Love. Respect. Believe.

Posted on June 13, 2014

A few months ago, a group of student of mine pushed me to enter a contest called ‘Changemakers’, a government contest looking to profile people/organizations dedicated to improving the grassroots community through health and activity.  At first, I didn’t think I should enter, simply because I’m not always aware that my work has any real impact on peoples lives, but my students were adamant and disagreed.

This is one of those times I chose to follow my students command.  The following, is what they made.  Mal, Sange, and Blake (and all my students–) I’m so grateful for you guys.  Thanks for having me in your life.  Hope it’s been worth your time.

Building superheroes

Posted on June 13, 2014

A few months ago, a group of student of mine pushed me to enter a contest called ‘Changemakers’, a government contest looking to profile people/organizations dedicated to improving the grassroots community through health and activity.  At first, I didn’t think I should enter, simply because I’m not always aware that my work has any real impact on peoples lives, but my students were adamant and disagreed.

This is one of those times I chose to follow my students command.  The following, is what they made.  Mal, Sange, and Blake (and all my students–) I’m so grateful for you guys.  Thanks for having me in your life.  Hope it’s been worth your time.

The Mind Palace: A Conversation with Bruce Lee

Posted on April 17, 2014

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“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Self knowledge, it seems, is our achilles heel. In the age of information, information about the enemy (or objective) is so readily available. We live in a place of statistics about the other–we know the weaknesses, strengths, successes, and failures of the opposition. BUT, do we know ourselves? That information is not as readily available as we may think. In fact, we go to incredible lengths to hide it, avoid it, and most importantly, deny it. So how does one go about knowing themselves? the most popular way of gaining self knowledge as of late has been the concept of meditation, to which I fully agree, but in this post I’ll speak of the exact same concept but in a different, and more personal way, how I interpret my meditation.

 

As an entrepreneur, coach, trainer, student, husband, leader and mentor, I wear many hats (as we all do, should we choose to be aware of our effect on the world). It is very easy, to wear the wrong hat at the wrong time. For example, acting like a student in moments that require leadership, or acting like a mentor in moments that simply require listening. It is quite difficult, to wear the right hat, at the right time. Especially when the needs of each situation require a different approach, instant adaptability is key. To fail to adapt, is to fail.

Especially when the needs of each situation require a different approach, instant adaptability is key.

 

Sometimes, we encounter situations in which we do not know how to be. We encounter situations, we do not have prior experience to reproduce as previous successful action. In those moments, we can a) roll the dice and act out of ignorance, or b) quiet the mind and act out of wisdom.

You might ask, how can one be wise to a situation they do not know?

Quite simple really. You ask for divine guidance. I do not mean to be religious in any way, but I do believe that wisdom is embedded in all of us. But it can only be accessed through spiritual means. When I encounter a complicated situation, I seek help from my ‘council’ or ‘tribal leaders’ if you will. They reside, in my mind palace.

I am not being crazy, I am simply going to a place where fear, doubt, criticism and weakness doesn’t exist. It’s a totally neutral place in my mind/heart that knows the answer though I myself don’t seem to know it.

My council, is made up of several legends of the world. Legends, who in their lives, have achieved much greater than I, and have conquered much greater battles than I currently face. Doing so allows me to temper my fears, and take comfort in the fact that many others have solved my issues before and therefore what I fear is not new, or impossible.

My council is not made up of idols, or pop culture icons (though it can for you, everyone’s is different). One of my council leaders is Bruce Lee. Which to me is weird, because I was never really a fan of Bruce–I was born after he passed, so much of his work was a little old for me, and to me he was just another movie star. But as I read his books over his movies, I could sense his devotion and passion to Martial Art was strong, and deep–like mine is. Though I never really was a huge follower of Bruce, I know that we shared the same lifestyle and aspirations. So, my queries must be in line with his life’s challenges as well.

But rather than trying to describe this palace, and it’s council, I’ll just take you into what my own palace is like. The following, is a conversation that occurred in my safe haven in 2011–right about when I was nervous about taking the leap to my own school:

A conversation with Bruce

Me: I’m nervous. Really nervous. I’m opening my own school is a really huge thing for me, I feel like I’m biting off more than I can chew…how am I going to pay the rent? Why would people want to learn from me? I’m nobody…I don’t have the same pedigree as my classmates who are world champions…what will I do if it goes under, I have no other options…how am I going to compete with these fitness clubs, and other more established fitness chains…will I make money? Enough to feed myself, my family and clear my debt? Will I be able to save? What about time…will I have time to be with my friends? My family?

(Step 1: Be honest and open about everything you fear. Your mind palace is place of cleanse–in order to do so you must openly air out your shit. Air it out. Do not keep it. At this point, I’m running through everything I fear. Everything. Then, I wait. I wait, fearlessly. Once I’ve expressed it, it’s no longer in me. Thats the rule. You haven’t expressed anything if it still lingers. I put it out there, trusting that it is going to come back in the right way, because it will.)

Bruce: I was formally educated in Ving Tsun by Grand Master Ip Man in Hong Kong. But when I opened my first school, I did not teach Ving Tsun (aka Wing Chun), I taught something I called ‘Jeet Kune Do’ (Way of the intercepting fist). The point here, is that I was teaching, as I was a student myself, in a subject that had no legitimacy or pedigree in the Martial Art world. Like you, I lacked credibility which yielded a sense of vulnerability and worse makes me feel like a charlatan.

