Thursday, 29 April 2010

Al's 25 Questions

A good friend of mine Kris Wilder has a great blogspot where he invites senior martial artists to share their thoughs via the forum of only 25 questions/statements/quotes, etc

Here's what I had to offer - you can see the full blog from the link at the top

25.Sometimes, 25 questions just aren’t enough.

24.I love animals more than I love a great deal of people.

23.Love your family, Love your friends, Love your partner, but most importantly, Love yourself. You are the only one who is guaranteed to be with you your entire life.

22. With a beginners mentality the world of opportunity opens up, but with a masters mind the choices are few. The moment you think of yourself as being “in the room”, is the moment the door is firmly closed in front of you.

21.If you want to be a tall tree, don’t chop all the others around you down – just grow taller. My brother Mick Tully

20.You know you have to make things change when you find yourself sleeping on a sofa with a gun under your pillow.

19.Some days all you need is a cuddle, other days you just need to toughen the hell up.

18.My Animal Days are many. Some are ongoing battles that feel like they’re never going to end. Some are over in a flash with instant rewards.
What’s your Animal Day?

17.Embrace the ones you love with open arms.

16. We may want to achieve great things, but sometimes we do that by helping others to achieve great things.

15.We make a living through what we get but a life through what we give. Sir Winston Churchill

14.You can’t learn to swim without getting wet and you can’t learn to fight without getting hit.

13.When you are balanced you are more difficult to knock over. That applies to the attacks from your training partner and the kicks and punches that life will throw at you.

12.You can be a Jack of All Trades AND a Master of One.

11.Work smarter AND work harder.

10.The tallest branch is never the safest roost, but it certainly gives you the best vantage point.

9.Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are busy living our fears.

8.Integrity is precious and fragile. You work your life to build it up but it can all be lost in one moment’s action.

7.You’ll find out who your real friends are the moment it becomes uncomfortable for them to be your friend.

6.Self Protection begins with the “Self”.

5.The day I am not laughing and having fun on the mat – is the day I find something else to do.

4.Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take – but the number of moments that take our breath away.

3.Reputation is what others think of you – but character is what you actually are. Work more on your character and be concerned less about your rep.

2.If it was easy – everyone would be good.

1.You cannot have Courage without having Fear.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

One Size Fits All

Have you ever seen those t-shirts that profess to be “One Size Fits All”?
You know the ones, where the manufacturer was probably cutting costs and so to save a few pounds by carrying fewer variations in sizes, so added a little lycra to the cloth and suggested it would fit anyone.

If you’re lucky, then you will be one of the people who the size actually does fit, but for the vast majority, it will probably be either a little squeeze requiring a deep intake of breath before you don the garment, or you’ll be able to get yourself and a few of your friends in there with you.

The reason for this strange rambling though is that, however it fits, good or bad, usually, in most instances, you can actually get the stretchy clothing on, and the one size fits all analogy, whilst perhaps testing the Trading Standard’s definition of “FITS” a little, actually does apply.
So here is where I bring this back to a more sensible point.

For self-defence and self protection, we always talk about keeping it simple. The flashy jumping spinning back kicks you see in the movies simply will not work, which is why the basic, straight to the point, pre-emptive strikes should be favoured.And, when it comes to training techniques that you intend to draw upon should the need arise, I would suggest you need to apply the “One Size Fits All”, or rather the “One TECHNIQUE Fits All” rule to this strategy.

Here’s why.

If we assume we are talking about only punching as our chosen system for selecting effective pre-emptive strikes, then you ultimately have an infinite array of punching techniques, and punching angles to choose from.To keep this very simple – as a situation arises, the positioning and orientation of yourself in relation to your attacker(s) could be perfect primed for a powerful Right Hook.
Alternatively, the positioning may be more suited to a short Left Uppercut.

What this means is, you would need to train a variety of punches from this one art in order to have the appropriate technique that perfectly fits the situation.

