Friday, June 26, 2015

The Monster Under the Bed!

Some of you might remember back in the 1970's when you're teacher passed out the Scholastic Book Club Order Form!? I remember being so excited as I looked through each category to see if something inspired me. One of the choices they had was a magazine called Dynamite. It had all of the popular kid stuff like Fonzie, Leif Garrett and the Hardy Boys. One year in 1970 something there was a special edition that had 3D posters! If that wasn't cool enough, a few of those posters were my personal favorites... Monsters! Yes, I loved everything monster: Movies, masks, books, the old Revell and Aurora models, toys, and in this case 3D Posters!

Along with the poster you were given a pair of glasses typically cardboard cut out with plastic lenses, one red the other blue, because the posters were printed in two overlapping colors (red and blue). When you looked at the poster without the glasses it looked as if the printer screwed up because the printing was out of register. The red and blue lines ran over one another making the art almost indistinguishable until you put on those magical cardboard glasses! Then WOW the art jumped right out at you in 3D! 

As a matter of fact I owned the VERY poster you see at the top of this blog (Amazing I know! Please, try to contain your enthusiasm.) It's probably still at my parents house buried somewhere in an old box in a cubby hole somewhere in the attic.

This is the cover of that edition. Oh the memories! 
I can still remember the excitement of getting it!
(Gotta love the internet!)

In those glorious days as a child, wonder was abound. Because our imaginations were HUGE anything was possible! The good, the fantastic, and of course the scary monster under the bed! Yes, we all know that when the lights went out the monsters of the dark were there waiting to torment and devour each of us! 

It could be something we watched or a story someone told you. You know, bloody Mary, the haunted house on the dead end street, razors in the apples at Halloween, giant alligators in the sewer, the disappearing hitchhiker, the closet troll and of course the Monster Under the Bed!    

People come to me wanting solutions regarding personal & professional security. They are looking for answers. They are trying to keep themselves, their loved ones and their way of life safe from those who might take it from them in some way. They don't see it this way, but most of the time they want someone to save them from their own monster under the bed


No Craig, the threats I'm afraid of are real: 

Criminals are REAL!
Rapists are REAL!
Robbers are REAL!
Con-Artists are REAL!
Kidnappers are REAL!
Murderers are REAL!
Terrorists are REAL!

Yes, you are right, these types of behaviors do exist and bad things do happen to good people every day. However, the important question isn't are these things real? The bigger question is, how much of a threat do these things really pose to you in the big picture? If you are coming to me for Real training, then what should this real training consist of that would prepare you for real situations like these?

I'm glad you asked!

If you are preparing for your retirement, I mean REALLY preparing, how would you invest money? Would you put your resources into an IRA, 401k, a pension (if there is such a thing any more!), real estate, etc. OR would you take the money that you would spend on those things and invest it in purchasing instant lottery tickets and playing the lotto? 

FACT: There are REAL people who win the lottery every day! Thousands of people win money every single day! I'm not pulling your leg here. They really do! 

So, are you going to take your life savings and retirement investments and turn it all in to play the lottery? I hope not! The likelihood of you having a chance of achieving any kind of financial stability to retire on by investing in lotto tickets would be a very low probability. So, then why do people have this same mentality on other things like violence and security? They let low probability situations rule their decisions and mental focus. The fear mongering is staggering and counter productive. The monster under the bed growls at us, we pee our pants and cry out for someone to save us from it. At the same time we like listening to the scary bed time stories that reinforce our fears, just to scream for help when the lights go out. 

The monster under the bed is an externalization of our fears. It's easier to think that the monster that is going to get us is "out there." When in reality the monster that poses the greater threat resides in each of us and in the things we do everyday. 

Here's a few examples:

Last year I was asked by many people to teach a "Parent Protector" course, meaning parents wanted to learn how to protect their children from kidnapping, abductions and  the like. Because there were quite a few people who said that they were interested I set up a course. To make sure we had a good course, I researched the statistics and situations to see what types of problems were going on out there, so I could center the teaching around the reality of the problem, not the fantasy. 

At the beginning of the course I went around the room asking everyone of the parents there what their fears were, what they wanted to learn to defend from. Most of them described a situation where a stranger tried to rip or coerce their child from them in a manner like something you'd see on Liam Neeson's Taken or Mel Gibson's Ransom. 

