Monday, December 30, 2013



"Midlife Crisis is when you get to the top of the Ladder and realize it was leaning up against the wrong wall."

~Joseph Campbell

I remember sitting in front of Davenport College (now Davenport University) alternating between looking up at the sky and reading Clive Barker's Weave World. It was the beginning of an interesting path. A couple years later, still at Davenport College I remember my capstone class for my business degree was an outside sales internship. I HATED it! However I felt as if I'd invested so much of my own and my parents resources how could I turn back? Not to mention I wasn't sure what else to do for a career?! All of my other pursuits (music, security type work, martial arts & travel) I did were not providing a sustainable income, so I continued to follow a path that not only was uninspiring to me, it quite literally made me ill. During that sales internship, it was everything I could do to bring myself to do my required cold calls. The sales meetings weren't nearly as bad, but those darn cold calls were killing me.

Instead of using that internship as an experience to say to myself: "I may not know what I want to do, but I know what I DON'T want to do!" I "powered through" it... for the next 20 years!  

I can remember as time went on, that I began doing less of what I loved and more of what I thought I should be doing. I thought that if I could do "this" to make money, than I would be able to do "that" which I loved to do. As it turned out as the years passed by, like so many others I ended up doing more of "this" and less of "that;" until years later, "that" almost disappeared entirely and "this" occupied more and more of my time and energy.

I know, I know, you gotta make a living, I understand. But there's a difference between having a job, making a living and creating a life. And it all boils down to Clarity.

When you are clear about your purpose the rest is simple... if you Keep Going!

The HOW is much easier than the WHAT and the what is easier than the WHY! What do you want your life to be? Do you want to earn a living, or make a life? (Not that they have to be mutually exclusive). Now between starving or earning a living, I choose earning a living, but between earning a living and creating a Life, I choose to create a Life! The people who have really inspired me didn't simply earn a living, they LOVED what they did, they were passionate about it. For them it was more than simply bringing home the bacon, what they did, how they spent their time and contributed was an expression of who they were. They created a life, rather than just bring home a paycheck.

So what do you want your life to be like? A tough question for an adult, let alone a teenager deciding their life's path. When it comes to your life's calling, I always thought that how you are going to get there is really a much easier question than WHAT you want to do. So many people don't know what direction to take. They are looking for inspiration.

One of the first things is: Don't put your stuff in the middle. Your things (house, car, vacation, furniture, boats, etc, etc) end up owning you if you're not careful. Put your LIFE in the middle and the stuff on the back burner.  Your LIFE may include, your loved ones, your passion, your health, your beliefs, your service, your integrity.  Start from there and you will probably have a much more meaningful life and career. Now when I say meaningful, I don't necessarily mean easy. But Keep Going! Trust me, if you follow your bliss (as Joseph Campbell said) the rest will follow. Doors will open that would not be open for anyone else. For some following your bliss will lead to money, for others it will not. Money and things are not the goal. Doing something that is meaningful to you is.

Taking the easy or quick way may not be as quick and easy as you think if you consider doing something that doesn't inspire you or is unhealthy for you for the next decade or four.

Security is also an illusion in today's world. Things change very quickly out there in the job market now-a-days. The people in demand are the ones who are top of their field. Those who are on top of their field are typically the ones who are passionate about what they do.

Also remember that change happens. It can be scary to change. Many people opt for the devil they know over the uncertainty of the unknown. I understand, it is easy to become lulled to sleep by predictability even if it is uninspiring or even unhealthy, especially if you have larger responsibilities like a family. However don't be afraid of change, embrace it. (Change is a lot easier if you live simply and your things don't own you!)

My own journey includes me getting "downsized" a couple years before I thought I'd be ready to leave my day job. Who knows, I may never have left the daily grind hadn't it been for me getting let go. Hard telling. It was a tough period that lead to better things. I almost buckled and went back to what I knew, but I held on and things have been working out splendidly!

I sometimes get asked by people if I feel all those years in Corporate America were wasted? My answer is absolutely not! If it wasn't for that part of my journey, I wouldn't be where I am today. That experience gave me the skills, perspective and CLARITY I needed to be successful on my own today. Without it I don't think I would be here now. If it could have happened earlier it would have. No regrets. I am grateful for being able to do what I am passionate about full time. Even if it is scary a lot of the time.

Clarity is not just useful in our career, it is useful in everything that we do. Once we are clear it is much easier to map out a plan to act on that clarity. Be tenacious, have some faith and keep going and you may surprise yourself on where you'll end up.

So how can we gain clarity or stay clear? Well, there are many ways, here are some ideas:

1) What is important to you?
2) What inspires you? If you aren't sure, then...
3) What doesn't inspire you? (Sometimes knowing what you don't like is a good start to being clear)
4) Does it reflect Most Good / Least Harm for everyone?

Remember: Breathe, Relax, Let Go, have Faith and Keep Going!

Suzy Welch's book 10-10-10 may be helpful. It describes a method of considering how your decision will effect you in 10 minutes, 10 months, 10 years.

Clarity is really more about simple and less about complicated. More about feel than just logic. More art than science. The heart brings clarity the mind helps you actualize it into being... Just remember to make sure your ladder is leaning up against the right wall. If you find that it isn't, climb back down, move it and start again. It's ok... Life is for living, so live it!

Remember Einstein's definition of insanity:

"Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

If you don't like the view, get a different perspective. 

All that said, what I am hoping for 2014 is to have more Clarity. I wish it for me and I wish it for all of you reading this as well.
Have a great 2014!

All the best,

Monday, December 23, 2013

Against The Stream Krav Maga (by Moshe Katz)

 Moshe Katz (Far Left) & I (Craig Gray Far Right) with members of the Yamam 
in Jerusalem during the first IKI Tour & Train in 2010

So Tour and Train November 2013 is over, and my friend Athos is one of the last to leave. We are at my house enjoying one last cup of coffee, l'ultimo caffè. When I was in Italy I purchased some Italian coffee, which is now coming in very handy. Athos, as a proud Italian, prefers making Italian coffee. Anything else is a compromise.
Each morning of Tour and Train Athos prepared us Italian coffee, a little taste of Italy, here in Maaleh Adumim.
As a new student and as a mature man, Athos offers great insights into martial arts and self defense. I have come to understand why he chose IKI Krav Maga for his training. Athos is a respected researcher and professor at a distinguished Italian university, he is a man trained to notice details and make observations. Through many conversations I have come to appreciate his sensitivity and his awareness of details.
As I have noted many times Israelis like to present Krav Maga in a macho sort of way. Daily we are bombarded on youtube and Facebook by the young and dumb, the "Tough Guys" who want to perpetuate the myth of "Military Krav Maga" and the image of the "Bad Ass Krav Maga instructor".

He chose IKI because we do not present this image. As he said, "I am a professor, I do not want to come home injured and handicapped, I was afraid that I would be hurt while in Israel, so I hesitated to join any Krav Maga program."

AT Mt Herzl with Tour and Train. Monument to the Israeli volunteers during World War Two, (an unknown chapter in history). Athos from Italy, front row seated on our right, light green T shirt. His eyes convey his deep feelings about this experience.

