Sunday, December 20, 2015

Martial Arts and constantly getting injured....

Most sports that one plays run the risk of obtaining an injury.  Martial Arts are no different.  However, there are key components to minimizing risk. 



To prevent serious injuries begins with the Instructor and how the Instructor facilitates a safe environment.  Are students being watched to make sure they are safe?  Does your Instructor make you feel comfortable in the learning atmosphere?  How about the other students?  Do they just care about winning or do they want to learn?  As the saying goes, are the egos left at the door?  The Instructor creates the environment; the feeling of being safe/not getting hurt begins with him/her which creates a domino effect in his/her students.


This over time has been forgotten in the martial arts.  The bow, the mutual respect, discipline, and courtesy to one another.  These actions are by no means a way to demean one another but another tool to build a positive environment.  When a student’s mindset becomes the determination to learn with one’s partner versus having to prove that they are “toughest” on the mat, then student growth can occur.   If there is no respect between Martial Artists, then a competitive environment occurs.  A competitive environment can cause injuries, can create drama, and can make the school less fun.


Think of Judo throws.  If you are taught a technique- let’s say neck hook throw:

What happens if you are just taught the technique and you perform it incorrectly.  Many things can happen when you are taught any martial arts technique without a foundation. 
1.        You exert to much muscle and can get hurt
2.       If your partner is unaware of how to react (ie: proper falls, blocks, tapping, proper defense), they can get hurt.
3.       You cannot expect a proper technique to be executed without developing strength and foundation.
I cannot do the throw above, without building my upper body, my lower body, and my core.  I have to understand foot position and the leverage points.  That means conditioning/strength training must be developed first.  That means basic positioning must be understood first.  I have to learn the proper fall and condition my body to react with muscle memory to falls so that I don’t get hurt when being thrown.  My partner needs to understand grips such that they protect their partner in the throwing process.   You cannot learn techniques without understanding foundation.

If techniques are all you learn, then you are only scratching the surface.  Seek to learn all components of Martial Arts because then your knowledge will expand exponentially.

Instructor asks for etiquette and teaches/creates a strong foundation which equals to a safe and welcoming environment which results in less injuries.  Simplified, this is the “DO” of martial arts.

If this is not happening at your school.  Ask why?  Take care of you!   

Live the DO.

Yudo (Judo)...BJJ- my take

I have trained in multiple styles including Yudo (Judo).  I also trained in BJJ.  My reason behind learning BJJ began with wanting to learn how to protect myself if I am ever on the ground... fair enough.  However, I have an inquisitive personality and ask lots of questions regarding what I learn such that when I teach it, I know and understand every aspect of my arts- whether it be the history, the technique, the application, etc...I want to know it completely so that I can teach it completely with accuracy to my students.

The key to understand  an art is to learn it completely.  Learn and respect the history of the art.   One must give credit where it belongs.  One must understand if the change/the evolution of the style is for a positive growth.  Use the knowledge and wisdom of Martial Artist who have been training all their lives to understand what you are learning.  Talk and learn from your Master/Instructor.

Research Reference 1 and 2

Ronda Rousey a well known Judo athlete, at the olympic level, and now dominant in the MMA world, trains at Gracie Academy.  The Gracie brothers explain key differences, in the video below, between Judo and BJJ.

An explanation on Judo versus BJJ from Gracie Academy while Teaching Ronda Rousey and Ronda's mom's take on the Judo Sport.


My take:
Judo- don't go to the back.
BJJ-  It is okay to go to the back.  Learn to feel calm on the back
1.  I think, a man attacks me... am I going to go to my back!?!?!?!? NO.  I want to end the match quickly and standing.  And, if we end up on the ground, I will be on top to control, and escape.  Imagine the situation for yourself.
2. Ronda went to the MMA world because there is very little support for Olympic level Judo athletes.  That does not mean she is training in BJJ or has transitioned to be a BJJ athlete.  Ronda is a Judo athlete- that is why we see success beyond success from her.  She has learned an art in all its aspects.  Not to mention that in a post interview after her last fight, Ronda expressed that she was happy that she did not go to her back and followed her instinct in Judo techniques of staying on top.  This is due to the years given towards practice and repetition.  Her body 1. reacts with muscle memory and 2. she is very aware of what her opponent is doing and how to react.  

Research Reference 3, 4, 5:

Ronda Rousey made a comment that she could beat a BJJ Practitioner who competes at the top levels of BJJ.  Obviously, it caused ripples in the water.  Take a look at the articles below.

BJJ and JuJitsu are not the same or are they?
  Article 1: Ronda's comments on grappling bjj women:

  Article 2: female bjj response to Ronda's comments:

  Article 3: female bjj response to Ronda's comments:

  My take:

Granted that a little more respect could have been used in the world of competition,  however, MMA is not a place where respect is high on the priority list, in my opinion. 