After letting them describe what they wanted to learn, I asked them if they wanted to hear the stats of what was currently happening in the U.S. today regarding the subject. Of course they were all interested. 

Here's what I found the real story to be:

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® gathers key facts regarding the issues of missing and sexually exploited children and Internet safety and updates these facts and statistics frequently.

Missing children

  • The most recent, comprehensive national study for the number of missing children estimated in 1999: [1]
  • Approximately 800,000 children younger than 18 were reported missing.
  • More than 200,000 children were abducted by family members.
  • More than 58,000 children were abducted by non-family members.
  • An estimated 115 children were the victims of “stereotypical” kidnapping. These “stereotypical” kidnappings involved someone the child did not know or was an acquaintance. The child was held overnight, transported 50 miles or more, killed, ransomed or held with the intent to keep the child permanently.
  • According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice 56% of these 115 children were recovered unharmed, which brings the number to 51 successful child abductions.

According to there are currently about 74.5 million children under the age of 18 in the U.S. today. If this research is accurate, that brings the likelihood of your child being harmed due to an abduction from a stranger is about 1 in 1.5 million!

As a matter of fact in 2008 a journalist named Lenore Skenazy wrote a great story about letting her 9 year old kid ride the New York Subway alone.

She was lambasted by pretty much every mother in the U.S. but her decision was based on the statistics rather than "the Monster Under the Bed." 

So my question to the parents who attended the parent protector seminar was this:

Much like the logic of you using the lottery as a valid investment tool for your retirement; why would you train for something that has a 1 in 1.5 million chance of happening? And what can we train for that would be more beneficial?
Before I answer that I want to briefly tie in a couple other subjects that are hot topics of the reality self defense world.

The first is Sexual Assault. (I teach a program called Her Survival Guide that addresses subject this by teaching solid skills to ladies that are young and young at heart.)

Sexual Assault: 

Stats on Sexual Assault look something like this:
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, National Crime Victimization Study: 2009-2013:
Approximately 4/5 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.

82% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.
47% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.
25% are an intimate.
5% are a relative.

Basically sexual assault happens much more from the people you know, rather than the stranger in the "white rape van."

Terrorist threats:

What about terrorist threats? It's scary to think that you might be brutally beheaded, shot or blown up by some radical extremest... Hell, if you are on facebook at all or listen to much of the media hype, it amazing that you are alive at all amidst of all the violence in this world (Yes, if you haven't guessed, I'm being fetishist).  

But the reality of this type of situation is much different than the fear mongers would like you to believe:

The March, 2011, Harper‘s Index noted:

Indeed, the leading cause of deaths for Americans traveling abroad is not terrorism, or murder … or even crime of any type. It’s car crashes.

In fact:
With the exception of the Philippines, more Americans died from road crashes in all of the 160 countries surveyed than from homicides.
The U.S. Department of State reports that only 17 U.S. citizens (non-combatants) were killed worldwide as a result of terrorism in 2011. That figure includes deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq and all other theaters of war.

What are you telling me Craig?! That training to be Jason Bourne, 007 or Liam Neeson isn't going to help me? So what's the answer then? Why do we train? How do we train? Is it even worth training at all?

The answer is yes and no:

Yes, I believe that training is essential and everyone should be doing it. However the focus of what and how people train is typically the bigger issue.

Being that much of the real threats to our well being we run into can be summed up in these three categories:

1) Your mental and physical health! Most people reading this are most likely to die from cancer, a heart attack or a stroke rather than being murdered by a terrorist or kidnapper. Suicide ranks much higher than homicide as a means to your end.

2) Your relationships! Most of the threats we deal with are from ourselves and the people we know. The healthier relationships we have with ourselves and those around us the safer we are.

3) Auto accidents: Next to dieing from cancer or heart disease our biggest liability is auto accidents! So stop texting, be a better driver, drive less, or just walk!

So, where your training will probably really save your life is not in combat or the 'hard streets' of reality, but by helping you stay physically, mentally and emotionally healthy. By helping you gain and maintain healthy relationships.

