Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Old Man Logan

A couple things all happened this last week to inspire this blog.

Friday night I took the family to go see the Lego Batman movie.  We all loved it.

Clearly I loved it

Spoiler alert -  the next clip is the best part of the movie so don't watch it if you want to be surprised in theaters.  Further warning, if you do watch this clip that song will be stuck in your head forever.

The next day was a day off of work.  So I had strength training planned followed by John Wick 2 with some buddies from the Dojo (and the girls...what? they are dog lovers)

With that Batman song stuck in my head I attacked my work out (Batman does not skip leg day)

I felt stiff as I was doing it but I powered through (Batman does not skip leg day)

Went to the movie as a reward for my hard work, home made pizza that fit my macros for dinner, a great day...

Until about 6 that night when the muscles in my back turned into concrete and all I was capable of doing was to rock back and fourth in the fetal position, suck my thumb, and try not to cry.

Sunday really sucked.  I was no longer Batman.  I could no longer choke hold a bear.  I was just old and broken.

I wasn't the god damned Batman, I was Old Man Logan

For readers of the Budo Blog that might not be comic book nerds.  Old Man Logan is a story arc that happens in the not too distant future where Wolverine no longer has his healing abilities and has to live with a lifetime of accumulated  injuries in a post apocalyptic landscape.

As comic book stories go circumstances arise where he needs to come out of "retirement" to be The Wolverine again, but he is just Old Man Logan.

As I lay on the couch praying that this was just temporary muscle strain / soreness not a more serious injury it occurred to me how much I self identify with my physicality.

I self identify as a physical being, the guy that picks up and power bombs his kids onto the couch to show affection.  The guy that lifts heavy things and gets thrown and choked for fun.

What am I when I can no longer do that?

If I base my self protection on that robust physicality, how can I protect myself when I no longer have those attributes?

Ironically, along those lines Dillon, Shane and I were discussing exactly that idea after the movie Saturday in regard to this YouTube clip.

Let me start off by stating I am not ripping on the video or the instructors depicted in it.
However, clearly there is some perception bias.

The question of what are the best take downs for self defense was asked of a fit 180 lb man with years of successful grappling competition under his belt.

So, clearly his answers will be influenced by those factors.

It also appears that his definition of self defense is a bar fight, or your typical meet me after school social violence encounter between men of relatively the same age and size.

In those parameters his answers make sense.

However, with my back feeling like concrete I had to ask myself would those strategies work for me if I had to protect my life against a bigger, stronger, more physically capable attacker right now.

The easy answer was no.

Would those strategies work for Anna?

Anna is five foot nothing weighs one hundred and nothing and has chronic pain issues.
Busting Anna's chops aside  a bigger, stronger, more physically capable attacker is nearly everyone on the planet for her.

What are the best takedowns for her?  What are the best take downs for busted up old man Kasey?

Kind of a trick question - there are no good take downs for self defense, only the least bad, if the circumstances dictate a takedown will help you fight to your goal.

So...What are better strategies?

Any physical skill should be a last line of defense.

Multiple redundant layers of security help protect against a bigger, stronger, more physically capable attacker.

Multiple Redundant layers:

1) Avoidance
Don't be places violence is likely to happen

If you can't or won't avoid these places
2) Escape

Anyone can lose at at any time.  Even The Batman, even Kasey F'n Keckeisen (especially if he is injured)

Shameless self plug - Randy King will be teaching escape tactics at the USMAA regional training camp next week.  If you teach self defense, don't pay lip service to actual escape training.  Come to camp and steal Randy's drills

Sign up HERE

If you can't escape, use your head and verbal skills

Sadly sometimes running or talking just don't work.  Do I need to act?  If you have time to ask the question you most likely don't and running and talking are still options.  If you don't have time to ask yourself that question you are being attacked and all you are left with is...

4) Fight
Three legitimate reasons to use force on someone

  • Control 
  • Escape
  • Disable
Unless you are a professional user of force and have a duty to act control is not a priority option

What take downs are best for escape?
Ferociously striking vital targets, clawing, scratching are better tactics for escape.
However, if the threat gets a hold of you and you can't escape, anything you can do to increase chaos is going to help your situation.  This will not look like sport Judo, Sambo, or Wrestling.

It will use the basic principles of grappling.

Move - get to a positional orientation where you are taking less damage
Grab - tie up a limb that could be used to damage you
Off balance - use their motion to get their nose over their toes, or their  head over their heals
Fit in - quick rule of thumb touch their hip bone with your own hip bone
Execute - after you hip tag sprint through their hips in the direction they are off balance

I have been knocked flat on my ass by people even smaller than Anna using these principles.

Use the time it takes the attacker to get back up to run to safety.

If you can't escape all you have left is disable

What take downs are best to disable?

Any of the above that also
Directs the attacker's head into the ground
Directs the attacker's head into a wall
Directs the attacker down a flight of stairs
Directs the attacker into traffic

Use of the environment gives you a fighting chance.

5) High end use of force
If you are out classed in size, strength, ability, if you are injured or disabled, if you are in a dangerous environment, you are justified using a higher level of force.

A sobering fact is that the only way to end some situations may be to use lethal force.

Have you considered this?
Are you capable of this?  It is not hard to damage a human - technically.  Giving yourself permission to do so can be very hard.  These are things that need to be examined before a violent encounter happens.

If you are capable, do you Carry the tools required to end a threat?
How often do you train with these tools?

If you don't Carry tools, can you end a threat with your hands.
Again it is not is not hard to damage a human
How often do you train with these skills?

Do I think Anna or Busted up old Kasey could grab a young fit trained man in a collar tie and deliver knees until he fell over as depicted in the video?


