Birthdays and other musings

Hello ALL

I apologize for the longer hiatus between posts recently – life is busy and gets in the way. Lots of new things going on that I will go into today as well as the joy/anxiety of another birthday for me.

So – where to begin? I guess it would have to be with the ending of Summer 2021 and beginning Fall ‘21. Got to spend a few days at the beach this summer, not as many as the past but my son seems to enjoy it. The beach naps aren’t as good and though he still requires 2 naps a day, it did put a certain limit on beach and “relaxing” time.

PSU football is back, and crowds are in full swing making this feel like we are getting back to normal. I am not a fan of people thinking “new normal” and want the real normal back.
We have also switched out our inflatable pool for a SoloStove Firepit and though it is still warm at night, nothing better then relaxing with a beer by the fire – after kids are in bed of course!

Stress and anxiety are still running a bit high as we adjust to having a walking, babbling toddler. We have yet to fully “ baby-proof” the house but we are getting there. We had storm damage to our home and the process of getting a new roof and, new fence, and vehicle damage repaired is anything but smooth, relaxing or carefree.
Compound daily struggles, stress, work obligations and potentially trying to move within the next year – puts a ton of pressure on your marriage, relationships and mind.

I have been looking to try to calm my mind. To look inside instead of out and ground myself. I have had a questioning of what I believe, spiritually, since the passing of my cousin in late 2020. I have returned to meditating more. Stretching more to focus that mind/body connection. Breathing deeply while trying not to think.
I have returned to using Reiki and other energy healing techniques, as well as Shinto philosophies from East Asia to bring me back to, well, me. It’s the only way I can think to be the best version of me I can.

I have reinvested in my fitness and martial training. This is all in attempts to continue to refine myself and have a sound body and sound mind. We are our biggest critics and enemies. I need to fix that in me, so I can be the best husband and father I can. I need to not be quick to anger or judge. To listen to my gut and intuition when I have spent so long ignoring it.

Due to all of the above, my upcoming birthday this year feels heavy. Another year gone and like everything else, some regrets with it. Who knows how many birthdays we will have? Who knows what comes after? Who knows what the future holds. I just hope to give myself the best hand I can to live the best life I can.

Also – I want to travel again. This lockdown and then movement restrictions is going to break the world – we are not meant to be slaves to fascists declaring they know better then I, on how to help me. We are a social animal, who needs discovery and adventure. The time is rapidly approaching for an adventure to help with my mental space as well.

New things will be coming to this page – assuming anyone actually reads this. More fitness, Spirituality, life skills and martial thoughts incoming!
I also will revisit brewing and other fun things. Till then.

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AFD

Martial Arts during lock down. Comparing the different options I have found. Ninja, Aikido, or JKD/ Krav Maga -Oh My!

By AFD

So for anyone who has read this blog for a while, you know that both authors are Dads who care about our families, like to train and workout, but also that we are both seasoned martial artists.

Both of us have trained together for 7 years. We training in Tiger Kenpo Aiki Jujutsu. I made it 2nd Kyu, B made 2ns degree black belt – Nidon. We are both also instructors in Contemporary Jeet Kune Do, under the curriculum by Paul Vunak, and his Progressive Fighting System. I have trained for a few years in Krav Maga, and recently have begun training in Aikido. Way different then my previous arts and training styles. Very traditional Japanese.

Why do I tell you all this? Simply to give me and B credit when we critique or are critical of different arts/styles and quality of instruction. Our instructors are some of the very best. From our local Sensei who was a state champ and led many winners in fighting and style competitions. To Vunak and his crew who have trained military units and special forces around the world.

So thanks to the current world situation and lock downs/ pandemic procedures most gyms/dojo’s/training centers are closed or limited in their reopening. I am also one to be cautious as my son still has a heart condition and I am not wanting to bring anything home (esp. COVID19) to get him sick. He has already been sick once since we brought him home and I felt terrible about that.

Where does that leave training? Well my dojo for Aikido is doing some classes online, but in an art based on energy and feel, that is a bit tough to train. I could go in person but until everyone besides me gets vaccinated, I don’t want to put my kid at risk. I also train Krav Maga there and that is even more hands on as we are heavy into grappling and BJJ.