As a matter of fact, when it comes to protecting yourself and others against potential violent threats your training really helps you by having a protector's ethic, awareness skills (you, others and environment), the right attitude (being part of the solution not problem), the ability to act appropriately, which includes the ability to communicate effectively, be a leader, doing the right thing that reflects most good / least harm for everyone during the situation.

Now don't get me wrong I believe that some methods of dealing with physical attacks are better than others, and I believe that what I train and the people that I train with are on the cutting edge of effectiveness when it comes to dealing with the spectrum of violence you could run into in this day and age. But, I also know that there is more than one way to skin a cat too. No disrespect, do what you do and I'll continue to do what I do. You're welcome to check out what I'm up to if you are curious. Stop by a seminar or class if you are interested.

As I like to say:
Train your body like a soldier -Train your physical conditioning & tactics as effectively as you can. 
Train your mind like a general - Think strategically, look at the big picture.  
Train your mouth like a diplomat - Learn to communicate to create allies rather than enemies, talk your way through things rather than increasing the violence.
Train your Heart like a Protector - Where ever you go people are SAFER because you are there. Physical safety is only one way of protecting people!
Be careful of letting the Monster Under the Bed control your decisions, your training, your happiness and your life.

Keep going,

P.S. - GET CONNECTED! Sign up for my [Almost] Daily email, where I'll send you Exclusive Tips & Tactics on Living a Protector's Life! 

Forward it to your friends too!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Thing

Why are you doing "the thing" that you are doing? Is it for the thing itself, or for the things that "the thing" helps you to do? Or both; doing "the thing" for the thing itself and the things that "the thing" helps you to do?!

I know, you're probably thinking, WTF are you talking about Craig?! Well, let me clarify: I don't consider myself a "runner." I run to stay in shape, to help maintain my weight, help keep my cardio sharp and to help with my martial arts. So basically, I don't run for the sake of running and I don't plan on being the next winner of the Boston Marathon. I do "the thing" to help me do other things. 

Many of you know that I take yoga. I take yoga to help me do other things, namely to be stronger and more flexible, to breath more fully, to open my heart and help my martial arts, to live better. I don't take yoga to be the next B.K. Iyengar, I take it for how it helps me to do OTHER things. That is not to say that I don't enjoy doing "the thing" in and of itself, because I do! So, with yoga, I began doing that "thing" to help me to do other "things" but now I do "the thing" for the sake of "the thing" as well. Meaning, I do yoga because I enjoy it in and of itself as well as the benefits that it provides. However I am still not looking to become the next Iyengar or found my own ashram. Get it?!

After an injury you may go to physical therapy and during therapy you may lift weights as a method to help you to recover from your injury or surgery. You are not lifting because you want to become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger, however, you still want to lift correctly, safely and effectively for what you are using that activity for as it helps you achieve your other goals. You are doing "the thing" to help you to do other "things."

We spar in some of our special Krav Maga classes, but we are not sparring for sparring sake as much as using sparring as a drill to help us develop other attributes. We do "the thing" to help with "other things." Sparring is not the be all, end all of proof that you can defend yourself, however it is an effective drill that can help you to be more effective at defending yourself. If approached and trained in the right way it can build a lot of good qualities that are necessary for being a protector, some of which include: Confidence, resilience, how to perform under pressure, emotional control, physical and mental conditioning, how to take and give a hit, assertiveness, a warrior spirit, etc.

That said, if the person is taking their sparring too seriously and thinking that "the thing" is "the thing," they are missing the point. I tell the folks who train w/me that we don't spar for the sake of sparring. Sparring isn't real life, only real life is real life, so don't lean so heavily on it. We want you to be as good as you can be, so if you do well, great! Be proud!We're all proud of you too, but don't get to cocky or over confident about it, because it is only a drill. By the same token, if you don't perform as well as you would like to, don't feel too bad, it doesn't mean that you are a failure or that you would be unable to defend yourself in a "real situation," because that is BS as well. Thousands of people every year defend themselves and the people they love without any training what so ever. (Now, if you are trying to be the next Ronda Rousey that is a different "thing" you're after than the "thing" I'm talking about)

I train for life... Meaning that my martial arts training is so I can be a better protector, be a better person and live a better life. I enjoy martial arts for the sake of the activity itself, but I keep it in perspective that I really am training for that bigger purpose. I want to be the best that I can be, however it's not about winning my next sparring match, or being the best on the mats, it's about being a better person and living a better life.

