Sunday, March 28, 2010

Marketing, Modesty and Blowing Your Own Horn

Me at the gates of Hell in Hell, Michigan (ironically on my way back home w/Will "Buddha" Weatherby from Jack Hoban's Buyu Camp in September, 2010!)

Hello all~

I am still sitting here listening to Robert Plant belt out the jams and I wanted to share some things with you; things that have been on my mind today regarding some marketing that I put out.

Earlier today I put out a marketing flyer that promotes one of my upcoming seminars ( for more info!). I have always had a difficult time blowing my own horn (I know some of you are thinking, "yea right!" :-). It is the most assertive advertising that I have published to date. Anyway I have to admit that I feel a bit funny about it. Not that it's not true, because everything that I said is factual and honest. It is that I feel a little funny proclaiming it to the mass public and more importantly to all of you. I feel strange tooting my own horn to everyone on facebook, LinkedIn, all of my friends, my clients and everyone on the internet! It makes me feel a bit self conscious, boisterous, arrogant... a braggart or a sell-out.

Now, I have been in corporate sales for decades, yet this feels different. It is easier to promote someone or something else, but it can be difficult to promote yourself in the same way. I feel...well vulnerable in a sense! I am waiting for the hammer to fall so to speak. I'm waiting for the critic, for someone to say something bad. This someone would probably be a person that I most likely don't even know. Someone who has never met me let alone trained with me. I fear that this person would tell me that what I said is BS, that I am just full of myself or that I must be in it just for the money. In a way I feel guilty of that, even though I know it's not true.

I think this feeling has a lot to do with how I was raised. My folks were humble people, people who never would tell others about their business; good or bad. They were friendly, but kept their cards close to their chest so to speak. That said, it is an interesting opportunity for me to grow.

I remember something that Tony Blauer wrote that helps me in times like this: His definition of Fear: F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real. Wise words! Words that I try to keep in perspective during times like this when I feel vulnerable!

Why do I choose to share this with all of you?! I don't know really. I think that there is so much out there that really is bullshit and so many people who are so full of themselves that it is difficult to be around them or know when they are being honest with you. I try to be genuine and not drink (too much of) my own Kool Aide, and I guess I just hope that I am not viewed in a way that is something other than my intentions.

I always try to learn and grow as much as I can. As I travel along my path I also try to give as much as I can to help others live safer, healthier, happier, more empowered lives. I am not used to tooting my own horn so to speak, so I guess I am feeling a little awkward doing so! I guess I haven't quite found my groove regarding marketing myself yet. I am confident I will grow into it!

Well, there you have it, my pink belly exposed for everyone to see... I still believe that the fears we face make us stronger. Why? Does it all really matter anyway!? We are all just travellers passing through this crazy, wonderful, paradoxical life anyway, so what is a little criticism, what is a little fear, many others have faced much more. Still the challenges we experience no matter how trivial can sometimes seems huge, but it just gives us all another chance to practice trying to breath, relax and letting it go! :-)

Thanks for listening!

All the best,

Multi Cultural Krav Cuisine

Moshe Katz and I at a recent seminar here in Grand Rapids, MI.

Hello gang~

It is Sunday night, I am sitting here watching/listening to Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation DVD. It is a good one. I've always been a Zep fan and Roberts performance on this one is great! He and his band play one Zep tune and then one of his songs from the Mighty Rearranger. The Zep tunes are done in a very cool non-conventional way; keeping a great energy, yet a different twist on the old songs we know and love. A great DVD! If you like Zep and Plant pick it up!!

I was on Moshe Katz IKI site the other day reading his latest blog "Multi Cultural Krav Cuisine" and it really resonated with me. I liked it a lot, so I asked him if I could copy it and use it in my blog for all of you to read and hopefully enjoy as much as I did!?

I believe in a universal life value and I thought this reflected that sentiment as well.

Multi Cultural Krav Cuisine

Yesterday as I was driving to Brooklyn to visit my rabbi, I got off on the wrong exit. No worries, everything in life is a lesson. As I was driving up Avenue “U”, in the slow moving traffic, I looked at the physical and human landscape. Brooklyn is still is a city of immigrants. I saw many signs in Chinese and other Far East languages, I saw signs in Hebrew, and I saw signs in Russian. Some signs were even in English.

I saw signs advertising Glass Kosher restaurants, and Vietnamese cuisine. I saw signs saying “Products from the Middle East”, and “Products from the Far East”. Even while trying to fit in to America they are still trying to hold on to the life they left behind. They want to keep their culture alive and pass it on to the next generation.

