Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gratitude- The act of Gassho

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. ... We must be the world we want to create.” - Mahatma Gandhi

I deliberately waited until after Thanksgiving to post this entry, because I feel that gratitude should be a daily expression. This time of year, most of us adopt a way of being that is more caring and giving. You will find people, usually strangers wishing each other a happy holiday. In general, we become more tolerant and understanding the closer we are to these holidays.

If we take stock of our lives we will find that we have much to be grateful for. Each day that you are in the wonderful adventure called Life is a day to be grateful for. As human beings we have a natural tendency to focus and highlight the negative in our lives. Consider for a moment, that if we merely switched our perspective instead from the negative to the positive, our daily outlook would shift as well.

Starting with the physical, I had injured my back a week ago and so moving or kicking or even sitting in some cases was very uncomfortable, to say the least. As a Karate instructor not being able to move, kick, or sit properly made teaching quite interesting! So I had a choice, I could focus on the negative, my lack of mobility and back pain, making each day a miserable one. Or I could focus on the positive, my lack of mobility and back pain, which caused me to slow down, listen to my body and get to the root of the pain and tightness in my back. It caused me to look at different methods of stretching and to engage in some yoga. This in turn allowed me to be centered and at peace while I was practicing. I was also able to engage in various strengthening exercises which diminished the pain and increased my range of mobility.

Granted this is a small, albeit mundane example of a perspective shift, but it was profoundly impacting on other areas of my life. If you take on an attitude of gratitude you will find that every area of your life will be impacted.

In the area of relationships we have all heard that life is too short to harbor grudges, this is true in my opinion. When you are grateful to have someone in your life, the arguments that can occur, the cold wars, and the silent treatments all become petty wastes of time if you truly shift your perspective. Be grateful that you have someone in your life to love, and that you are loved by someone in return.

When we train we do something that is called Gassho, which means being grateful for. At the beginning of each class we put our hands together over our heads and bring them downward to our center. In many cultures this is a symbol of humility and gratefulness. When we do it in class we are humbly thankful for another opportunity to train, we are thankful for all who have come before us who made it possible for us to train. It has even broader applications, when we perform Gassho we are thankful for all the people in our lives who made it possible for us to have one more opportunity to train, starting with our parents and ending with our teachers and fellow students.

Some words to remember:

To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude."
- Albert Schweitzer

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Power of Thought Part II

Today I want to discuss procrastination. The death knell of many hopes and dreams can be described by this one word. I understand that this is human nature and that we have all put things off. What I want you to consider is that the future you are living into is taking place right this moment. One of the more grounded analogies that comes to mind is the author. He imagines a story and a written and published work. Unless he sits down to write, that book will remain just that, a thought. I have found that we do this in every aspect of our lives.

We put things off because they are difficult or we want to avoid confrontation, or simply because we just feel lazy that day or given moment. Whatever the reason, when you procrastinate you set in motion a way of being that has the potential to be ineffective, frustrated, unhappy, stressed and generally dissatisfied. We all know the adage about not putting things off for tomorrow that can be done today. How many of us actually practice it? If our thoughts have the ability and power to become manifest, what does it mean when we procrastinate? Thought must be coupled with action, it isn't enough just to have great thoughts. The thoughts must be given wings, and yes, we must dream and desire.

The second part of the process requires taking the actions that will set those dreams in motion. It is not enough to dream of being a great author, if fail to write down any words, the dream will remain a dream. Use the power of thought but don't get caught up only in the thinking phase, structure it so that the thoughts give you impetus to take action. Make the time you need to get what needs to get done, done.


Procrastination is opportunity's assassin. ~Victor Kiam

strong spirit strong mind strong body

Sensei Orlando

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Power of Thought- Part I

Consider for a moment that everything that is around you(that is man-made), started out as an idea. Give it a moment. The chair you are sitting in, the car you may drive, the clothes that you are wearing, even the monitor which you are using to view this blog, all of them started out as a thought, as an idea. Now consider for a moment that you can shape what you call "reality" by taking control of your thoughts.

I know this sounds radical but let me give you a very simplified example. You wake up in the morning, dreading the day. You say to yourself I think I'm coming down with a cold. Very shortly afterwards, the symptoms of the cold have fully manifested in your body. Here is the other side to that scenario, you wake up feeling achy, but rather than succumb to the feeling, you tell yourself, "there is no way I'm getting sick". I have too much to do or I have a deadline to meet. Amazingly the "cold" that was coming on disappears.

What I want to share with you is that our thoughts have real power. If you gave the opening paragraph some consideration, you have realized by now that we live in a world of manifested ideas and thoughts.

So, in your own life, if you desire to have the life of your dreams, you must learn to shape your thoughts and way of being so that you are that which you want to eventually become, right now. If you eventually want to become, for example, the CEO of a successful company, you must right now begin to present yourself to the world as if you already were the CEO of a successful company, in terms of your overall self-presentation to the world of dress, speech, and manner.

Projecting your future into the present through utilizing your thoughts, will have the effect of the world responding to you as that which you are projecting, and before you know it, “the future” will merge into your present reality. To make it simple, think of reverse-engineering your life. Picture the life you want to achieve, say being a successful (fill in the blank). Now imagine what it would require for you to live that life. Think about it everyday, and just as important as the thought, take the actions necessary to bring those thoughts to reality.

You will find that your greatest obstacle in this process will be procrastination. Putting things off until its "just right" or until the planets align or until you are completely ready are just a few of the excuses we create to spin our wheels and get nothing done. Remember thought is power, and action manifests those thoughts.

More on procrastination in Part II.

Think powerful positive thoughts everyday, and act on them.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Integrity- Why it is essential

Do I really need to have integrity?

The definition of integrity according to Webster's Dictionary is, 'a rigid adherence to a code of behavior.' There are though many ways to look at a persons integrity. A person with integrity possesses many qualities. Three of these qualities are honesty, the ability to follow a moral code, and loyalty to yourself and your beliefs.

I would add that to have integrity means being your word. Let me clarify. If a person possesses integrity, it means that they do what they say they will do and when they said it would be done. If ultimately, all we have as humans is our word, then our relation to keeping our word is of primordial importance. If I tell someone I will meet them on Monday at 3pm, then it is a matter of integrity that I keep that appointment. This is not to say that something may occur to hinder my making that appointment. Life does happen, and many times things we do not for see can make it difficult for us to keep our word. What do we do when this occurs? We stay in communication and restore our integrity, in this particular case, if I know I wont make my 3pm meet, I call the person in question and tell them I cant make the meeting and reschedule for a time that works for both of us.