Sometimes you will see respect in the competition world through the shaking of hands, bowing, etc.  

One must also remember that elite competitors have an all-assuming personality embodying the personae they will and can win.  That is the mentality of an athlete-an athlete must have this mentality in order to win.

However, what really catches my eye is how BJJ and JuJitsu/Jiu-Jitsu are used interchangeably.

From the teachings of Japanese Jiu Jitsu to Judo to BJJ, techniques have changed. While the Livestrong Article states that BJJ schools teach throws, not all do.  Not all school teach strikes.  Not all schools teach self-defense.  

And the techniques created and taught by Jigoro Kano

are not seen in BJJ but in Judo. So, where does BJJ come from?  In reality it comes from Judo, but where or how is that being acknowledged in BJJ Schools?  Do you see the correct techniques/formation or is it watered down?

You can't have the evolution without the history.  You can't learn and grow with out understanding the technique.  You can't understand technique if you don't know basics.  You won't know basics if you don't know where and how they originated. 

Now it is your turn... what truth are you seeking?

My Style of Martial Arts

Look at it your art from a self-defense perspective.  
My question to myself is that if I am in a fight, where would I want to be?  If I am asked to visualize a fight, what would it look like?  

I would want to end the fight from stand up.  If I end up on the ground, I would prefer to be on the top.  I would not voluntarily go to my back or to ground for that matter.  Why?  I find being on my back is too compromising.  If it is difficult to get some one off you or to choke/arm bar them from your back then won't it be even harder in reality.   Imagine if a person has rage, anger, or the intent to harm behind their attack?  Would this be the position you want?  NO.  Run, or stay on top till you can safely escape.
Now, if I end up on my back because of some situations out of my control, then that is a different story- then I have techniques that I should use to escape. 

So in summary,
1.     Going to your back as my primary offense/defense... is not in our benefit in a self-defense situation. 

2.     If you are placed on your back due to conditions outside of your control, then do everything you can to escape.  Don't stay on your back for too long. Use your energy to reverse the position or get back to standing to run. 

Just remember, which fight starts on your back/bottom?  Think of a dog.  The weaker dog or to have command of a dog, you put it on its back...  Think of wars, we stand and fight.  Where do you want to be?

What an Instructor Must Do… What a Student Must Seek…

Given that there is a hole with the generations of martial arts, there are some negative consequences…
1.       Lack of respect
2.       Increase of injuries
3.       Lack of understanding

For example, take this true situation at hand:
Student 1 learns martial arts

Student2 doesn’t know martial arts

Student1 hurts kid 2.  

Student 1 takes off his shirt and puts Student 2 in an arm bar to prove what?  That he knows his style-his technique?  Student 2 gets taken down and a broken arm.  (FYI: This was a video I saw of two kids doing this at school).  Respect starts with how we act in our martial arts environment.  Are we training with the mentality to win or to grow?  Are we training with mentality to learn?  Are we trying to use muscle for everything?  Awareness and technique will always outlive strength versus strength.  But, what is even more important is knowing that there is respect for yourself and others with the art that is learned.  It is also ones responsibility to know that what one is learning should not be to harm and knowing that it can do harm.

It has come to my understanding that students have been injured during training, sparring, and seminars.  I cannot deny that injuries will happen.  However, they should not happen as a result of safety being overlooked.  It is important to teach the basics of any art and to provide a safe environment for students to learn and grow.  For instance, something as simple as a break fall is very important in preventing concussions and injuries.  However, I have heard of more than one person getting a concussion.  Why?  What happened to learning the basics first?  If our students are throwing each other without learning proper break fall techniques, then our students are not failing-we as Instructors are.

As a result of one and two, there is a lack of understanding and henceforth a cycle of continued wonderment of what is missing and continued education of inaccuracy. 

So back to the title of the blog:  What an Instructor must do… what a student must seek….
Those that seek to teach must seek to teach the truth.  Some choose to do so bluntly, however, then the respect is lost yet again.  It is through the actions of a Master/ Instructor for seeking to know that an art is taught correctly whether it be through acknowledgement of the history of techniques and/or by ensuring the safety of the students that respect is taught and fostered.  Students cannot have a falsified sense of strength and believe that they can protect themselves due to incorrect information taught to them.  
It is our responsibility as Instructors to know what we are teaching and to understand its effectiveness.  It is our responsibility to teach our students the truth.

Students on the other hand should look for a place where safety is first.  Where there is respect.  Where egos are checked at the door.  Where basics are the fundamentals to growth.  Where there is acknowledgement, understanding, and teaching of what was historically known to its evolution now. 

Until this is realized, we will continue to have Instructors who claim to be teaching something true, and students who continue to believe what they are learning will help them. 

Seek the truth!  Only then will your eyes be opened and then you will see and learn beyond what is simply in front of us.   