He took his time, nearly 6 months, and researched on line. I appeared to be a "more sensible human being", he gambled on me and I met his expectations. "Your techniques are very effective for the street but you do not hurt people while training."
He explained in his native Italian, which he is more comfortable with, that...I am not young, and I am not experienced, I need an instructor I can trust.
I told him that in fact I had written blogs on this topic; when you are fighting, competing, it is your job to defend yourself. But when you training and you are allowing your teacher or your training partner to use your body and limbs, you are trusting them not to hurt you. When a teacher or training partner hurts you, they have broken this trust.
And yet, too many "Israeli Krav Maga" schools do just that and pride themselves on it. In fact they mock teachers such as myself as being "soft". In their "tough guy Krav Maga Training", there is no smiling and many students will walk away badly hurt, sometimes with permanent injuries. To them this is a "badge of honor".
We believe that we can train hard and effectively and yet be gentle and safe. As Athos pointed out, when he teachers, there is a way to teach a first year biology student and a 5th year biology student. If you hit a first year student with the "heavy scientific" load of a 5th year student, you will only harm him. You need to bring him in to the field slowly, step by step. This is how he views our Krav Maga as well.
The way one trains and the one teaches is a reflection of how they view themselves.
Recently we met two instructors, from an outside source. One was older and one was younger, but as Athos pointed out, it was not necessarily because of the age, it was more a mentality and level of maturity that mattered.
The younger man was hard, and, insecure. He kept asking for feedback, "How am I doing? What do people think of me?". The older man only smiled. He never asked for feedback, he did not need it.
The younger man hurt at least 3 participants during the training, the older man hurt no one. Not here, not know. In the past, during active duty, the older man did hurt people, but he prefers not to speak of it, he is a legend among those who know. He is the type of man that movies are made of. Only with him it all happened in reality, not just in the movies.
Athos is my kind of student, a wise man is our best student. He was able to see the truth. The insecure teacher hurts his student, the mature teacher guides his students safely. You can teach effective Krav Maga without hurting and intimidating your students in the process.
When I was a child, a student at the Hebrew Academy  of Nassau County, our great teacher and rabbi; Rabbi Meir Fendel, used to speak of Rabbi Abraham Kook. He referred to him as the "Man who went against the stream". This clearly had an effect on my young mind.

Today at IKI, we are the "Krav Maga instructors who go against the stream", we go against the absurd image of Israelis as "Jewish Rambos", we go against the idea that you must hurt your students and be a "Bad Ass" in order to be a good Krav Maga instructor. We are confident.
And just as I was listening years ago to the rabbi it is good to know that today someone is listening to my words, and observing my actions. 

By Moshe Katz, Krav Maga instructor, Israel

Bullying Only Begins On The Playground

I knew that I was screwed even before I opened the door for the meeting. I knew that my sales manager was going to bully me into agreeing on my new sales figures for the upcoming year. The company had a budget in mind which was aggressive or, in my opinion, unrealistic. Our bonus and commission rate was supposed to be an incentive so it was based on our growth, not necessarily on just the final sales numbers.  An interesting over complicated alga-rhythm that felt more like playing the shell game at some shady carney side show than holding a regular job. 

Now don't get me wrong, I know how difficult it can be to motivate people, especially when you are in charge of overseeing a guy like me who was a spirited, independent, go getter, not overly motivated by money and not to mention, (at the time) young, a bit cocky and probably too smart and intuitive for my own good. What was a sales manager to do?

Well, pushing unrealistic sales goals on to someone while telling them pretty much that they have to agree with them in order to keep their job isn't incredibly inspiring to me. However after the typical corporate dance, I relented and realized I wasn't going to win this battle. Later, upon the quarterly sales meeting when I was asked why my sales numbers were not where they "should be," I could do nothing but smile and say, "well, if the goals were realistic in the first place we wouldn't be having this conversation."

To which my sales manager replied, "these are the goals you agreed to." 


You have to be kidding me!

I only "agreed" to your goals because you gave me no choice. You and I both knew that they were unrealistic, but they were what YOU wanted so they would fit into your budget, not mine. If I had my way, I'd be working 30 hours a week rather than 65. I don't need more money, you do. I am fine with what I have now. I don't need more stuff, I need more time so I don't lose my freakin' mind. More time to spend with my family and friends, more time to be healthy, more time to enjoy life. I'm sorry that you and your organization have an insatiable appetite for the almighty dollar, but I live simply and I would like it if you would allow my job to reflect that simplicity as well. I thought.

In short they wouldn't. They wanted what they wanted, with or without me. Regardless if I was top sales man just moments ago; it's a "What Have You Done For Me NOW" kind of world.

Unfortunately at the time I only had about a quarter of this conversation with him, the rest of it was going on in my head. But I knew I wouldn't last much longer in corporate America. The allure of playing the game was fading; I was sick of the dog and pony show. I didn't get out as quickly as I'd hoped, it took several more grueling years, but the day finally did come when I left... Well, actually I was downsized, but that is a story for another day. 


"Get him out of here..." My partner tried shouting in my ear. It was barely audible over the noise from the music and crowd.

"What?!" I yelled back more out of habit than not knowing I had to get the principle, the son of a prominent politician out of this club before things got further out of hand.

I could see the scene unfolding right in front of me. A fight between our principle and some young, drunk stud who was probably tired of his girlfriend being hit on by this rich, prick with entitlement issues and ego that needed to be knocked down a few pegs.

However, I was one of the "lucky"one's hired to keep this asshole safe. In reality we spent more time trying to protect him from himself than any outside threat.

In slow motion, drink glasses crashed to the ground and fists started flying. I pitched myself forward into the fray toward the two combatants. Only there weren't just two. No, the guy my principle decided to mess with ended up having a couple friends... Oh the joy!

I managed to wedge past the two friends, pushing them back as I verbally directed them to stand down and get help (probably something much more crude than that I'm sure, I don't really remember what I actually said).

Blowing past them I set my sights on the two engaged in (not so) mortal combat. Like the bow of  a ship I split between them projecting them apart, then immediately redirecting my principle around toward the exit.

At first he was stunned but he quickly redirected his attention on the man he was fighting with.

That wasn't an option any longer. I needed to get him out of here pronto, before it got any worse. So I spun him around, yelling at him to move toward the door. Simultaneously I firmly struck him in the abdomen and with the web of my hand pushed his head/neck down protecting him from any further rear assaults. I pushed him through the hole in the crowd that one of my partners was making as he lead the way toward the exit. We were moving quickly as the bouncers began to respond to the incident.

In a blink we were back in the limo where after I made sure our principle was not injured, I told him, "if you try doing that shit again, you won't have to worry about the other guy; I'll knock you out!"

"You work for me buddy, so watch how you talk to me." He said like a spoiled child.

"No, "Skippy," I work for your dad. And he doesn't pay me enough for that kind of shit!"  I said matter of factly.

After a short, quiet ride, we dropped him off home and the next day I quit that assignment.


You see, bullying doesn't stop on the playground, that's where it starts! Little bullies turn into big bullies. And to make matters worse, many people who were bullied often turn into bullies themselves.

On my last two blog post: Sticks & Stones, Social Contracts & Other Lies Experts Tell Us About Bullying (Part 1) & (Part 2) I share some of my path both as a kid as well as now as an adult. I went into some detail about my opinion on bullying as well as policies and programs created to deter bullying.

The short stories I shared with you at the beginning of this blog are just two small personal examples of how bullying manifests itself into our adult lives. If the person doesn't work through their issues, they will continue to create unhealthy situations in their own and others lives. 

Dr. Stephen Karpman illustrated this well in his "Drama Triangle." 

There are three behaviors at work here:

The Victim: They feel that they are powerless.

The Rescuer: The "Fixer," always trying to fix or come to the rescue of someone.