I have come to discover that without integrity as the foundation, you cannot endeavor towards or aspire to great things. Integrity is the lynch pin upon which every great undertaking depends on.

The state of integrity runs across many different spheres and disciplines. You can find the mention of integrity in ethics, philosophy,law, science, and mathematics. While it may exist in all of these areas, if it is lacking in your life then you will be constrained to living a life in which your word has very little, if any value.

Strive to have integrity in everything you do, whether great or small.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Courtesy in Martial Arts and Life

When restraint and courtesy are added to strength, the latter becomes irresistible- Mohandas Gandhi

What is courtesy and why is it necessary?

The dictionary definition of courtesy is: excellence of manners or social conduct; polite behavior. Within the context of the martial arts courtesy plays an integral role in our journey through our respective paths. Courtesy dictates how we interact with each other, inside and out of the dojo. Intertwined with courtesy is respect, for ourselves and for others.

When we bow to each other, we are not being subservient, but rather we are extending courtesy to our fellow students. When we train, and train hard, we never forget that the rules of courtesy dictate that we place others before ourselves. This translates as being aware of your fellow students well being, state of mind, and overall energy in the class. It also means being concious of the rank of the seniors and extend them the courtesy their rank dictates, just as it will be shown to you when you achieve the same rank.

Real courtesy carries with it the implication of modesty and sincerity as well as mere politeness. It permits equals to show mutual respect while simultaneously accepting that each of us, in one way or another, is subject to a higher authority. Children should always be courteous to their parents and elders, students to teachers, employees to employers, etc., and those who hold positions of authority must demonstrate that they are deserving of respect by being courteous to those over whom they have authority.

Courtesy is demonstrated throughout the martial arts world when we greet each other through the sincere act of bowing. Yet, there are many other ways that courtesy is demonstrated in the martial arts and your life. Being polite and showing good manners, saying nice things to people you go to school with, meet during the day in the community or live with, are just a few ways you can show courtesy.

One of the most important ways to show courtesy in your life is through tact, which means not using , insults or ridicule to embarrass or hurt others. This may seem difficult when you may be hurt or embarrassed by the treatment of others, but it is important that you act with courtesy and tact regardless of how others behave towards you. By remaining above the negative behavior of others you will be building your self-esteem and others will value your integrity.

Show courtesy by being kind and considerate of others and expressing gratitude for the things people do for you, no matter how "insignificant" it may seem. Remember to say “thank you” when a person is kind to you. Remember that you create a better space in the world, by being generous and giving others credit for the kind things they do and letting them know you consider them valuable in your life.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Train like its your last day

There is a concept in martial arts called ren ma. Loosely translated it means: To cultivate and achieve perfection through tempered training. When going into more detail the definition exceeds the adage of "practice makes perfect"
The classic saying - "Practice makes perfect" may seem similar in meaning to what ren ma is about however, ren ma has a much deeper connotation, particularly to those who are serious about their training, development and achievement. ren ma reminds us that to achieve perfection in martial sciences or any biomechanical endeavor requires extremely diligent and never ending tempering, polishing, and refinement.
Kata embodies the idea of ren ma, or "always polishing" – with diligent practice, the moves of the kata become further refined and perfected. The attention to detail that is necessary to perfect a kata cultivates self discipline.
Why should we strive to continually polish?
To quote one of the founding fathers of karate: "The ultimate aim of the art of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the characters of its participants."Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan Karate-Do.
Ren ma goes beyond practice and speaks to the attitude we must possess when training. Train like its your last day, means that in each training opportunity, in and out of the dojo, you give it your all, holding nothing back and keeping nothing in reserve. Every technique is real, every moment is life and death.
When you train like this, you cultivate the character and spirit to overcome any moment of adversity. This translates directly into every facet of life outside of the dojo. When you are constantly polishing, tempering your character, no matter what life may throw at you, you will be able to withstand it because you have done the work, and prepared yourself.
Sensei Orlando
strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Discipline of Repetition

Why do we practice? More importantly why do we practice so often? In an earlier post I discussed diligent practice(see Today I want to discuss why we have to do so many of the same techniques over and over and why this cultivates discipline. Webster defines discipline as: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. When we execute techniques over and over we are forging a certain type of character in ourselves. We live in a society that gets easily bored and our attention spans have been shortened considerably. In a society where everything has to happen "yesterday", the practice of martial arts forces you to take the slow track to excellence. You cannot earn a black belt overnight or even in a year. On average it takes 4-5 years for a first degree black belt depending on where you study. In order to achieve this you must have discipline. In order to pursue any endeavor with excellence, it requires discipline. I'm sure Tiger Woods still practices his swing even though he is a champion. If you look at any person who is in the elite of their respective fields, you will see one common theme- discipline.
Do we need discipline? Not really. We can all "get by" even when we aren't disciplined. We can make ends meet, train every so often, and cruise through life. The question is do you want to excel? If your answer is yes, then you need discipline. If you want to achieve great things and impact others and the world, you need discipline. It means doing things over and over. It means not getting bored easily, but understanding that each time you do that same technique, practice that speech, have that conversation, you are getting better and moving closer to mastery.
On whatever path we choose to embark upon, mastery should be our goal. Take the first step today and discipline yourself each day to keep taking those steps.
strong spirit-strong mind-strong body
Sensei Orlando

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

No Pain-No Gain?

This is a saying that is heard often in gyms and other types of training halls. I would like to say that its quite inaccurate. If you are experiencing pain, its very unlikely you will continue training to make gains. Pain at its very basic level is your body signalling that there is something wrong or that it has suffered some type of trauma. The distinction I want to make here is that there is a marked difference between pain and discomfort. In addition every persons pain threshold is different.
When we are referring to making gains (i.e. growing stronger, moving more weight, being more flexible, adding muscle, greater cardiovascular capacity) there will be times when we will experience discomfort. The body being the amazing adaptive machine that it is, requires us to stress and push it if we want to make significant gains in certain areas. What we may consider to be pain may only be discomfort. When I train students, I always tell them, pain usually stops you in your tracks, while discomfort, allows you to work through it.
This is not to say that you cant train while in pain, and certain situations may require you to work through the pain. These occurrences however are not the norm and you should listen to your body if you are in pain.
Discomfort on the other hand should never stop us. If we let it, we will find ourselves making excuses at every turn because we are no longer in what we may consider our "comfort zone". This not only applies to training, but to life. You will never have any gains as long as you remain in your comfort zone. In order to grow you have to stretch yourself, try new things and be willing to risk the comfort.
Any new endeavor will have moments of discomfort, that is when you are growing. Any training regimen contains moments of discomfort, if you are not willing to work through them you will not see the gains on the other side.
Ultimately the decision is ours to make. Are we willing to be uncomfortable in order to grow and make gains in every part of our lives, or will we strive to remain in our comfort zones- comfortably stagnant?
Sensei Orlando
strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Circular vs Linear