That leaves online tutelage – either an online school with live classes in arts you can learn solo with striking, kicks, kata etc. or pre recorded lessons with drills and muscle memory exercises ( like much of our JKD training to supplement or remind of more complex movements taught at seminars etc.)

I have found 4 different opportunities that have worked out in some situations, and not as much as others.

4 Options:
1. Ninjutsu (Ninpo) martial Arts training online via a private web portal and training videos with interaction with other members during live web training and facebook groups.

2. Live stream of Ninjutsu and Japanese Jujutsu dojo classes that are live monitored and put up in a private facebook group to rewatch. Supplementary live class training outside once lockdown ends and weather gets warmed.

3. Live online video stream from a live Aikido class I could go attend in person. OR just attending said class in person – mentioned above.

4. Live Stream/Recorded live stream of JKD Concepts in an instructors group to train with B in person for the length of training )2 day seminar in this case). The was live with Q&A, weapons etc. B and I went to his house and spent houses watching the feed and training as if we were there in the seminar.

So – What did I Figure Out?
1 and 4 are good if you are a dedicated person and can create class like training sessions for yourself and/or can practice long without someone watching you… I had trouble with this – I need more structure and to have interaction.

2 and 4 were my best options.
The JKD with B and having a live training as well as being able to watch (and rewatch later) the live training and seeing others training helped keep us engaged and got in a good lesson and workout.
The Ninjutsu and Jujutsu online with the interactive Zoom class and the online private group with postings of the videos and other training materials to supplement was my favorite “pandemic”/Solo training option. Where I would have needed a partner imagination and or my freestanding weight bag helped add in the resistance and striking targets I needed.
The forms can be done like Kata and in most cases are preformed slowly at first and then accelerated later.
The break falls and kicking/striking from the break fall (Ukemi) are different then in Aikido and over all the class very much feels like a Shotokan Style Karate class.
I enjoy it and the welcoming and friendliness of the other group members is refreshing. With the option to train in person when things get nice and back to normal as well as having online training when not/ unable to it helps progress more quickly.
The ability to then go back and watch classes where you were involved lets you see your training issues and how to correct all under the eye of a dutiful Sensei.

I highly suggest making yourself harder to kill. I also suggest it as a means of defense for yourself but also you family. It’s a critical skill most people think they have but never test in a safe way.
Martial Arts especially is helpful when teaching your kids confidence and self control. Respect for an authority figure but also helping keep themselves safe, when you aren’t there.

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AFD

Training for busy guys, physically and mentally

Training is critical to keep skills up, strength and conditioning going, and to be honest a boost of endorphins to reduce stress and help you feel good. You could be training in strength, skill, martial arts, doesn’t matter; what does is finding time to get the most out of whatever it is you are doing. I personally train in the martial arts and strength/conditioning as a prior and current first responder. For me then with a full-time job, preparing for a new baby, helping my wife, and regular house hold chores, finding time for self care is something I have the schedule. Here are the tips and tricks I use.

Make training a Meeting with yourself you can not cancel. If you have it on your calendar, and you have it reserved, you will be more apt to show up. I schedule a 45-1 hr block daily immediately after work. This keeps me on a schedule and it also helps it become a habit, a decision you don’t have to think about.

Be efficient and effective so you aren’t wasting your time. Use the 80/20 principal here. 80 of your benefit will come from 20 of your actions. You can also think of this as the Minimum Effective Dose or MED. This is again, what is the minimalist amount of work/activity I need to do, to get the most out of the time I am putting in? This applies to Strength and conditioning, but also works for combatives/Martial Arts/ other skills training.

KISS – Keep it simple, stupid. Don’t make things more complicated then they need to be, because once you do that, you may make excuses to not do it because of the complexity you have injected into the skills training. This rule can apply to all areas of your life, reducing stress and limiting mental drain.

Pick a training type that fits into the above in any skill, and you will succeed. It will be small victories each day that will compound into big wins. Just like compounding interest on a loan, use these smaller sessions to achieve that victory everyday – so even if the rest of the day goes to hell, you accomplished this.