The Persecutor: The Bully. They try to feel better at someone else's expense.

You see, a person with a victim mentality will often become a rescuer or persecutor in other relationships. The victim mentality will cause the person to seek a Persecutor (someone or something that is bullying them) and a Rescuer (someone or something that will "save" them). It is difficult to hold on to that Victim mentality without the other two dynamics at work as well.

Further, the Rescuer isn't rescuing out of the goodness of their heart, they are playing that role for their own reasons. Trying to fill a hole that they have in themselves by playing it out in other ways. This is unhealthy and often hazardous for everyone involved. 

The Persecutor is also typically someone who was victimized by someone else as well. Basically the Bullied turns into the Bully. Each of these rolls needs the other to function. What would Batman be without the Joker?

David Emerald created a model called TED or The Empowerment Dynamic which is a healthy perspective shift from Karpman's Drama triangle. (See the Illustration Below)

It's all about FOCUS. People with a victim mentality will focus on:

  1. The Problem
  2. Their Emotions
  3. Their Limitations (What they CANNOT control)

Where a person with a healthy perspective will focus on:

  1. Solutions
  2. Options (What they CAN do)
  3. Action (Next step)

So, how does one make the shift?

A simple, yet not so easy process.

I call it iexperience. It looks like this:

 Basically the experience that you are having is a result of this process:

Your Perception (glass half empty or full) influences your Choices - Which done enough times become your Habits - Regarding how you deal w/your Emotions, People & Situations. Those habits will contribute to how you Respond To Your Emotions which will then influence the Experience that you are having.

Your power comes with your ability to Choose. If you don't like what your experience is you can make different Choices that, over time will create new Habits that will alter your emotional response which changes your experience, perception and so forth. 

This is a very powerful tool, but it can be very difficult to actually do. As I often say, simple, not easy. =)

Just like in my story in Sticks & Stones, Social Contracts & Other Lies Experts Tell Us About Bullying (Part 1) about my brother and me: When I stood up to him bullying me. It wasn't so much that I "Won" the fight between he and I. It was more that I stood up for myself. That I refused to be a victim any longer.

If we don't stand up for ourselves in the right way (meaning we are not looking for vengeance rather, balance. Most good / least harm for everyone). Many people will often get caught in Karpman's Drama Triangle. They will play the various roles (victim, persecutor, rescuer) over and over in their respective relationships trying to find some relief. It never works. They have to shift to finding balance. To being what I call a PeaceWalker, an Ethical Protector, or Ethical Warrior.

Some people are drawn into certain positions for unhealthy reasons. Seeking positions of power like law enforcement, teachers, officers, managers, politicians, supervisors, dictators, CEO's, warlords, prison guards, foremen, owners of companies, etc. The position is chosen not to help, empower, serve, create or inspire. No, sometimes these positions are sought after so that person has power over others so that they feel protected or because it serves a narcissistic or sadistic tendency. This is not uncommon.    

Not only can the bully on the playground grow up to become the bully in the office, so can the bullied. The tyrannical boss to the ruthless dictator; the power-tripping cop to the sadistic commanding officer; the pretentious teacher to the abusive parent. Abuse creates more abuse, it's as simple as that.

In order to stop this cycle we need more protectors, more PeaceWalkers. People who are confident. People who have the right ethic. People who have the right skills. People who have the right perspective to Live - Protect - Inspire.

Keep going on YOUR PeaceWalking journey!



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sticks & Stones, Social Contracts & Other Lies Experts Tell Us About Bullying (Part 2)

Before I begin part 2 of this post I wanted to thank everyone for the overwhelming response I received from Sticks & Stones, Social Contracts & Other Lies Experts Tell Us About Bullying (Part 1). I appreciate all of the good words, support, personal stories and thoughts that people shared with me on-line, in person and privately. People from all over the world and all walks of life seemed to identify with the story: From special ops military, to insurance salesmen; soccer moms to SWAT team members; Federal Marshall's to factory workers, firemen to financial advisers, Teachers to IT professionals, correctional officers, counselors and car salesmen. Men & women of all ages, backgrounds and social groups; straight and gay; it didn't matter. Almost everyone seemed to immediately identify with that story. Why, because many people have stories of their own either personal, someone they knew or a situation they saw in some way.

For those of you who know me better, you know that I am a bit of a private person. One of my friends asked me if I felt weird or vulnerable when I wrote this past post. I said no. I didn't feel weird until I began getting the feed back from people, then I started to feel a bit awkward. There are probably a million reasons why, but that is for a later blog.

I don't know how she did it, because she never even knew me, 
but artist Jean Nelson painted a picture of me as a kid. 

It's true, I used to rampage around the neighborhood on my 
Big Wheel wearing the cape my grandfather made for me. 
...not much has changed really, only I 'm older now, no longer have 
blond (or any) hair; I traded in my Big Wheel and my neighborhood 
has expanded to include the entire globe! =) 

I want to clarify a couple of other things before we begin with Part 2 of this story:

Overall I feel that I had a GREAT childhood, I wouldn't change it for the world. What happened with my brother although shocking to some and somewhat unfortunate to be endured, is often a part of life and a lesson to be learned for everyone. Things could have been much much worse. Overall I couldn't have asked for a better childhood.

Don't ask me why, but deep down I knew my brother loved me. Even though he could be abusive, he always stuck up for me when it came to other people. Although there were some rough times, I still have many good childhood memories with my brother. It wasn't all bad.

I never held on to any animosity toward my brother. Actually, I felt bad for him. He had a rough time with things. It hurt me to see him struggle with his emotions, with school, with our parents, with the law, with other kids, with substance abuse, with life. I knew he was bullied too and I saw how he carried that and many other negative experiences forward. I may be able to understand that better now as an adult, but for whatever reason I was empathetic for him way back then even without the maturity of knowing why.

In spite of all of his flaws, I love him and always have and I know he does me as well. However, his behavior toward me was unacceptable, so I had to learn how to manage his behavior while respecting him as a person; or in clearer terms, his "Life Value." Just being nice to him wasn't enough; at that time, he rarely respond to that method, he needed a little more "incentive" to not take out his aggression out on me. His behavior had to be managed (in our case back then) physically. So I had to be able to separate the actions from the person, the sinner from the sin, so to speak. I did this unconsciously. This perspective didn't stop only with my brother, I did this with others as well. After time I slowly realized how powerful this viewpoint was regarding getting along with people, managing conflict and leading. Through this perspective one could live a safer, healthier, happier life.

I didn't even realize it, but I began trying to teach others how to do this as well. Later, as I grew up I would more mindfully and systematically begin teaching a method that was tangible and could be replicated. Later yet I met Jack Hoban who introduced me to a vocabulary he learned from his mentor Dr. Robert Humphrey regarding the Universal Life Value and Dual Life Value, as well as the concept of Tactical Space and how it is used not only in combat, but in life. I owe a lot to Jack for helping me not only clarify this perspective, but to be able to articulate it more accurately to others. Some other earlier influences of mine in this area include: My Mom & Dad, some of my first martial arts instructors namely Bob Barss and Master Yen Hoa Lee the writings of  Joseph CampbellAnthony DeMello, Dan Millman, and the ethic, legends and lore of what I saw martial arts and warriorship was to be; a path of empowerment and of being a protector.

Since that fateful time as a boy I have been working on the art of blending the ethic, strategy, tactic and technique of being a protector of Life. Through my own experiences and the experiences of others I continue to practice, learn, and when appropriate share some of my lessons with others the best that I can.

