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From the Sifus

There’s a difference, although a lot of the time, we don’t want to recognize it. And the topic has come up in a few different conversations over the last few weeks, so let’s get into it. Names have been omitted because people’s health is their own business, and they obviously decide who they want to share that stuff with. We’ve all been there. You’re sore, you’re tired, and you just don’t feel like coming in to train for the day. Sifu Lisa wrote a piece addressing some of this a couple of weeks ago, and if you haven’t, you should scroll back and check it out. So, you hurt. But are you HURT? We talk about the difference between discomfort and pain versus injury and damage for a reason. The first two, you can work through. You do it carefully, to avoid ending up stuck with the last two, because nobody needs to suffer unnecessary injury and damage. So, if it’s just aches and pains, you try and work through it. Because once you start waving off when you feel a little sore, it gets easier to do each time, and eventually you end up with “I haven’t been to train in a few weeks. How’d that happen?” Then there’s the flip side. You’re actually injured. Torn this, sprained that, etc. You know you can’t train the way you want to. The doctor knows you can’t train the way you want to. But damn it, now you WANT TO! So, let’s look at the problem. What’s injured? Is there stuff you can work on without aggravating the injury? Sounds like a plan. We’ve all heard the stories about how Sijo Bruce injured his back, ended up bedridden for a considerable amount of time, and took that time to compile his notes and writings into the Tao of Jeet Kune Do. So, if you have a sprained ankle, I think maybe you can still handle some chain punches. We’ve had one member come back after a time off, with doctor’s orders to restrict their activities until an ailment has abated. They could have taken that as an excuse to just stay home on the couch, but instead they came in, sat down with us, and started compiling a list of what they could do. I’ll say it again, they focused on what they COULD do, not what they COULDN’T do. A former training partner reached out the other day and let me know that due to some stuff they have going on, they aren’t in a position to continue training in a full-on striking art. They are instead looking into a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Program. They are still looking for a way to move forward. Another friend from out of the area was at one of the road seminars we usually attend every year. He came in with his arm in a sling, having torn something important in his shoulder (I think. It was a while back). I figured he was just there to observe and visit because that group from the seminars are all friends. Instead, he went out on the floor and started teaching a grappling block. With his arm in a sling. He was smart about how he did it, and he was careful, and he put on an excellent piece of instruction. Last story, and this one is mine. Years back, I think when I was going for Green Sash, I had screwed up my back (again). The test had a lot of grappling, and I had no way to really train it at the time. So, I came in to the school with a camcorder (pre-smartphones!), and Sifu Tom and a bunch of the students did all the grappling requirements so I could record them, study them, and eventually heal up to come back and test. I found a way to do what I needed to do, and fortunately for me, Sifu Tom and my classmates had my back (figuratively speaking). It’s kind of silly. When we’re a little sore, part of us wants to use it as an excuse to take a break from training. But when we’re legitimately injured, we can’t wait to get back on the mats. And maybe you can, as long as you’re smart about it. Consult with your doctors, consult with your instructors, and see what you can make happen.

You Hurt? Or You Are Hurt?


Change is hard. It’s scary stepping into the unknown and risking the possibility of failure. However, change also offers the chance of the greatest reward. But how do you move forward when everything in you is screaming that you should stand still? James Clear, in "Atomic Habits," has the answer, and it only takes two minutes. In a nutshell, the argument is this: if you are struggling to break a habit or start a new one, do something new for only two minutes. Want to start running? Run (or walk fast) for two minutes. Want to start reading more? Read for two minutes. Want to clean the kitchen? Wash dishes for two minutes. Set an alarm, and let yourself stop at two minutes if that’s what you want. So why two minutes? Well, humans are subject to inertia just like physical objects. When we’re at rest, it takes a little extra energy to get us moving. The idea of a full run is horrifying. But just putting on shoes? That’s easy. Just stepping outside? Also easy. But sometimes all we need is that initial push to get us in the right zone. And sometimes it takes a little more than that. So what if it takes a month of two-minute runs before you do a full mile run? That’s totally fine. The key is taking that first step. And the two-minute rule can help get you there. See you in training, Sifu Lisa

2 Minutes to Change


I Feel the Need, the Need for Speed!

Oh Shut Up Already!