Life is a circle. The fastest way between two points is a straight line. I'm sure all of us have heard one or both of these sayings. In martial arts many styles are defined by the way you attack or defend. Aikido for example is considered a circular art, redirecting attacks and using an opponents energy against them. Karate, and styles like it are linear going directly to the opponent in the fastest way possible. Many times in life we encounter situations that may be resolved with a linear approach, but require us to be circular. Sometimes it seems that being circular, taking the longer route, is less efficient.

While I'm all in favor for direct approaches there have been many times in my life where I have had to take the longer path because it was required of me or because there were things I needed to learn. Let me apply this to being fit. Many of us, on day one of our workout routine are excited to begin, we start with the knowledge that it will take some time to get to our goals. After some time though, about a month to three months we get disenchanted with the circular path of being fit. We want a direct path, maybe even resorting to drastic measures like fasting or trying whatever product is the fad now to get you the body you want in just a few short weeks. What we don't realize is that in this case the circular path is the most direct path.

In life sometimes the path of taking shortcuts can turn out to be longer in the end. We pride ourselves in being in a society that is overwhelmingly fast. We have fast food, fast service, and everything must occur yesterday.

I encourage you to slow down and appreciate those things that take longer to achieve, when we focus on the journey and not just the goals we find that its the journey that makes it all worthwhile, even while achieving our goals.

Sensei Orlando
strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Power of Intention- Mind Over Body

The subject of the power of intention has received much attention as of late. I would like to suggest that this is not a "new " trend, but something that has existed as long as humans have been on this planet.
It was brought to my attention many years ago that everything you can see, touch or feel was once an idea in someones head. Obviously this points to man made objects not nature. That being the case its quite a profound thought if you take a moment to ponder it. Where ever you are if you look around you will see things that were in some one's head. If you are sitting on a chair while you do this, the very chair you are sitting on was once an idea. The ramifications of this thought process is that we exist within a world of ideas, some in a gestational stage and some fully developed and still some evolving and ever changing. How is this applicable to how you train? If you have goals as something to strive for(being fit , stronger, ripped, more flexible, whatever the case may be) the goals that are attained are the end result, and the genesis of these results have to be your thoughts, your ideas.

Everything we do begins and ends in our heads. Sometimes we may talk much but do little. We can be full of great ideas but if they are not acted upon, they remain ideas. I also believe that if you sit on a great idea for too long, it occurs to someone else who will act on it and then you can be one of those people who can say " I had that same idea!" The only difference being that you chose not to act on the idea you had.
One example that I deal with on regular basis is in my own training. I have found that if I quit in my head, my intention being that one more set is too much or I'm too tired or its too early (fill in the excuse) what occurs is that my body follows suit and shuts down. The power of intention is so powerful that whatever you give voice to (even in your head) comes to pass in your life. This means that the thoughts we have need to be empowering ones, thoughts and ideas that further us along our goals in our lives.

May all your thoughts be powerful and full of greatness!

Sensei Orlando
strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Monday, May 18, 2009

Restful Activity

After taking a week from writing and blogging I realized something very important that we seem to neglect in our lives. The need for restful activity. We have a tendency to run at breakneck speed and in many cases, disregard the messages our bodies send us. We trade off hours of sleep for imagined productivity, and we quickly descend into the mindset of "everything has to happen yesterday."

Every so often we need to take stock of the situation and engage in some restful activity. It sounds like a paradox- being active while resting, but making time for rest while being less active helps us to de-stress and recharge. Restful activity can be any activity you can do while still maintaining a posture of rest. Reading a good book, having a great conversation, meditation, kata practice, and writing are a few of many activities you can enjoy. You may notice I did not mention any activity where your mind is not engaged. This is not what many consider "vegging out." Your brain and mind should be part of whatever activity you undertake, while your body benefits from the lowered demand and rests. If we practice restful activity at least once a day we will notice that we have more energy and vitality. With this practice in place we can offset the effects of stress, and enjoy the benefits of a centered life.

Sensei Orlando

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What is Zanshin?

There is an old story about a young man who sought teaching from a great swordsman. After being accepted, the student endured several years of personal service -- cooking, washing and cleaning for the teacher. Then his lessons began, but not practice with a sword. His teacher began to surprise him with incessant attacks with a practice sword -- when the student was cooking, sleeping, anytime. Over time the student's pains and bruises lessened as he gradually learned to avoid and dodge the attacks. Finally the student asked the teacher when actual sword training was to begin. The teacher then replied that he had been taught all that he needed to learn. This was zanshin, such total awareness that the student could sense and then avoid the attacks.
The story illustrates the awareness we all seek to attain. Zanshin loosely translated means the state of total awareness. It means being aware of one's surroundings and enemies, and also being prepared to react. It is what I call developing radar and taking in not only the person that seems menacing or off, but your surroundings as well. The only way to cultivate this type of awareness is through practice and being immersed in the type of situations that would warrant using and needing this type of awareness. In many schools attacks are non linear or you face several opponents at once. In other schools, blindfolds are used to heighten the remaining senses and create a state of Zanshin.

Whatever your method we can all benefit from walking around more aware of our surroundings. Take stock of where you are and who is around you. Take in the surroundings. Are they dangerous? Do they have the potential to be dangerous?

There is an old samurai saying, "When the battle is over, tighten your chin strap." This refers to constant awareness, preparedness for danger and readiness for action.

Even when it seems things are not dangerous, maintain a state of readiness. It is always better to be prepared and not need to take action than needing to take action and not being prepared.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Monday, May 4, 2009

Active Self Defense - Working from your Center

In our most recent Self-Defense class we worked on using the center. It is an easy concept to understand, while also being one of the most difficult concepts to practice.

The premise is that if you are being attacked or are fending off an attack you want your opponent off balance and off center. You never want your opponent squarely over his base of power and at the same time, you want to remain over yours.

