were trying to come up with the perfect response.

Now, of course, there is still a high percentage chance you would not have handled the situation well without any training and be beat up or worse. All I'm saying is that it's possible that you could do worse with just a little training than had you done none at all.

good-plan.jpg

Over time, we will train your automatic responses to be effective and efficient responses of a martial arts master. These will eventually become your reflexes. How long?

Somewhere between 20 to 10,000 hours. 😉 More on that here - 

http://www.pmaoakridge.com/blog/hours

Bruce Lee used to explain this by saying that before you begin training, a punch is just a punch. Then, you start training and realize a punch is much more than you thought! You now are thinking about how you stand when you punch, how your body moves, which part of your fist to make contact with, what to do after you punch, and more! At some point, you train long enough that a punch goes back to just being a punch. Those other details are still there, of course, but they’ve reached the point of mushin which means you aren’t thinking about them anymore - you are just throwing a punch.

This level of skill is IMPOSSIBLE in the beginning stages of training as the techniques have not been repeated enough for this to be possible. It is for this reason that at our academy students do not spar with each other until later in their training when they have had an opportunity to develop a solid foundation of proper technique, control, and reflexes - which will then be enhanced by sparring, not hampered by it.

If caught in a scenario like the ones listed above, remember that all 3 of these were scenarios involving ego and can often easily be avoided. If you are caught in a scenario that cannot be avoided, try your best not to hesitate.

The key will be to just fight. 

Don’t Get Bent Out of Shape When Getting In Shape

“Getting in shape” is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. It’s a great goal, but, unfortunately, it’s also one of the hardest resolutions to keep. We’re almost halfway through January, and many of the people who just knew 2018 was going to be their year to get fit, are already struggling - some may even have decided to give up already.

Gym memberships skyrocket at the beginning of each new year, but while gyms may see an initial spike in attendance, those numbers quickly decline. Why? Because getting in shape is hard. 

We all know why physical fitness is essential. We grew up hearing about the benefits of exercise in elementary Physical Education and learned about body fat from unforgiving middle school bullies and learned about muscles and ligaments in high school health and physiology classes. As adults, we get to hear about the endless benefits of eating green, leafy vegetables and taking brisk, daily walks from our concerned mothers or spouses or doctors. No one here is arguing that exercise and a well-balanced diet are bad things - everyone knows they are good. That’s why so many New Year’s Resolutions are some variation of a physical, mental, or nutritional improvement.

So we aren’t going to spend the next few minutes waxing on and on about why getting in shape is good for you. Instead, we are going to talk about all of the reasons it’s HARD, and look at a couple of strategies that might help you get through it.

1. Get Out of Your Own Way

From my own experiences getting back in shape after periods of inactivity, I know that the first thing I have to do is get out of my own way. For anyone that has a job or a family, taking time for yourself - even just an hour or two a week - can leave you feeling guilty and even stressed.

These feelings are totally normal but totally unnecessary. Taking time for yourself is vital for your overall well being, and as we all know from those elementary school PE classes, exercise can release stress and improve focus. Taking time for yourself can put you in the frame of mind to solve that problem you’ve been working on at your job or help you be more patient and present for your kids. How can you take care of your other responsibilities if you don’t take care of yourself?

Get out of your own way, and unabashedly take time for yourself!

2. Lose the Negative Perceptions

While you’re getting out of your own way, let go of the negative perceptions you have of yourself and the perceptions you project, accurately or inaccurately, on the people around you.

Being in shape should increase your confidence, but I’ve been merrily on my way to a healthy body and mind and found myself stuffed into workout clothes that I think make me look like a busted can of biscuits. Self-consciousness happens to the best of us, but we have to let those negative thoughts go.

Everyone thinks they look weird when they run. No one’s stomach stays perfectly flat when they’re sitting down. Most people have a smidgen of fat on their arms that they think flaps in the breeze when they wave. I have wheezing asthma that makes me honk like a goose whenever I do aerobic exercise. Everyone has insecurities, don’t let them hold you back from everything you are capable of and everything you can be.

3. Stay in Your Own Lane

And while you’re on the road to getting in shape, STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE.

In the past, I’ve fallen into the habit of comparing myself to the people training around me whom I’m sure are thinner/stronger/faster/more graceful than I’ll ever be. Focus on your own accomplishments and strengths instead of dwelling on what others can do. Spend your time challenging yourself and learning what your body is capable of instead of being envious of what you see others doing.

If you keep comparing yourself to others, you’ll never feel like you’re good enough. You might start thinking, “what’s the point?”, and give up when you’re really only just getting started. There will always be someone who is better at something than you are. You can’t be the best at everything; you can only do your best in everything. Let go of your spirit of comparing. 

4. It's Uncomfortable

Let me tackle the most obvious hardship of getting in shape last: It’s uncomfortable - even painful at times. Getting in shape is no joke. Your muscles will be screaming one minute and then feel like jelly the next. Your chest will get tight because you can’t breathe and you’ll feel like your heart’s about to pop, but somehow you keep breathing (or wheezing in my case) and your heart keeps beating, and eventually you finish that first jog. The first run turns into a second run that turns into a weekly run and then a daily run and before you know it you have run farther and faster than you ever thought possible.

