Friday, 14 January 2011

Embrace with Open Arms

A friend of mine said something many years ago that has remained with me ever since and that was;

“Embrace the ones you love with Open Arms”

We were talking about partners and relationships but I think it applies just the same for Martial Arts instructors.

As an instructor, when I enter the dojo, I see not only students, but friends and loved ones. People whose progress and discovery of everything that Martial Arts represents and offers lies in my hands.

People who have put their trust and faith in me to ensure I take them down safe and honest paths, with measured challenges and opportunities for growth along the way.

“Do I think I have all the answers?”

Most definitely, 100%, NOT!

Which is why, I embrace my students with open arms and encourage them out of the nest to seek other instruction, be it in different styles or even in the same arts that I teach.

This article isn’t in any way intended to “big myself up” or preach about what a fantastic instructor I am. I am still a student after all.

But, if I don’t have all the answers and if I truly have my student’s best interests at heart then I have to send them out and encourage them to seek from as many sources as they can. In fact, it is my responsibility to help them and I would go one step further to say, it is my duty of care to teach them the philosophies of martial arts and go out and find those other sources of instruction on their behalf.

Embracing with open arms however, comes with a bucket load of fears.

Fear that my own classes will slowly empty

Fear that the instructrs I send my students to will be better than me and so my students will never return

Fear that my students will find a passion for arts that I cannot teach and so have no further need for my own tuition

Fear that I will be exposed for being a bad instructor, with poor technique and a lack of ability to live up to my own hype

And so the list goes on.

But, my duty as an instructor is to deal with each and everyone of those fears and to never ever impart them onto my own students.

The natural reaction to everyone one of those fears is the same; to close the doors on my class and tie my students in to only being allowed to train with me.
And so, the moment I act on any of those fears, means to prevent my students from becoming the very best they can be.

Not only does this prevent the ones who have trust in me from being the best they can be, it also shows them I have not mastered control of my own fears and so how can I ever expect my students to be able to master theirs!

“No”, I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t know many who do.

So I encourage you all to venture out and seek from as many sources of expertise as you can and you should also expect those who support, teach, train and love you to encourage you to do the same.

I’ll leave you with a generous, open-armed hug of my own


Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al Peasland
Personal Safety Expert


If you are interested in experiencing a wide range of arts, without the commitment to other clubs and associations, why not consider the CSP Masterclass for 2011.

We are teaching over 12 different arts, with specialist guest instructors helping out each month to bring you world class instruction in arts which will blend and compliment what you already do.

Equally, if you’re considering getting into martial arts, this course is a fantastic way to gain a taster in a diverse selection of styles so that you can move on in the direction you like the most.

visit
http://www.completeselfprotection.com/Masterclass.html for full details



Cross Training - Article


Wikipedia defines Cross Training as:-

In mixed martial arts and self-defense applications, cross-training refers to training in multiple martial arts or fighting systems to become proficient in all the phases of unarmed combat. This training is meant to overcome the shortcomings of one style by practicing another style which is strong in the appropriate area. A typical combination involves a striking-based art such as Muay Thai, combined with a grappling-based art such as Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Many hybrid martial arts can be considered derivatives of such cross-training.
Modern mixed martial arts training generally involves cross-training in the different aspects and ranges of fighting.

Some people train in multiple styles in order to become more rounded martial artists. The ability to be able to “hold your own” in any given range, from weapons down to striking, and finally grappling and ground-fighting, is something that you can rarely get from any one single art.
However, some would say this can result in a bit of a “jack of all trades” and not someone who is actually focusing and striving to attain expert skill levels in any one area.

Moreover, some take it to the natural conclusion of studying multiple martial arts styles and systems so as to reach for expert skill levels in the world of mixed martial arts. A kind of expert “jack of all trades” if you will.

This, for me, is all perfectly fine and to see someone who has a supreme talent in whatever range you place them in, be it kicking, punching, or grappling, is fantastic to see and most certainly a fierce and dangerous adversary. Someone who can cope with an expert in any range and with the added ability of being able to take that opponent to a different range where they then become the superior force, is an art-form and a fine example of a martial artist.

However, there too, is absolutely nothing wrong with remaining focused on your one chosen art or range. In fact, we need true experts and masters (if one can every really attain such a level) in each and every style. After all, who else does the cross trainer go to when he needs the very best tuition in any one of his/her chosen combined arts.

Over my own martial arts career I have sought to gain knowledge in all of the main ranges and I have done this by seeking tuition from the best I can find in each of those ranges. I learned boxing from professional boxing coaches, I then learned to grapple from some of the best wrestlers and judoka I could find. I’ve taken myself to find the very best instructors in all of the arts I’ve studied and most of those have been specialists in their own chosen art.

So we need specialists and we need those who follow a path that is ‘one art’ and ‘one direction’.
However – here’s the twist.