What comes into play is learning how to gauge distance, how to use your body and learning how to apply torque and twisting movements as well as when to take a step back, forward or to either side. Everything we do in self defense uses the concept of centering. When an arm is presented, if you allow the attacker to keep his arm close to his center, this provides leverage and makes it difficult to apply the correct biomechanical response to your advantage. When the same arm is moved away from the center, it becomes much easier to apply force and reinforce the biomechanics of the body, this allows for an easier execution of the self defense technique.

Likewise if you are being attacked, you should remain over your center and control where your balance and power are derived from. Remembering that much if not all of the power is generated from your hips using torque, centering becomes even more important. A lack of awareness in this area will result in poorly executed techniques and a lack of power in strikes.

Remember to always stay centered.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Monday, April 27, 2009

Active Self-Defense - Learning to fall

Last week, we went over some of our previous techniques, but I had a little surprise in store for the class. I brought out our tumbling mat and when it came time to learn our new technique, we practiced falling. It's quite a sight to see a child at play, fall. They can run, fall, use the momentum and get up and keep running as if nothing happened. As we get older we have a tendency to forget some of the things that are natural to us as children. Falling is something children can do with style. If you have ever seen a child unleash a temper tantrum you know what I mean. The interesting part is that they can fling themselves to the ground, but not hurt themselves. When it comes to the realm of self defense, it's important to know how to fall without hurting yourself, should you ever need to go to the ground or are taken to the ground. Intially we are rigid, but after some practice everyone in the class was getting the concept of "rolling to the floor". The idea is to think of yourself as a sphere and rather than fall back flat on your back, roll yourself to the ground letting the shock and impact "roll through you" rather than your body absorbing the impact.

The other ability children seem to have inherently is making themselves "heavy". We have all experienced this. A child is busy having fun and it's time to cut the fun short. The child is not having it, he wants to continue having fun! You go to pick up your child and find that instead of weighing twenty pounds, he has discovered the secret of super gravity and now weighs one hundred pounds! We all have this ability and many times its essential in defending yourself to displace your weight in such a way that you are "heavier" than you may seem. If someone wants to grab you and lift you from the ground, from any angle of attack, you can displace your weight so that you are heavier.

As adults there are many things we have to "relearn", but with enough practice we will find that these things, like falling and being heavy are part of us waiting to be rediscovered.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

The Bowl vs. The Pot - The Art of Flexibilty

I was sitting at my computer, when my wife asked me if I could clean a bowl for dinner. In my mind I wondered why would she want a bowl cleaned for dinner if she was going to start cooking? Wouldn't it be better to clean the pot she needed instead? Now let's look at this from a different point of view: my wife is in the kitchen cleaning some vegetables and meat for dinner when she asks me to clean a pot for dinner. I answer "which bowl?" The ensuing discussion became somewhat heated as we both felt that the other had said bowl and not pot. She claims I said bowl, I claim she said bowl. After a few minutes of this we both laughed (not before the temperature was raised as well as our voices) and we both realized how silly this argument had become.

After giving it some thought, I realized that many times we are inflexible. We stick to our ideas, not budging, not open to dialogue or discourse. We are so certain that we are right that we don't entertain for a second that the other person feels that exact same way. When we are rigid, we lose sight of the many opportunities that life presents to us. When we fail to bend, we have a tendency to break and shatter. In life, as in martial arts we must learn to adapt to new situations. Approaching each circumstance with an open mind and heart as to what the possibilities may be. When we do this and become flexible, no matter what storms life may bring us, we can weather them.

As for the bowl vs. the pot, well to this day it still remains a mystery, I'm going to settle on "powl".

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Active Self Defense - The EWW Factor

When I describe certain techniques in our self defense class I invariably get what I call the EWW factor. What I call the EWW factor is the expression I get every time I instruct someone in the group to shatter a knee or break a finger.
First the idea crosses the person's mind, then the actuality sinks in, "I should do what?" Then the reaction of denial, "I can't possibly do that to another person, after all I'm civilized" Here is where the mistake is being made. We somehow think that the person who wants to commit bodily harm is actually thinking of our well being . We default to our "nice" way of being because it's all we know and practice often. I want to dispel that myth for you right now. Someone who is attacking you and wants to harm you or your loved ones deserves no kind of consideration. There are no rules when it comes to your defense.What you need to do is devastate that person immediately without hesitation. I can assure that you are being viewed as a resource: either you have money, valuables, or even your person is the target of the attacker. The person attacking you has stripped you of any vestige of humanity and views you as less than what you are. It is your job to correct that impression and to do so with the utmost ferocity.

When I say grab a finger and break it, or take an elbow and smash it into a face. What I am saying to you is that you need to do whatever it takes so you go home safe, sound and alive. If I emphasize a technique that shatters a knee, it's so that person can no longer follow you to harm you.

Each Wednesday evening, we break through the "EWW" Factor as I demonstrate techniques and then have them done on me, not delicately, but hard and with intention. It's great to see the realization dawn on a person's face when they realize they can do a technique that doesn't require strength, just a knowledge of bio-mechanics. If we do them often enough, the conditioning of "niceness" that we have can be overridden. We can be devastating and explosive if and when the need arises. Self Defense is 90% awareness and 10% technique. That being said, the 10% needs to be effective, powerful, and practical.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Is MMA the natural evolution of Martial Arts?

Every time I hear that martial arts are going to disappear and MMA is going to take over I chuckle. I'm not denying that MMA is prevalent now (I even saw a very popular school change its name to include MMA). It's not that I am a purist. I think anyone who studies a martial art should cross train in another art that complements the art they are studying. For example if you study a standing and striking art, then you should complement it with a ground, grappling style.

What many don't seem to understand is that martial arts are meant to be encompassing.

No one style has everything you need. Before the splintering of schools, the sharing of knowledge was a common thing. Even now I interact with fellow students of different styles; jujitsu, aikido, muy thai, and karate that get together to share knowledge of techniques and what we can apply where. I think this is essential if martial arts are to move forward with the times. Many of the opponents to this kind of cross style interaction feel that something will get lost in the translation. Speaking from the history of Karate, I know that many of the old masters used to do just that. They would get together to share and find out what worked and discard what didn't.

I think that today this is necessary, and that we as martial artists should embrace the diversity that exists under the umbrella of "Martial arts". We need to share, learn from each other and support one another in our respective endeavors.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Martial Arts - Business vs. Tradition

More and more frequently, I come across young children who receive black belts. Adults and children both, have been attaining the rank of black belt after only a couple of years of training. So I took a moment and began to form the usual questions in my head (e.g. Did they have prior experience?) Then I stopped myself and thought "A 7-year old girl with a black belt?" What possible prior experience could she have?

