Friday, December 31, 2010

The Ocean, The Wave & Krav Maga

Moshe is the gentleman wearing the beard 

Israeli Krav International founder Moshe Katz wrote a wonderful follow up piece regarding my latest blog post! 
Check it out:
Thanks Moshe!
All the best,

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The New Year: Confidence Testing Your Limits & Letting Go

My knuckles were pure white as I pulled back on the yolk of the Cessna 150 airplane. All I could see was blue sky in front of me. My stomach was filled with both exhilaration and anxiety; kind of like being on a roller-coaster only I was the one driving this crazy thing and there was no guarantee that I would be rolling back into funland at the end of the ride!

The plane was pitched almost 90 degrees straight up from the ground. The emergency air whistle on the planes wings blew its eerie tone letting me and my flight instructor know that the craft was ready to stall out, loose it aerodynamic lift and drop like a rock back toward the earth!

Kris kept telling me to pull back more on the yolk, "she'll take more, keep pulling back." She told me that these Cessna's would pretty much fly themselves and besides she would take the controls if I froze or didn't know what to do during our simulated crash landing. I was both excited and terrified! What if I did freeze or did the wrong thing? Part of me knew that Kris would take care of it, but I was the acting pilot and I wanted to be able to pull out of this stall. I was more than nervous.

Just then a weightless feeling came over us, the plane lurched forward losing air speed, the whistle stopped its telltale screeching; I saw the wing come around as the aircraft didn't just stall out but went into a spin toward the ground! I could feel the blood drain from my face as I freaked for a split second until the drill Sargent in my head started barking at me to quite being a pussy (sorry, his words, not mine! =] ) get it together and f*ing start pulling out of this just like I was taught.

My technique was a bit ugly, but I managed to pull out alright. Although I think that Kris's slight pale complexion was a tip off that she was about as surprised as I was regarding the partial spin. She played it off well though as she pointed out what I did well and what I could use some work on. She went on to explain what caused the spin was that in my nervous state I must've been pushing on the rudder peddle with my foot making the tail come around.

Kris assured me again that the Cessna would fly itself even if I didn't do anything to recover from the stall. She said "If you have enough altitude the plane would right itself and naturally find its aerodynamic state and glide all by its self until it ran out of sky.

To which I replied, "Oh yea, prove it!"

So we climbed to about 2800 feet in altitude and she told me that whenever I was ready induce the plane into a stall again and just let go of the controls.

I repeated back to her what she said. It was more of a question than a statement. "Just let go then?" I said.

She smile knowingly as she gently said, "Yes Craig, just let go."

And that is exactly what I did!

I took the plane up up up and when I heard that emergency whistle blow I pulled harder on the yolk until the plane slowed and then dropped. My stomach once again had that feeling of falling, my mind panicked for a split second telling me that I was crazy to just let go. What the F was I thinking? I was going to die! And then I just let go.

The plane did exactly as Kris said it would it first fell and then it righted itself and then it glided. As it was doing this I asked Kris what would happen if I still didn't touch the controls. She repeated what she had told me earlier. "It will just continue to glide until it loses air speed and lift. Then it will fall and then start the process over again until it "runs out of sky" and eventually crash."

We let the plane do repeat this cycle (all except the crashing part!) a couple more times to appease my curiosity and then as we began "running out of sky" so to speak, we gave the old 150 some throttle got to an acceptable altitude and took'er to the airport for a safe landing.

After that day my flying dramatically improved. With my increased confidence levels everything seemed to be less stressful and so much easier!

Damn I LOVED this I thought to myself!! I love testing myself & embracing my own fear.

That lesson in the skies over Grand Rapids once again confirmed many things for me. Being able to better identify a true emergency vs merely a challenge was invaluable; Sometimes our natural perception is counter intuitive regarding overcoming the challenge that is in front of us; Knowing and trusting our equipments limitations makes your trip not only more enjoyable, but safer for everyone; The value of good instruction and mentoring; and maybe the biggest lesson of them all: Having faith and knowing when to just let go!

For those of you reading this I ask you to please write in your comments about the lessons of this story.

For those who are curious how to pull a airplane out of a stall or spin here is a link on how to:  

Happy new year folks! I hope that in the year to come you face your challenges with confidence, faith and the ability to let go!

All the best,

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Training, Injuries and Outlook

I have been hearing from a lot of you regarding healthy training. Some people are asking what should they dedicate their time to, others are concerned about their injuries, or about training as they get older. All great questions. I thought I would address injuries and some basic training attitudes from my perspective.

If you have been training for any length of time you have undoubtedly have been injured. It seems inevitable. So how can you prevent getting injured and what should you do if/when you get injured?

Lets look at injury prevention first. Many people say warming up and stretching is the basis of injury prevention. Although this is true, there is something even more basic than this: Your mindset! How you approach your training is really the thing that will set the stage for you. Now I don't know about you, but (#1) I am not getting any younger (#2) I'm not training to fight in the next UFC or Olympics (#3) Sustained training to help me not only perform when necessary, but also to enhance my mind/body/spirit connection.

What I advocate is a workout that is middle of the road encompassing some peaks and valleys. Middle of the road training can be described as pushing past your comfort level, without going to the extent of being overly hazardous to yourself. Think of the bigger picture; the marathon rather than the sprint.
Does it make sense for a weight lifter to take steroids to get huge only to end up having liver or kidney failure because of it? Not in my book! That doesn't make any more sense to me than training "all out" in full contact sparring matches or overly zealous grappling (because it's "more real" or "that's the way it would happen in real life") and damaging yourself so that everyday life becomes miserable. Your training should IMPROVE your life, not make it more difficult. Not to mention it's difficult to defend yourself and others in the field if you are all busted up. Unlike fighting in the cage/ring you can't reschedule someone's attack and you never have the time to plan in advance. You have to be ready at a moments notice to perform, not take 3 months or so to prepare for one incident.

I have had a number of people ask about working through injuries during training. First off, as you know I am not a doctor, so remember what I say is simply my opinion; I would recommend that if you are or get injured go see your doctor before you do anything that will hurt you more!

Here is my methodology regarding working through injuries: If I am injured I will work around the injury. Meaning I will train in a way that doesn't aggravate it or aggravates it less. Basic rule of thumb, if it hurts do something else. If the pain is too much, is so extensive or such a major body part that I can't train around it, then I won't train physically. However I can typically formulate a strategy to continue training. If we only train when we are 90% or 100% we end up never training. If you ask any athlete most will tell you that they have some injury or something that is bothering them most of the time. Don't let that be your excuse not to train! I hear that one as much as: I just don't have the time, I'll start training after I lose a few pounds or I can't afford it. As far as I'm concerned these excuses are most always a bunch of BS. Try to keep training, do something to continue. An all or nothing mentality limits you and your progress.

The last thing I wanted to touch base on today is to remember that your training should be fun. That is not to say that you shouldn't sometimes make it intense or challenging, but if you push yourself to the point where you don't consistently enjoy your training I doubt if you will choose to do it for very long. I have been fortunate to have been training most of my life. I am grateful for my dad teaching me in the basement when I was knee high to a grasshopper (pun intended). I enjoy training every bit as much now as I used to, however  my training has changed in the past 34 years since I began this journey. I suspect that it will keep changing to reflect my path as I wind down the road of life. I wish the same for all of you as well.

Life is too short to dedicate time to things that don't inspire you. The list of things to occupy our time is limitless... however our time here on earth isn't. My advice is to do what inspires you, what expresses who you are, who you want to become and as much as possible share what little time we have here with those we care about, enjoy the's short!

Keep going!

All the best,