What this also means is that, if you only have limited time to train, then your time now has to be shared amongst all of those techniques, which not only reduces your skill level growth for each specific punch, but also reduces the development of your instinctive muscle memory.Some suggest that having too many techniques in your arsenal, particularly if they are all of limited training and practise, will result in a mental logjam should the time arise where you need to select a technique in an instant.

Personally, I do agree with this theory to a point, however, in a real life situation the most important instinctive response you need to have is one that simply says fight or run away. It doesn’t really matter what techniques you choose to throw then, everything will be bolstered with a massive level of intent and determination which is what will win fights.

However, if you spend all of the time you wish to devote to “realty based” street conflict, on one or two high percentage techniques, such as Right Cross, Right Hook, Left Slap, etc, your “one technique fits all” rule then comes into play

“If you chase perfection you often catch excellence”
William Fowble

Pareto’s 80/20 rule really does play a big part in this, in that, most situations can be dealt with the same technique or a slight variation of it.If you get proficient, and I mean, world class proficient, at one technique, you stand a great chance of being able to shoe-horn that technique into any situation and make it work for you.

Now, just like the t-shirt analogy, for some situations the technique might not fit perfectly, it may be a little loose or tight, but it will still do the job.
More importantly, you will have mastered a technique that you know gives you the best chances of a successful outcome in any given situation, and this confidence will change your whole approach to the situation in the first place.

Perfecting a single technique, or in my experience, continually striving to perfect a single technique, is also a great training strategy. It breads personal discipline, self-analysis, and a change in mental attitude towards everything as you understand the value in not just doing something well, but aiming to do it perfectly every time.

Even better still, when you take a step back and look at the process you are going through in order to perfect this single technique, there are a whole host of attributes that you can translate into everything else you desire to be good at.The dedication past boredom, the intention to master, the self sacrifice, the attention to detail, are just a few of the personal attributes you will need to harness in order to move forwards on your quest to a fight stopping “fit all” technique.

Transfer these same attributes to your business, your relationship, your other hobbies, your dreams and you will start to see the same growth and improvements.

So what I am saying here is to consider the prospect of becoming a master, an expert of one thing. Whilst you may never get there, you will have picked up some very useful skills along the way to help you improve everything.And at a very base level of physical self defence, you’ll have a technique that can get you out of jail more often than not.

I’ll leave you with the quote which I think sums up this article including the need to keep self defence techniques simple

“Perfection consists not of doing extraordinary things, but in doing ordinary things exceptionally well.”
Angelique Arnauld

Stay Safe and Have Fun


Enjoy my new 2010 Trailer below

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Al Peasland Trailer - 2010

Having just finished filming a new Multiple Assailants DVD and a few other trailers and promotional clips, my good friend and cinematic genius, Stephen Reynolds, has kindly put this "Al Peasland 2010" trailer together for me

I hope you enjoy it


You can also view it from my vimeo folder - CLICK HERE

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

SNOWMAN - Short Film

SNOWMAN is a short film written, filmed and produced by my great friend Stephen "Holywood" Reynolds.

Myself and my fellow CSP Instructor, Mick Tully, worked with a few of our students on the fight choreography for the main fight scene in the film, which resulted in Steve offering me the part of the lead character, the Snowman.

Below are a couple of screenshots with a link to the Official Trailer which gives you a brief insight into what this fantastic short film has to offer.

And if Steve can put this all together with a crew of 3 people and a budget consisting of charm and cheeky grins, imagine what he can produce with some investment for his feature film.

CLICK THIS LINK to watch the trailer

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Climbing Higher

Whilst chatting with a friend on a recent seminar, he explained how he had trained in a wide collection of martial arts and systems, much like myself.
What struck me as different to my own martial arts journey however, was that he was searching for something specific, namely, skills geared totally towards street based self protection.
He’d followed a lot of the various “buzz” systems as and when they had appeared, gaining experience and instructor grades in each of them.
As the years passed, he would become disillusioned with each one and so, move onto the next revolutionary system that was in the limelight for being the most effective and most potent self defence system available.

What I found most refreshing though was his attitude towards the time he had spent studying, training, teaching and then moving away from each of those systems.