Here is why I take issue with this situation. I am not saying that it's impossible to attain a black belt in a few years. I'm sure many have done it especially if they had prior experience. What disturbs me about giving a young child a black belt, is that a black belt denotes a certain level or proficiency. In essence a shodan (first degree black belt) says that you are now ready to begin serious training. It also implies a certain level of maturity and the ability to impart, at least on a basic level, the techniques that you, as a black belt have learned. When you attain the rank of black belt you are also viewed as a senior in the class, in which the ranks before you look to you and at you for instruction and some guidance.

By awarding a black belt to such a young child, all of the above is pretty much null and void. As an adult studying a martial art I have a hard time grasping the concept of a 7 year old being effective as my senior. I question the ability of ayoung child to have enough of a grasp of language to instruct and teach others the techniques that exist in most martial arts. As far as maturity goes, while I have seen some very mature children, I have not seen any at that age to be mature enough to understand the responsibilities that go along with the rank of black belt.

The real question is why does this happen? I'm sure this is not some isolated incident. My opinion is that the black belt is now more of a marketing ploy than anything else. There is a prestige associated with being a black belt. The marketing ploy ensures that the child (and his parent) stay at the school. Schools have twenty or so ranks (belts). Let me elaborate. When I first started training as a teenager the school I first went to had three ranks: White, Brown, Black belts. I understand now that school was very outdated and that instructor was adhering to a very old way of ranking. I didn't realize it wasn't the norm until I took up training much later at another school.

Then I found out about the schools that use promotions as method to increase revenue. These are the schools that have four ranks for white belt (white belt , white belt one stripe, white belt two stripes etc.), and four or five ranks for each subsequent belt. When it gets to this level it becomes silly and pretty meaningless. Each promotion requires the parents' monetary investment.

Are martial arts schools a business? Absolutely. The key is that they should be run with integrity and honesty.

I feel you can do both. Have a school that adheres to a fair ranking system while covering your overhead as a business. When the balance is tipped to either side (business vs. tradition) the students, instructor and the style can suffer.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Active Self Defense - Why it should be simple

Last week we had quite an interesting class and it drove home an essential point of self defense. What happens if I ever have to use what I know ? What happens to my brain and my body? More importantly will I be able to use what I know or have learned ?

One of the reasons why I make the techniques simple and using gross motor movements is that when the body is in a stressed state (i.e. being attacked) it starts to release adrenaline. In small doses, adrenaline is great for your body and when it feels threatened, the body releases this chemical as a defense mechanism, in preparation for the "fight or flight" response. One of the major effects that I am concerned with regarding this adrenaline dump is the loss of fine motor skills. I think we have all seen movies and I have even been to some schools that teach intricate, five step self defense moves that require pinpoint accuracy and the precise use of angles. I'm not bashing these techniques, but in a real life fight for your life situation, you would be very lucky to remember past steps one and two. It's just not going to happen. So what is the answer?

Make the techniques reflexive actions whenever possible. If someone is choking you from behind, your first action is to grab that arm and stop the choking, not drop into deep meditation and use your chi to explode your attacker away from you. I'm kidding, but you get the idea.
The counter to a headlock should include the reflexive action of grabbing the attacker's arm and using it to your advantage. This is how it should be whenever possible.

I'm all for intricate techniques and they have their time and place. That place is not on the street when your life, or the lives of your loved ones are on the line.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Friday, March 27, 2009

Overcoming Adversity

A firefighter friend of mine conveyed two stories to me that happened recently. He was called to an elderly woman's apartment and much to his shock found that the woman had fallen and broken her hip and had been in this condition for four days. When he asked this poor woman why she hadn't yelled or attracted attention her reply was that she didn't want to disturb her neighbors by being a nuisance. Shortly after this call he had to rush to another call where a man wanted to be taken to the hospital, the reason was that he felt his heart was beating a little fast, because his boss yelled at him and so he felt compelled to dial 911. I'll give you a moment to let the contrast set in... OK so what does this show us?

In of themselves, each of these stories is valid. The elderly woman was able to overcome pain and discomfort for days before she was discovered all because she adhered to a certain code of being. Likewise the gentleman may have felt his life was truly in danger from an accelerated heartbeat, and felt compelled to call 911 as a preventive measure.

Let's go a little deeper, what is the initial reaction when we hear these stories? The guy is a wimp, wuss, weak and cant handle the pressure. The elderly woman is brave, stoic, amazing, and has immense fortitude to withstand four days in that condition. Its not surprising that we are so quick to judge. We place each of them against the stereotypes we have created or have been exposed to throughout our lives and for many of us the man falls short.

The bottom line is that we don't know what will test our mettle and when we face adversity we should be prepared to face it head on. Each dealt with the situation they were faced with in their own way. You will deal with adversity in your own way.

What we must remember is that at some point we will all face some type of adversity, but we must strive not just to survive it, but to overcome and triumph in the midst of adversity.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Active Self Defense - Women's Defense

We had a great class this week and we discussed one of the basic principles of self defense: Awareness. I want to thank everyone who made it to class this week and made it a worthwhile learning and teaching experience.

This week we addressed a situation that is particularly feminine: The hair pull. What do you do if an attacker grabs you by the hair? Needless to say there are many options as to what your response can be. The initial reaction , the reflexive one, is to pull away which actually puts you at a disadvantage. so we worked on negating this reflex and utilized a few techniques that allowed the victim to lock the arm and strike at vital points.

It was quite the learning experience as we worked with different heights and different angles of attack. Kat deserves honorable mention for being our designated victim (hopefully not too much this class) and I want to welcome Maia to the class. I also want to commend Lori who made it to class despite her oral surgery, it was great having you there.

Going back to awareness, especially in the case of the hair pull, it's not going to happen when you are on a deserted street, although it can. It will usually happen when you can be distracted and in a crowd of people. What I suggest to the class was to increase your sphere of personal space.
Instead of the usual 18" that personal space is supposed to be make it closer to 36" inches or 3 feet. What this does is that it gives you a greater reaction time and also works on your awareness. Practice being aware of anyone who enters this sphere of space around you.

