Embracing fear

There are many questions martial arts aim to answer. One of the deeper ones is, how we face fear. Only someone who passed through the masks of technique and strategy can face the real questions that in turn, unmask the fog of the battlefield.

Fear is a terrible master and a powerful servant. It is how we face it that sets its place in our own theatre. I will present a few methods to connect with the fear so it may be one of the horses in our chariot instead of the driver.

  1. First comes the breath. The breath is the main bridge between the autonomic and automatic nervous systems. One can hold breath but not forever.  We can use breath holds to mimic danger and to note to ourselves and with partners how the fear or realization of mortality ebbs and rises inside us and how both the body and the mind seek to rationalize the process and stir us away from finding the connection between the systems of the body. Once we cross that bridge once and meet our fear, it is easier and easier to feel the first embers of that flame when it rises and through continuous breath, let that fear turn into focus and assertiveness to solve an issue without letting it take us out of our center. Another method of breathing is to exhale more than we inhale. The exhale is a release and when the breath delta allows us to naturally release any building excess, we avoid the rise of it from the base level of operation. The last breath method to mention here is to let the breath come to you. Over breathing and mouth breathing is a very wide gate for fear to drive through and keeping the mouth closed and relaxed and letting the breath happen on its own from the body instead of pulling it in is a great step toward calm under pressure. Once this is achieved than also the body will manifest a waterfall. Always moving but never changing. The torso will not be burdened by excess breathing and will not alter shape and pressure beyond what is necessary for the moment.
  2. Second comes the tension. We leave fear in the body in the form of tension and acid in the muscles. This displays in our posture and body tension and how our eyes perceive the world in front of us or under us. To face our tension, we connect it with the breath. We inhale and tense a part of the body, exhale and release. Never aim to relax the body from the natural state because that will just add activation to the area and treat the current tension level as normal and it is never so. Always use a wave to tense and relax and also move the tension from one part of the body to the other with the different phases of the breath (inhale and tense the left side of the body, exhale and move the tension to the rights side) and so we learn with our bodies and our conscious mind together that freezing does not actually exist but the speed with which we deal with rising tension does. Animals in nature do not waste. Nature does not waste. The freeze comes as a way for pray to avoid detection and for predator to attune to the sign of the pray. Connecting ourselves with our breath, daily and understanding how tension forms and serves us, lets us ride the wave instead of being succumbed by it.

This is an response to a wonderful question asked by Sensai Jordan Augusto I learn a lot from my friends questions and I am thankful for them. One might say questions evolves us better than answers.

I wish to include a song by Robert W. Service that depicts the attrition of war better than anything else I read.

A Song of Winter Weather

It isn’t the foe that we fear;
It isn’t the bullets that whine;
It isn’t the business career
Of a shell, or the bust of a mine;
It isn’t the snipers who seek
To nip our young hopes in the bud:
No, it isn’t the guns,
And it isn’t the Huns —
It’s the MUD,
      MUD,
        MUD.

It isn’t the melee we mind.
That often is rather good fun.
It isn’t the shrapnel we find
Obtrusive when rained by the ton;
It isn’t the bounce of the bombs
That gives us a positive pain:
It’s the strafing we get
When the weather is wet —
It’s the RAIN,
      RAIN,
        RAIN.

It isn’t because we lack grit
We shrink from the horrors of war.
We don’t mind the battle a bit;
In fact that is what we are for;
It isn’t the rum-jars and things
Make us wish we were back in the fold:
It’s the fingers that freeze
In the boreal breeze —
It’s the COLD,
      COLD,
        COLD.

Oh, the rain, the mud, and the cold,
The cold, the mud, and the rain;
With weather at zero it’s hard for a hero
From language that’s rude to refrain.
With porridgy muck to the knees,
With sky that’s a-pouring a flood,
Sure the worst of our foes
Are the pains and the woes
Of the RAIN,
      the COLD,
        and the MUD.

Thank you

Sharon Friedman

Podcast 4 – Making friends with fear

Topic – Important points in the whole

Text: Litany against fear from the book Dune

“I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

  1. Why teach to do the least harm instead of maximum harm in a conflict
  2. Why we should respect and pay attention to our feet and soles more
  3. The importance of daily calisthenics
  4. Why we should spend time with what we fear instead of pushing it to the back of the head

Healing breath

Meditation is good for you. So is getting something to eat once in a while. In order to incorporate the two, we must find a path which gives us the benefits of both while allowing us to keep going through our day.