However, I don't start problems so getting in a social violence encounter is not likely.  If old busted up Kasey is in that situation it is because I have no other options and the threat will not stop until he is disabled.

Do I think Anna or Busted up old Kasey could jam a pencil into a young fit trained man's carotid artery as depicted in the movie John Wick 2?

You bet your ass

Yet another shameless plug.  This June I will be on the east coast with Terry Trahan  who personifies combat as weasel-craft. The thinking man's bad ass.

As I wrote HERE do every thing you can to improve the hand you are dealt.  However, if /when that day comes, you have to play the cards that are in your hand at that time.  So know "Weasel Craft".  There will come a time when you are no longer The Wolverine, and Old Man Logan still has to get the job done.

As for me, thank God by the time I finished writing this blog I felt much better.  However, I never want to feel like I did on Sunday again.

I went back to the drawing board.  I have old shit knees, so I made excuses about my squat depth, and I believed my own bullshit.  So I kept adding weight onto sub par form until I had that shitty Sunday.

I sit down and get up from chairs all day every day.  My knee bends just fine...not under load.

So I am kicking my ego in the balls and starting over again - very light

I also set a goal for myself to compete in a power lifting competition (face the dragon)
Why?  Because they are very strict on form and what they count as a rep.  If I can't squat weight in a competition, then I can't squat weight.

Will I win?  Doesn't matter the drive to have perfect form under increased load over time so I can compete in a few years will achieve the goal of increased strength with out killing my back.

Know your self and know the enemy,  When it comes to weights I will never be free of 18 year old Kasey.  I will always have an ego, I just need to use that ego to achieve my goals - intelligently.

(Kasey doesn't skip leg day)

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Cry Baby Part 2 - What are you going to do about it?

Previously on Budo Blog...

We discussed:

That I was a huge crybaby, but necessity has caused me to become emotionally hardened.

Emotions are just how we label what the chemical cocktail dumped into out bloodstream in response to fight or flight stimulus makes us feel

Emotions are natural and you can not be devoid of them, so we have to learn to use emotion to our advantage.

Which leads us to...What are you going to do about it

A baby step, or temporary work around is to turn feeling debilitating negative emotions into feeling more useful negative emotions.

Huh? follow me if you will...

If emotions are just how we label what the chemical cocktail dumped into out bloodstream is making us feel, we can relabel those feelings while we are experiencing them.

Like Ralphie in the clip above.

Ralphie is hurt, sad, scared, embarrassed then....."Deep in the recesses of my mind a tiny little flame began to grow"

Those debilitating emotions turned to anger.  Anger is also a negative emotion but a lot more useful to Ralphie in the circumstances he was in.

Fear and pain can be turned to anger and aggression.  Anger and aggression feel a lot better than fear.

Aggression feels good, aggression feels like winning.

Aggression is encouraged

Remember these feelings caused by adrenalin are a survival mechanism.
Meaning we are still here as a species today, because of these feelings.

If that is true, how come so much self defense training derides adrenalin.

"Under adrenalin you will be be a heaping pile, quivering in the corner, shitting yourself, incapable of doing anything".

If that was true we would not exist as a species today much less be the apex predator on the planet.

Adrenalin gets a bad rap

Adrenalin can give you super powers
Adrenalin can make you:

  • Stronger
  • Faster
  • Bleed less
  • Hyper focused

Fighting angry is better than fighting scared.

However, fighting angry too often leads to fighting stupid.

(Gaining control of your emotions is a useful skill to anyone, even folks that never find themselves in a physical altercation.  For the purpose of this blog fighting and performing can be used as interchangeable terms.  There are different ways to fight.)

The next step is learning how to fight cold.

Learning to fight cold, learning to control your emotions under stress is very similar to learning how to break a freeze.

1) Recognize the symptoms of adrenalization

  • Sweaty palms
  • Face flush - blushing
  • Butterflies in your stomach
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Voice Squeaks
Slim Shady gets it

"His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti
He's nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready"
- EMINEM "Lose Yourself"

2) Breathe
This might sound like martial arts Jedi bullshit.  However, there is a reason this exists still today in the martial arts.  There is a reason snipers practice this as part of their craft.
  • In through your nose, as much as you can, fill your chest
  • Hold it for a count or two
  • Let it out slowly through your mouth.

This oxygenates your blood and helps you to think more clearly during a time when you are experiencing diminished mental capacity.

3) Move - Do something that effects the world around you.

This one was huge for me.  This helped me turn from a cry baby and start winning some matches.

Both my older brothers were excellent wrestlers.  I allowed that to put a lot of undue pressure on me. I put a lot of undue pressure a lot of unrealistic expectations on myself.

That is my brother Kurt sitting behind Minnesota State High School Hall of Fame Wrestling coach Luverne Klar  

Not unlike what Helen Maroulis wrote - I was afraid...Afraid of not being enough. Afraid of my fear. Afraid of your impression of me.

I was afraid I'd never be as good as them, I was afraid that I was a disappointment, I was afraid of what people thought of me, I was afraid to lose.  Being afraid to lose doesn't make winning easier, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.  

To cut through all that bullshit in my head I started focusing on just one thing.
Get a double leg.  Just focus on shooting a technically perfect double leg take down.

Once I got a double leg I was up 2 nothing.  I was winning.  Winning is fun.  Now I'm not afraid, now I'm not trying not to cry.  Now I'm just wrestling.  Just wrestling is easy.

I started racking up some wins, until...
I dislocated my knee again.  Then I was done (for a while)

The kid I beat easily every week for varsity try outs took 3rd in state that year.
Am I bitter?

