Fighter’s Corner: The Martial  Code of Inclusivity

I talked in my previous blog post about the equal acceptance and inclusion of everyone stepping into a place of training whatever their outward appearance. I touched briefly on how this is what defines the martial code in the context of a dojo or martial arts gym and I want to cover this in a bit greater detail now.

Your age, (these days) gender, nationality doesn’t matter. None of this stops you from becoming a part of the martial family. I’ve known every type of person under the sun in that context. From confident city big wigs and intellectuals, to nervous students. Everyone is accepted. Everyone gets to feel they belong in a way that they might not in their day to day life.

This is all true, provided you respect the code.

The code is founded upon the principle of mutual respect and committed devotion to the craft. You will never be respected as a martial artist or indeed as a person if you do not abide by this. That is what separates thugs from skilled practitioners and even a person who has been studying martial arts for years can be classified as a thug if they don’t stick to the code.

In martial arts, in training, you compete with yourself and go at your own pace. It’s a beautiful space where everyone has the chance to shine and feel a part of something great. A family. Because here it doesn’t matter what you look like, what shape you’re in. It’s all about the knowledge, the skill. The refinement comes as part of the process. Like finally getting your very own sword, then getting to sharpen and polish it. I’ve met some excellent Judo and BJJ practitioners with pot bellies. Conditioning is obviously important if you want to compete of course, even more so if you want to be the best in the world. But in terms of learning the skill, it’s all about knowledge and technique.

And that’s what you should focus on. First and foremost. I’ve seen muscle clad, fitness freak, tough guys fail miserably because they had no idea what they were doing. Couldn’t lift their legs up high enough for a simple front kick to the stomach. Couldn’t handle the high intensity of sparring rounds, were so clumsy in their footwork and defences that it was easy for me to find openings for strikes or submissions. Just as it was easy for the fat elderly bloke who had been training for a few years.

Now obviously you’re going to be naturally skilled and naturally clumsy in some areas as opposed to others. Knowing your strengths is important when preparing for a fight. When you need to be tactical not wasteful in your training. I will be covering this in a separate post.

Carrying on from my previous post, what this teaches is acceptance of everyone. It breaks down prejudices and destroys preconceptions. It gives those who are learning these skills and living within this family the confidence of belonging. I don’t know how many people have laughed straight at me when I’ve told them I was a fighter, asked me why I’d want to ruin my pretty face. Comments like these are born of ignorance. People who understand the code judge by action and adherence to the code, not by faces and smart talk.

Knowledge can beat appearance and power. Everyone has potential. Everyone is part of the pack. You earn your keep through showing respect and working hard. Most crucially by not complaining no matter how difficult things seem (I will be publishing posts soon on overcoming adversity, not showing weakness and earning respect) . Do this and you will be whole heartedly accepted into this global family. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. It’s what you do. You are the creator.

Introducing the Fighter’s Corner

Fat People at the Gym- All hail

Motivation in the Morning- When you’ve hit the snooze button

Motivation in the Morning- Get Up

We all know the feeling. You have great intentions. Don’t we all? The screech of your alarm drags you to life like some idiot scraping their nails across a chalkboard.

Yeah you’re going to change your life by waking up at an ungodly hour. Get shit done. Do that run/workout. But your duvet kingdom seems so much more reasonable. More sleep is better for me. I might as well sink back into my face full of hair and be fresh so I can do it tomorrow . Sunshine, you’re lying to yourself. 
The question is why should you get up? As all you motivational info junkies know. It’s often less your what and more your why that spurs you into action like the whip of a wet towel (why do men think this is a hilarious by the way? Like all of a sudden Spider-Man has a new weapon).
I don’t know how many of you are aware of this, but studies have shown that willpower is a limited resource. Cue famous paper on radishes and chocolate cookies. Some of you might be familiar with that one. This was an experiment conducted by Baumeister (if you want to check out the full article it’s at the bottom of the post) whereby there were two groups. One was told to eat radishes and the other chocolate cookies. They were then given puzzles to solve. What do you think happened? The radish eaters had to use self restraint and therefore their willpower before looking at the puzzles whilst the cookie group did not. The radish eaters persisted a lot less with the puzzles and gave up sooner. Shit day for them really.
So what’s my point?
What this means is that when you wake up your willpower stores are full, you have the most chance of actually being productive there and then. As you trundle along, making the effort to go through your day, doing things you have to do, this eats away at your willpower store like your cat when you leave your food on the table. That’s why it’s often so difficult to go to the gym, complete an assignment etc. After work.
Another little note about your brain. Your primordial brain only cares about survival and safety, that’s why the loud alarm wakes you up. But sensing no immediate danger it sees no need to get up and waste valuable energy. But your neocortex is the bit of the brain that makes you, you. The one making the decisions. 
When you hear that voice telling you not to get up. Recognise that this is a pre recorded survival instinct circuit playing in your brain and you don’t actually have to listen to it!! Get up. Ask yourself honestly, will there ever be a time you regret waking up early to workout? Didn’t think so.
Ok so all this looks at what happens if you get up or sleep. Bit binary, and life’s not like that. What if the worst happens and you hit snooze? There’s a blog post for that. Up next my friends.
What helps you to get up early? Comment below, share your thoughts.
References:
sunrise

Getting the Perfect Body- Why you must know you’re already there

So in the course of this blog I certainly intend to shed light on fitness, weight loss and conditioning.