I observed the fascinating human landscape, people hustling and bustling, all trying to make a living, to make it in the American Promised Land. I saw them loading trucks, negotiating deals, rushing across busy streets, shouting in a variety of languages.

Some were dark skinned Jews from Iran or other parts of the Middle East. Some were burly Russian men; others were Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. Arabs, Jews, Russians, Chinese, all different but all the same. I wondered, what would they create?

As I looked at them and tried to imagine their hopes and dreams, their struggles and disappointments, I tried to imagine what the next generation would look like, and think like. They would be some sort of mixture. They would speak English better, hold on to some traditions and drop others. Some might stay in the “Old Neighborhood”, while others would move away. What was clear is it would never be the same. Nothing remains the same.

I related all this to Krav Maga. I thought of the countries I have been to and the wonderful people I have met. Krav Maga is very Israeli but it is also multi-cultural. It draws from the Jewish experience, from the Israeli experience, from the Eastern martial arts of China and Japan, even from Russian martial arts. And in the uniquely American way, like American and Israeli culture, it is a blending of all these different cultures.

People from all over the world are learning Krav these days, and like any fine cuisine, each impacts the art, each one shapes it in some way, adding a little according to taste, adding a little local flavor. And just as each one adds something, each one learns something unique. Each learns a little about the soul of another people, about their history and their struggles. Just like that busy street in Brooklyn we are all in this together, we may look different, speak different languages but we are still on the same street, loading those trucks, trying to make a sale, keeping our heads above water, surviving and hoping to pass on something of value to the next generation.

Blog Post Written by Moshe Katz
Head Instructor Israeli Krav International

Monday, March 22, 2010

Training, Kicking Ass and Empowerment

I found this video while on Tim Ferris's blog. ki'une's video is great. The song is one that I heard years ago and was casually keeping my ear open for it with little success, so it was good to have found it after all.

Those of us who have been training a while are often asked why we do it? People will come with a gleem in their eye wanting to learn to "fight," to "defend themselves," to "kick some ass." I think that what they truly seek is very different from what they ask for. I believe that what people are really looking for is empowerment. Empowerment to live, to protect and to inspire. To live up to ones true potential and if neccessary to defend and protect themself and others. To develop the courage to do as Joseph Campbell said, "Follow your bliss." It takes guts to do this and it helps to surround yourself with others that are on the path as well. We can all help one another to stay on track; to lift one another when we fall; to be honest with one another and to kick each others ass when needed. The wolf is only as strong and the pack and the pack is only as strong as the wolf.

As those guys in the Bujinkan always say, "Keep Going!"


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What Would You Do?

Imagine yourself sitting at your favorite coffee shop sipping on your latte', chai, whatever; your laptop's open as you update your facebook account or ramp up for your next business meeting, when all of a sudden some goon walks in wearing a long trench coat. As you notice that something is just wrong with this picture, he whips out a rifle and begins to hold up the place. Yea, I know what you are thinking, "this sounds like some cheezy cliche'!" Well, this really happened at a local Grand Rapids coffee shop called The Bitter End. It's a place that that I often go because it's less than a mile from my condo.

I'm not a stranger to violence, I've been around the block my fair share, but I haven't been in a situation where there was some gun toting thug in the middle of a place where there were numerous people that I could put in jepordy if I were to decide to take action and things went South.

So here is my question to all of you. What would you do? Check out the video and see what one young guy did and then think what you would do if you were in the same position. Please share your comments on the blog so everyone can benefit from your insight.

See the entire episode here:


Thanks Brodey for bringing this to my attention!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Jack Hoban on Frontlines of Freedom Talk Radio

The last time that I was in the studio with Lt. Col. Denny Gillem recording my episode on Frontlines of Freedom ( he was trying to get an interview with someone who was training the military in hand to hand combatives. Overhearding his conversation I thought, "hey, I have just the guy for him...Jack Hoban!" So I talked to Denny and made the introduction; a couple of weeks later they did the interview!
Jack does a great job talking about his perspectives regarding Warrior Ethics, Universal Values and the idea of training Ethics-Tactics & then Techniques. Jack explains that by keeping the ethic first the appropriate tactics and techniques should follow and support those universal human values. Now stop reading my yaking and check out Jack's interview yourself: it's the March 11th episode, first one.