I look forward to seeing the group next week.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Diligent Practice

During one of the karate classes I teach as we were going over basics I was asked by student, " Why do we have to do these things over and over?" It was actually a very good question and from the perspective of a student how many times do I need to learn how to punch and kick and throw a person before I learn it. Why do it hundreds, thousands of times?
One of the reasons we practice , be it martial arts or really anything that we enjoy is to become better at what we do. In the case of martial arts we practice the techniques so they become second nature to us. We are constant teaching our bodies and brains that this is how we punch or kick and the body remembers this with practice. In other endeavors, lets say playing an instrument, it is practice that determines how well you excel with your chosen instrument.

The key thing about practice is that many times we just want to do something in order to be busy. Practice is not easy and is very rarely enjoyable. When we practice diligently we must practice those things that we are not good at in order to improve them. This is usually the opposite of what we do since we all like to the things we are good at. That is not what practice is for. In our times of practice we have to stretch ourselves and enter those areas where our performance is lacking and work and polish there. This means hours upon hours of hard work while seeing little result, this is why it must be diligent practice. When you practice make the practice itself the goal. work on improving the areas that you would normally avoid working on. It is this kind of practice that will give you the most benefit.

strong spirit- strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Active Self Defense - Making an Impact

For our weekly Self defense class, we discussed what to do when confronted with a gang or more than one attacker. I'm sorry to disappoint the ninja fans out there, but what you should do when confronted with this situation is what I have discussed all along... avoid. If at all possible, you should never, ever confront a gang on your own, it happens to be the worse of all scenarios, you are outnumbered, outmatched and you don't know if any of the gang members are armed. (When I use the word "gang" here I am referring to a group of people who are intent on doing harm and/or vandalism. I am not referring to any particular affiliation.)

I want to thank Michael who brought a variation to the wrist grab this week that made it challenging for some of the group to escape, and this is what we are all about. I bring real-life scenarios to the class and use the experiences we have to make our classes excellent. We also worked again on the headlock as a few of the students went home and practiced on spouses or friends and found that they couldn't escape.

We addressed the points that were missing in the technique and found that you could escape if you follow the steps (Tuck your chin, turn your head to the fist and push the elbow, barring that -grab the fingers and start breaking!).

This week we also worked on making an impact: using our palm heels and elbows to strike. I am of the philosophy that unless you have lots of years of training, it's hard to soft and soft to hard. If you are going to strike a hard part of the body you use what's considered a soft part of your body and vice-versa. So out came the body pad and everyone got to feel what it was like to actually hit something. Its quite different from hitting air which has little to no resistance and then hitting a 230lb attacker coming at you with the intent to harm you. I think its an exercise we must practice often as it helps dispel the myths with create in our heads from movies that one punch will take a person down.

Overall each class has become an excellent learning experience for both the class and myself and I look forward to each Wednesday!

strong spirit-strong mind- strong body

Sensei Orlando

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Active Self Defense - Violence Part #2

This week we continued to discuss violence, where it happens, how it happens, and in most cases why it happens.

It was, as usual a very interesting class. We went over our previous techniques and learned a new very useful technique (escaping the neck choke from the front). I want to give a special thanks to the designated victim this week, Kat, who red faced, was still able to point out to me that choking a person while explaining a technique is not the best way to get a technique across (especially for the person being choked) Thank you Kat. I want to thank our new attendees Linda Sue and Darryl who joined us this week.

Observations were made in regards to what it means to avoid dangerous situations. It is always better to avoid than to have to run and it is better to run than talk your way out of a situation, better to talk your way out than fight, and better to fight than to die.

I know this may sound morbid, but if your life or that of a loved one is on the line you better fight with everything you have. That being said if you are never in the situation to begin with (avoidance) then you will never have to use what you learn in our class. That is the ideal. I will never be proud or impressed if a student comes to me to tell me how he destroyed or hurt someone. My first question will always be, how did you get in that position in the first place? Just because you know how to hurt someone does not mean you should? - the only caveat to this is if you feel you are in imminent danger.

Our exercise for this week was simple: If you were an attacker, who would be your potential victim? How would you look for them? Which indicators told you that this person was a likely candidate to be attacked? Likewise which person would you stay away from? I look forward to the results from this exercise.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando


What does it mean to be aware? Many of us with the stresses of our lives and what we may consider the "daily grind" keep us preoccupied as we walk to and from the train station ,the office, and our homes. We walk around in a kind of fog, oblivious to what or who may be around us. It is this state of mind that can make us a potential victim. Rather than make eye contact many of us prefer to look down towards the ground with the thinking that if "I just mind my business" nothing bad will ever happen to me.

The dynamics of living in a city may make it a necessity to divert eye contact and to keep to yourself and I understand this dynamic.

I want to challenge you to live a different way, whether it be the city or anywhere else.
  • Carry yourself with confidence.
  • Look straight ahead when you walk.
  • Take in your surroundings, the people who are around you.
  • Make eye contact with people, although many will divert their eyes away from you.

What this does is help you exude a certain aura, a "vibe" that you are present to whats going on around you. It also makes you less likely as the target of an attack. Wherever you are, be aware, don't let stress or bills or any preoccupations keep you in a fog as to what is going on around you right now.

Live in this moment.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Friday, March 6, 2009

Active Self-Defense - Violence

Last night (Wednesday) we had another self-defense class. I must say I'm very impressed with how well the students are grasping the concepts.

We operate under the premise of educate-prevent-implement. It is important to understand the basics of self defense and educate yourself or get educated. It is important that whenever possible, you want to avoid and prevent any type of physical confrontation, whether that be by changing direction, crossing the street, entering a crowded area, or dialing 911. The last part of the training is the implementation.

In self-defense the actual physical aspect of self defense is a very small percentage. This doesn't mean it's not useful or practical to know how the body works and how to manipulate an attacker's body. I always say that the physical aspect of self defense is used when you are ambushed and facing imminent harm. Someone who broadcasts to you that they want to hurt you, is giving you your greatest weapon: Time. They are letting you get prepared to flee, if you can, deescalate, if need be, or get a weapon if absolutely necessary.

Self-defense is most importantly about using your head. It's about cultivating awareness, and yes I beat that concept into the ground each and every class because we have a tendency to walk around in a fog, unconscious, unaware of our surroundings and the people within them. So each class we expand a bit on the concepts and techniques, with the knowledge that we are not training to go toe to toe with an attacker. Our purpose is to incapacitate, distract, create an opening and get somewhere safe as quickly as possible with as little harm to ourselves as possible. I emphasize that many times.

