Judmental Is Mental

One of the biggest things my character has to deal with is judgement from the people he serves to protect. They don't realize what he's doing is protecting them from a Hitleresque fate. I was at the gym and saw this girl. Cute. Then it happened. "Her eyes are too Asian," I said to myself.

Huh?

First off every one is perfect in their own way. It's why there isn't a perfect cherry blossom. No such thing. Because every blossom is perfect (From The Last Samurai). This applies to humans as well. Once we start comparing one to another is when this Eastern way of looking at things deteriorates.

When I was practicing crap martial arts, see my bio, we were given a special treat. Our teacher brought in a Chinese Kung Fu teacher to teach us a Chinese form. A form is a series of martial art movements against imaginary opponents. By the way, that in itself is not the best way to learn how to fight. And what makes a form Chinese? The slantiness of the movement?

As my friend and I practiced the form--we're both Chinese--we were marvelling at how different the movement was from the daily crap that we practiced. Keep in mind I didn't know I was studying crap martial arts till I was awakened.

One of the supervising instructors came to us and said, "You're too Chinese," referring to our movement.

My friend and I looked at each other. Then looked at our non-Chinese supervising teacher.

"Nooooo," I said. "Wouldn't want to be too Chinese." Were our eyes extra slanty?

Everbody knows not to be judgemental. Even those who are aware of why can place judgement on others. We are after all human. It's the conscious practice of being non-judgemental that's important. Not the mistakes of when we are. But if you're not aware that judgement is wrong, is the person still to blame?

I can't say. And neither does the hero of my book. So what does he do? Continues to serve despite the hate he gets from doing so.

In Bruce Lee's only filmed interview he was asked if he wanted to be thought of as Chinese or a North American. He was born in San Francisco. He said he wanted to be thought as a human being.

Here's an experiment: Spend an hour without placing judgement on others. If you do, no problem. Just start the hour over. See how long you can do it.

Honestly Express Yourself

One of the things you don’t do is drink Diet Coke at night. Because it may keep you up. Feeling a bit alone, I surfed the late night cable channels. I’ve come across one of my rising favorites, the History Channel.  They showed a documentary called How Bruce Lee Changed the World. It shows how Bruce Lee changed the world.

See myadventurewhen I visited his grave site

Obviously, he changed the film industry greatly with his action films. He introduced martial arts to America. He helped changed philosophy. He broke the rules of classical martial arts, taught that the study of multiple martial arts was important, giving rise to the now popular MMA (mixed martial arts). The biggest promoter, UFC, gives him credit as the first MMA. He’s definitely influenced my book in more ways than I realize.

The cool thing about this Bruce Lee documentary, there have been many, is they’ve taken a look at popular culture and credit the Little Dragon for his influence.

Bret Ratner, director of Rush Hour, used the music composer from Enter the Dragon to compose the music for his first movie. The hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan was deeply influenced by Bruce Lee and Hong Kong action films. Their first album sampled music from those movies, and aptly named their album Enter the Wu-Tang. Marketing companies still use Bruce Lee today to increase their brand. If you search youtube.com for “Bruce Lee” and “ping-pong”, you’ll see the most current example. Bodybuilders today marvel at his muscular definition. Most action films can find their heritage to any of his films. And many more.

Bruce Lee was important to me because he was Chinese. I’m not being ethnocentric. What most people don’t realize is Bruce Lee had a difficult time becoming a leading man in Hollywood back in the day for one reason only.

He was Chinese.

He could’ve been Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, or any Asian descent. His slanty eyes presented a problem. Bruce Lee encountered a lot of resistance, despite his deep connections in Hollywood’s elite.

So what kept him going?

He knew this was his path. He knew where his passions lie. In his words, “...honestly express yourself...” Follow your heart and treasures beyond your dreams will come.

If he were to teach one thing, it’s this.

The greatest mystery in life is finding what it is you’re passionate about. So many have settled down for the mundane job because it pays the bills.  It's one thing to have a day job.  It's important to have a 'night' job. For those who’ve found it, and know it is their truth, then you have succeeded where most have not. And I’ll paraphrase from the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: It’s never too late to start, it’s ok to start over, but the most important thing is to do. Break the rules if you have to, as Bruce Lee has, as long as it furthers your art, your passion. Just do it. Do it. Do.