I was just out in Jersey training with him and his crew earlier this month. I always appreciate his perspective and the training. I always walk away with more than what I came in with.
As always thanks a million Jack!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Robert Humphrey's Warrior Ethics by Tony Notarianni

I was out training with Jack Hoban in New Jersey earlier this month. While there I had the pleasure to train with Tony Notarianni a martial artist out on the East Coast. He wrote a great article in his blog regarding Robert Humphrey's Warrior Ethics. He was kind enough to let me post it here for you to read. Thanks Tony!

The Dual Life Value
Between February 19 and March 26, 1945 (65 years ago from this article) the world witnessed some of the fiercest fighting of World War II in the pacific. American forces sought to wrestle control of the strategic island of Iwo Jima from Japanese hands. In the midst of this concentrated conflict a marine by the name of Robert L. Humphrey found himself on the front line in charge of a saturated rifle platoon. During this conflict he experienced first hand a collection of universal concepts that set him on a life long journey to understand and where possible resolve conflict in many forms. Perhaps the most significant universal concept he developed during this journey was the Dual Life Value.In summary the Dual Life Value concept is quite simple. All life is of value and should be preserved where possible. This a Dual value because for any individual life is internal and external which is a Dual perspective. Humans as living organisms have a universal standard of preserving both their own lives and the lives of others. Generally by ‘others’ it is often needed to specifically declare ‘all others’.Towards the end of his life Mr Humphrey was asked by an interviewer what his greatest achievement had been in life. He answered with a story from his time on Iwo Jima where he had protected a surrendering Japanese soldier from his own men. They were afraid of a trap and willing to kill the surrendering man in order to avoid taking any mortal chances. By challenging his own men and ordering them to stand down Mr Humphrey was directly responsible for saving the life of this individual.On Iwo Jima of the 22,786 Japanese soldiers stationed there only 216 were captured. The rest were killed including several by their own hand. One of these 216 men owed his life to Mr Humphrey who believed that this single ethical act had prevented him having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder unlike many other veterans of the battle. This was an example of upholding the Dual Life Value. Preserving his life, the lives of his men and even his enemy who at that moment did not need to die. Perhaps symbolic is that the captured man had information that became useful later and had the potential to preserve further lives.For the most part human beings live a life along this universal Dual Life Value whether they are aware of it or not. Unfortunately due to various differences in relative values conflict may occur in any place at any time. This is most likely to occur when individuals involved are clouded from the universal values they already have with other more tangible relative values. It is also important to remember that due to certain conditions there may be individuals who for whatever reason are missing half or all of the Dual Life Value from their nature. This essay considers the ways that a warrior (be they professional or civilian) may be taught to deal with conflict, uphold ethical values and also survive.
Reacting to conflict - The Soft Form
Some instructors of combative methods may avoid the emotional complexity of combat or merely address it as an after thought to be dealt with in the heat of the moment. The focus of the training may be upon the internal aspects of training, the perfection of form and the upholding of moral standards and behavior. In the martial arts this is often called the soft or internal form. It could equally be said of any scenario where students are being trained for combat without addressing the sensations of adrenalin, emotion and rapidly changing scenarios. Students of these teachers may be non-aggressive in their attitude but run the risk of not reacting at all when faced with someone who, unlike the student, is not capable of demonstrating self control, is not open to reasoning and has a very different set of values.Being unprepared may cause the student to freeze completely and be unable to defend themselves or others. Shock will cause the mind to numb, the senses to dull and the resulting performance will be significantly poor. Once this helpless feeling is experienced the student may completely alter their mindset during training to become much harder and focused.
Reacting to conflict - The Hard Form
Quite often more experienced instructors of combatives tell their students that in a 'real fight' (when we are in serious risk of physical harm or death) we had better be prepared to do 'anything' that is necessary to 'defend ourselves'. This kind of instructor may even have actual experience of life and death situations and truly believe that throwing out the moral handbook in a time of crisis was what saved them and is also the best advice for their students.In a sense this is an accurate observation. Firstly because if you are unprepared for a confrontation and truly wish to survive then deciding about the ethical implications of each action will certainly slow you down and possibly get you killed, it makes sense to temporarily forget about the long term impact of the unfolding events in order to preserve your life at the 'current moment'. Secondly because most people are uncomfortable with and struggle to come to terms with the idea of hurting others it is often necessary to instill in them a 'killer instinct' which is triggered to take over once a threshold of threat level has been reached. Once pushed to a certain point the individual can let go of their inhibitions completely and react freely without thought.One major method that has often worked throughout history is to 'enable' the hard form by demonizing the enemy. By making the enemy sub-human or 'lesser' the warriors of a given society are able to react strongly against anyone not of their own kin without having to feel the same level of conscience they would otherwise.Another method that also intertwines with religion and culture is the concept of revenge. In the same way as a judge and jury may sentence a criminal to death, a warrior may take it upon himself to by-pass the entire process in order to achieve the same end result. In this case instead of de-humanizing the enemy as being intrinsically lesser the moral issue is overcome by placing a label of 'deserving' upon the enemy.