We hear or read about violence and we never imagine that it can occur to us. We have this frame of mind that we are generally nice people and could never imagine being violent with another person, so we expect and wrongly assume that everyone else thinks the same way.

Violence is real, it can happen to you and it can happen to me. The sooner we grasp that idea, the sooner we can react to avoid or prevent it from happening to any of us.

I want to thank our newcomers last night: Tammy, Ron and Rosanna for joining us. Each time someone new joins, it brings new energy and makes the class that more enjoyable and satisfying. Thanks to all of you, who continue to attend each week, learning, practicing and asking the tough questions.

be safe

Sensei Orlando

Why study a martial art?

Many of us undertake the study of a marital art with a preconceived notion in our heads. Some are looking for discipline others are looking for confidence, still others are seeking a form of defending themselves. I want to suggest that while you may go in with any or all of these ideas into the study of a martial art, you may be surprised to find that they are all what would be considered secondary effects to the training that is martial arts.
When you diligently study and train, it requires discipline, like any endeavor that takes time to achieve or accomplish. And so discipline is cultivated, honed and forged into the character of the student. Likewise with confidence, executing techniques in front of a mirror, be it basics or kata requires little confidence. Change the setting from a mirror to a dojo or to a training hall filled with students and the context can directly influence your performance. "Are they looking at me?" The most obvious answer is - yes. If you are a senior, you are being observed so that the juniors may emulate you. If you are a beginner, you are being observed so that you may be corrected. (This is not to say that seniors don't need correction, sometimes they need more than the beginners.) The point I'm trying to get across is that if you dislike scrutiny and criticism, practicing a martial art may be something for you to reconsider.
In regards to defending yourself, I hold fast to the position that martial arts are not self defense.
That being said, with enough years of training, certain actions and techniques can become reflexive and lead to a furthering of study as to what may be used for self-defense. Learning the applications of katas (bunkai) can lead to a discovering of techniques that can be used to defend yourself. In many cases though, this is usually a journey undertaken alone or after many years.
So why study a martial art? If I'm not going to get what motivated me to join the art initially why should I study a particular art. Honestly I can say that one of the greatest attributes of martial arts (and I'm not making distinctions here) is that while training you get to discover yourself. No, I don't mean a trip to nirvana or enlightenment, although I'm certain those are also attainable through martial arts as well as other disciplines. What I'm referring to is that in the process of training you will discover and uncover your character, your strengths and your weaknesses.
What you do when you do discover these aspects of yourself is an indicator of your commitment. Do we downplay the weakness and emphasize the strengths? Or do we take a good look at those areas in our training and life where we need to train a little harder, be a little more diligent, have integrity and fulfill our word - first to ourselves and then to others. That is one of the encounters martial arts can provide you, if you are willing to embark on the path.
strong spirit-strong mind-strong body
Sensei Orlando

Friday, February 27, 2009

Active Self-Defense - Vocal Assertion

This week in our class, we dealt with "What is vocal assertion?" and "How can sound be a weapon in your arsenal of self-defense?"

As we mature and become adults, the opportunities for us to use our voices diminish. You rarely raise your voice (unless you are a fervent fan of some sports team) and we are taught that it is improper to raise our voices or yell. It is this default way of being that an attacker counts on. An assailant does not want attention and if you are loud, you are making it difficult for him to achieve his goal, which is to harm or rob you. In some cases, both. When you are in this situation, you yell, shout, scream... anything that will draw attention to yourself. The idea is to deter the attacker by drawing unwanted attention and giving yourself time to escape the area.

We also recapped our wrist grab and escaping from the headlock. This week we added the use of the fingers to get out of the headlock and what it means to be aware, so you don't end up with someones arm around your neck.

We also discussed carrying weapons. As I mentioned in class I am not against carrying weapons for your defense, but as I stressed in class if you carry mace and the wind is against you, you may end up being the one maced. Likewise if you carry a knife or box cutter or any other type of weapon, you have to understand that drawing a weapon takes time, precious seconds that you could be using to put distance between you and your attacker. Another point that was made in the class is that if you carry a weapon, you need to make sure you know how to defend against that weapon, in the event that the weapon is taken from you.

I realize we are living in uncertain times and people sometimes get desperate, it's one of the reasons this class exists (Come join our class next Wednesday! It's totally free!). Remember to always be aware of your surroundings, who is behind you or is shadowing you. Turn around and look.

I want to thank everyone who attended the class this week and especially our new visitors, Khadeidrae, Kat and Myron. It was really great being able to teach you all and I look forward to next week.

Have a safe weekend!

Sensei Orlando

Are Martial Arts Self Defense?

Many of us are under the impression that martial arts somehow translate into self-defense. My opinion is that martial arts are not self-defense.

What martial arts provide is the training, discipline and exposure to many techniques that, with enough time can comprise a form of self defense. When I say martial arts in this context, I am not referring to any particular martial art. I believe in the old adage, there are no superior martial arts, only martial artists. The reason I bring this topic up is that many schools purport to provide "self defense" and they play on the insecurities of the person considering practicing said martial art. What happens is that self-defense becomes a marketing tool to rope in prospective students.

Now I'm not saying you won't learn to defend yourself if you practice a martial art. Most martial arts have components of self defense, the issue lies with the timing of when the student is exposed to the application of techniques that would make up a self defense curriculum. Also lacking in most schools (not all) are the other sides to self-defense. The psychological aspect of self defense, the physiological aspects, what happens during an adrenaline dump, what is an OODA loop? These are some of the subjects that a good self defense class should address.

I am learning that the subject of self defense is wide broad and deep. I hope to continue learning so I can share with those I teach.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Active Self-Defense - Awareness Part #2

It was pouring last night and I didn't expect many people to show up. It was to my pleasant surprise that as I was bringing in the mats for the class that Madalyn was already in St. Marks. As I brought in the last of the mats and got everything situated, the group started coming in despite the rain. I want to thank everyone who came and especially our two new attendees Madalyn and Lori. Last night we worked on some basic conditioning, strength training and flexibilty. For many of us who lead sendentary or low physical activity lives, I'm sure the exercises came as a shock. Don't worry you will get used to it over time. We went over our wristgrab from last week ("answer the phone") and this week we acquired exiting from a headlock (" up and away"). I want to thank Nitin for being my designated victim. We also went over some of the aspects of situational awareness.