I'm not that guy.  If I had won state that year, I'd probably never have wrestled again. I most likely never would have started training in martial arts.  If I never started in martial arts I wouldn't have gone down this career path, nor would I be writing this blog.  I wouldn't be writing anything. 

What happened, needed to happen for me to learn these lessons. 

Now at 42 one way or another I wrestle 3-4 times a week and I love it.
Now I'm not afraid, now I'm not trying not to cry.  Now I'm just wrestling.  Just wrestling is easy.

What happened, needed to happen for me to learn these lessons. I know this method can be used for controlling emotions outside of fighting, because I have used these methods to control emotions outside of fighting.

After I dislocated my knee and was back at school, one of my best friends asked me, "are you sad that you will never be able to wrestle again"

Well I wasn't until you phrased it like that....
1) Recognize the symptoms of adrenalization

  • Sweaty palms
  • Face flush - blushing
  • Butterflies in your stomach
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Voice Squeaks
Fuck I'm starting to cry
 Heat rushed to my cheeks. I felt my eyes well up. My friend knew it. She saw it in me. 

2) Breathe
  • In through your nose, as much as you can fill your chest
  • Hold it for a count or two
  • Let it out slowly through your mouth.

3) Do something that effects the world around you.

I made a joke (weird humor as a defense mechanism - turning negative emotion into a more useful emotion)

"I wasn't until you rubbed it in my face like that, jeez thanks do you want me to cry in front of all the girls in home room"

Now I'm laughing, now I'm not trying not to cry.

Why does this work?

Let's figure that out - WITH SCIENCE!!!!

In the time it takes to go through these steps your adrenalin has spiked and is dropping.

This chart is from "The Armored Rose" by Tobi Beck which you can purchase HERE

If you can ride that wave and come out on the other side things get easier to manage.

In order for an artificial chemical ( drug) to make us feel something it has to mimic the effects of natural chemicals  / hormones our bodies produce.

In that way adrenalin is much like a drug.  There is a reason there is the term "adrenalin junkie"

Like a drug you eventually build a tolerance for adrenalin.

"I used to do a little but a little wouldn't do it so a little got more and more.  Just kept trying to get a little better, said a little better than before"
"Mr. Brownstone" - Guns and Roses

Experience makes it easier ride the adrenalin spike, success makes it easier.

Ace fighter pilots are only recognized after 5 kills because the first 4 were mostly chance and learning to deal with emotion under extreme stress.  After that skill can be brought into play and you become a god of war.

You can fight cold.

Just like physical skills, you have to find what works for you.  Be the best version of you not a flawed imitation of anyone else.

Remember this from Part 1

Being around boys all of the time, I found myself trying to adopt their mentality. Don’t show emotion. Push through. Don’t expose weakness. I was studying men who won gold medals in wrestling. I tried to mimic their mental game. I couldn’t do it. I tried, but I just couldn’t.

- Helen Maroulis

There are exceptions, however, generally, men and women adrenalize differently.

For most women it takes nearly twice as long for that spike to hit.

That is not better or worse it is just different.  So clearly you will need different or modified strategies for dealing with the adrenalin spike.

This manifests itself with women in the martial arts as crying after a match.  To the uninformed there is an assumption that they must be recovering from some sort violent trauma that happened in their past and the fight triggered them.  Or they are just emotional women - so they cry for no reason.

This is usually the time when one of my daughters punches me for being a jerk.

They are crying after the match for the same reasons I used to cry before the match.  The timing is just different.

Again this is a survival mechanism.

If our tribe is attacked (stimulus causing fight or flight response) it makes sense for the men to get adrenalized...
  • Stronger
  • Faster
  • Bleed less
  • Hyper focused

 ...and go fight what ever attacked.

It also makes sense for women to keep a cool head and get the children somewhere safe.  If we didn't protect the next generation and give priority of life to women (the means to produce yet another generation) we wouldn't exists as a species today.

If that threat fought through the men, that is the time the adult women of the tribe need to be adrenalized...
  • Stronger
  • Faster
  • Bleed less
  • Hyper focused
By this time any men that survived are thinking more clearly and can plan how to deal with the threat.

When men and women work together there is always one who can think while the other is adrenalized.

Most people reading this outside of Law Enforcement and Military have not experienced this.
However, I am sure they have experienced the same phenomenon in reverse

Men and women working against each other.

Fellas, have you ever gotten in an argument with your special lady friend, got really mad, then a few minutes later wondered why you were ever mad in the first place and assumed the fight was over?

Was the fight over?

Most likely she was just starting to feel the effects of adrenalin.
Fellas, I'm sure at this time you attempted to resolve the issue with logic and reason.

Little did you know she was not in a place to work things out logically she was in a place to fight.
So you continued to fight until the adrenalin spike had passed both of you by then you apologized and every thing was cool.

Clearly that is a broad generalization, but I think a lot of readers will recognize that pattern.

The point is not every adrenalizes the same.

There are some men that adrenalize in the typical female pattern.  There is nothing wrong with that for either gender.  In fact once you recognize the symptoms of emotion you can actually start planning what you are going to do when you are mad.  That is a super power.

There are some women that adrenalize in the typical male pattern.

They are called redheads.

Flag on the play - gimmick infringement.  I straight up stole that joke from Randy King

There is nothing wrong with women adrenalizing like men either.

Know yourself and know the enemy...
Recognize how you adrenalize and find methods of riding the spike that work for you.

I have to remember that this was at least an 18 year old process for me to learn, and a lifetime to refine.

Telling someone (I don't know like maybe your 5 year old daughter) to stop crying, to man up, or to put on their big girl pants is not helpful.  Asking why the fuck are you crying is not helpful.