If it takes you being an asshole to think you're good on the mats, remember after you leave the mats you're still an asshole.  Not a good trade off in my book! Is it worth what it costs to be doing what you do? Is what you do paying dividends worth more than the cost?

I realized a while back that I was training more for sustainment rather than peak performance. I was training for the long haul rather than short term gains. The marathon rather than the sprint. The difference of being healthy vs. fit. Not to say that there isn't an overlap there a bit, but they are different. There are many people out there killing themselves to be fit, so much so that they aren't healthy. The same thing happens in all things in life. You have that high stress, high paying job that you have to work a boat loads of hours at to buy your mansion and toys, but you don't have enough time to be in your house or play with your toys... not to mention you never see your family and are all stressed out! 

...As I say, is the juice worth the squeeze?

Stay balanced and be clear about "the thing" that you are doing. Are you doing "the thing" for the sake of the thing, or for the things that the thing helps you to do? Hopefully you are enjoying the ride that is taking you where you want to go!

All the best,

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Light Within the Stone

If you have ever worked with me directly you probably have heard me say, "I haven't trained my entire life to be more violent. I'm working on being LESS violent."  

This is the theme of warrior training: Skills to become a better protector, not a fighter or a thug! That is not to say that you won't have to fight, because as a protector, you WILL have to at some point. It may or may not be a physical engagement, but you will eventually have to make a stand. Just make sure you are fighting for the right thing.

Too often people are quick to protect their relative values (something that they hold as important, but others may not) and forget to filter that value through the Dual Life Value. Meaning are your actions respecting Life and supporting most good / least harm for everyone under each circumstance?

Remember that a protector doesn't always have to fight and a fighter isn't necessarily being a protector.

So how can you tell the difference between training to be a fighter or a protector? Simple, a fighter is training for themselves, their "team," their egos. A protector develops the clarity, skill and courage to utilize her abilities for most good / least harm for everyone. A fighters skills are to dominate and win. A protectors skills are used to serve. A fighter fights for himself, a protector fights for self and others... all others. A fighter often fights because he wants to. A protector fights because they have to, as a last resort to protect life.

Training to be a protector is paradoxical because it needs to encompass: Self, Others & All Others.

I've used the lifeguard v. Olympic swimmer analogy in the past.   In short, an Olympic swimmer trains to serve themselves (and to a lessor degree their team), whereas a lifeguard trains for others. Personal performance is needed for both endeavors. If you are training to protect life, you better be good, because it's risky! Remember when you are a protector, more than just your butt is on the line, so your skills have to be good!

The next time you are training or using your conflict management skills ask yourself this:

Can you see the Life that you are protecting inside of the behaviors you are managing in yourself and ALL others? If not, look deeper, soften and... Keep going.

All the best,

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Bounty of Leadership

Leadership can be challenging. Whether you are in charge of a corporation, a department, a club, your family or simply yourself, it's tough!

To even have a snowballs chance of being successful you'll need Clarity, Awareness, Boundaries, Communication and of course Appropriate Action. Being clear enough to keep everyone on track can be a lot like herding cats some days, but the rewards are worth the efforts. Having the skills enough to do so is not for the timid or faint of heart, it can take you out of your comfort zone and cause you to question yourself. Are you the one being the douchbag? Are you being too gung ho by being overly structured? Are your expectations in perspective? Or are you gun shy, loose and wishy washy, which can create bigger problems by introducing too much chaos or letting things slide too much?

So What's the secret rocket sauce? How can you accomplish the balance of giving enough space for freedom, expression and individuality, yet being connected in the right way growing in the right direction as a whole? As you can guess it's more Art than Science. A lot of factors go into it. Having some folks you respect as mentors to bounce things off of helps a lot as well.

Strive to be a leader not just a manager. It's not always easy. People won't always agree with you. Sometimes you'll doubt yourself, especially when you are out of your comfort zone when tested. Remember to Respect, Protect and Empower.

Stay clear, work toward most good least harm and Keep Going!

All the best,
- Craig