Here are some tips:
  • When walking home at night and its late - turn off the ipod or any other mp3 player that could dampen your ability to hear. Your sense of sound is an asset in your defense.
  • As soon as you are heading home, keep your cell phone handy, in this case handy means literally in your hand ready to dial 911 if need be.
  • Avoid dark streets if at all possible.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and listen to your intution, if something feels off or suspicious heed the warning and alter you actions accordingly.

These are just a few of the tips that what we covered in class and I invite those who attended the class to participate in the blog and post what stood out for them. Situational awareness is an important part of self defense. Like I have mentioned in class, you have to educate yourself, prevent and lastly if you have no other recourse implement the techniques that you have learned. In many cases there are cues that lead to a violent confrontation, what we need to do is become attuned to the cues and take the appropriate steps that can defuse and prevent a confrontation from occuring in the first place.

Friday, February 13, 2009


We live in what is called the information age. We can speak with anyone around the world instantly in the form of email or text messages. Everyday millions of conversations take place throughout the world. Often we feel that our most important conversations or communications are not being heard or understood.

In our conversations with those closest to us – family, friends and coworkers – we have to remember one very important thing called active listening. Active listening is listening devoid of any running commentary in our heads. It is listening, truly listening without interrupting, without second-guessing where the conversation is going.

We have all been guilty of “spacing out” during a conversation, only to wonder later on what it was we were discussing. When we practice active listening, we are truly in the moment, in the “now”. The person speaking to us feels truly heard and appreciated. Try practicing active listening this week. When someone speaks to you, stop and give that person your undivided attention. You will notice the change in them and in yourself. The lesson is in our anatomy, we have one mouth, but two ears – maybe listening twice as much as speaking is something we are designed to do.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body
Sensei Orlando

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Active Self Defense - Awareness

Last night (Wednesday Evening) we had our first Active Self Defense class. I have to say it was a great experience. First of all I want to thank all of you who participated last night. We had a great turnout. I want to thank Grant for graciously allowing himself be manhandled and contorted into very uncomfortable positions for our learning experience. Since it was our first evening we had introductions and covered some basic aspects of self defense, mainly that it is about education prevention and lastly when every other recourse is exhausted, implementation.

We discussed and shared why taking a self defense class is necessary (thanks Danielle B. for sharing about your experience on the subway) and why its important that when you walk alone, you walk with "intention"(thanks Danielle Z. for showing us what leisurely walking is and how it differs from walking with intention). Later on in the class we made mention that many of us walk around unconscious and Meera pointed out something very important, turn off your ipods or any other listening devices when walking home alone or in an area you are unfamiliar with. When you don't, you immediately place yourself in a position to be followed without your being able to hear if you are being followed.

Later on we worked on escaping a wrist grab (remember "answer the phone") and Ning pointed out what would happen if the assailant had long arms. She made the experience very realistic by promptly turning the tables on me, the "attacker" and making me the victim. Thanks Ning, keeping me on my toes!

We also discussed some other techniques and situations but most importantly using your common sense and listening to your intuition. Lastly we ended with some basic understanding of bio-mechanics - how the body works and how we can use that knowledge to our advantage.

I want to thank everyone who attended (Grant, Sarah, Nitin (and Naya), Meera, Lynne, Susan, Danielle B. and Danielle Z. and Ning for sharing of themselves and participating in making our neighborhood safer.

I look forward to each week of sharing with you and learning as you learn.

A special thanks goes to St. Marks Church (who donated the space) and Tammy who was instrumental in us getting the space.

Most importantly I want to acknowledge my wife, Dolly who made the forms, set up the table, and made it possible for me to focus on the other aspects of the class knowing that the details would be taken care of.

If you have any comments, suggestions, ideas, or thoughts please feel free to share them here with me and everyone else.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Being Postive

Has this happened to you? You feel a tickle in your throat and you utter these telltale words: “Oh no, I’m sick!” Next thing you know, a fever sets in, body aches, runny nose and before you it, you have a full blown cold. How about this? You feel a tickle, but you have a deadline to meet or some other urgent situation to address. The next words you utter are: “I don’t have time to be sick!” And somehow the tickle never develops into more than a tickle. The above examples are my personal experience, it may or may not be the same for you.

The one thing I can share with you is this; being positive in your outlook, words and thoughts help you to lead a positive life.

People who are always negative (and we all know one) have a tendency to be surrounded by negative situations or negative people. Like attracts like. Today even in the midst of problems and difficulties, try to be positive. By doing so, you attract the positive in life. Today when you see the glass with water leveling at the middle, see it as half full, not half empty.

strong spirit strong mind strong body

Sensei Orlando

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gratitude – Being Thankful

We spend most of our waking moments thinking and contemplating what we lack. It is the rare moment that we stop to take stock of our lives and express gratitude. It’s possible you may be asking why should I be thankful? The mere fact that you are reading these words means that one or both of your eyes is functioning pretty well. Be thankful for your sight. Likewise if you are healthy and alive, be thankful.

When you have much and everything overflows, be thankful. When things are scarce and there is lack, be thankful. I hope you are noticing the trend. Being thankful. For the large things and the small things. For the positive and the negative. Try to express your gratitude at least once a day. When someone does something for you, say thank you. I know it may seem antiquated in this day of emails and instant messages. Simply saying thank you can make a co-workers day. Saying thank you may not seem like much, but try it for one day. When someone says thank you to you, you feel appreciated and respected. It’s a food feeling. Today, express your gratitude; be thankful for what you have and who you are. When someone does something for you, say thank you.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Martial Arts as Exercise

Why engage in a martial art? Each of us will have a different answer to that question. Some for the discipline, others for the fitness, still others for the aspect of self-defense. Whatever your motivation, it has been shown by numerous studies that martial arts are beneficial as a form of exercise.

Martial arts are more than simply breaking a bunch of bricks and boards with various parts of the body. The Martial Arts are about discipline and balance. They are philosophies in and of themselves which teach good moral character, non-violent attitudes and behavior and spiritual enlightenment, the martial arts proscribe various movements and techniques which emphasize focus and centering by eliminating discriminatory consciousness and merging intention and action into an uninterrupted flow.

Many of the physical benefits of training resemble those achieved by any other form of exercise. A normal training session usually consists of a period of warming up stretching, then training. The exercise one gets from martial arts training improves balance, flexibility, stamina and posture. Weight loss is promoted through extended cardiovascular activity. These are all results of long term martial arts training. There are many different types of martial arts: Karate, Judo, Aikido, Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, TaiChi and many types of KungFu. The list is extensive. Find one you enjoy, if you haven’t engaged in physical activity, get a physician’s clearance and start.