Teaching someone the means to control their emotions can be helpful.  Maybe not right at that moment they are experiencing them, but over time.

So, in conclusion:

Emotions are just how we label what the chemical cocktail dumped into out bloodstream in response to fight or flight stimulus makes us feel.

Emotions are natural and you can not be devoid of them, so we have to learn to use emotion to our advantage.

Step 1) Recognize the symptoms of  emotions (adrenalization)

  • Sweaty palms
  • Face flush - blushing
  • Butterflies in your stomach
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Voice Squeaks
  • Weak knees
  • Heavy limbs
Step 2) Breathe
  • In through your nose, as much as you can fill your chest
  • Hold it for a count or two
  • Let it out slowly through your mouth.
This oxygenates your blood and helps you to think more clearly during a time when you are experiencing diminished mental capacity.

Step 3) Do something that effects the world around you.
  • Focus on one simple thing you have the ability to accomplish
  • Then another
  • Then another until the adrenalin spike has passed

Step 4) Know yourself

  • Learn how you adrenalize
  • Develop coping mechanisms that work for you

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

Slurp that tear back in your eye

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Cry Baby

I have been wanting to write this blog for awhile.  With improved time management, I am all caught up on time sensitive things (things that have to get done right fucking now) and have time to write this post.

Having said that, this post has taken up several blocks of blogging time, as opposed to getting out shorter blogs every week.  I felt a need to figure some of this out and writing down helps me process it.  This blog grew far too huge to be fun to read so I broke in into a few chunks.

It goes back to an article I read last fall after the Olympics in Rio.

You can read the entire article HERE

The following are the portions I found relevant.

Written by Helen Maroulis

Go ahead. Google me. When you do, here’s what you’ll see: First American woman to win Olympic wrestling gold … Stuns Japan’s 16-time world champion and 3-time gold medalist … Historic Olympic triumph recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama.”

And all of it is true. But there’s something even truer that you won’t see. It’s a secret. Something you can’t Google, until now.

Come close; I’ll whisper it to you…

I’m afraid.

Like, of everything. Afraid of the dark. Afraid of people looking at me. Afraid of being home alone. Afraid of not being enough. Afraid of my fear. Afraid of your impression of me after you read about my fear.

I know what you’re thinking. ‘Helen, you’re an Olympic gold medal recipient — the first ever to do so in your country. You had to wrestle boys to get to where you are. How are you possibly afraid?’ And now you’re judging me. Maybe you think this admission is a plea for attention. Maybe you’re questioning my true strength, or my courage. Maybe you think my accomplishment was just plain luck.

Or maybe, just maybe … you will say, ‘Me too.’

When I was a little girl, I was asked to quit every sport I ever played. Correction, my mom was politely asked to never bring me back. Countless coaches and instructors would say to her “It would be in everyone’s best interest if Helen didn’t return. Ever. Again.”

You see, I cried all of the time. Swimming? Forget it, not getting me on that high dive. Ballet? Ummm, all of those people staring at me? Never. I would stand there, frozen solid, then cry.

She’s not moving … still not moving. And now … yep, she’s crying became the repertoire for everything I attempted. Like a giant hook, my fear yanked me off of every stage, field and platform I’ve ever attempted.

That is, until one day.

I was seven years old. My younger brother wrestled, and my mom and I attended his practice. He was a little too young for the team, and needed a partner to continue. My mom, concerned he would quit, looked at me and said, “Helen, hurry! Kick off your shoes, stand on the mat, and be your brother’s dummy.”

So I did.

My tiny feet decked out with pink ankle socks sank into the leather mat like quicksand. They anchored me still as I stood there, playing the role of a dummy. To this day, I can’t tell you why, but at that moment, something was different.

I wasn’t afraid.

Maybe because no one was there to see me; after all, I was just a dummy. Or because rolling around with my little brother in my socks just felt familiar, like two siblings acting up at home waiting for their parents to yell before bedtime. Whatever the reason, I was seven, and I found the one stage where I wasn’t afraid to perform. And I loved it.

I begged my parents to let me wrestle. My dad finally conceded, and said, “I’ll let you wrestle one match. If you win that match, you can continue.”

So I did.

It was the only match I would win all year, but it was all I needed. That one precious victory cemented my dad’s promise. I now had permission to keep going.

So I did.

Wrestling with boys would become the norm. I didn’t have a choice. If I wanted to succeed at my newfound love, it’s what I had to do. Growing up in Maryland, girls wrestling didn’t exist, but at seven years old, I was surprisingly unfazed. It was everyone else who had a problem with it.

When you’re a cute little grade school girl, having fun, you hear things like, “ahh, you play well for a girl.” But then, things started to change.

... other than taking down their little sister in a living room match for the TV remote, they’d never wrestled a girl before.

And they didn’t want to.

It was obvious during warmups. Coach shouted, “Find your buddy.” I scoured that gym with the panic of a last person standing at a boy/girl dance, searching for one hopeless face that matched mine. I walked over to Coach.

“[Coach], I don’t have a partner.”

He said, “Helen, you have to find your own partner.”

Desperate, I ran to my mom and said “no one will work with me.” Heat rushed to my cheeks. I felt my eyes well up. My mom knew it. She saw it in me. And in a surprisingly stern tone, she looked at me and said, “Helen, I can’t help you.”

Then she stood up, and walked out the door.

It was cold. It was callous. It was exactly what I needed.

I watched her get smaller and smaller as she left the gym. The part that I didn’t see was my mom getting into her car, sitting in the driver’s seat, and crying for two hours.

I like to think in that moment, she had my cry for me.

When she came back inside and asked what happened, I told her, “I went up to these two boys and said, ‘Hey, I’m working with you.’”

