Kids and Grit


I found this talk from Dr. Angela Duckworth on the subject of kids, success and grit. Give a listen.

What I really like about this is the way in which, through my work with KICKSTART KIDS, I get to see this first hand as year after year I have students who have futures very much in doubt who learn the hard way. They learn that failure is not a condition, but an experience and an opportunity for growth. No one in the martial arts gets it right the first time, but with time and effort (the very meaning of kung fu), anyone can become successful. This is a microcosm of life. And these kids learn that this same lesson applies to all areas of life. They learn about grit, and they learn how to develop and use it.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to discuss this with some of my colleagues in KICKSTART KIDS. I rattled off a list of some of the brightest martial artists we have produced as far as black belts are concerned. And I added, that I was not them, I was me, and even at their young ages, had I been compared to them and expected to hit that standard, I would have failed. But I am me. And the reason I was able to become a black belt, and the reason I was able to achieve success in the physical aspects of martial arts was because of my work ethic and my attitude of never accepting failure. Grit. I get it, and I am so thankful that I understand it because this puts me in a better position to teach it.

I loved this talk from Dr. Duckworth, and hope you did as well. It speaks not only to martial arts, but to education systems as well.

The Obligatory New Year Post


As 2014 comes to a close, and 2015 bears down on us like a runaway freight train…

I want to thank those of you who have read my writing and especially those who take the time to share posts and even drop a line to me, even those who disagree with my points. I still appreciate being read, because that means you took time – time you could have spent doing something else- and used that time to read what I write and think about what I was communicating. I appreciate that!

I am proud that I was finally able to get the free online course out there for anyone interested. I got some really good feedback, and many people even asked me about more courses – some people even offering to pay for a course!

We also held some really good seminars, and I had a chance to meet some awesome people and work with them, and sweat with them and learn from them. Hopefully they learned and got as much out of it as I did. The feedback from them seems to indicate that they did.

As for 2015…

I am currently producing two online courses that I hope to have completed before Summer, and ready for going live. Details on these will be posted here, so stay tuned!

I am also at various stages of completing three different books that I really hope to make available this year, again, stay tuned here.

And I am currently (as in…once I finish this post…) finalizing the curriculum for seminars that I will be offering in 2015. As work for the KICKSTART KIDS Foundation takes up a ton of time, and as my Family time takes first place, the dates for seminars are limited. I hope to have all available 2015 dates booked before March, and I am keeping my fingers crossed on that one.

And last, I hope to continue to be able to provide my readers with what they want. The support has been amazing, and I wish you all a very safe, and very happy New Year!

Five Suggestions to Increase Personal Safety


After several emails asking for ideas regarding what would be the most important things a person should know or do in order to increase personal safety, I decided that this is a good place to answer.

The fact is that increasing personal safety can be done for most people without ever learning martial arts. However, for my personal choices; I think it is good to be able to ask for peace from a position of strength. I am fully capable of hurting you, but to me, I can also see the value of not hurting you when you are in my face asking for a beating. There are a whole host of issues that I will have to deal with if I smash you, and I really prefer to not have to deal with those issues. This is different from being afraid of fighting. The good thing is that the other person can usually see this difference. Well, it is a good thing that they can see the difference unless you are afraid of violence. Which would bring us back to asking for peace from a position of strength.

Please keep in mind that violence is a complex subject and as such, there are no quick five point lists that will cover every situation. That said; I feel that this list covers some important points as applies to typical social violence that people seem to jump into head first these days.

1. Use good manners

When I was a kid, we were taught to say “please”, “thank you”, “yes sir/ma’am”, “no sir/ma’am”, and so on. Our TV shows had people like The Waltons and not The Kardashians. Manners were reinforced in school, church, and at home. I understand not everyone was brought up this way, but what I see out there is that manners are slipping. People are coming to believe that rudeness is strength.

“Rudeness is the weak person’s imitation of strength” – Eric Hoffer

In attempts to be/look/seem/be seen as cool, people resort to every type of rude behavior imaginable. It is not necessary, and it lessens personal safety.

2. Stop trying to make people see the world your way

Political doctrines, religions, sports teams, best Universities, superior martial arts, quick fixes for societal ills, gumbo recipes – ALL of these are things for which people go into the conversation with their minds already made up. They know the answer, and the entire time that you are trying to convince them to adopt your ideas, they are mentally poking your arguments full of holes which they will then respond to you with whenever you stop talking.

Where this can affect personal safety is in the intense emotions people are so ready and willing to bring in to what could otherwise be a simple conversation. With a little social intelligence, it becomes easy to pick out the people who are going to take things to that level, and this gives you the justification to avoid certain topics around that particular person.

3. Be selective in your choices of where and with whom to spend your time

If you are spending time with criminals you are likely to either end up doing what they do, or at best end up in situations where you are less safe than you could be otherwise. Add to this the way people think of a relaxing evening at home as “boring”, and instead opt to go to a bar and consume quantities of alcohol that the human body is not designed to ingest, and then wonder why they wake up the next morning in a jail cell with horseshoe shaped bruises all over their face, and you can start to see the issue. You have choices regarding where you spend your time and who you spend that time with, be selective!

4. Remember that you really lose nothing from backing down from a fight

The reasons that people usually give for not backing out of a fight typically fall under the category of not losing face. This is deeply set in our minds and as such it is very difficult to overcome the thought pattern. We fail to see that the loss of face is a change in the way that we think other people perceive us. And usually this idea we come up with of what they will think of us is wrong. Often, a guy will not back down from a fight because he thinks that a particular woman will think less of him, and more often the opposite is true – the woman will think less of him for being an out-of-control idiot than she ever would have thought of him for backing out of a fight. This goes back to these conversations we have in our heads about what other people are thinking.

5. Understand the difference between a different opinion and an enemy

And last I would like to point out the disturbing trend of viewing people who hold a different opinion on a given topic as if they were your enemy. Politicians and the news media exploit this human weakness, and it really puzzles me that people do not see through the game more often.

Put simply; a difference of opinion is nothing more than a difference of opinion. There is no need at that moment to classify the individual in question as the enemy. Whatever the subject may be; religion, politics, martial arts, whatever. Thinking that someone who disagrees with you is your enemy is to make an unwarranted jump.

The news media has taught a lot of this behavior with their constant labeling of groups as racist/bigot/sexist/whatever. But the truly disturbing part is the way people so commonly make that unwarranted jump to the conclusion that the media promotes, and so label their friends as racist/bigot/sexist/whatever.

Understand that the only mind you can make up is your own. Adults are supposed to be able to take it when others do not agree with them.

And that concludes my list. Remember, Social Intelligence IS Self Defense.

The Voices in Your Head


Have you ever “unfriended” someone on Facebook because you knew their latest status update was directed at you?

Did you take this action without talking to them to see whether or not it really was about you?

Have you ever assumed that you knew why a person was saying the things to you that they were saying, as if you could read their mind?

Have you ever inserted your own emotional interpretation to an email as you read it?

I have too! This article is about Continue reading

Personal Safety: Lifestyle


Your lifestyle plays a tremendous role in your personal safety. The good part about this is that your lifestyle is a factor 100% under your control. In this article I am going to take a look at some of the lifestyle choices people make that affect their personal safety, and offer some points of consideration on ways to make good choices that will increase your safety. We will look at two main categories of lifestyle that affect safety; health/fitness and personal choices. Continue reading