When I suggest to a fellow Karateka that he may want to consider some roadwork to improve his endurance in the dojo; or to introduce a couple of weights sessions per week to improve his overall strength and explosive power, I get very few raised eyebrows.

And yet, when I suggest he go and study another art that may complement and enhance his own form and technique in his chosen art, this often still doesn’t get the warm welcome that my previous advice received.

If my Kata contains throws, then why not pop along and take some advice from a judoka who does this for a living?

If my Kata contains hooks and uppercuts, then what should stop me from gaining some expert advice from the world of Western Boxing where they too do this for their primary art?

If my TKD sparring doesn’t contain leg kicks or elbows, that is not to say that committing a few hours to a Muay Thai class to experience how they are done won’t benefit the rest of my sparring game.

I have made a few statements above, not to single out the arts of Karate or TKD in any way at all, but merely to emphasise my point.
Cross Training doesn’t have to simply be about leaving your main art behind to become a “jack of all trades”

Cross Training is about complimenting you own style. About gaining more experience from the “Experts” who dedicate themselves to studying the things you wish to experiment with and bring back to enhance your own game.

In 2010, I was blessed to be invited to teach in Seattle alongside of some fantastic instructors from a wide range of arts and backgrounds. As I always teach in shorts and t-shirts now, and not a traditional gi, I think a lot of people forget where my origins and roots lie, that of Shotokan Karate.
So it was refreshing and wonderful to be sharing a dojo floor with a fantastic group of experienced martial artists, predominantly wearing their karate gi, and yet all of whom were massively receptive to the techniques and teachings being thrust in their direction from quite diverse styles and arts.

It showed me there is most definitely a place for Cross Training in traditional arts and not just that of using weights or hitting the road, but using other martial arts to enhance your own preferred style.

Cross Training:- It’s not selling out, it’s buying in more!

Cross Training:- It’s not about detracting from what you are already doing, it’s about adding to it!

Cross Training:- It’s not about watering down your traditional art, it’s about enriching it with more flavours!

So I urge all the traditional martial artists out there to consider looking further afield; to widen your field of vision and consider delving into some other arts. It’s fun to put on a white belt again, it’s rejuvenating to start something new and it’s a great way to enhance what you already have.


Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al Peasland
Personal Safety Expert


If you are interested in experiencing a wide range of arts, without the commitment to other clubs and associations, why not consider the CSP Masterclass for 2011.

We are teaching over 12 different arts, with specialist guest instructors helping out each month to bring you world class instruction in arts which will blend and compliment what you already do.

Equally, if you’re considering getting into martial arts, this course is a fantastic way to gain a taster in a diverse selection of styles so that you can move on in the direction you like the most.

visit
http://www.completeselfprotection.com/Masterclass.html for full details



Monday, 3 January 2011

SNOWMAN - Short Film

In Dec 2009, my good friend Stephen "Hollywood" Reynolds approached us at CSP for our help with some fight choreography for a new Short Film he wanted to produce.

For those who don't know Stephen, he is responsible for all the hard work filming and producing my own Martial Arts Instructional DVD's and is simply an amazing talent.

Mick Tully and I jumped at the chance to try our hand at fight choreography, and with Stephen's brief of wanting something realistic, but with a touch of Cartoon Hero thrown in for good measure, we set to work building a fight scene situated on the top deck of a bus, that forms the main scene in the short film.

With the support of some of our guys at the CSP Coventry Classes, we worked through the scene, refining it to fit the enclosed space of the bus and shaping it to tie in with the storyline that Stephen had already created.

Following this - Stephen then took a masive gamble with me and asked me to play the part of the "Snowman" - which was a great opportunity for me to try something new and get into the Fear zone again. Without hesitation I said YES, and then Stephen told me I would have to be sprayed white, razor my head, wear pink contact lenses and bleach my eyebrows.
I still said YES!

What followed was a fantastic experience for me, a huge learning curve and a gigantic respect for anyone who steps in front of the camera to act out their character. I worked with some wonderful people, especially Philip Goldacre who plays the Detective Inspector, who was a true gentleman and incredibly talented. I felt both incredibly out of my depth and yet massively supported by everyone who was there. A great way to test your fears and experience new things!

The result is the 15 minute film featured at the bottom of this blog.

More of Stephen's work can be found here!
http://www.reynoldsfilms.com/

Stephen is now raising funds to produce the feature length version of Snowman, and any contributions are greatly appreciated by both him and me. To see someone such as Stephen, have such passion for what they do and commit absolutely everything to realising their dream, the least we can do is thank him for giving us all the inspiration to follow our own dreams and perhaps help him on his way a little ;-)



Read a great review of Snowman - HERE

There are more stills from the production, and the official trailer to the movie on my own website
HERE