  1. Tense and relax (neural layers of actuation if you like big words) – I spend a few hours a week in vehicles. I can make use of the time when driving or driven to further my awareness to the network of tension in my body. Through becoming more aware of myself I allow the body to rid itself of excess and flow better inward and outward. Start by tensing a part of you on the inhale which is a tensing of a muscle in itself. Release within the exhale and repeat until you cover the entire body. Next time repeat the work using smaller body parts until you reach an end, Later on you will find deeper and deeper ways to release what keeps you from your optimum.
  2. Pulse – Your heart is working. Your awareness of it is lacking.  Start at the skin depth and feel your pulse around your heart and further on until you cover your surface. Go deeper and feel your pulse in your stomach and in your muscles. Feel it in your head and see your pulse in your eyes. When you have such awareness, your movement and health will bloom further.
  3. Fear – Do you know your own fear ? Do you have some dark figure at the back of the head, whispering as you tire ? Breathe in and hold onto it. Count your heartbeats and note them getting swifter. Feel the tension in your body build and your pulse through the body (I built to that in the previous points as you can see 🙂 ) Exhale as you reach your current end and repeat the process in the reverse (exhaling and holding) once your pulse and tension releases.

 

Simple is not easy.

Deep is not twisted.

Keep your mind free of the troubles of the moment. It has past. Keep your mind in pursuit of or the knowledge of now.

 

Notes from class: Releasing the fear response

Releasing fear response play

Through play you get to know others truly but also you get to meet yourself. Here are ways to play with the fear response and move with and beyond it.

  1. Stand on one leg and close your eyes. Breathe continuously and have a partner push and shove you in any place and direction. As you are touched, focus on continuing your breathing regularly and relaxing your structure to the ground and back up to the starting position. Repeat until you are free in movement. Play with tension in your body to further understand how your body manifests your will and where you are blind to your tension and natural way of locomotion.
  2. Stand on both legs and have a partner walk around you and push and shove you as in the first drill. Move your hips, shoulders and spine to avoid getting moved from your place and if you are moved beyond balance, simply keep relaxing and go to the ground.
  3. Stand on one leg and have your partner push and shove you and as you are touched, relax the other leg down and move in place to avoid being controlled by the contact.
  4. Stand on one leg and have your partner push and shove you. As you are touched, relax your hips and and your leg on the ground and move on your foot either forward, backwards or to the sides. Keep breathing and let your eyes see what your body is facing and keep letting your alignment shift dynamically.
  5. Stand on one leg and close your eyes. Have your partner push and shove you first lightly and then with greater force and speed. Let your body move with the contact and let it release the imbalance without trying to balance. Let yourself go to the ground if need be and slowly you will regain your ability to just move without trying to maintain a position or alignment.
  6. Stand on both legs and have your partner push and shove you. Move in the opposite direction of the contact by relaxing a part of your body that feels free during the contact (hint: not where you are touched) and keep moving.
  7. Walk in a straight line and have your partners push and shove you. Work to keep your direction generally by moving in the holes your partners are leaving you and release your eyes from focusing on the heading all the time.
  8. Sit and have a partner hold you at the waist and another partner push and pull on you with their legs. Breathe and move within the hold and find how your body can stay mobile while in place.
  9. Repeat the eighth drill standing up.
  10. Repeat the ninth drill while being dragged from point A to B.
  11. Stand and close your eyes. Have a partner grab you and push and pull on you as you relax to the ground and back up with the notion of moving through their space on the way. This means you gather the contact instead of trying to avoid them.
  12. Stand and have a partner use their limbs to strike you slowly. Keep in place and avoid the pressure of the contact as you make light contact with the moving limbs. Make sure you see the empty space as well as the moving limbs.
  13. sit and close your eyes. Have your partner push and shove you with their legs as you work to keep breathing and moving with the contact as the previous drill.
  14. Repeat all drills while maintaining tension in a part of the body where your partner recognizes tension or lack of awareness.
  15. Repeat all drills with breath restriction. Breathe a slow exhale and work as much as you can, Inhale continuously and work as much as you can, Hold your breath and work as much as possible.

How to teach your kid to act and resist abduction and live a full life

How to teach your kid to act and resist abduction and live a full life

 

  1. TRUST

You must place trust in your kid and work in a way that there is communication between you. Trust allows your kid to tell you he feels something is wrong and the family gains the synergy or working together. Many times the danger comes from something that lies dormant near us like a person in a uniform we are used to ignore or someone we already danger scanned once. Trust your own senses and place trust in your child.

 

  1. IMPROVISE

We all walk around in full kit, with our battle buddies and in the best shape of our lives, except when we don’t. Teach your kid to see things with open eyes. A school bag is a deflecting shield from stabs and a throwing weapon. A pen or pencil is a stabbing weapon and you can use one body to move another with the right mechanics.