Crazy Hair

Once we had come in, the rain started to layer the Chinatown streets with deep puddles. It was 2 o'clock in the morning. We'd just come from a dark club and our eyes hadn't adjusted to the florescent lit diner. I threw up two fingers. "Choose any table," a waiter said in his fresh off the plane accent.

My close friend and I chose a table by the window. Layers of prior meals washed with soiled napkins and warm tea made the table sticky, dingy. The menus were well worn by repeated usage from drunk bar hoppers. The faint smell of the kitchen and the light clanging of ladles striking woks percolated.

An older waitress strolled to our table and grinned, turning her eyes to slanted slits. Cheeks healthy with the greasy foods the wait staff must eat every night. "Ready to ohdah?"

I nodded and ordered the Hong Kong style noodles, combination. Not the best to keep my girlish figure, but it was late and I was starving. My friend only eats kosher and just drank water.

Just then two men were seated directly behind me. One of them had gelled, brown hair that flared out like he jumped out of a plane. He plopped down and the back of his chair shoved mine forward. I thought I was going to tip over. So I leaned back against his chair. The waiter took their order and left. Crazy hair leaned back against the chair. I pushed back. This went on for five minutes.

Deciding I didn't want to do this anymore, I turned around in my chair, tapped his shoulder and was about to ask him to move his chair up.

"Why you touching me?" Crazy Hair said. He was Colombian.

"Can you move your--"

Crazy Hair stands up, throws his hands to the side. "Why you touching me? You want to do something?"

"You're hitting the back of my chair," I said.

"You hitting, too. It's not my fault."

At this point I don't remember the conversation much. My teacher always taught me to deescalate the situation. But once Crazy stood up, threw his arms to the side, deescalation went out the window. He took a position of power, standing up, and began to antagonize me. He was going to hit me.

My mind became silent. My body wanted to tense up, but it didn't. I remained calm. I was highly aware of my right arm, ready to launch. My legs were well prepared to leap up. My abs sat on the edge of clenching. I was staring right in to his milky green, brown eyes, watching for a flicker. The flicker that telegraphs movement. My peripheral vision kept a close watch of his hands. Any sudden, sharp movement made, and my body would have exploded. I could feel it edging closer and closer to attacking. My spoken words were broken because I wasn't listening to what he said.

"I'm just joking, man. I'm not from this country," Crazy Hair said, waving his hands around my face.

I put my hands on my chin to block anything he may try. "You're Colombian, right?"

"How do you know?"

"I used to have a close friend who was Colombian."

"Ah." He laughs. He looks over at my friend, who happens to be my teacher. "You look bothered."

I'd totally forgot my friend was there. His 6'2" frame was imposing. But it's nothing compared to his stare. When I looked over, my teacher was ready to pounce. "I'm not bothered," my friend said, and smiled. His eyes didn't.

"I'm sorry. I'm not from this country," Crazy repeats. "Sometimes I go crazy cuz of my blood. Come over, sit with us."

I looked at his friend who seemed calm. Why was he so calm?

"Come sit with us."

I said no.

"What? I'm apologize for this, but if you want to go to what we do before, let's do it."

Tsing Tao beers were served. Crazy's friend egged him to sit down in Spanish. After a minute, Crazy pulled his chair to the side and sat down. I've been in amateur full contact fights, but this was pretty intense. In a tournament fight, I know I'm going to fight. Last night, however, would have been my first real fight. Win or lose, I was ready. My friend/teacher was ready. With their drunken stupor and poor judge of character, I'm sure we would have prevailed and spent the night behind bars for doing so.

Intensity

When I taught at my old martial arts school, one thing we taught was intensity coupled with kiaing.  For those of you who don't know, kiaing is a short or long scream or yell while striking.  But let me tell you.  Our school used to kiai at the top of our lungs (one of the reasons I left the school). First off, no one fights like this.  You'd spend more energy yelling your head off if you did.  The worst part is when a student ends their technique with a five minute kiai, long after the strike has been delivered.  Their philosophy is that in a fight or a life and death situation people tend to forget to breath.  And that's true.  That's why when you listen to boxers fight, they breath out crisply with a hiss.  Kinda like a cobra striking.

During belt tests, we would watch students scream as they performed their techniques.  We would then convene and discuss each students' intensity as if we were judging the taste of wine.

Pure crap! (see my bio)

Then I go to the gym, and I see very little intensity.  I'll give you an example.

