leading, following or getting out of the way

We ‘learn’ (or more importantly develop the behavioral patterns) of leading, following or getting out of the way from the way we live all the details of our lives. Sometimes we have to unlearn this habit or learn discretion so that we make good initiative decisions.

Unfortunately, I think that as a modern trend, ‘cooperation’ has turned people into followers instead of ‘team players.’ I see it in my son at times when he talks about gym class or even music. “Second violins are just as important as first violins, says Mrs. XYZ” is his response when I tell him that being promoted to first violin is a sign of improvement and that it is okay to strive for personal best…..

Second violins ARE as important to the whole as first violins BUT, generally speaking, first violins are FIRST because they are better players.

I have never really been the wall flower in a group and at times that has meant that my mistakes or failed attempts have been very obvious and noticeable, but I have LEARNED from those mistakes – in and out of martial arts. I took those risks knowing that there was a risk…and learned that there is a price to acting, but a larger ones usually (life long regret at the very least) if you don’t act.

I think as instructors and parents, it is sooo important to do more than pay lip service to the idea that people can have “good initiative” but may have exercised “poor judgement” and give people, students and ourselves room to screw up but learn from that. When we were in the Bos, I use to tell my squad that it wasn’t the mistakes that we made that defined our character but how we dealt with them afterwards. On the positive, be accountable for yourself, learn from it, identify what needs to be corrected and move on. On the negative, deny, deflect and lay blame/cut someone else down to make yourself feel better and you’ll just do it all over again later on.

Though I don’t think that one automatically leads to the other, I do think that daily practice of moral/character and leadership habits in a moral courage way can make physical courage/crisis leadership habits easier to ‘learn.’

-Paul Martin

a few self-defense thoughts

1. Your mind is your greatest asset or weakness, depending on how seriously you take self-defense.

2. Accept that it can happen to you and probably will sometime in your lifetime.

3. What if… What would you do? This is where you need to think about the response you will make if put in any imaginable circumstance. Then develop a plan of action for each event. It’s much easier to make a wise decision when you have had time to think and prepare instead of when you are suddenly confronted without warning or planning.

4. Visualize your plan. I call this mental imagery training. It’s a must if you’re serious about self-defense. You visualize a perpetrator attacking you and you visualize your measured and strong response. You must be able to see yourself taking action and exerting the will to win.

5. Always follow your gut feeling. The golden rule is “If something seems wrong, it probably is.”

6. Weapons are no good if you don’t know how to use them confidently and effectively and a weapon is no good if you can’t get your hands on it immediately.

7. Never go with an attacker to a second location. Your first priority should be to get away, no matter what you have to do.

8. Ninety percent of all criminals use some method of deception to attract their victims.

9. If an attacker has grabbed you, focus on the parts of your body that are free and the attacker’s weak spots (eyes, groin, throat, little finger, etc.) and use them to get away.

10. Never pull a weapon you are not prepared to use. It could be used on you.

general rant

yell (Photo credit: mikeyp2000)

For some reason, lately, I have been coming into contact with people who want to know about martial arts training and self defense and more (as if being a martial artist makes me a ‘life coach’ or ‘guru’ or something). They ask about issues of title, rank, character/talent… and then start talking about what they read on the internet, saw in a movie, heard from some guy they took classes (and the only guy they ever took classes with too) with the conviction that they are ‘right’ (in that absolutist way) about their perspective on the issues…

Here is where it sticks in my craw during these discussions: THere seems to be some confusion about a person’s ‘right to their opinion’ meaning the same thing as everyone’s opinion being of equal value. Now, I don’t mean to sound mean or snobbish, but it just ain’t so. Just because I know about a subject, doesn’t mean that I am experienced, and definitely means I don’t carry much/any wisdom about it.

If you’ve never been a parent, you may think you know what it is to raise a child. And, admittedly, you may have some ‘perspective’ on the issue from your own upbringing and contact with others who do have children…but until you experience it, you don’t have wisdom. Heck, even having one isn’t justification to think you know what it takes to raise multiple children…

Anyone else have any dealings with the ‘armchair experts’ who, basically, have minimal knowledge, no practical experience, yet feel that they can pass wisdom on? Sorry to vent, but I’m getting sick of the ironically Bradburyian reality of members of the ‘soundbyte’ culture laying judgement on those who actually do more than read the internet or hide behind excuses when their entire position on any given topic is nearly always from internet blogs, movies, or Wiki type sources and not from training, experience, or education.

-Paul Martin

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