You are not a martial artist

Ok. Settle down there, Maverick. ​ (If you didn’t get either of the above references, then go, watch the first Top Gun movie. Fix your life. I’ll wait.) ​ You’re back? Yes, it was a bummer about Goose, but it’s time to focus. ​ If you’re involved in martial arts, there’s a pretty good chance you’re into martial arts movies. Or you watch MMA. Or both. And if there’s one thing you see in both, it’s that, ‘damn those guys move fast. I want to train so I can be that fast’.  ​ And that’s great, but it’s not happening on day one. ​ Also, it’s good to remember that in the case of those movies, those scenes have been rehearsed a few hundred times by skilled stunt performers, and then gone through the film editing process. Of course, that’s going to look fast. In the case of MMA, and other professional fighting, those people earned their speed and technical proficiency through years of dedicated training. You think they were that fast when they started? Because they weren’t. They had to start putting in the work. ​ Your turn. Whatever your goal is in your training, speed will only come through time and consistent effort. You’ll earn your speed by starting slow, and doing it right. You’ve heard this a bunch of times if you train with us. Slow is Smooth. Smooth is Fast. If you do something really fast, but get it wrong, it’s just wrong. I’d rather see something practiced slow, and steady, and CORRECTLY, a few hundred times, than watch somebody be fast and not know where their punch or kick was going to land. Give yourself permission to go slow, and get it right. And over time speed will begin to show up to the party. ​ And if you’re thinking, I’ve been training for years, I should be able to start up faster than a beginner…. Nope. If it’s new material, if it’s something you haven’t done, let your ego go and start slowing down. Fast repetitions done incorrectly just build bad habits that are that much harder to break later. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing things with a beginner’s mindset. In fact, it will make you a better martial artist in the long run. Also, like I said above, movies are make-believe. Don’t worry about Goose. He went on to be in a lot of other movies and TV shows. It’s all fine. Sifu Jason

​As some of you know, I was an avid runner for years. I only stopped running about six months ago (that’s a separate post). Before that, I ran about 30-40 miles a week. Every Saturday, I would run ten miles, my own personal physical fitness test. And you know what thought ran through my mind before every single run? ​ “You're too old to do this. You can't do this.” ​ Again, a regular runner. Ten miles was nothing. Thirteen wasn’t much of a stretch. But this stupid voice at the back of my head would doubt me every time. ​ It also never stopped me. Why? Because I began to recognize that this was the pattern. I’d get ready to run, insecurities would rush to the front of my mind, and I’d run anyway. I actually named my inner critic: Hank. As I tied my shoes, he would whisper a bunch of nonsense to me. I’d wish him good morning and start running. ​ Am I schizophrenic? No. I just recognize that just because a thought comes from inside my mind, it doesn’t mean that it’s correct. It’s doesn't mean that it's the truth. ​ So what is it? It’s a defensive mechanism designed to protect me from harm. What harm? Failure. ​ That voice is a mix of all my life experiences, all my expectations for myself, and all the expectations and doubts other people have about me. It’s trying, in its own way, to keep me in a space that is comfortable, a space that is known. ​ And you have a Hank too. ​ Listening to him, though, means you don’t grow, you don’t achieve. Listening to him means you’ll never realize what you are actually capable of. ​ So how do you move forward? Simple: you keep working toward your goals in spite of your doubts, and you tell your own personal Hank to shove it. ​ See you in training! Sifu Lisa

​Push-ups are hard. (Yes, they are!) "I’m never going to get this." (Absolutely true!) "I’m never going to be a real martial artist." (You are not wrong!) ​ Except, you are. The problem is, if you believe you can’t accomplish something, you are correct. If you believe you can achieve something, you are also correct. The way you approach a challenge can either ensure your success or help bring about your failure. Here’s the critical part, though: most of the time, the assumptions we use to determine if we can succeed at something have never been tested. Are you just assuming you can’t do something? Have you put in the work to truly see if that is true? Doubts are normal, but you need to move beyond them if you want to achieve anything in life, be it in martial arts or any other arena. ​ So, let’s take me as an example. Honestly, I am not who anyone pictures when someone mentions a martial artist. The image that comes to mind is not a short, deathly pale, skinny, gray-haired 50-year-old woman with three kids who lives in the suburbs. That is not the martial artist avatar. ​ But that’s me, your burpee-loving Sifu. If I listened to what the world said, I would not be doing any of this. ​ So what made the difference? I decided to let my actual limits determine what I could or couldn’t do. And as I pushed those limits, I started focusing on what I’d actually accomplished rather than what I hadn’t. ​ "Hey, I did ten extra push-ups." (Yes!) "My squats were a little deeper today." (Progress!) Or in your case: "Hey, I only wanted to curse out Sifu Lisa three times during the warm-up rather than five times." (Victory!) ​ So start focusing on your progress as you continue on the road to figuring out your limits. Test your expectations, prod them, and I’m willing to bet you’ll soon find you’re capable of much more than you ever realized. ​ See you in training! Sifu Lisa