And that was it.

Boys would still take turns pummeling me, though. One by one, they would try to hurt me so I wouldn’t return.

... And things were good; things should have been good. But inside I was tortured, especially at night. I still often find myself staring when the darkness is too loud replaying my insecurities. They swirl in my head like ghosts in a dark room. Darkness is still the one opponent, I can’t take down.

Oh, how my mind taunts me.

Being around boys all of the time, I found myself trying to adopt their mentality. Don’t show emotion. Push through. Don’t expose weakness. I was studying men who won gold medals in wrestling. I tried to mimic their mental game. I couldn’t do it. I tried, but I just couldn’t.

...When I pretended to be fearless, I learned I was closing myself off to my creative side. For me, the mat is my canvas. Without fear, there is no courage. And without courage, there is no creativity. And without any of those, being on the mat just doesn’t work.

I also learned that anxiety has a well-worn passport. Mine became my travel companion: London, China, even Rio. At the Olympics, you watched me pin a champion. You saw me accept my gold. Maybe you even cried a little when I carried our country’s flag over my shoulders.

...I couldn’t breathe.

Before the opening ceremonies, I was pinned. My journal entry read:

“I can’t stop crying. I’m making myself sick. For the first time in my life, I explained to Terry [my Coach] what my anxiety was like. What it felt like to be afraid of irrational things. I was always afraid to tell him, because I was afraid he wouldn’t think I was mentally capable of a gold medal. And at the Olympics, I didn’t want to look weak.

He said that I was strong to reach out and talk to him. He also said when we are hyper-sensitive to everything, it’s our bodies way of preparing for battle.”

He was right.

After you win a gold medal, you get to do a lot of cool stuff. Like, be the first female to lead the Baltimore Ravens in a pregame locker room pep talk.

Coach Harbaugh rallied the team:

“I met Helen Maroulis, the gal from Maryland who we saw beat a legendary Japanese champion in wrestling. And when you beat a legend, you become a legend…”

My eyes circled the huddle. Like sizing up an opponent across the mat, I stared at their faces — stoic, fearless, exactly what you would expect from anyone about to enter into battle.

Ah, that face, I know you all too well.

My parting words to the men were this:

“You don’t have to be the best. You just have to be enough. And on that day, I was enough.”

...See, this story isn’t about me. It’s is about expectations. It’s about assumptions. It’s about being human. I think asking us athletes to progress in our chosen sport and live a life devoid of fear is just a smidge too much responsibility to impose on one fragile human psyche, don’t you think?

Especially one as fragile as mine.

My journey brought me to a definitive realization: We live in an illusion that champions are fearless, and that any admission to the contrary is defined as weakness. While we need to believe that the extraordinary can happen and glimpses of God exist in our heroes — and believe me, we do — my fear … my deepest fear … is when another seven-year-old girl steps off the mat because feeling afraid isn’t welcomed. Or because hurt isn’t allowed. Advances of young girls in our nation and the sport of wrestling itself cannot afford to see fewer pink socks.

There’s a stigma that only tough girls wrestle. There’s a stigma that only fearless people win. Yet here I stand in front of you. In front of our country. In front of the world − distinguished by my gold − and by the overwhelming feeling that all of my fears and all of my anxieties in that moment rolled down my body with every tiny bead of sweat, one by one.

But just for now, let that be our little secret.

This article resonated with me for several reasons.
First and foremost is because I wrestled, and... I was a huge crybaby - I get it.
I cried all the time when I was a kid.  I cried all through high school.  Then I learned to stop crying.

Now I make jokes that I'm dead inside. I don't have weak human emotions.  I don't cry, but sometimes it gets dusty.

I'm not dead inside, but necessity has caused me to become emotionally hardened.

If someone does not have an emotional response to all that many things, then by definition it is more difficult to have their "monkey" triggered and they can operate from a much more logical perspective.

However, on those rare occasions when their monkey is triggered, when something causes an emotional response, it can be much more difficult for them to deal with because they have much less "field experience" managing their emotions.

Emotions are natural and you can not be devoid of them.
As Helen wrote

When I pretended to be fearless, I learned I was closing myself off to my creative side. For me, the mat is my canvas. Without fear, there is no courage. And without courage, there is no creativity. And without any of those, being on the mat just doesn’t work.

So if we can't be devoid of emotion we have to learn to use emotion to our advantage.

I used to cry before wrestling meets, I used to cry whenever I didn't get my way.  Now I get paid to kick doors on high risk felony warrants.  I have lots of "field experience" dealing with emotion. Helen's article encouraged me to share my unique perspective on the topic.

Emotion and diminished capacity

Helen wrote

  •  I think asking us athletes to progress in our chosen sport and live a life devoid of fear is just a smidge too much responsibility to impose on one fragile human psyche, don’t you think?

Fair enough, if that is true for our athletes - how much more so for our Police and our Military.

Bad day at work for an athlete you lose.  Hopefully you learn something from it and come back stronger.

Bad day in other professions you die, or your actions (or inaction) cause the death of one of your crew, or an innocent.

That is a heavy burden.  It is easy to sit in comfort and second guess people in those difficult positions days after the incident.

Much harder to be able to function while feeling emotion (in an adrenalized body)

Here is a video that makes that point well

Emotion diminishes capacity.  It is imperative to be able to function, to perform at a high level when adrenalized.

How is that done?

To answer that, first we need to ask - what is emotion?

And, to answer that, we use this exercise at Violence Dynamics during the Conflict Communications class.

Have you ever been in love?
If so, especially when it was new, what did it feel like?

If you would like to play along at home take a second and write down your answers before you scroll down any further.