  1. Once in a while, take your kit and look at it from another point of view. See it from the point of view of an abductor (name tags give the other person information you may not want for example) and see things from other choices of use. A pair of glasses and some aluminum foil can be a signal device, a mobile phone and a needle can be an incendiary device in the right hands…

 

  1. COUNTER CONDITION

From birth, we condition our children to obey and nature too has cues to freeze, fight or flee running in our veins. We must work we our kids to let them choose freely when to obey their conditioning and nature and when to over right the program. Teaching your kids to move when shouted at or when a loud sound is heard releases the freeze affect from dominance and teaching your kids to move freely with no breathing or sight and perform complicated tasks through games and competition will open a whole new world of confidence through knowledge.

 

  1. Finding your way in darkness through a maze or through one part of a car to another.
  2. Holding your breath and competing for a distance moved with twists and turns and having to think and make choices on the run literally.
  3. Teaching your children to run when told to stop, move when told to hold and so on.
  4. Teach your children to work as a group when one is singled out by an adult.
  5. Showing your children through action (trust) and words that they are always welcome and thus negating the effect of threats and bullying into compliance from outside the family cell.

 

  1. KNOW TENSION AND DIRECTION

Most martial art and self-defense classes teach tricks (technique) and attempted efficiency (levers and coordination of some sort). Teach your kids to adept to what is in front of them and at their sides and back. Teach your children different paradigms and let them play. Allow your children to become creators instead of followers.

 

  1. Play with your child with stiff limbs so they can climb and push and pull your body through the stiffness so they learn when to be stiff and when to let go dynamically according to the situation. For example: make a ladder with your arms and have your child climb it and play with it.
  2. Take a light stick and have your child pull the stick toward himself as you stab and swing the stick at him. Allow him to see something coming at him as an opportunity as well as danger.
  3. Have your child tense and relax his body parts and play different games while doing so. Let them choose what level of tension they use and learn they can move even when tense.

 

  1. OPEN YOUR EYES

We see a lot more than we know we see. Our minds filter and give hierarchy to all things. Sit with your child in nature and simply absorb and open yourself to everything around you. Talk without judging on what you notice and how your senses from smell to touch to resonate and let your child learn to see instead of watch and be whole instead of the sum of some parts.

 

  1. HONESTY

Even Disney movies are filled with pain and tragedy. Let your child see the dead bird and discuss what will happen further. Let them know injustice is a part of things and they can and will loose and get hurt and that it is their choice to cower or continue to do something and think for themselves under pressure. Do not toughen up, just be honest.

 

  1. KNOW FEAR FOR WHAT IT IS

Speak and play with your kids so they are unaware of this productive and energetic part of their qualities. Let them explore their emotions and logical processes with the appearance of fear and let them feel how their bodies dissipate and reform fear into other energies and movement.

  1. Immobilization – Hold your child in a tight hug and let them breathe and feel your heartbeat and warmth (unless like me you are of Polish decent J) Have them move within this hug and graduate with care to playing with getting away from different holds and tickles as the confidence in movement under pressure is created from knowledge. Another game would be to walk in a pack where you have to change your direction without disturbing the pack movement. This of course can be done in variation and in different group sizes from a mother father and son crew to a whole pack.
  2. Suffocation – Breath is taken for granted by those who do not move much. Play with your kid by completing tasks under a given number of breaths and later on with one inhale or exhale to do the same and lastly do the task with no breath at all (the task can be to get the keys from the house or locate a black bird on a branch)
  3. Noise – Nature teaches us that one wrong step can mean death so we sometimes play possum or our bodies give up to avoid the expected pain of death (being mauled by a social justice warrior ) Speak and demonstrate to your kids that you can move after the initial shock and that it is part of the normal bandwidth to be afraid as it is just one of the thriving mechanisms we have. Curiosity did not kill the cat.
  4. Falling – Falling is a fear we have back from the days swinging did not mean dancing. Show and play with your kids how to jump and roll, how to find their way in the air (throw them in the air and let them land in the water and so on in growing amounts of spin and twist) and let them move on the monkey bars upside down and all about.
  5. Separation from the pack – Many threats of excommunication are made throughout childhood by peers and adults. We must show and talk with our kids about this and about being true to themselves. The family is god to a young child. Be a good one and keep your child from swaying in the treacherous seas of growing up.
  6. Sudden loss of senses – Disorienting and overwhelming experiences create a reset in our systems which can be used to affect change and influence. Teach your children to develop the situation without haste and to not rely on one faculty to guide them to their destination. Teach your kids to find their way when they enter a dark room from the sunlight and in reverse, Teach your kids to read a map and find their way in the day and at night and teach them that it is ok to be lost and not know what to do. Just keep seeking your destination.