Ok, one last thing before we're ready to go (really, I promise):

Initially I was only going to write this post without Part 1; but before I even started writing the words, I realized that to fully express my perspective of the importance of this element I HAD to share my story.

FINALLY, without further ado:

Sticks & Stones, Social Contracts & Other Lies Experts Tell Us About Bullying (Part 2):

I do work with a lot with healthcare and counseling organizations including: The Michigan Counseling Association, the Michigan School Counselors Association., West Michigan Counselors Association, Forestview Hospital, Hope Network, Employee Assistance Center, Spectrum Health, and many others.

Now, just so you understand the uniqueness of this situation, I don't have a masters degree or a Ph.D. in anything let alone psychology, counseling or social work, so why do these high profile mental healthcare organizations continue to hire me and bring me in to speak and train their professionals?

Simple, I share a perspective and methodology that is beneficial to them and their patients and students; one that their education and training has not provided them. This approach is different from their experience, but it is powerful and life changing none the less.

You see, people come to me to for many reasons, but the underlying motivation for everyone is empowerment. Empowerment over their life in some way. It may be to lose weight, to get in shape, to handle conflict better, to become a better leader or manager, to defend themselves or their family, to be more effective at their job as a police officer, soldier, bodyguard or security personnel, to overcome the trauma of an abusive relationship, assault or rape.

Call it what you want, the bottom line is that people come to me to feel more confident, less afraid, to live safer, healthier, happier lives.

People want a  L.I.F.E. - That is to Live Independent, Free and Empowered. They sometimes don't even know it, but they want to become better Protectors. Better Protector of Life... Their own Life and the Life of others. 

When I speak to schools and school counseling organizations, my presentations often are about how to manage conflict more effectively in and out of the classroom. Now, when I present it is more than just me talking; I always have unique exercises for the participants to do so they can learn more effectively and have fun doing it. I've learned over the years that you can have the best material in the world, but if everyone is bored, not involved or can't see how the concepts relates to them, your wasting both of your time, because no one's listening or attempting to learn. You have to engage your audience quickly & capture their attention.

I, like so many educators have found that this is done by 1) helping the student see how the information can relate to and help them in some way and 2) then telling stories and creating exercises that involve and engage the participants. It is training not just education. My workshops deal with conflict which is more than just words, I began calling what I teach "Integrated Empowerment."  The idea is that we have to integrate: Ethics, Emotion, Mindset, Non-Verbal & Verbal Communication, Physical and Sociological elements in order to be more effective.

Why do we have to integrate all of these items? Because humans embody all of these things and if we are not addressing how this all comes together both inside of us as well as when we interact with others, then we are leaving something out; the approach is not being as effective as it could be.

So, we are about two thirds through my two hour presentation when someone brings up the topic of bullying. The participants (all school counselors and/or psychologists) ask me my opinion on it. Before I commented I asked them if they wanted my politically correct answer or my honest viewpoint. Of course they were interested in my real view.

"We want to know what you really think Craig." Someone from the crowd asked.

"Well," I said. "In my opinion, one of the main problems of many of the approaches embraced by today's schools is that they are coming from the wrong place. They are starting from the wrong foundation. They are beginning from a place of false assumptions and more importantly from a flawed, warped perspective of the human experience."

What?! The crowd mouthed.

"Many of you may be thinking that I am being a bit bold and arrogant by my statement, so let me show you." I said with a smile.

"Could I get a volunteer?" I asked politely.

A small, young lady stepped up.

"Let's say that you have to talk to me. Stand where you normally would to talk." I said with a slight grin.

She adjusted her position slightly and stood there.

"Do you feel safe?" I asked.

She nodded confidently.

"Are you sure?" I asked, as I reached my hand out and put it on her shoulder.

The energy began to change in the room as I began to illustrate my point.

"What is stopping me from hurting you right now?"

My comment didn't quite register with her, so I repeated it slower, more deliberate, more intentional.

"What is stopping me from hurting you right now?"

Her eyes widened as the air was sucked out of the room from my statement.

"If I can touch you, that means I can grab you, hit you, throw you down, assault you, rape you. And what are you going to do about it?"

Now you could hear a pin drop in the room.

"Do you think you can make it to that door (about 25 feet away) before I got a hold of you?"

Before she could answer, I said, "I doubt it, I'd own you before you got two steps off."

"Do you think you could get to your cell phone and dial 911? I doubt it." I said flatly.

"Let's say someone here was able to call for help, how long do you think it would take the cops to get here?" I asked gravely.

"Too long." I exclaimed, adding, "do you know what I could do to you in the 10 or 20 minutes it took them to get here?"

The young counselor was now visibly uncomfortable, so uncomfortable she was frozen in her place. No doubt wondering why she volunteered in the first place.

"OK, what about all of your friends here in the room?" I said, waiving my hands around the room like some magician would before making someone disappear. 

"Do you think anyone would help you?"

"Maybe, but probably not, at least not at first." I said matter-of-factly.

"Do you know how much I could hurt and humiliate you in that time?" I said looking her.

"A LOT!" I pointed out with a menacing look in my eye.

"How do you feel right now?" I asked her.

She didn't say anything at first. So I said it another way.

"Do you feel safe?  Do you feel confident? Do you feel empowered?"

"No," she said barely above a whisper, shaking her head slightly.

I began to soften my words and demeanor. 

On a scale of one to five how safe, confident and empowered do you feel right now?

"One or one and a half," she shared looking up hesitantly.

"This is how kids feel with a bully. The threat of a physical attack is always eminent as well as the emotional and psychological victimization. These are all factors in their world... And they know it." I explained.

"This is not to say that other forms of bullying are not an issue as well, because they can be equally damaging (referring to cyber bullying and other types of victimization that may not involve direct physical contact)." I added.

I went on to say, "The only reason we do not feel (physically) unsafe as adults in this society is because of a social contract we unconsciously agree to which "states" that (pretty much) whatever happens we are not going to try to physically hurt one another."

That social contract doesn't exist for kids in the same way it does for (most) of us as adults. This is one of the fatal flaws that is at the foundation of many of these anti-bullying policies and programs that are so common out there.

We all have a need to feel safe. Research proves that if we don't feel safe we don't do anything well. For starters, just look at the statistic of absenteeism of school kids due to bullying:

Every day, more than 160,000 students skip school because they are fearful of being bullied

If you don't even show up to class, it's hard to learn anything, right?

The feeling of safety is not just physical safety; it is emotional, physical, social, financial, etc. I see it in young and old alike and from every walk of life. I have found that the better protector I can be, the more authentically I can connect with people. I get better data tactically (a fancy way of saying that if I am not the problem the other person will tell me though his words or actions how the situation needs to be managed more safely), while creating an environment that is safer, healthier, more productive and happier.

Remember Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs?

If you look at the second tier of the pyramid you'll see the magic word we're talking about, SAFETY.

Now in our overly compartmentalized world, sadly it has gotten to the point that we cannot even protect ourselves without the consent of our society. This is exemplified most predominantly in this case by many of our schools "zero-tolerance" policies. Which says that there is no differentiation between an assault and defending yourself from an assault; no difference between the bully and the bullied; the victim and the one who victimized them. It is essentially saying that you don't have the authority or right to protect yourself, and if you do you will be punished for it in the same manner as that of the person who attacked you.

It seems that we are more concerned with creating someone who follows the rules of the system more than we care about the well being of that individual. It's a shame. 