Perhaps you felt:

  • Sweaty palms
  • Face flush - blushing
  • Butterflies in your stomach
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Voice Squeaks

But that felt really good right?  Being around that person gave you a rush.  You "loved" that person, at least for a while.

Did you try to talk to the person that made you feel like that?
Were you eloquent ?  Or maybe that smooth, flirtatious pick up line just wasn't there.

How about this, have you ever been in a fist fight?
If so, what did it feel like?

Again, if you would like to play along at home take a second and write down your answers before you scroll down any further.

Perhaps you felt:

  • Sweaty palms
  • Face flush - blushing
  • Butterflies in your stomach
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Voice Squeaks

That didn't feel so good right?  Being around that person made you angry.  You "hated" that person, at least for a while.

Did you try to talk to the person that made you feel like that?
Were you eloquent ?  Or maybe that slick come back that would have crushed them just wasn't there.

Stuttering over your words is an example of diminished capacity.

Every wonder why the perfect comeback or the perfect line comes to you hours later?

That perfect line comes to you, when you are no longer adrenalized.  When you are no longer experiencing the symptoms of emotion.

This all stems from a survival mechanism.  You perceive a stimulus in the environment that triggers a fight of flight response.

A chemical cocktail starts pumping through your blood. (Adrenalization)

Emotions are just physical symptoms you feel when your brain is experiencing that chemical cocktail that pumps into your blood

The specific emotion is just how we label the experience.  Whether we perceived it as positive or negative.

That might upset some folks.  Please don't be upset.  This concept may seem new, and even scary. How ever, all of us have been exposed to this idea in one form or another before.  Hollywood is full of tropes that deal with these ideas.

For example:

The man and woman that are best friends since they were kids, then one is going to get married to someone else.  The other "fears" the change, "fears" they will lose them.  Then BAM!, all of a sudden they realize they "love" this person.  Romantic inspiration for 90% of the movies my wife watches on the Hallmark channel and also an example of the chemicals caused by a fight or flight response being labeled an emotion.

Or, the two that always bicker and fight - until "anger" leads to passion

What is emotion?

Emotions are just physical symptoms you feel when your brain is experiencing that chemical cocktail that pumps into your blood in response to a fight or flight stimulus.

The specific emotion is just how we label the experience.

I'm not saying that you never experienced love.  I'm not saying that you do not love your someone special.

I just want readers to look at emotion from a different angle.

We can't live our lives devoid of emotion.  Nor would we want to.  However, emotion diminishes our capacity to perform in high stress situations.  So we have to learn to use emotion to our advantage.

Recognizing the symptoms of adrenalization is the first step to controlling your emotions under stress.

Once you can recognize them  - what are you going to do about it?

Answers to that question and much more when the Budo Blog returns with Cry Baby Part 2

Until then...
Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

Thursday, January 12, 2017

USMAA North Central Regional Training Camp

Six to eight weeks out is when people really start paying attention to an event.
I am starting to get very excited because we are 7 weeks out from the USMAA North Central Regional Training Camp.

I have written about national camp several times on the Budo Blog.  This is the second time I have had the honor of hosting a regional camp, highlighting local talent and bringing in big names that were kind enough to travel for the seminar.

The seminar will be held at the  Mounds View Community Center
5394 Edgewood Dr, Mounds View, MN 55112

Friday 02/24/2017
An introduction to Visayan Style Corto Kadena Escrima (VSCKE)
"Sword Dueling"
With Dillon Beyer

Dillon has been travelling back and fourth to Oakland to train with Maijia Soderholm
If you are a regular reader of the Budo Blog (and you should be) you know how much I admire Maijia.

Plus every time I have had an opportunity to play with her she has cut me to shreds.  Driving home just how scary edged weapons should be, and just how irrelevant size, strength and youth can be against a blade.

My favorite Maijia quote " Yes come wrestle me monkey boy"

Maija Soderholm​ was a long time private student of the late Filipino sword master Sonny Umpad, and an official inheritor of his system.  

Visayan Style Corto Kadena
The style emphasizes dance-like flowing movements, speed, elusiveness and explosive power. The art is based on the blade, although sticks, empty hands and kicks are also used.

Dillon Beyer's study group is the only (VSCKE) training available in the upper Midwest.  I am very excited that he and Maijia are willing to share the art with a larger audience at training camp.

Saturday 02/25/2017
Strikes for Standing Grappling (Hits for Jits)
With Dillon Beyer

Dillon starts things out for us Saturday morning.  He will hit you so hard you will shit out your skeleton. He is also very good at helping you develop that power as well.  I always like to have Dillon's class before mine so I can seem smart by referring to what he just said.

Logic of Take downs
With Kasey Keckeisen

This is one of my favorite classes to teach.  A style free principle based approach to the practical application of takedowns.

Counter Assault
With Randy King

Randy is the one on the right

This class is one of the highlights of the Randy King Live Tour.  The highest compliment I can give some one is to steal his stuff.  I steal stuff from this class all the time.

If you want to do more than pay lip service to escape and evade you need this type of training

Fighting Principles of Western Wrestling
With Eric Holien

The second highest compliment I can give someone is to seek their input / advice on things I am working on.  I ask for advice and bounce ideas about the martial aspects of Wrestling with Eric.

Eric's class at the national camp last year was one of my favorites, and I'm glad this regional camp gives us another opportunity to play together.

I reserved Sunday for the big guns.  Both in experience / name recognition and bicep size.

Sunday 02/26/2017
Combat Wrestling
With Omar Ahmad

Katamedo translates as the way of grappling.  Embracing all grappling has to offer.  As such Omar has been heavily involved with the USA Combat Wrestling Team.