I was also teaching foreigners, something the elder chinese protested against me vehemently. It was also during a time of intense racism–‘Chinks’, ‘Gooks’, ‘Yellow’ were the common phrases thrown at Asians out of ignorance. I felt like, the Asians wouldn’t accept me, nor would the Americans, so who in the world would listen to me? How can one be a teacher if the student cannot respect? I had nothing going for me. All I had was my passion for Martial Art, and my belief that my intuitions of Martial Art were the right thing. It didn’t matter if no one heard of me, or Jeet Kune Do–I just had to be passionate in teaching it, and ready to defend it if need be. So, I sharpened my body, to do what I felt it needed to be able to do, and sharpened my mind to be able to communicate it to whomever I needed to communicate it to, no matter the size of my audience.

Things were slow at first. I was really worried about making it economically, but I was too excited and happy to worry. I chose my emotions. I had a few American students and I was happy about that. I chose to give them everything I had, simply because they chose to listen to me when so many people chose not to. They deserved my best, not my worst. As the days passed by, giving my best became a habit, and ingrained in my daily practice, that more people became attracted to it and wanted to be my student.As I grew, the audience grew. Make no mistake however, the audience does not make the first growth. You make the growth first, and then the audience reacts.

We, are Martial Artists. As much as we are Martial, we are also artists. The artistry, the idea and concept exists in your mind, and your mind only at first. It is your duty to sharpen your vision and perfect it, so that it becomes concrete to those around you. Thats what every artist does. They do not invite the general public in the creation process. They invite the public when they creation is ready.

Do not concern yourself so much with what people think of you. Concern yourself with what you, think of you. Then perfect it. People will come if it is worth coming for. But that is solely based on your dedication to sharpening your vision. If you do that, do not worry, the correct amount of income will come your way. Money, like audience is reactive in nature. It only reacts to the level of value you give out. If what you teach, and most importantly how you teach is of value, you have nothing to worry about if you perfect your skills.

Do not worry about the achievements of your peers and do not waste time comparing yourself to them. Not because they do or do not matter, but because you must understand that they have different visions of themselves they are attempting to achieve. You, are a one of one. You will never duplicate what they are any more they can duplicate you. Collectively it is our duty to contribute to this world in our own way. Know your way.

Do not concern yourself too much with knowing someone else’s way. All that does is distract you from the task at hand. Your job, is to be you, to the best of your ability.

Ultimately, a student is a seedling. They want to know, how to be. The mechanics of Martial Art, style and form is semantics from that perspective. This is the premise of Jeet Kune Do. It is not about learning how to move like ‘me’, but learning how to move like ‘you’. A 265lb American will never move like me, anymore than I can move like him–but we can both be confident in ourselves (in all it’s individual beauty) and move like we are created to do.
As a Martial Art teacher, your job is solely that. To teach and guide movement and lead them to a place where they discover how to move on their own.
Do not worry about being a master.
Do not worry about being a world champion.
Concern yourself with being a good guide. Thats all. The student, over time, maturation and curiosity will achieve the rest.
Lastly, you should open this school, not so you can make money. You should open a school, because you deserve a place to concentrate all your talents, skills and desire.
You should open it, so that you have a laboratory to experiment and reflect on what works well, and what doesn’t. You should have a place that you can discard what is ineffective, and refine what is effective.
You should open a place, for people to attempt to be the best version of themselves.  What you want matters less when you consider what they need.

(Step 2: Shut the **** up, and weigh the options. No whining is allowed in this step. No rebuttles, skepticism or doubt. If I do, I did not to a good enough job of airing out my anxieties. Stay quiet, and just absorb what was said. Once I’ve fully absorbed what was said, I simply decide which advice to live by: My anxieties, or his thoughts. And when I choose, theres no turning back. If I fail to do so, I simply repeat the same exercise.)

Do not worry about being a master.
Do not worry about being a world champion.
Concern yourself with being a good guide. Thats all. The student, over time, maturation and curiosity will achieve the rest.

At this point, you either think this exercise is simple and profound, or straight lunacy. To the latter–I could care less what you think, it’s my mind, not yours (not trying to be an ass, but it is what it is. If we all were as open with our thoughts as I have just been, then technically we’d label everyone as crazy.) To the former, this exercise isn’t the spiritual channelling it may appear to be. It’s not a religious exercise, or even a form of voodoo. I’m not channelling Bruce Lee (At least I don’t think I am). All I’m doing, is assigning a visual image/character to embody the bipolar anxieties that flood my mind (and likely many others too). By embracing that natural bipolarism and taking it all the way to a dissociated identity that allows me to evaluate the feelings peacefully, as opposed to having a war of emotions and thoughts constantly embroiled in battle.

By personifying, I can simply separate, and choose sides.

When we don’t choose sides, we are always torn. We are always stressed and worried. We, are full of doubt. In that state, we do not know ourselves because we have not made the decision on who to be. Winning the battle of self, means choosing which version of you to delete, and which one to refine.

Peace.

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