Occasionally I get phone calls asking me about women's self defense courses. Do we offer it and so forth...
I should take the time to explain why we don't offer it and why it is not a good idea to take an available course. I know I will have many upset instructors out there that offer it. That's really fine with me as long as women understand the reasons behind it. Once I had a lady who was telling me that she would feel more comfortable if the course was only women oriented. Then I was blunt with her and said "you should ignore the comfort because there is no such thing when you really have to defend yourself." And also you are most likely to defend yourself against a man than a woman. I hate to see instructors taking advantage of a point and making money to only mislead people. And the worst of all is, these courses are usually few sessions... and of course when we train years to develop our skills and sharpness, one should think twice of such courses. Also when you see a demonstration about women's self-defense by a woman, please note that the demonstrator is already a black belt... and of course she herself wouldn't need that course to defend herself. This should be taken only in addition of a workout. On the other hand, there are good instructors out there that just do that... in addition of regular workouts they offer these courses... I shouldn't sound that these courses alone are a waste of time... some of the women who take them end up as regular martial arts students... have a happy and healthy training.
Do you teach grabs, holds and sweeps?
I teach many practical techniques right from the start (white belts) that work 90% of the time. The students should use only what is comfortable with and confident it will work for themselves 100% of the time. Because I teach many practical techniques from different styles it is not too difficult to find a few that are very powerful and almost fool-proof... Gradually when I feel the student is ready to learn more elaborate techniques, I teach that student more of these... I expand all my students knowledge individually as if it were a private lesson to each one of them. Some techniques might feel very difficult to a few but the same techniques quite easy to others and vice-versa... Each student has a different character and personality and in a confrontation reacts differently. It is very important not to use techniques that clash with your personality. My motto is "if a fight occurs, and at the end of that confrontation nobody got hurt, everybody is a winner"... I am a pacifist by nature and don't like hitting and hurting anyone unless it is ABSOLUTELY necessary.
Black belt level.
In our school it takes a little over 2 years to reach Black Belt (First Degree) level, if the student hasn't missed too many classes and tests. Occasionally I enroll students who have been in Martial Arts for a few years already and to my amazement they haven't learned much at all during that time... In all these cases one wonders if it is the student's fault, but when I start teaching them the proper techniques, they have no problem learning at a fast pace... Unfortunately the consumers are not to blame because they respect all the instructors who wear the proper uniform with a Black Belt on their waist... It is quite upsetting to me that all these so called "instructors" are taking advantage of the consumer's "trust" to only mislead them...
A final note
Please call several schools and ask questions. Try to read in-between the lines... Sometimes the school that is located within walking distance from your place is a good one but other times it is worth driving 5 or 10 minutes to choose a better one.
High and low metabolism points.
Athletes need more fuel for their activities. On the other hand their metabolism point is quite high. When they stop their activities abruptly they don't gain weight in a day or two. It takes a little while until the brain registers the facts and changes the metabolism point to low. Sometimes I see joggers who are barely moving. It is not how many K's you run but in how many minutes. These joggers can burn more fuel (calories) by brisk-walking, eventually building more muscles doing that and slowly their metabolism point will rise. I don't believe in "no pain, no gain" philosophy. If your workout is painful and not enjoyable you are more likely to give it up altogether. Find an activity that you enjoy, have fun and look forward to doing it again. Your goal should be "improvement" and not a number and eventually would become a lifestyle.
Babies cry when hungry. Try to feed them when they're not and they'll reject the food. We should all learn from them... we set a time for everything around us. In North America dinner is at 6:00 P.M. in many other cultures it is between 8:00P.M. and 10:00P.M. but when you see that in these cultures they don't go to bed until midnight or 1:00A.M. the span between the last meal of the day and sleeping time is almost identical. Habits are difficult to break. In North America watching a movie is associated with eating... usually the movie theatres make more money selling popcorn and treats than the tickets they sell. When your hands and mouths are on an automatic pilot mode, you don't even realize what you consumed in the theatre and if it was a matinée or a 3:00P.M. movie you go home and it is already 6:00P.M. and of course dinner time...
The above two paragraphs were intended to make you realize your daily habits...
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Have an active and healthy life.
Master Hraïr (Harry)