But listen please.

The best place to start in the pursuit of the “perfect body” is understanding that you’re perfect already. Your body is an incredible machine with a high capacity to heal and be moulded into a tool for action accomplishing incredible things (dance, martial arts, gymnastics, climbing, swimming – you name it). It can also be moulded into any level of fitness and beauty you desire. Muscles can be grown and suddenly appear, fat can disappear. Miraculously without you even realising it, particularly when you live the martial way. It’s up to you!

You can work on it, refine it, focusing on process not product. This keeps you enjoying the ride and not giving up because you’re worried about the destination.

Think of your body in whatever state it’s in, as a beautiful slab of marble , obsidian? Pick any beautiful stone alright I’m not being prejudiced . All of that marble is beautiful and valuable right? Even though the intention of the sculptor is to chip away at it and create a certain image. Refine it.

See it as a process. And accept that the raw material you have to work with is already gorgeous. No one generally looks for a pile of shit and thinks. Yes. I want to turn this into a sculpture. You’re not turning something ugly into something beautiful. You’re turning something beautiful into something different and potentially more beautiful.

Begin with self love and your motivation will be positive, inspiring and self perpetuating.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. See you later you walking works of art 😉

A Girl Fighter…..Ha , Why?

Why? I could turn around and smartly fire back why the f*** not?  But ultimately I promise my own theories based on my knowledge of evolutionary anthropology.

So fight or flight is the universal instinct. But for women I believe there is one dominating circumstance where aggression and fighting with great ferocity naturally manifests. Across almost all mammal if not animal species. The maternal instinct. The drive to protect your offspring at all costs. It’s a big investment for us . Nine months off the market, huge investment when born etc. (FYI have no kids and in my mind think I’ll always be too young for them).

Competition for resources as well though gathering saw a bit less action than hunting I reckon.

Being a female fighter and teaching women martial arts is a wonderfully empowering thing. In this day and age, traditional gender stereotypes still exist. When you’re a fighter you have the confidence to know you are there to perform your craft regardless of that. Defying convention. You are an equal. And everyone is human. The big, scary, tough guys aren’t so big and scary anymore. They’re your friends, your brothers and they view you with respect. Because you follow that same martial code. And you don’t have to sacrifice your femininity to conform to what the stereotype of a fighter is either.

I’ve heard it all “aren’t you worried about your pretty face?”, “sure that’s a good idea?”, “why would you want to do that?”, “oh bet you could beat me up”. All born out of ignorance.

I want girls not to feel too scared to pursue something because it’s dominated by men or doesnt fit the image she has of herself. Life is not one size fits all.

That is just as true for boys who fall in love with something in a field dominated by women. JUST AS VALID.

Fighter living is all about not accepting boundaries, not accepting stereotypes.

Accepting everyone. Respect is key. 

Has anyone reading this experienced stereotyping or fear of pursuing people because it’s not what they’re “supposed” to do? It’s not “natural”? Please share your message, leave a comment.

Why Fight at All?

There will be some who argue that there is no reason for it at all. Consciously, yes. But there is a reason why fighting back, fighting adversity is equated to having “spirit”. It’s part of our essence. Denying it is like denying a part of ourselves.

Why? Well by study I’m a scientist. Humans evolve behaviours for a reason. It is key to our survival. I have theories for fighting being very natural indeed.

Most people with a basic knowledge of Biology will have heard of the “fight or flight” response. The response regulated by that well known hormone adrenaline. It causes a number of responses in the body to prepare us either to get away from a threat (Tyrannosaurus Rex, jokz we weren’t around yet), or to fight it. Ultimately this is an instinctive reaction.

But it has far more complex implications than just that. Status, control, communication. For a number of reasons that I will go into further down the line.

When Bruce lee said the famous words:

“Martial arts is a way of truly expressing myself”

(my motto by the way), I believe this was what he referred to. Martial expression of the body is natural and instinctive. Yet this is something which in today’s society is restricted and repressed. It’s ridiculous, terrible, animalistic. Beneath us. Well news flash. We are animals. Strength and power is still revered. A fighter’s philosophy has a place in life. Martial arts can give it expression in its purest form.

Control of that fighting instinct also translates into zen and bushido . The benefits to your body and mind are innumerable which you will come to see, take away with you and hopefully share

It can also have gender specific origins for which I have my own theories.

Why men specifically might have evolved reasons to fight will seem obvious. Aggression in the pursuit of dominance, dominance of resources and mates, competition to secure these and their social position. Primarily against other males and in protection of their home and family.  Not to mention the use of aggression and submission in hunting. The killer instinct so to speak.

But why would a woman want or need to fight? I’m a woman. What’s in it for me? Take your fine self over to the next post and I’ll share my theories on that.

PLEASE do feel free to comment, follow, like and share. Do you think that the concept of fighting has any relevance in today’s world? Or is it obsolete? I’d love to hear your thoughts.