ju jitsu

The Impact of Memories

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As a martial arts teacher, I interact daily with lots of people. I’m acutely aware that as a teacher, I have a certain amount of influence with my students, of course more with some than with others. Although I may not always succeed, I try to leave them a bit better from our interaction. Whether its a class, a formal progress check or just a quick mat conversation, I do my best to give them my full attention and to leave them with a “nugget” when I have one to give. Hopefully, I’m creating some positive memories. Perhaps sometimes it might not even quite be a memory, it might be just a feeling, nothing they can put their finger on, just a sense of acceptance from someone they might respect. I have had a lot of really great role models, people who have created positive memories for me and who, for one reason or another, have really made an impact on how I live and view my life.

Like most people, I have also experienced, first hand, examples of really poor role models. I’ve seen people demonstrate exactly how to create a bad memory for someone else. I’ll never forget the first day of in a new junior school.  After being introduced to the class by my new teacher, I was shown to my desk. It was the place that I would spend my days for the next several months. My first interaction with another student was when William, the kid to my right, put gum on my seat. Then, at break time, he called me out. I didn’t even know what that meant, but I knew it couldn’t be good. He had to explain it to me.

Over time, I learned that William was pretty harmless. A lot of bark, but that was about it. I ended up making plenty of new friends and school turned out okay after all.

I wasn’t traumatised for life by William (although the fact that I’m sharing the story now is probably a bit telling). I just didn’t like him. Ever. We went to school together for years. At one point, in an effort to become friends, he even invited me over to his house to play. However nice he was to me, I just couldn’t forget the memory of trying to remove gum from the seat of my school trousers without looking stupid.

If William walked in to my academy today to say “Hi,” would I want to give him a “Private lesson” and show him what I’ve spent my life practicing? Honestly, no. But…we were kids. It was just junior school. We all did stupid stuff back then. Most of us probably still do. So, if William, walked into my school today to say “Hi,” I would greet him warmly, talk of old times and then wish him well, sincerely. But, it wouldn’t be the same as seeing Robert, the kid who stuck up for me on the playground, or Miss Elledge the teacher who encouraged me when I really needed it.

We all are creating memories for others every day, those of us that are teachers even more so.

Years from now, when those you used to know, those you used to teach, see your picture or hear your name, what memory is going to rise in them? Let’s make some memories.

Thanks William, Robert & Miss Elledge for the great lessons.

Why did I Start Training?

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I love my profession. I’m extremely proud to call myself a Martial Arts Instructor. I believe that one of the most important factors that will increase my student’s success in Martial Arts, or anything else for that matter, is my own belief that they can succeed.

Do you remember your first “white belt moment” – a moment or epiphany early in your journey when things clicked into place for even an instant and you realised for the first time “I can really do this” or you thought “Jiu Jitsu is for me!”? I remember my first Taekwondo lesson when I was only 7 years old: my instructor taught me a punch and a front kick. At the time there was a bully at my school that was making life unpleasant for me and many of my friends. Although I never had to use it, I clearly remember the moment of learning the techniques, thinking it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen, and instantly feeling more confident and empowered, and i never looked back. I was hooked on all martial arts and over the past 12 years Jiu Jitsu has been my obsession.

I’m sure you have a similar “white belt moment” or “ah-ha” where everything clicked into place for you emotionally, mentally, and physically. What was it? What was its lasting impression on you? How did it steer you towards your current path as a martial artist?

There may not be only one white belt moment that we remember either. Many moments may have combined together to set you on your path and purpose. Just as you can remember this moment or series of moments, what is so wonderful about what I do is that I like to think I create similar memories for others every day with my students, families, even for myself!

It’s important to remind ourselves of these types of moments – the sparks that ignited our passion, or the reasons why we fell in love with the lifelong journey of Martial Arts. This week, reflect on the following questions:

  • What prompted me to start training?

  • What was my first “white belt moment”? What goals did I want to achieve at that time?

  • What goals do I still have today?

  • Who was that positive person who guided me along my martial arts journey?

  • If you are an instructor, are you that positive person for your students?

  • Would I be the same person now if I did not train at all?

  • What does it mean to me to share white belt moments with my students?

  • What will nurture my instructor enthusiasm with my students so every class feels as exciting as my first class?

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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I remember the first time I got my hands on a self-improvement book, I had just turned 25 and I was baffled. At that moment I realised my fate was not set in stone. I could become my own drill master and coach. The books I read would set out the training course for me to overcome. All I had to do was listen to that voice that aspired to climb higher and higher. Every time I committed to a new challenge I knew it was going to be outside my comfort zone, but after enough iterations, I also knew it will not just be part of my repertoire, it will be part of me. While I acknowledge some inherent dangers in the concept of self-improvement, I still believe in the beauty of self-directing your life. 

The title of this book doesn’t capture it all. Covey shares with us seven habits one should adapt to become truly effective in whatever you would like to achieve. Of course, it is not as easy as it sounds. He stresses the fact that we need to go through a paradigm shift – a fundamental change in how we perceive the world and ourselves. This book can be read as a guide, with practices and everything, to go through the stages in order to make such a shift happen. Part shock-therapy, part ageless spiritual wisdom, Covey’s book is packed with wisdom that actually makes a difference. And, as I mentioned, don’t let the title of the book fool you; it is about much more than just becoming more effective. It is about becoming a person who not only seeks the best in oneself, but also in the people around them. A must read for anyone who feels there is always something left to learn.

Balance of a Martial Artist

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The ideal martial arts instructors are always where they are supposed to be, when they are supposed to be there, physically, mentally, and emotionally. They are not irrational or imbalanced, regardless of personal circumstances, are able to lead by example with the qualities of a champion. This is something we should all be continually striving for on our journeys.

Balance is a critical piece of this puzzle. In order to be an outstanding Martial Artist, one must have a good sense of balance. If you lose your balance in a fight, you could easily lose the fight. The keys to maintaining your emotional balance are to stay calm, centered and focused even when faced with extreme difficulty at hand. The parallel human quality to balance is rationality. To be rational means to think logically and clearly without emotion.

You can always find a reason to be irrational or emotional....especially if you are looking for one. Have you ever known someone that is easily offended...someone that practically looks for reasons to get upset? I thought so. Me too.

How about someone that can remain calm in a chaotic situation or rarely takes personal offense to anything...? Someone that gives others the benefit of the doubt and does not take things personal or with poor emotion? Yeah. Me too.

So today's question is... Which person are you? Which person do you want to be? How can you channel your inner champion by remaining calm in an otherwise challenging spot?