Hard and Soft Approaches versus the Dual Life Value
The problem with both approaches is that the response of the student in a real life combat situation may be too much or too little. Too much means an excessive use of force that can result in the defender causing unnecessary harm or escalation of the situation and then living with consequences be they legal, psychological or physical. Too little means the defender does not effectively deal with the situation allowing themselves and anyone else who may need protection to be harmed. Should they be lucky enough to survive then long term physical and psychological damage may await them.Most importantly of all neither solution addresses the Dual Life Value directly. That is the ethic of not only protecting the self, but also others, all others, including the attacker if possible.
The Dual Live Value in historical conflict
This problem of how to deal with combat and apply a correct response while upholding a Dual Life Value is probably as old as mankind, even if mankind had no name for these values, and it seems strange that for all of our technological advances we have not solved this particular problem globally. However it is quite likely that it has been understood many times and perhaps even solved in various forms but that this knowledge has been lost or simply overlooked.
Warrior Codes
There used to be many societies where warriors actually were a part of the social structure and formed distinct segments of society. They certainly had their own transferred understanding of coping with combat, where experienced warriors took leadership of the less experienced not only to protect them physically but also to stop them from making mistakes in the heat of battle. In a roman phalanx the more experienced soldiers were around the back of the newer recruits, not just to stop them from running away, but to actually encourage them real-time during combat. There is also the hereditary aspect of parent to child education in a military family. Children born of experienced military men would be given lessons in the mistakes and not just the successes of previous generations. During periods of history where warfare was ongoing for several generations those who survived must have had considerable understanding of conflict and ethics.With respect to valuable lessons learned it is unlikely this would be the concern of the general leadership and so we could assume that a great deal of this knowledge was not written down nor was it in the interests of the military to discuss such things openly. In fact some things are almost impossible to explain, especially for those trained in combat and not literature, and so warrior codes although they have existed in many cases are now often no more than romantic literary concepts which have lost the original ethical relevance.
Treatises on WarSun Tzu wrote that:12. Therefore, in your deliberations, when seekingto determine the military conditions, let them be madethe basis of a comparison, in this wise:--13. (1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbuedwith the Moral law?(2) Which of the two generals has most ability?(3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heavenand Earth?(4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?(5) Which army is stronger?(6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained?(7) In which army is there the greater constancyboth in reward and punishment?Perhaps Sun Tzu was not an individual as some scholars argue but a refined collective knowledge by generals of the period. This would actually strengthen the case that millennia ago the complexity of war was fully understood by many individuals. The very idea that 'Moral law' was highest on his list, the understanding of the far reaching implications of combat and rejection of simple minded objectives. Other famous authors such as Carl von Clausewitz have re-iterated similar understandings of morals only centuries ago which highlights even further a constant quality to the nature of war. It certainly hints at an understanding of the Dual Life Value where what is best for all is best in conflict. However as great and inspirational these works are, the objective to deconstruct them and create a practical and effective method for teaching ethical values is probably more than a lifetime’s work
The Sanshin
One interpretation of the Sanshin in the Bujinkan martial art is the combination of Ethics, Tactics and Techniques as an operational concept. It seems daunting to believe that in one instance an individual could uphold the dual life value, employ safe tactics and where appropriate utilize forceful technique. There are exercises however that not only show that this very perfect balance is possible, but even more surprisingly it can be demonstrated that in the same scenario abandoning any one of these concepts can actually make the whole effort less effective. It seems obvious that bad technique may result in failure, or that bad tactics may result in failure, but bad ethics? Drills and exercises show that abandoning ethics is directly capable of impacting tactics and the effectiveness of technique. In summary then there is still a practical approach to teaching realistic combative training while maintaining a Dual Life Value.
Foundation using technique