Katamedo Jujitsu practitioners have won 4 world championships in various grappling competitions in 2016

Omar will be sharing some of the most successful competition proven grappling principles in his Combat Wrestling class.

I am hard to impress.  Omar continues to impress me.  I am honored that he is willing to come to Minnesota and share some of his awesome with us

Last, but clearly not least...

Neck Cranks and Spine Controls
With Steve Jimerfield

I started listing off Jimerfield Sensei's accomplishments, then I realized this blog is going to be too long for anyone to read.  So,if you don't know who Steve is click Here

In retrospect stealing stuff isn't the biggest compliment I can give.  I believe you can learn from anyone.  At the very least you can learn how not to do something.  Although you can learn from anyone, there are very few people I am willing to call Sensei.  Steve Jimerfield is one of those very few.

If you can't tell, I am stoked at the line up I was able to put together for this seminar.  Having said that being able to train with Jimerfield alone is worth the price of admission.

Speaking of the price of admission...

Entire Seminar $200
$150 for USMAA members
Free for graduates of the O3CT Instructor School (more on that to follow)

$75 per session
Pay Pal registration page will be up HERE next week

Any questions please call Kasey Keckeisen at 763 360 7200

Train hard, Train smart (train with us), Be safe.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Why don't we have more women at our school?

I have been working hard to provide fresh and timely content on the Budo Blog
Second week of the new year and I have 2 blogs out already!!!

Well, to be totally honest this installment didn't take a whole lot of work on my part.

I have quoted and referred to conversations I have had with Anna Valdiserri on the blog several times


I have also said, if you teach personal protection or professional use of force to women you need to buy this book:

Trauma Aware Self Defense Instruction

This installment of the blog was easy for me all I had to do was post a picture and type read this

Anna's blog

So go read Anna's blog and enjoy.
Also be sure to go HERE and like the page

Dillon Beyer and I will be doing a Facebook Live discussion Saturday 01/14/2017 focusing on the upcoming USMAA North Central Regional Training Camp

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Improving the hand you are dealt

Wow, it has been a long time since I rocked roll.  No excuses, the time pressure of end of year training and added responsibilities of the holidays are over.  I'm back.  Back to writing projects, back to Dojo business, and back to the Budo Blog.

Sometimes all of those things cross over.  For example I have been developing a student handbook for the Dojo.

As I was working on that, I was discussing applying martial arts for self defense with Jeff Burger (coachjeffburger.com)

Someone asked him in an interview "What are your 10 Commandments for Self Defense?"

 #1 Don't be an asshole. Don't be someone people want to beat up.

#2 Don't be a target. If you a 90 year old, 90 lb little old lady you're a target.  However, we can all be aware of our surroundings, how we carry ourselves ....

#3 Mindset. Read some books on the subject, start with Meditations on Violence" by Rory Miller

#4 Cardio / Anaerobic Conditioning Most people, even those who are in shape are going to be out of gas in less than 1 minute. If you can last past that you have a big advantage.  Then there is just being good at running away.

#5 Strength Training. Being stronger helps in giving and receiving and a visually fit person is less of a target.

#6 Boxing or grappling ( Judo, Wrestling, BJJ, Sambo )

#7 Boxing or grappling ... whatever one you did not do for #6

#8 Other striking arts that have elbows, knees, kicks ( Muay Thai, Kali ....)

#9 Weapons. Use with and defense from.stick, knife, gun, improvised. This needs to cover empty hand vs each weapon and each weapon vs empty hand and each weapon vs each weapon

#10 Multiple Opponents

Jeff asked me what I thought.  I told him I liked it enough to steal it.  Highest compliment I can give

#'s 6-10 we address at the Dojo on a regular basis
#'s 1-3 we address at Violence Dynamics

I'd like to use the Budo Blog to address:

#4 Cardio / Anaerobic Conditioning
#5 Strength Training

You may be asking yourself - Kasey, you run the world famous (hey if I say it enough it has to be true, right) Keishoukan Dojo.  Why don't you address strength and conditioning there?

I have a couple of pet peeves, so take this next bit with a grain of salt.
I dislike:
Martial arts classes that are over 70% conditioning.
Martial arts classes that use intense conditioning to sell a belief that the training is somehow more real.

I have had a lot of fun, and the Dojo has enjoyed increased success playing with the idea of - how would I train my 13 year old daughter to end me.

Being stronger, faster, and better conditioned than me are not options that she has. (Not yet anyway)

She has to play the hand that she has been dealt.  We all have to play the hand we are dealt.  So classes focus on principles - leverage and lever points, use of gravity, two way action, maximizing athleticism, breaking a threat down.

Then testing these principles under increasing levels of resistance.  Confidence through competence.

That takes up a lot of training time.  Not much time left for strength and conditioning.

The thing is, although you have to play the hand you are dealt, you can always be working on improving your hand.

You have time.  Your own time outside of the Dojo.

Strength and speed are fickle gods.  Don't depend on them, but if they are with you, you'd be a fool not to take full advantage.

So...how do you get those gods to be with you?  Just like any good pagan with sacrifice (time, effort, sweat)

This blog will be the first in a series covering -  improving the hand you are dealt.
Time Management (not even the best training program in the world will work for you if you don't have time to work the program)

At the same time I was writing this, I was discussing similar related topics with Nathan Corliss from the St. Louis Katamedo Dojo.

So I decided to kill a couple birds with one stone.


First and foremost clearly I am not a Doctor nor a Dietitian.  At best I am a guy who was pretty fat, busy with a family and a demanding job, who found ways to be less fat by trial and error experimentation on myself.  A Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde if you will.