This communicates to our children that they are not worth or capable of standing up for themselves, that they do not have the "authority or authorization" to protect themselves outside of having the establishment do it for them. If they do not comply with policy it is an equal offense to that of the violence done to them itself. This sentiment conditions people to be dis-empowered victims that are in need of rescuing.  And when our institutions fail to protect us, our learned helplessness becomes even more exposed, which leads to many other problems. Once this learned helplessness solidifies it can be the root of many other personal, interpersonal and social issues.

The professional academics coming up with these policies and programs have good intentions, but a skewed foundational perspective. They come up with policies and programs reflecting how they would like things to be, not how they are. Most do not see the whole picture not because they don't want to see, but because their environment isn't the same as that of the kid. It is easier to be idealistic when it isn't your ass on the line... or rather when you aren't the one feeling unsafe to that level. I was able to demonstrate it a little bit with my young counselor volunteer. Helping her to see and feel what I was talking about.

Let me explain:

In a perfect world people should not hurt one another. You should feel safe to do whatever you want shy of hurting, disrespecting, etc. others. But that is not the real world.

We should have confidence that if I treat someone with dignity and respect that they will return the sentiment. That is a great place to start, but what happens when this method doesn't work? What happens if the person wants to hurt you in some way, regardless of you treating them kindly? How do you manage that situation? How can you protect yourself? How can you protect EVERYONE the best you can?

Imagine our military, police officers, healthcare orderlies and security personnel not being trained in physical management or having the proper tools (ranging from restraints to tazers, pepper spray, ballistic vests and other protective equipment, to emotional, verbal and physical tactics that are designed to deal with an individual who does not want to play nice), as well as ethical, verbal, emotional and psychological skills?

As you might guess, most situations would turn out very differently if our protectors didn't go into these situation with the right mindset, abilities and tools to deal with someone who wasn't playing the same game we were regarding goodwill towards all.

This game as I call it is a social contract; an unspoken agreement of acceptable behavior between two or more people.The social agreement that most adults have with one another is that of non-violence. Under normal circumstance, it is not seen as acceptable to turn to violence to another person. This is such the norm in most of our society that we forget that this is only an agreement if both parties are playing by the same rules. However, some adults such as criminals and sociopaths do not have these niceties, nor do many kids. Kids are still learning the rules of acceptable behavior and emotional management. The ones who don't learn the rules of the game (how to manage this), quickly become outcasts as adults which typically result in difficulty with their relationships, jobs and probably a fair amount of time in our correctional system.

The people creating the anti-bullying policies and programs do not take into consideration this foundational element which as a result makes the strategy incomplete and less effective in some and downright ineffective or wrong in others.

Now back to my story at the conference:

"Would you like me to show you some simple ways that you could raise your confidence in how to handle this situation?" I asked her.

"Yes, of course," she exclaimed as her demeanor began to relax.

I shared a simple yet profound method of how to better manage this concept of "Tactical Space." Where to stand, how to move and what to look for to be safer and have a tactical advantage if someone was trying to physically hurt you. 

It doesn't have to do with teaching people how to fight or hurt others, on the contrary, it is helping them understand that they are already protectors, we just need to help them be better at it by giving them the right tools for the job!

I went on to explain how that this idea of tactical space wasn't only physical; it can be managed and expressed ethically, emotionally, psychologically, non-verbally, verbally, and socially.

The participants were astounded.

After showing her some of the basic positions, movements, tips and tricks. She looked much more confident.

"How confident do you feel now?" I asked smiling.

"A lot more," she said enthusiastically.

"I probably feel like a 4 or 4.5 on that 5 point scale!" She beamed.

"Great!" I exclaimed.

"Is this something you think would benefit your students?" I asked.

"Yes!" She said delighted.

"I hope you can share it with them," I said honestly.

"If you need help let me know." I added.

This is an example of Integrated Empowerment: 

An approach that gives us skills in these areas of:

Ethics - Universal Life Value: Protecting Self and ALL Others.
Emotions - Calm, confident.
Non-Verbal - Stance, posture, position.
Verbal - How you talk.
Physical - How you move, engage or disengage.
Social - How the relationship & group dynamic plays a part.

These element have to be clarified and activated in a simple, effective way that works.

Here is a story that Jack Hoban often tells that explains this more simply: 
You're on the playground and you see a kid getting bullied by a bigger kid. Pretty much everyone sees that as being wrong. Congratulations your moral. You know wrong from right. 
You overcome the embarrassment of being called a tattle tail and the fear of being confronted later by the bully for telling on him and you go get a teacher to help. Congratulations you are ethical: You do the right thing when it is difficult to do so, or you don't have to (ethics = morals in action). 
Now, there are no teachers or adults around to help and if you don't step in, the smaller kid is going to get pounded. So, you over come your fear of being beat up yourself, the anxiety of maybe having to hurt someone else, the reality of possibility of getting kicked out of school and/or grounded by your parents for "fighting." You overcome all of these fears and you decide to step in and stand up to the bully. Now you have the makings of an Ethical Protector (or Ethical Warrior, or what I often call the PeaceWalker).
(...and my addition to the story...)
To take it even a step further, the next day when you see the bigger kid who was being the bully the day before, you approach him and say something like this: "Hey George, is everything alright with you man? You seem like you're a nice enough guy; what was going on with you and Bob?" 
That story helps to simply clarify the concepts of morals, ethics and ethical protection. We have to also remember not to demonize (dehumanize) the person (or group) who are being the bullies.
It only takes ONE person to step up, then others step up as well. But that one person has to have guts to be the first to make the stand!
In order to do this you have to have to be able to STEP UP! It is easier to step up if you have Integrated Empowerment (even if you don't know exactly what it is).

Everyone in the room seemed to not only have a better understanding of what I was talking about, it looked as if they could FEEL the difference within themselves!

After my session several of the counselors approached me asking questions and requesting more information. It was a great day!

It is times like this that remind me why I do what I do. It is also times like this that I am thankful for the experience I had with my brother, because without that experience I might not be here sharing these skills with others. 

For more information about this perspective:

All the best,

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sticks & Stones, Social Contracts & Other Lies Experts Tell Us About Bullying (Part 1)


Tha-Wap! "Ouch, stop it," I cried out as I started to feel the fear, anger and humiliation begin to wash over me. Another red welt was beginning to swell on my bare leg as I tried to run for cover from my tormentor's onslaught of taunts and assaults, administered this time with the wet tip of a dish towel "rat tailed" and used like a whip against the naked skin of my legs, arms and face.

Would I end up going to the hospital again? Or would he just toy with me a little bit this time, before "allowing" me to beg for my release after his appetite was sufficiently satisfied from the control and violence?

I never knew.

You see I loved my brother. We were kids and we fought like brothers do, however sometimes... Too often, it would be more than just two brothers rough housing. Sometimes he would go too far; he would take out his frustration, anger and other issues out on me. When this happened it ended up being a bad day for me. Typically a day of blood, stitches, fractures, burns, derogation, helplessness and abandonment.

On those days, in those moments he could not be reasoned with. There was no negotiation or de-escalation, especially from a 12 year old boy. There was only torment, humiliation, and pain. It wasn't a matter of IF you were going to get hurt, only HOW MUCH. Sucks or sucks worse.

When days like these happened there was no protection that anyone could provide, short of a 24/7 body guard who was willing to throw down for me. I remember dreaming about building a robot that would protect me from him. No, not just protect me, after a while, I didn't just seek protection, I sought justice... revenge. I wanted my dignity back. I wanted to respect MYSELF again. I wanted my robot bodyguard to kick the living shit out of my brother until he "saw the error of his ways;" until he respected me or at least feared me.