 

To sum up, Children have great potential. We mold them and they mold us. Place your family above all else and grow together with honesty and attentiveness for the present and the future.

In the long run, it is just as important to know why we do things as it is to do the right thing. Lead and follow with a clear mind and heart and show the same to your family, both born and chosen.

why I don’t practice self defense and why you shouldn’t either

There is a lot of power in words and definitions of who we are and what we do.

I ask you to ask yourself a simple question. Are you in the business of defending yourself or are you playing your own game ? Self defense from its definition is reactive and at most proactive in situational awareness. I ask you to go beyond the common and find something that enriches your life instead of tunneling you to work against fear and danger. I ask you to create a paradigm of life instead of fearing death and injury.

Most of all, I ask you to be in control of yourself. Make decisions instead of being reactive to what others are saying or pushing on you and life your life to the fullest.

Ancient martial arts from sword work to moving silently though the night are not about defense. They are about harnessing your life force into a force for good for your family and to create a future for our children.

Resistance is futile” The Borg.

Do not resist. Act and continue to act. Reacting to fear is not action but reaction.

Riding the blade

Practice is very formal when danger is close and thus much is gone in the haze of getting good at a drill instead of learning about yourself and learning to accept what is.

Have a partner hold a covered knife and have him move in a continuous oval cutting motion that includes the space you are taking.

Start by keeping your hands to yourself and moving your body out of the way and toward his back. Keep both legs under you at all times.

Continue by letting your arms move from the movement of your body and staying close to the partner knife hand or hands.

Now add a traveling hand with the always moving knife hand. Be as light as a butterfly after a fast and never try to control the situation.

Your breath moves you, Your eyes control your boundries, Your movement shows all including you what you are afraid to accept. Let go of controlling the situation and ride the wave.

How to explain fear to your child

How to explain fear to your child

There is a great desire in a parent to protect their kid. You want him to avoid all your mistakes and to be always happy and successful. One of the things we try to avoid is scaring our kid and many try to create a reality that excludes fear and danger.

Here is a suggestion that excludes exclusion.

Speak to your child of the full spectrum of emotion and feeling and tell them all emotion is natural. There is no need to feel shame of a thought or desire and fear is simply a natural appreciation of life and a tool just like anything else in their awareness. Let them know that they have thoughts but the thoughts do not have them. They have a mind but they are the control of it and not controlled by it.

Fear is a needed part of life to balance out our other emotions and to serve us as a guide and stimulant.

Fear is a tool honed by nature through eons of existence and as humans we have the minute task of letting it help us on our journey.

Fear helps us relax our muscles and let go of unneeded mass and tension in our frame.

Fear releases energy into our bloodstream when it is needed.

Fear changes the perception of time in our minds and if you explain and play with your child in slow motion and in growing speeds and changing movements he will release the perception of freeze and learn that he can shift gears inside and out with the aid of fear and later on even without it.

Fear is a birth of reason and also of the release of it’s hold on us. Talk with your child of your embrace with fear and let him know we are all dealing with it and not dealing with it at the same time. Let him know we are operating in several channels and fear lets us unmask ourselves and in that lies our growth into whole people. Not brave, not afraid, just alive.

To know fear

One of the stages of getting to know yourself is to know your own fear. Fear will control you if you turn a blind eye to it’s affects on your psyche and body so we will aim to bring our awareness to this as well.

One of the ways to learn the fear response is to learn how and when we bring our necks in. This happens as an innate response to a loud noise or unwelcome touch and is bodily explained by protecting the soft neck with the hard head and scull.

Most of the aggressive postures and movements can be traced to a fear reaction. All the hand movements are covering soft flesh with bone and bringing your chest and arms forward hides and covers your loins and abdomen where a stab will kill you sooner and delete the chances for future offspring.

On the other hand. A relaxed posture is neither closed nor open but mobility oriented as we are not stuck in the future or the past and free to roam the now moment.

Lie on your back with your arms at your sides and your legs together. Press from hip level to neck one side of the back to the ground so the lower back, ribs, shoulder blade and shoulder touch the ground together. Press the back of the neck to the ground and feel how this tension affects your thoughts. Repeat the pressing drill with the other side of the back and compare to know which of your sides is more tense at the moment.

Continue by moving your body from side to side as a worm to relax tightness and to ease instead of press the entire back to the ground. compare your neck tension levels to how it felt when you pressed it with force to the ground.

Slowly raise your legs off the ground and move you back again to better support the mass and change your arm position to relax more and more of your back to the ground.

Slowly relax your legs to the ground and use just breath and movement to ease all the parts of the back to the ground.

Now have a partner push and pull on you sitting and standing and note if your movement is more whole and less jumpy and tense than before.