Martial Arts---I have the Cookies of the Oreo-Where is the filling?

I feel like martial artists that really seek to learn martial arts come to an understanding that there is more than what is just taught.  There is more to learn.  The question is what exactly is that more?

I have gone to various schools.  And, I think I have determined why the search occurs.  Let’s relate it to culture...

If your parents are from a different country and you move to the U.S., you have to learn how to assimilate to two cultures.  But with each generation, the dominant culture (in this example, the U.S.) becomes your dominant culture, while the motherland culture begins to lessen or is lost.... Let’s say that a child/adult 3-4 generations down the line inquires about the motherland culture... who explains this?  You have to find someone or go back to the motherland to learn on your own.

Martial Arts- 
  In each generation of Instructors and developing curricula, the essence of martial arts is lost.  We alter the art to accommodate the desires of our community-  for example, competition... when do I get my belt, when can I compete, etc... Or, we accommodate or own needs to run a business, and treat the martial arts as such.  However, I believe there can be a balance in what is needed by the community and by an owner while still emphasizing what martial art values.  

What is missing?
I always learned technique.  Technique, technique, technique.  And, I can't disagree, technique is a part of training that must be learned.

    But so is
  • Application, 
  • Reality based training vs. situational.... where is it?  
  • Internal growth..  The understanding of being at peace with yourself, whether in life or in the Martial Arts.  This was not taught to me in my journey through martial art schools.
  • The focus on being aware and take what is given... use the energy of an opponent against them instead of muscle vs. muscle.   
  • Breathing!!!!!!!  This is important in life and in martial arts... it allows for relaxation!
  • Going inward outward vs outward inward.
  • There is still so much more...
In the schools I have gone to, I received technique.  I never received the training/understanding/concepts in the section "What is Missing" till now.  I find this to be a very important part to training.  In addition to this, a good consistent, and known curricula is important to have.  Otherwise, what are you learning?  Is your curricula available for you to see and practice or is it hidden?  If it is hidden then why?  You as a student have a right to know what you are learning!!!! And what to expect.
Just like culture, now we have to seek for Masters/Instructors who know what martial arts was and are willing to teach it while adapting to the needs of students, business, and community.  Don't go for anything less!
Seek the truth!

Females in the Martial Arts-Why aren't there many of us?

When I jumped into the martial arts world, I realized that I was really the only female.  If there were other females, they weren't there to spar or for the intensity.  They were worried about their hair, nails, etc. but were forced to be more masculine-intense as they were in a male dominated sport and in an atmosphere taught by men.  Some women join because they feel a sense of camaraderie.

 I wondered why.... In my transitions from school to school, I realized that there are not many female instructors and when there are females, they are assistant instructors or do an after-school program.  Why?  That I have yet to determine.  However, I was able to come to the understanding that people, especially children, need role models.  They needed a female who could show that she can own a school and teach students! 

 When opening up my martial arts school, my goal was to empower girls, women, children, and families.  I wanted to show boys/girls, men/women that a female can be of an equal caliber in the martial arts and while it is male dominated, it does not have to be.  However, based on my thesis in Undergrad: "Sucking it up; women in sports," I also learned that women feel forced to display a certain demeanor in sports. 

 My goal is very different.  I want all my students to have a creative expression, female or male.  I want them to know that they can be whomever they want on or off the mats with the only requirements being: respect, learn, discipline, loyalty, and having fun.

 But, being a female, in the position I am in, I know that young girls and women look up to me now  and I want them to know that they can be tough and beautiful at the same time and can express both dualities if they choose to not because societal norms demand it of them.  I choose to recognize this in all my students because I believe it fosters self-esteem, mutual respect in addition to respect for self and others, and a positive growth and understanding of self.

 I am so happy and proud to see that there are an even amount of females and males in my school with and equal respect for each other.

How My Martial Arts Career Began.

My parents put me into a Rec Martial Arts Program. I was maybe 4 or 5. I remember that I was the only girl. I vividly remember my first belt promotion. I was the only girl and I was so scared I walked out.  While the Instructor did bring a higher ranking older girl to the testing, it didn’t help me feel comfortable.  I stopped.

My next attempt at Martial arts came in college with a R.A.D. course- a self-defense program for women. I also did boxing. Upon graduation, I couldn't find a basketball team to play on. I was looking for a Martial Arts Instructor for my at-risk youth program. I found a place and they recruited me to learn Martial Arts.  I found my passion that kept me active and drove my competitive side too. I left it in 2005 for Peace Corps. I began teaching Martial Arts in Kenya.

I returned to the U.S and immersed myself in teaching and learning Martial Arts.  I went searching for a place from which I could learn and grow not just physically but also mentally.  In the process, I found my Master.  I also decided that I wanted to take my passion and empower other individuals and on the 16th of September 2012, I opened my own school.