I would act out every detail of how this would happen again and again in my head. It gave me some relief. No, it actually gave me joy, even if only imagined in my mind.

On the other hand, even with the abuse, I, like many younger siblings, looked up to my brother. I wanted to hang out with him, but not when he was cruel. I wanted to be accepted by him; I wanted to play with him; I wanted him to like me; to respect me. And sometimes that did happen, but other times... Let's just say it didn't.

You never knew if you would get Jekyll or Hyde. Not knowing was worse than the beating, but the humiliation, dis-empowerment and feelings of abandonment were worse yet. Having someone to protect you was no substitution for standing up for and being able to protect yourself. And this was the day I came to the point that I'd had enough. Enough of the pain, enough of the hospital visits, enough of the fear, enough of the begging, and enough of the self loathing that I felt after being his "bitch." What happened today would change the direction of the rest of my life.

"I said stop it!"

"Fuck you pussy. What are you going to do? You can't go running to mom and dad, they're gone dick head. They won't be here to save you. And you better not go telling them when they get home either."

I could feel my lip begin to quiver. Tears were welling up. I wanted to curl up in a ball and disappear. My robot bodyguard would not save me today. No one was there to help me, I was ALONE to fend for myself. I knew I would be beaten. I just didn't know how bad. The last, most recent episode resulted in a trip to the ER and 9 stitches in my head. Oh but he was sorry... I could tell in his eyes he was, AFTER his emotions subsided or AFTER he got caught and feared his punishment.

The sting of the rat tail was almost unbearable as it struck the right cheek of my face. The pain was intense, but the unbearable part was the self hatred and humiliation, I had no dignity left. But, in that moment something changed in me. I somehow knew I was at a crossroad of sorts. Take one path your life leads here. Take the other and it goes down a much different road to a darker place. I had to choose. It was the most terrifying decisions of my young life. I was facing my worse nightmare.

Many of you may be thinking that nightmare was that of my abusive brother, but that wasn't the real demon I was facing. He was just the agent of something much deeper and more profound. In reality, I was facing myself. I was facing fears, my faith, my doubts, my confidence, my worth.

What am I worth to myself? Was I willing to stand up for myself, for what was right, even though he was still going to beat the piss out of me? It was about personal integrity, not about whether I would simply win or not. Actually, it really didn't have much to do with me "winning,"at all, it had to do with self respect. Was I willing to put it all on the line for myself? 

Yes, I was tired of his abuse, but I was even more exhausted from the feelings I had toward myself, both in the moment and after. That was a torment I was no longer willing to endure. I'd be damned if was going to let this happen once again. He might beat me down, but he would not, could not defeat my spirit or sense of self respect.

I had enough.

I saw my opening as the dish towel retracted from that last blow. My years of martial arts training and increased confidence was going to be put to the test in this moment. All of the built up rage from a half a decade of abuse was fueling my counter assault.

I threw out my fist with everything I had.

The look on my brothers face is forever etched in my mind as I struck him square in the face. Surprise, pain, confusion and panic flooded every fiber of his expression as he attempted to collect himself.

I wasn't sure if he was going to shake it off or not. It didn't matter. My next blow had already hit its target.

"WAM!" The sound of my right hook hitting my brothers jaw was ringing in my ears as I watched his 15 year old legs go weak, causing him to stagger and hold on to the cupboard for support to keep himself from falling to the floor.

I saw red as I heard him scream and run toward the back door. Now I was the hunter.

Quick as a lion springing after a gazelle I was out the door after him, chasing him into the yard. He was not going to get away. Not today.

Aided by a massive adrenaline rush, I quickly caught up to him, jumped and tackled him before he made it to the woods next to our house.

Once on the ground I quickly mounted him and much like the scene in "Christmas Story" I began to literally pound his face into the ground yelling as all of the pent up anger erupted from me.

I don't know how many times I hit him in the face, but I can tell you this, I meant every single blow.

As I got off from his crying, heaving, crumpled body, I said, "If you every try hurting me again I will fucking kill you."

I meant it.

He never touched me again.

That, my friends, is a true story. It is my story with my brother and as cliche' as it sounds, that was the day I became a man. That day, that moment, that decision changed the rest of my life.

You may be wondering the same thing I sometimes do. What would have happened if he would have won that fight? We will never know. However I can share with you how it feels to me: It wasn't so much me winning the fight as it was me standing up for myself. That perspective had to be earned by facing the challenge in the manner that I did, for me in that moment. It is not to say that others cannot or will not experience that in a different way. It was about standing up for myself. Of saying no more: I will not live like a victim any longer. I will not GIVE that to you any more. I don't have to take it from you, because you never had it, I do. I always have.

In that moment I had to experience that for myself. It was beyond logic, thinking or telling. It was all about doing, feeling and expressing.

Oh, for the record, I never touched him again either. I was only looking to be left alone, not to become a bully myself. I knew there were other better ways of dealing with conflict, and resorting to physical violence was a last resort. However if you have the conviction to be willing to and capable of physically throwing down when necessary to protect (for the right reason), this makes all of the difference in the world. It is this sentiment that is horribly misunderstood in our society today. As Jack Hoban says, having The Ethic, Tactics and Techniques of being an Ethical Warrior.

It was that warm summer day when I was 12 years old that I reclaimed my life.

Later, on a deep unconscious level I figured that since I didn't like being bullied and victimized, others probably didn't either, so I became passionate about learning and teaching empowerment skills. First in martial arts and later spanning a wide variety of conflict management, empowerment and leadership skills.

Thanks for listening to part of my journey. I tell it in hope to help others begin to understand how this idea of Integrated Empowerment is so important. What is Integrated Empowerment and how can it solve many personal and social problems? Well, I guess you'll just have to read part 2 of this post! =)

See you on the flip-side.

All the best,

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Some Perspective On Perspective


"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it."

~Mary Engelbreit

Let's face it, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Some of these things are avoidable, other times there is nothing the individual could have done personally to prevent the situation. To be the victim of a circumstance is one thing, but having a victim mentality is something all together different. Having a victim's perspective is not only dis-empowering and uninspiring to ourselves and those around us, it is not a sound tactical practice. This (victim's) perspective in life or in the moment can cause us a great deal of pain, not to mention, when we are in this state we are choosing to give away our power and any chance of a tactical advantage.

You may have heard me talk about using Conflict as an Opportunity before? Well, this is the method that  makes that possible: Changing our perspective.

Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said, "We cannot always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we respond to it."

That sounds like good advice, but HOW can we achieve this perspective and how can we use it to have more confidence, make better decisions and live a better life? In order to begin to answer that question we have to look at how we perceive things. I break perception down very simply:

1. Pessimist: Glass Half Empty
2. Optimist: Glass Half Full
3. Realist: The Water Level is what it is...and?

Once you begin to understand that your perspective is under your control and that over time, not overnight you can change that perspective so you can begin making better choices more consistently, rather than getting upset because of something that happened to you or because of something someone did to you or anything else that is out of your control (which is pretty much anything outside of your attitude and choices); then you will realize the true power that you have always had.

Remember to relax, breath, understand what matters and what doesn't; what you have control over and what you don't; what options you have and don't have. Think how will all of this will matter in 10 minutes, 10 months, 10 years, 10 lifetimes. How can you make a choice that is most good / least harm for everyone, the best that you can in that moment? 