I also write a blog and am willing to share what worked with me.  I'm nothing special, if it worked for me it can work for anyone willing to put in the work.

The point being it worked for me because I adapted basic concepts to meet my needs.  On this blog I will share general ideas that can be adapted and applied to any one's specific needs.

My discussion with Nathan brought up the idea of - Carb Cycling

The following article contains the basic concept
5 facts you should know about carb cycling and fat loss

Why carb cycling?

I lost a bunch of weight on a carb free diet.  I also think that was a contributing factor in rupturing my bicep

With Batman by 40 I was able to hit my goal weight by more strictly watching my caloric intake and the timing of carbs.

For Beyond Batman I wanted to get stronger.  That entailed a bulking season and a cutting season.

However, life circumstances changed.  I no longer had access to the training facilities and times I had previously enjoyed.  Bulking and shredding no longer made sense.  I had a bulking season then I was stuck with no shredding season.

Also, Crime Fighting / Personal Protection has no season and as such no off season.

In retrospect it doesn't do me any good to have peaks of strength, but can't chase down a criminal, or run to cover.  Nor dose it do me any good to have peaks of conditioning, if I can't lift and carry a downed officer to safety.

I need to be strong and conditioned year round, every year.

Myron Cossitt delivered an excellent presentation at Viody 16

In it he outlined a cycle

My Goals:
Strong and conditioned, improving both slowly / consistently over time (you have time)

Making sure I have the calories / nutrients I need to fuel the training of the day while avoiding excessive caloric intake.

Carb Cycling

As I mentioned earlier this will be the first in a series of blogs.  As such I won't get too in depth on other topics here.  However, they all work together so they need to be mentioned.

First and foremost - Time management.  Making sure you have the time in your life to do the things you need to do to achieve your goals.

Strength Training - I have the time to strength train twice a week
Conditioning - I have the time (and need) to run once a week
Rest - I have to (can't get to the gym) have three rest days a week

How I use carb cycling.

I eat six meals a day everyday.  Again time management - even on rest days I have to wake up early enough to get all the nutrients I need.  The first two meals every day have carbs.  Carbs are necessary for fuel and recovery so I try to eat them early so I have all day to use them and they are not stored as fat.  On running days the first four meals have carbs.  Finally on lifting days all six meals have carbs.

An often repeated phrase at the Dojo is - for things to work under pressure they have to be stone simple. 

The more complicated something is the more likely it is to fail under stress.
Nutrition is no different.

How to keep things simple - start with your goals, then do the math.

I want to maintain my body weight at around 220lbs.
I can do that by consuming roughly 2250 calories a day

The general guidelines for endurance and strength-trained athletes suggest consuming between 1.2 and 1.7 g/kg of protein for the best performance and health.

How to Calculate Your Protein Needs
1. Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg
2. Weight in kg x 0.8-1.8 gm/kg = protein gm.
Use a lower number if you are in good health and are sedentary (i.e., 0.8). Use a higher number (between 1 and 1.8) if you are under stress, are pregnant, are recovering from an illness, or if you are involved in consistent and intense weight or endurance training.
Example: 154 lb male who is a regular exerciser and lifts weights
154 lbs/2.2 = 70kg
70kg x 1.5 = 105 gm protein/day

220lbs is roughly 100kg.  I try to consume at least 200 grams of protein every day.
That is my baseline.  200 grams 2250 calories divided over six meals

Rest Days / Baseline
2000 calories in general + 250 calories roughly 100 grams of carbohydrates.  The carbs to be consumed before noon if possible.
Caloric Intake:
40% Protein
30 % Carbs
30% (or less) fat

I have three to four rest days per week.  I understand academically that these are necessary.  That they are good for me, and allow me to grow stronger / repair damage.  However, they tend to drive me crazy.  I feel like I should be doing something, even if doing something is counter productive to my goals.  I also have a history of over training / under recovering leading to injuries.  Having nutritional goals / benchmarks to meet on rest days give me something active to do, keeps me in the grind.

I have to force myself to remember that I am on the wrong side of 40.  I may want to train 7 days a week, but I can't.  Being disciplined with my nutrition allows me to be active all week with out over training.

To keep things simple I try to have the same source of protein for each meal then add carbs as necessary to compensate for increased work load.
For example I like grilled chicken and veggies for an after noon meal.  On days I need more carbs I still have grilled chicken and veggies, I just add brown rice or a sweet potato.

Running Days
2000 calories in general + 500 calories roughly 200 grams of carbohydrates.  The carbs to be consumed before 3pm if possible.
Caloric Intake:
35% Protein
35 % Carbs
30% (or less) fat

Strength Days
2000 calories in general + 750 calories roughly 300 grams of carbohydrates.  The carbs to be consumed before 6pm if possible.
Caloric Intake:
30% Protein
40% Carbs
30% (or less) fat

I understand that was a lot of writing for something that is supposed to be stone simple.
Bottom line, find sources of protein you like to eat, can afford, and can cook
Same goes healthy sources of carbohydrates.
Lastly learn how to make decent meals / snacks out of these different building blocks.
Stay tuned here for a special guest blog by Lise Steenersen on how to do just that.  The kickass cook book

Nathan asked me - Noticed any differences yet? Or still playing with it?
I have no objective means to measure, such as body fat calipers or the like.  However, my body weight remains the same while I have had significant strength increases, I can run a mile in under 7 minutes, and I like what I see in the mirror.

I'm nothing special, if it worked for me it can work for anyone willing to put in the work.

It worked for me because I adapted basic concepts to meet my needs. 
Don't copy me, if you want try carb cycling or any of the ideas I share here take what you find useful and adapt it to your needs.

Train Hard, Train Smart, Be Safe

Happy New Year