I, like you, was expecting to hear bitter and resentful comments towards the time, money and most likely, blood, sweat and tears, he had invested in learning these various systems, only to realize they didn’t offer what he was searching for, and to consequently have to move on and try again.

In fact, he was totally relaxed and comfortable with this investment. He saw this time spent as part of the journey. He didn’t see this as having chosen the wrong paths to follow, he actually felt that it was valuable effort spent in order to find out that it wasn’t the right path for him.

Almost as thought it was a journey of elimination. Learning and then casting aside the things he didn’t feel were right for him. Every system learned and then rejected was one less to choose from going forwards.

Now, I could quote Thomas Edison here who is famous for stating that the 5000 times his light bulb experiments failed were just feedback not failures, and that every time the feedback was negative, he knew it was one less thing to try, another variable removed from the equation.

However, I like to see these journeys more as climbs. Our experiences and skills we learn along the way are more akin to us rising higher.

As we climb higher our vantage point changes. What we believed to be the truth yesterday, may be different today. That doesn’t mean we should look back and consider ourselves to have been liars or unknowing of the truth, just that today we now have a loftier viewpoint from which to gain more information and knowledge and change our perceptions.

As we spend more time training in a martial art, we become more experienced, and if you like, reach higher levels of insight and knowledge. Our truth can change, just as our horizon moves farther away the higher we climb.

Consider for a moment a man lying on the ground. His horizon is only a few feet away. Then consider a man standing 6ft tall, his horizon is now miles away and so his own perceptions, beliefs and truths are all altered by this new perspective.

Recently, I also watched a program about the astronomy and scientists calculate the size of the universe. Now I’m not very knowledgeable in these areas and I don’t pretend to be a Patrick Moore of any kind, although I do play a mean glockenspiel, so I won’t bore you with my primitive understanding of all things astrological. The only Galaxy and Milkyway I know are sold in sweet shops and taste very nice!

However, one thing that was totally evident was that, if you want to climb high to gain a better view point, you couldn’t get much higher than exiting the Earth’s atmosphere and going into space.

"It's hard to appreciate the Earth when you're down right upon it because it's so huge. It gives you in an instant, just at a position 240,000 miles away from it, (an idea of) how insignificant we are, how fragile we are, and how fortunate we are to have a body that will allow us to enjoy the sky and the trees and the water ... It's something that many people take for granted when they're born and they grow up within the environment. But they don't realize what they have. And I didn't till I left it.''
Jim Lovell - Apollo 8 & 13

"Suddenly, from behind the rim of the moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slow swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realise this is Earth . . . home."
Edgar Mitchell - Apollo 14

It was Jim Lovell who famously talks about how, when on one of the Apollo missions, he looked back at the beautiful blue Earth, held out his hand, extended his thumb, and managed to hide the entire Earth, with the billions of people on it, totally behind his thumb.
It changed his perspective on everything. It showed him just how small and insignificant we all are and yet how important we all are at the same time.

And a great comment that sums up how sometimes, what you expect to find as you climb higher may not turn out as your had planned, but is a valuable and wonderful discovery anyway...
It was also Jim who said that when NASA sent him and his crewmates to explore the moon, the most important thing they discovered was the Earth – symbolized in one of the most beautiful photo’s I’ve seen “Earthrise”

This is quite literally the most extreme way physically you can climb to higher vantage points to gain a better perspective.

The key point here is this

You can climb physically in order to gain a higher roost in which to view things differently. Some climb as high as outer space.
Alternatively, you can climb in your martial art, raising your level of skill and expertise in order to gain a better view on the arts and their function and suitability to your personal requirements.
You can even climb metaphysically, to enhance your own “self” to dizzying heights of personal development. Altitudes that most cannot reach, touch or relate to.

Whatever way you choose to climb, you will find new truths the higher you go.
Sometimes you may love the new learning’s offered to you from this loftier position, some truths you may not like at all.
But rest assured, either way, the climb will have been worth the effort.

So start your climb now and strive to get as high as you can in whatever it is you want to excel at.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche
“He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary.”

Stay Safe & Have Fun