Questions, Questions, Questions


Burpees: A Love Story

If you've been on the mats for a while, it has probably already happened to you. The instructor has given out a drill, and you're going through the steps with your partner when it pops into your head: "But what if he/she does X, Y, or even Z? What do I do then?" ​ But do you ask the question? What if it's a stupid question? (It isn't.) What if the other students think it's stupid, or they already know the answer? (They might already know, but at one time they didn't.) ​ There really aren't stupid questions during your training. Okay, there was this one time with a TV reporter, but in fairness to him, he didn't realize he was answering his own question. And he wasn't even training. ​ For you guys, there really aren't bad questions. There might be bad times to ask, but not bad questions. We've seen that happen on occasion during seminars on the road, particularly when you are working with people who may have a fair amount of experience in their own art but very little in yours. Those situations are challenging because you often have only a short time to cover a specific piece of material, and you have to ask them to focus on that. ​ But if you have a question during a regular class, hold onto it until the class is ending, or possibly even catch the instructor afterward. It's possible they will tell you the answer to your question is further down the curriculum. It's possible they will take your question and use it to move the training forward in the next class. It's almost certain that if you had the question, someone else did too, and they also hesitated to bring it up. ​ Questions are not a bad thing. A good instructor will recognize that a question means you were engaged, interested, and thinking through your training because you are trying to improve. Pick the right times, and then bring out your questions. At some point, sooner or possibly later, they will get answered. ​ Stay the course, Sifu Jason

Anyone who shows up for JKD classes knows I love burpees. Celebratory burpees, punishment burpees, 'just for the hell of it' burpees. Burpees, burpees, burpees! But would you like to know a secret? ​ I used to hate burpees. HATE. They left me struggling to breathe, wondering why I was doing any of this, questioning like Donald Glover if I was just too old for this s&^%. ​ I'd struggle through, cursing whoever was leading class silently in my mind and praying for just a small natural disaster to end my hell. ​ And then one day, I went for a run. And you know what? I didn't struggle to breathe. I wasn't tired. My muscles didn't ache. It was... easy? ​ I hadn't run in years. I had three kids. Running wasn't supposed to be easy. It didn't take long to see the connection. Burpees get you in shape. Burpees improve your cardio. Burpees improve your strength. Burpees improve your stamina. Burpees improve your flexibility. ​ Honestly, they do it all. So my hate for burpees began to shift to love. And that mindset shift of seeing the benefit of burpees made them easier to do. ​ And that understanding is what changed everything: The struggle signals you're learning. The struggle signals you're growing. The struggle signals you're improving. Embrace the challenges. They're making you stronger. ​ See you in training, Sifu Lisa


Why Am I doing this?

Your instructor just barked out, "Ten more push-ups!" That makes sixty. You're already tired. There's a mountain of laundry at home you still haven't gotten to. And so the question inevitably floats through your mind: Why am I doing this? ​ That's a fair question. Why are you doing this? Everybody comes to martial arts training for reasons of their own, and the reasons can vary a lot. Is it for physical fitness? Self-confidence? Learning how to defend yourself? Something completely different? Is your reason a good one? ​ Yes, it is. ​ But, you might say, I don't know your reason for starting. Doesn't matter. It was good enough for you. It was important to you. And it got you to start. ​ And I'll tell you something else: over time, your motivations for training could very well change. The new motivations will be just as valid as the old ones. They're your reasons. You might decide to share them with your teachers or your classmates, or you might not. As long as the reason lights a fire in you, that's all that's important. ​ But the truth is, you don't have to choose. ​ If you got involved for physical fitness, you'll probably learn some self-defense techniques along the way. If you came for self-defense, learning some self-defense techniques will have a positive effect on your self-confidence. If you just want to kick some ass, you'll make some friends and become part of a community along the way. And some of that anger that carried you in the door will start slipping away. ​ You're going to get these added benefits whether you planned to or not. You already did the hardest part. You walked through the door. Most people don't even take that step. You did. Now you just need to keep on walking the walk. Stay the course,  Sifu Jason

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