Let's look at a victim's perspective vs. an empowered perspective:

Victim's Perspective:

The focus is on:

  1. Problems
  2. Emotions
  3. Limitations (What they can't control)

An Empowered (PeaceWalker) Perspective:

The focus is on:

  1. Solutions / The big picture
  2. Options (What they CAN control)
  3. Action (What's the Next Step)

Practice embracing and using the PeaceWalker's Empowered Perspective and see how your world changes. I'll give you a hint: When YOU change, you'll notice your world changes when you put things into perspective.

Good luck!

Keep Going,

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!


In the end, everyone is aware of this:
Nobody keeps any of what he has,
and life is only a borrowing of bones.

  ~Pablo Neruda

Happy Halloween!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tough Krav Maga or Smart Krav Maga - By Moshe Katz

Moshe Katz while serving in the IDF

I am sitting on the plane now, trying to get comfortable, it is not easy. You see I have this sharp pain in my back. I know the exact spot; lower back, left side, just a touch to the right. And I know the exact moment it came about...

It was several years ago. I was still training on a semi-regular basis at the Jerusalem gym, more as a show of support than out of a desire to improve my MMA skills. In this particular MMA class I pared off with a young fellow, about my height but a few kilo heavier.

Now when it comes to a fight - I will do everything to defend myself, I will not allow anyone to hurt me. But with training drills we do not protect ourselves, we allow our partner, (not our opponent) to practice techniques on us. We do not protect ourselves; we trust our partner to protect us.

But my partner that day was young and dumb. He was a "tough guy" and caution and restraint is for the weak, the soft. So we were doing a drill, a takedown, that involved hugging the opponents' waist and an interlocking hand grip, a trip trip and a takedown. Only my partner, instead of knocking me down; he fell on me with his full force. He knuckles against my lower back and our combined weight of over 170 kilo forcing his knuckles deep into my back. I am sure young and dumb does not remember this incident, but I do. I have never recovered.

These days the Krav Maga market is being glutted with many new faces. It seems that every month there is a new Krav Maga "Organization" ( a guy with a facebook page and a video camera).
These guys, in the words of the Talmud, "have not served the master long enough", they are not properly certified, they have not "paid their dues"

In their videos they demonstrate Tough Guy Krav Maga, they showoff their muscles and how hard they can hit and be hit. They are "Dressed to Impress".

They like to hit hard, to brag about "real Krav Maga", and "we go all out". Young and Dumb. But these guys are under qualified, immature tough guys who are playing with your health, your body. It is ultimately you who will pay the price as years from now you will feel the results. as you try to get out of your chair you will let out a sigh of pain and mutter a curse under your breath.."That damn Krav Maga instructor, ruined my...(fill in the blank). Wisdom comes with the years, but often it is too late, the damage has been done.

Years ago at Karate College I saw Joe Hess, former Kickboxing Champion, strong man and simply a kind and wonderful man. He was "walking" down the stairs, actually more like wobbling. His aches and pains clearly got the better of him and every step was a struggle.

I was standing there with my friend and Mentor Professor Arthur Cohen and watching. Prof Cohen advised me to stop the heavy fighting while I still had use of my body and was still relatively pain-free.

Today my friend Arthur is suffering from his old injuries, his "tough years"; hospital visits, hip surgery, aches and pains. This is the lot of the aging fighter, but there is a way to avoid this. This is our responsibility as instructors.

We need to teach Smart Krav Maga rather than Tough Krav Maga. Trust me, your training will be no less effective for dealing with real life situations.

By Moshe Katz - Krav Maga Instructor, Israel

Friday, October 11, 2013

Politically Incorrect, Inappropriate & Insensitive

As our world continues to shrink, diversify and change, the effects on our daily social interactions also change. There are no areas in our lives where this shift isn't felt: Places of work, recreational activities, family gatherings, social events, etc. have all be affected by this incredible shift in social interaction.

The internet has increased the level of interconnectedness between average people to an unprecedented level which in the not so distant past would only have been achieved by a celebrity, or politician. Now-a-days it is as if everyone has their own Conan O'Brien Show. Drama is a drug and there are a lot of junkies running rampant. 

Lately there has been a lot of buzz about being politically correct, inappropriate or insensitive. These social constructs which were intended to protect and respect someones feelings and life value can also be misunderstood, taken out of context and misused.

Sometimes people are Politically Incorrect, Inappropriate and Insensitive. Other times because of our incredibly informal social structure (especially here in the U.S.) we can naively believe that some people are in our intimate social group, click, or inner circle so to speak who aren't. That lack of consideration may drive us to say or do things that would only be appropriate to people close to us, or who share our relative beliefs. This can come in many forms. One example of this would be calling someone your "bitch." This can be said in a number of ways; one would mean that the person is a close friend or com padre or it can be used to try to intimidate, show dominance, or total disrespect someone. Some may think this is a term that should only be used during certain times informally, however I've been witness numerous times where people thought it appropriate to use this term in more formal settings, such as court... or a formal wedding... Yes, people (you know OTHER people, never us) are stupid that way.

Over the years I have seen many people who don't or can't distinguish the appropriateness of what they do or say. I also see others who are quick to judge what might be seen as politically incorrect, inappropriate or insensitive. Now I am no authority: I am not usually politically correct; I have been seen as inappropriate; and have been accused of being insensitive, however I do my best to respect those around me. You might be wondering how I can be both? It seems contradictory.

Let me explain: I am light hearted in my interactions with people, which often includes a fair amount of teasing and antics that could be misinterpreted by some, however I seem to maintain a balance that allows me to get along quite well with most people from all of the cultures I have encountered. That said, let me share my perspective with you:

Politically Incorrect: A fancy term for covering your ass. I don't really believe in this concept. In my view it is a veneer of corporate speak for saying something in a way that will not get you sued or in trouble. The actuality is that the person may or may not have authentic intention of respecting the other group or individual. In my opinion, we have too many people trying to be politically correct and not enough people being authentic in their desire to be respectful.

Inappropriate: This is an easy one: The social group determines collectively what is appropriate within that group. However, everything is not relative, this must be seen through the Dual Life Value perspective that all life is to be protected and respected. The key term respect is in itself relative. The problem is that our groups are getting more and more diverse and larger, so it is increasingly difficult to determine what is inappropriate due to that growing diversity, casual nature of social interaction and false sense of intimacy (thinking someone is emotionally closer to you than they actually are). Some might say that this is "Common Sense," however in my experience there is no such thing. *Please refer to "bitch" example. We would like to believe that there is a certain amount of etiquette that is standard and there is... but it can be pretty broad. 

The holiday season is coming and many of you will be spending time with your in-laws. My guess is you'll see what I mean about common sense (or lack there of) and that many people don't know what is inappropriate behavior, even within the construct of their own family.

Insensitive: This is often said in conjunction with or as a substitute for inappropriateness. This is another simple one in my book. What one may see as insensitive another may find funny, or fine, or tough love, or amusing, or real, or truth, or whatever. So what determines insensitive? To me it is reliant on these things:

1) Intent - Did the person mean to be intentionally hurtful?

2) Interpretation - How was the action interpreted?

3) Communication - Did the offended party clearly communicate acceptable boundaries?

4) Follow up - Did the offender acknowledge, apologize or try to make the situation right?

5) Change in behavior - Did the offender change their behavior?

If I were to say something that you found offensive or hurtful, don't get mad without clearly communicating to me that I hurt your feelings. If you believe that I "should" know better, but do not tell me and clearly explain acceptable boundaries; how do I know how to treat you? 