For Physical Training – get kettlebells and dumbbells. Barbells are even better and train full body 2-3 days a week. The bigger the movement like compound lifts ( Bench Press, Deadlift, Back Squat) the more bang for your buck. Use any of the 5×5/5×3, 531 programs out there, or my own choice of Tactical Barbell. I am in and out of the gym weight training in 35-45 minutes. I always have something in the tank when I need it. I am as strong as ever and its simple so I am not mentally drained about my lifts.

For Conditioning – using kettlebells and HIIT will get you smoked, breathing hard and soaked with sweat in as little as 15-20 minutes, 2-3 days a week. That’s all it takes to get into good shape or maintain your current build while handling the rest of your day and keeping you strong for a lifetime.

For Martial Arts/ Flexibility/Combatives/Skills Training – 15-20 minutes of mental focus and minimal space is needed. I run through imaginary attacks based on scenarios I have done in training or on the street. I do Aikido and Krav Maga so you have drills or Kata you can do to keep your mind sharp and ready. If you have a training partner, that’s even better. 10-15 of stretching, dynamic stretching or light yoga will keep you from being locked up and weak in your older years, extending your quality of life. Think of it as a long term investment in being able to do what you want for longer. Be that golfing, fishing, hiking to just being able to get out of your chair without help.

For mental training – 5 minutes, do box breathing from my previous posts, do a simple body scan, or install and use a free app like Calm. Everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss, to multi-millionaires do some type of mental training to keep them focused, calm and happier. 5 minutes can be used when you wake up to prepare for your day, while out for a walk, or as you are laying in bed at night before sleep. This is a large ROI right here.

So taking all of the above into totals:
Physical training + flexibility + mental training = 45-60 minutes a day.
Flexibility + Mental = 15 minutes a day
Skills work = 15- 20 minutes to any of the above.

That’s it. You don’t have to do it all every day. Just try to do something little everyday for those small victories to help supplement your life as a husband and father. Stay frosty.

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Training Martial Arts during a Pandemic

One of the biggest parts of my life since I saw Karate Kid in 1986 and discovering Bruce Lee shortly after has been Martial Arts.

I started my formal training in the mid 90s doing a mix of Shito Ryu and Goju Ryu karate. After a short layoff after graduation I began training in a style based in American Kenpo with a bit of street mixed in. I’ve had the opportunity to train with some amazing people and was looking to spread my wings into BJJ and then, the world stopped.

So what do you do when you suddenly have to stay six feet away from everyone not in your immediate household? Here’s some things I’ve been doing.

Physical Development

This is a perfect time to develop your physical attributes. Find an area or two that you want to improve on and focus on those things. It can be general things like strength, weight loss, and flexibility or specific techniques (kicks, punches or movements) that you want to improve on. Take your overall goal, divide it into smaller, less daunting chunks and attack that goal every day. If you have a weight loss goal like I do (another blog series upcoming…), don’t look at the final number. Take it in 5 or 10 lbs increments and focus on that. Same with flexibility, don’t go all out Van Damme on your first day. Focus on small, gradual improvements to avoid injury and discouragement.

Forms and Techniques

A lot of styles have forms. This is the time to learn the next one or perfect the ones you do know. Wing Chun has the Wooden Dummy Sets along with three empty hand forms, Kali has a number of patterns and flows, Karate has Kata, Tae Kwon Do has Poomsae. You get the idea. Once you’ve got the patterns down, break them down. Look at what the movements are trying to teach you.

Expand Your Knowledge

Many martial arts schools are holding classes online now using video conferencing platforms like Zoom. There is also tons of content online for learning new ideas and techniques. YouTube has great videos if you know what you’re looking for, but also some downright awful ones. I’ll post some of my favorite channels in another update this week.

Budo Brothers has some online seminars that are relatively inexpensive in areas like JKD, Kali and BJJ.

Ron Balicki’s MARS curriculum is available online with a free month trial. Ron is a world renowned martial artist and the son in law of Dan Inosanto. Seemingly a walking encyclopedia of the arts, I can’t recommend he and his wife Diana’s courses enough.

This is a perfect time to leave your comfort zone and explore new ideas and styles.

Bruce Lee injured his back doing a weightlifting exercise called ‘good mornings’ and was immobilized for more than 6 months. Out of that time he developed his art of JKD by researching and exercising his mind, jotting down notes that would later be compiled into the Tao of Jeet Kune Do. Turn this into your own oppertunity to grow.

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