This girl who was doing leg presses caught my eye.  Now, I know what you're thinking.  She was hot.  Just because she wore tight black ankle pants that showed off her narrow waist, flowing down to her round hips, a bright pink top that accentuated her bust line, showing off her flat stomach, and she pouted her red plush lips and flung long brown hair, doesn't mean I found her attractive.  What caught my eye was her lacsadaisical leg presses as she leisurely texted on her blackberry.

I don't think she's very focused.

Or a guy who does one set of  curls, talks to his friend for twenty minutes, does another set, wipes his forehead, and continues his conversation about the the hot girl doing the leg presses, is not focused on his workout.  Then he complains that whatever he does, he can't seem to get the definition or size he wants.

I wonder why?

I love working out, but I don't spend much time at the gym.  Do your workout.  Hit it hard.  Get your heart pumping.  Increase your metabolism.  Then leave.

Is this prevalent in other gyms?

Talking to Your Children

If you've read my bio, you'll know that I've taught martial arts/sexual assault prevention for 16 years.  More than half of the people I taught were kids of all ages.  Eventually, I came to disagree with the one size fits all treatment way of teaching.  The problem comes from looking at a group class and not see the individuals.  Soon I'd started my business of teaching privately, focusing on the individual. Kids represent an interesting puzzle.  They're very much like adults.  They think about adult things, they try and act on adult decisions, but many times they don't have the wisdom or knowledge on how to go about it.  This is where the parent is essential.  Here's what I've learned from teaching hundreds upon hundreds of kids:

  1. Always listen.
    • Specifically listen for words that'll indicate whether they need your help or not.  Sometimes kids, just like adults, need to let go of the thousands of thoughts that go through their minds.
    • If you can't read whether they need help or not, then ask them.
  2. Listen without judgment.
    • Parents always complain to me about their kids losing their trust.  I think it's even worse to lose the trust of your child.  Lose the trust of your child, you lose the ability to truly help.
    • If your child has done drugs, had sex, drank alcohol, it may come down to a couple of things.
      • They're dealing with issues of emptiness, loneliness, nonacceptance, isolation, etc.  Some form of connection has been lost.  It's the reason why kids of divorced parents tend to succumb to things like drugs, or kids join gangs, or kids seeking sex to feel that lost connection.
      • They're being forced to do something they don't want to do.  The source of this could be a parent forcing them to do well in school, molestation of some kind, nagging  adults - parents, coach, teacher, bullying.  One thing that most parents or adults realize is that kids know what they want and don't.  That doesn't mean you don't guide them to do well in school, or go to sleep at a reasonable hour, or talk to them about sex, drugs, alcohol.  But decisions on social activities, academic activities, family activities should be a dialogue between parent and child.
  3. Ask questions.
    • Whether they've threw up all their problems, or keep quiet, ask questions.  Even if they don't say anything, it will open up lines of communication.  But please ask questions on what they've talked about first.  Once and if they've answered those, then a door may be opened for you to ask other questions that may concern you.
    • If they ask you what you think or what to do, turn the question around and ask them.  This is a really great way of finding out how mature your child is.  Many times I've found that my client knew what to do, but didn't know if it was correct.  If they're solution to their issue made sense, I'd congratulate them for coming up with it, then I'd agree.
    • Follow up with them to see if they've followed through.  Again, listen, don't judge, ask questions, and guide them.
  4. If your kids don't have any serious issues like having sex too early, use of drugs, etc, then you've got a great kid.  Again, most of the parents I work with don't count their blessings.  They focus on what their kids don't have.  "They got a B instead of an A."  So what?  They're healthy, happy, and in your life.  Remember, you wanted to have kids.
  5. Last tip, view your kids as adults.  They may not be 18, but their core characteristics will remain for the rest of their lives.  There was a study that stated once a child is three years old, their personality had been developed and ingrained.
    • This brings up an important point.  Start discipline early.  Too many times I've seen spoiled children run over their parents.

What to Look for in a Martial Arts School

If you've read my bio, you'll know that I've taught martial arts since 1993. A long time. Most of the classes that I taught were kids classes. For most schools, kids make up a large percentage of the population. Parents think it teaches them respect, discipline, self-defense, and a whole slew of stuff.

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Kicking Someone's Balls Takes Little Skill

If you've read my bio, you know that I've taught martial arts for some time. I've even had my own business of privately teaching children sexual assault prevention. This came about when I realized that the crap we were teaching was crap. One thing they did teach that was useful was bustin' balls. I usually say this with a New York accent, but it's hard to mimic that in type.

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