If you do express yourself and set fair, healthy, most good/least harm, boundaries and I don't change my behavior but continue to do or say what offended you, THEN you can say I am being insensitive. Otherwise how do I know?

The idea is about being respectful to the life value as we cut through the relative differences and beliefs of cultural behavior & communications. We're not perfect and we are not mind readers. The more we work toward most good / least harm for everyone and the more clearly we can communicate to each other the simpler this is. But as I've said many times in the past, simple is not always easy. Especially in this case.

So there you have it: That is my perspective on that.

Keep going!

All the best,

Monday, October 7, 2013

Out From Under From "The Book of Awakening" by Mark Nepo

 "All the darkness! I'm going to walk into the light!" 

Sometimes there's just too much to consider, too much to understand and analyze, too many consequences to play out in our mind, too many things to clean, unpack, or repair before we can go out and play.

Sometimes the simplest and best use of our will is to drop it all and just walk out from under everything that is covering us, even if it is only for an hour or so (like going to Krav Class!) - just walk out from under the webs we've spun, the tasks we've assumed, the problems we have to solve. They'll be there when we get back and maybe some of them will fall apart without our worry to hold them up.

Wouldn't that be nice.

Action (or Non-Action) Steps:
  • Sit quietly and try to stop working your problems.
  • With each breath, put a concern down and feel your being intact without it.
  • Breathe freely and realize that your being is whole whether you solve your problems or not.
  • Breathe, Relax, Let Go.
From "The Book of Awakening" Page 242  
by Mark Nepo

(...most of it anyway!) =)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Krav Maga Imagine That by Moshe Katz, Krav Maga instructor, Israel

Wow, what just happened?  And how did that happen? I mean, after so many years of training, how could it happen?

I have heard this many times, thankfully it has usually been after a "mock" attack. A guy comes in from another school, another style, he knows it all, he is already a master, and then he is attacked, caught off guard, unexpectedly, boom. "Can I have another chance?"

No. You only have one chance. Another chance may be years away. Train for reality. Get a reality check. On the street there is only one chance.

Back in the old days in the Jerusalem dojo, we had a structure set up like an apartment. We used it to train security guards, to prepare them for what they will encounter when when they go into an apartment, to arrest someone, to discuss domestic disturbance etc. As they would walk through the rooms they would be attacked. The results can be see on the "Jerusalem Krav Maga DVD". This sort of training was also covered in the Krav Maga episode of the Human Weapon. Those visitors, and all visitors, had to wake up, a rude awakening indeed.

Wow, what just happened?  And how did that happen? I mean, after so many years of training, how could it happen?

But that is what our training is all about; the rude awakening. Better to have it happen in the training hall, among friends, and not on the street among enemies, thugs and derelicts.

My teacher Itay was not among the delicate types. He was far from "Politically Correct", he was simply.."correct".  "Man, you are shit!, you don't know shit, you are not even a white belt, you have to start from the very beginning."

Yes, that is difficult to hear, especially when you are already a "Master" (and you have a belt to prove it). Damn that hurts. What happened to being sensitive?

There is no place for "sensitive" when it comes to reality training.

What walk out of your house, someone has a grudge against you, but you don't know it...yet. Your mind is on your daily business, whom to call, what to buy, you are not in a "fighting stance", you are not in fight mode.

Bam! a punch out of nowhere. There was no chance to implement the "Eight Gates" of Kung Fu", or get into a Cat Stance, or jump into a Crane Stance. Damn, but it looked so cool in the movies! Why was I not prepared? Where did I go wrong?

But I am thinking about this all the time. This is the essence of our style of Krav; IKI Krav Maga. We are not dealing only with young men and women between the ages of 18-21 who are in combat readiness. We are dealing with everyone, we are dealing with you!

We are dealing with the guy who is rushing off to work but does not know that a jerk is lurking behind the corner hoping to get his wallet or settle a score. That is why our Combatives training must be very very simple. Because anything that is not simple is simply not going to work. Do you hear me? Not Going to Work!!

We train based on instinct, not on memorization. We train based on Concepts, not Techniques. We train based on gross motor moves, not fine precise moves. We train with the assumption that you will be fatigued and unprepared and wearing a suit, not army fatigues. Get it?

I do not believe, I question, I challenge, I strive to improve my chances and your chances for survival in a violent world.

By Moshe Katz - Krav Maga Instructor, Israel 

3 Day KRAV MAGA Seminar 
w/Israeli Instructor Moshe Katz & Conflict Management Expert Craig Gray
Coming in Jan/Feb 2013

Click HERE for details

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The (Not So) Ronin Way

When I was younger I found myself apart from the "Establishment," now as I grow older and my efforts and organizations are seeing more success I wonder if I have turned into the "Establishment?!"

The name for a few of my organizations, "Ronin Martial Arts Academy, Ronin Krav Maga and Ronin Empowerment Group," all have one name in common; "Ronin." For those of you who are wondering, the word Ronin is a term from ancient feudal Japan meaning a rogue warrior or in other words "a master-less samurai." Being master-less was not looked on as a favorable thing in ancient Japan. However many popular "super hero" type legends also stemmed from these Ronin. Stories such as 47 ronin and 7 samurai (or in America with the western spin we called it the Magnificent Seven), Yojimbo, even the movie "The Last Samurai" starring Tom Cruise tells a tail of the samurai that went a bit rogue. These stories were about how these Ronin although breaking their social norm were fighting for good and justice for all.

This idea of thinking for ones self and not being a puppet of "The Establishment" or beholden to some "master" so to speak, has guided a fair amount of my decisions when I was younger. Even today, I strive to be more authentic to myself and those around me. I have little tolerance for Political Correctness, rather I strive to be respectful to the Universal Life Value and strive for Most Good / Least Harm for everyone. I hate fake people, big organizational dog and pony shows or following someone or thing that went against my ethical perspective.

However, when I was younger I took this "Ronin" theme to extremes when dealing with many people and organizations over the years. Only recently (10 years or so) have I been tempering my Ronin Spirit so to speak. It has been a tough process... And am a long way from mastering it. But, as a result I have learned many things while dealing with people and organizations. This process continues to be an opportunity for personal growth for me, which often is accompanied with a fair amount of growing pains as a result. But I feel that the growing pains are well worth the efforts and challenges.

So as I deal with issues that come up with different organizations and people one of the ways I field these issues are by asking myself these questions before I respond to the situation at hand. Asking these questions help me to be better grounded and also to clarify the situation before I move forward with addressing the situation with the person or group.

I figured this process helps me out and you might find it beneficial as well the next time you run into something or someone that you find disagreeable.
  1. Why am I concerned or why did I find the circumstance offensive?
  2. Do I feel that it was inappropriate? If so how?
  3. Was it disrespectful? If so, how and to whom?
  4. Do I feel that the person (or organization) had malicious intent, was deliberately trying to disrespect, intimidate, harass, or attack a particular group or person?
  5. Do I feel the statement put me in danger in some way or somehow threatened me directly or indirectly?
  6. Could I possibly be overly sensitive about the issue or just the opposite, am I being insensitive?
I didn't find these questions over night nor do I remember consciously asking myself them until I recently had some issues with people posting comments on facebook that others felt inappropriate and as I was called in to moderate I had to better articulate my process on how I came to the conclusions I came to. Once I started thinking about the subject I began to realize I did think about some specific things and the list I shared (in this blog post) is what I realized I asked myself about the situation.

I hope you find this process (and the questions) helpful to you as well.

Keep going,