In martial art dojos and military training operations we often see the individuals learn technique first, then tactics and finally an attempt to cap it off with ethical understanding. This approach at first seems logical. Techniques are small and isolated body movements, easy to teach to several persons at one time and easy to categorise into the form of a curriculum. Once basic movements have been learned the student may be instructed in various ways to combine the forms depending on various circumstances and this may be called tactics. Finally once the student has demonstrated an understanding of various tactics they will require a regulation of everything they have learned according to the moral standards of the time.On second look there are a few problems with this method.First, in the modern era combat often involves firearms, where the technique can be simplified down to pointing a weapon and pulling a trigger. Lining up students and asking them to fire a weapon repeatedly or execute a technique repeatedly may be a good exercise but does not rapidly advance their education.Second, once the technique is learned you now have several trained individuals with little tactics and little ethical training. This means that should they enter combat they will be a danger to themselves and a danger to others. Even when they become versed in tactics they will still be a danger to themselves and others if they don't have the ethical training.Thirdly, once the student has learned technique and become familiar with tactics they may have already established internally a view on ethics based on what seemed to work and what didn't in a training environment. At this point it may be very consuming to penetrate the ethical values back into the training which has already developed a momentum of its own.In short this process actually develops a dangerous group of individuals during early stages of training, and in later stages stifles all the creative tactics that were created by dropping an ethical restraint upon the students.
Foundation using the dual life valueAnother teaching method is ethics first, then tactics and finally technique. It seems unlikely that this has been done by many civilizations in the past due to the lack of preparedness and focus on other endeavors. Perhaps in tribal initiation ceremonies a young child coming of age must prove they are willing to endure some hardship for the whole group (not just the other fighters but the entire collective) before being accepted as a warrior. However in the average modern society most humans have the benefit of living in a generally stable and for the most time comfortable and peaceful world.There are several reasons why founding the training on the Dual Life Value can be effective. First of all the dual life value is not a very complex one. All life is worth preserving if possible, yourself and others. By understanding this very clear ethic one can more simply ensure that any tactics do not violate this ethic. Next once deciding upon the tactics one may choose to employ a technique, in fact the tactic can be quite simply to establish a situation whereby the technique is only required should the situation require it. The technique itself may be very simple, in fact strategically the technique should be simple to reduce the danger of it being executed poorly.
Ethics in action
Here is an example of a situation. A group of enemy combatants have occupied a building and are firing at the local forces on the ground, they also have several human hostages on the premises. There are of course various techniques available. Maybe it is possible to call in an air strike, or heavy ground fire could be used against the building and also an attempt could be made to approach and enter the building to prevent any combatants from continuing their course of action.Bombing the building would immediately kill both innocent civilians and enemies. It does not uphold the life value. However here is an idea, if possible threaten the combatants that you will destroy the building. You may even destroy a nearby empty building as a show of force. This is already an ethic, to give the enemy an opportunity to surrender. Compare this kind of act with a terrorist act such as plane bombing. Terror organizations will argue that they are upholding some morality and resort to clandestine operations due to necessity. However there is one important point that is often missed by many commentators. Most terrorists do not provide an opportunity for their victims to bargain for their lives. Their motivation is to kill, sometimes themselves and others, the exact opposite of the dual-life value. So in this given situation offering a chance to avoid conflict is desired if the situation allows, to show you have force and give the enemy a chance to capitulate. Also the way that the enemy reacts will also provide much information. Perhaps the enemy will not surrender but allow some children or women to leave. Perhaps they do not seem to care about the hostages at all. This information may be vital in coming stages.If the combatants are firm in their resolve then the tactics will be ever so important if an attempt is made to access the building and rescue the hostages. The tactics will require methods for remaining as safe as possible, protecting the civilians and forcing co-operation from the enemy. This means that the skill level of those that carry out this operation must be extremely high. In a sense the only way to be able to uphold the Dual Life Value on a regular basis is to work towards having the highest available embodiment of the Sanshin in every significant action.

Post written by Tony Notarianni.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Frontlines of Freedom Military - Veteran Talk Radio Interview on Attitude

Hello gang~

I am sitting here listening to Led Zeppelin's "The Song Remains the Same" DVD and catching up on some on-line stuff.

Check out my latest interview on Frontlines of Freedom Veteran / Military Talk Radio with Lt. Col. Denny Gillem (Ret.). We talk about one of the fundamental aspects of defense, empowerment and life: Attitude. The person who does not have the proper attitude is at a huge disadvantage regarding survival and life. As a buddy of mine says, "If you're going to be stupid you'd better be tough, because stupid hurts!"

Check out the podcast, I'm on part 3 about 6 minutes in:

Listen to my interview on Frontlines of Freedom talk radio

Talk to you all later.

Be well,