In the beginning stages of getting in shape, everything can feel overwhelming or difficult. It’s achieving that end goal that feels so good: fitting into that old pair of jeans, seeing your cholesterol or blood pressure go down, passing that stress test, or just having more energy to spend on your family or hobbies.

So how do we get from exhaustion to exhilaration in one piece?

Here are a few things that worked for me:

1. Don’t go it alone.

Find an accountability partner. It can be a friend, family member, or a training partner. It can be as simple as discussing your goals together or strategizing for how you can help each other get there.

My training partners started dragging me on a weekly run with them after I came back from an absence. The farthest I had run before these weekly meets was 1.5 miles - and I thought it was AWFUL. Before I knew it, I was running 3…4…5…miles with them, and the next thing I knew, we had completed a half-marathon together. It was one of the most rewarding experiences, and it will be a favorite accomplishment of mine (though I hope to never do it again…ever) forever. I would never have met my goals without their encouragement and, some days, them physically dragging me on my run to keep me accountable.

Me and my training partners the morning of our 1/2 marathon!

Me and my training partners the morning of our 1/2 marathon!

2. Find something you love to do.

I’m a martial artist, and I love it. My classes provide an excellent full body workout, and the supplemental workouts I do outside of class are to improve my skills as a martial artist (and also because I really like cake). I’ve found something that I love to do that keeps me fit and motivated. If you are looking to get in shape, discover that for yourself: dancing, running, rowing - there are endless opportunities. Fitness doesn’t have to be limited to a gym.

Yeah, that's me. Scary, right?

Yeah, that's me. Scary, right?

3. Keep Going

Finally, have the mettle to keep going. When the path to your goals gets uncomfortable, don’t give up. That goal is right in front of you if you only push through.

Remember, you’ve come too far, to only come this far. You can do it; I believe in you!

2017 PMA Year in Review

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is one of my favorites of the entire year. After getting extra time with family for Christmas, we have a week to look back on the past year and plan for the year ahead.

This year was full of many good memories, but I’ll take just a minute to highlight some of my standouts and then the video can do a pretty good job with the rest!

February 2017 - Gary Hall and Linda Davis were promoted to Black Belt in FILKENJUTSU Kenpo!

April 2017 - We took our Youth Competition Team to NAGA Atlanta, and they earned 6th place at their first significant tournament!

May 2017 - Brittany Corrigan and Kristie Fox finished their instructor training program/test, and became official PMA instructors!

May 2017 - Brittany, Charlie, and I had the opportunity to spend 11 days in Brazil, with our close friends Felipe and Ana, and their son Bento. This trip will forever be one of our greatest adventures and favorite memories. We can’t thank Felipe enough for bringing us to his home and showing us his city.

July 2017 - PMA students took a field trip over to my Dad's dojo in Knoxville to surprise him during his class for his birthday!

September 2017 - My brother, Nick, and his wife, Kylie, welcomed their first child, RJ Corrigan, into the world!

October 2017 - PMA’s Youth Competition Team brought home 2nd place at the NAGA Tennessee Grappling Championship out of 38 teams!

November 2017 - Sempai Madelyn Fowler competed in her first tournament and brought home the silver medal at the NAGA North Carolina Grappling Championships in her No-Gi division, and the gold medal in her gi division!

I liked competing when I was a child and young adult, but it never became a love of mine. However, coaching Jiu Jitsu has genuinely become one of my favorite aspects of my life. This year, we have had some incredible performances from our students (in both wins and losses), and I couldn’t be more proud!

December 2017 - Progressive Martial Arts Academy turned 15 years old! And December couldn't have been a better month. Brittany Corrigan and Kristie Fox were promoted to Black Belt in FILKENJUTSU Kenpo! And Austin and Eli Fox were promoted to Junior Black Belt, along with many other students earning their next rank this month. We closed out the year with a wonderful holliday party, and some fun last classes of the year. For the kids class, we had 60 kids out on the mat together! 

Here are our Top 10 songs played from 2017 at PMA (dominated by Imagine Dragons this year!):

1. Feel It Still by Portugal. The Man
2. Believer by Imagine Dragons    
3. Whatever It Takes by Imagine Dragons
4. Thunder by Imagine Dragons    
5. Shape of You by Ed Sheeran
6. Rise Up by Imagine Dragons
7. Stay by Zedd & Alessia Cara
8. Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
9. Hard Times by Paramore
10. Shine on Me by Dan Auerbach

You can listen to the playlist while working out this week and getting ready for the new year here: 

 https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/pmas-top-10-songs-of-2017/pl.u-LRyv4IBkmEE

We had a crew of senior students and instructors in over the holiday break helping us update the dojo a little bit, so get excited about a new look when you come in next week! Thank you so, so much to the people that helped us out with that - you know who you are! :-)

We expect incredible things out of 2018, and can’t wait to share it on the mat with all of you.

Now, enjoy this video to wrap up 2017.

Happy New Year!

David Corrigan
Owner/Chief Instructor
Progressive Martial Arts Academy