Dealing With Life’s Distractions: The External

No matter who you are, you will have many distractions in your life. Ultimately, no matter what your goals are in the martial arts, your job, academics, a new skill you want to develop or whatever, everyone will face an array of distractions. One of the number one areas you can develop is your ability to maintain your focus, despite all of the distractions that everyone has to deal with.


One thing I have learned is that no matter how much you prepare, life happens. Even with the best laid plans it is almost certain that something will come up. You must learn to ‘expect the unexpected’ and save an emergency, do what you have set out to do. Unfortunately, many people do not live with this attitude. Research has shown that your ability to keep focus on what you are doing, regardless of distraction, has proven to increase success. In the martial arts, students of equal ability and skill, in most cases, those that can put distractions aside and focus on their training will learn better and advance faster.


Just like training your physical skills, you need to train your mind to focus on the task at hand and set aside the distractions that attempt to train alongside you. Once you start to develop your ability to focus and set aside distractions on the mats, you will start to bring it to the rest of your life. Initially, I learned to totally focus while doing gymnastics. You had to be 100% in the moment, you couldn’t be distracted or you would be tempting fate. Regardless of what you are doing the distractions you will encounter can be categorized into two areas: Internal and External. We will deal with external distractions first.


External distractions are ever growing, and becoming an issue to everyone coming up in this era. There is your cell phone with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, texting, email….However, other stuff like the weather (heat, humidity, cold, rain, snow…), everyday issues and problems with your family, boyfriends, girlfriends, job, school, and work are things that everyone has to deal with are always present. Once you get into the classroom and you have to deal with other students, what they say, how much they know, their intensity level, physical ability, their smell….Your list could continue. Guess what, everyone is dealing with the same things but, some are able to set all of those external distractions aside and get busy.


First, you need to recognize the distractions in your life. You need to see what of the above distractions make you nervous, anxious, or lose focus. You need to see if you have any patterns, specific times or situations which distract you most. Once you know what, when and where you get distracted you can start to make changes.


Your ability to minimize distractions can be developed and refined just like your attributes and technical skills. One of the most effective ways to minimize distractions and increase your focus while training is to develop pre-class routines. Your pre-class routine can be totally individualized and modified as you find what works best for you. It is important to understand that your pre-class routine allows you to relax and prepares you to focus totally on your training.


There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A person’s life is a succession of moment after moment. When one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do and nothing else to pursue. – Yamamoto Tsunetomo (Hagakure)

Patience Is The Companion Of Wisdom

“Patience is the companion of wisdom”
-Saint Augustine

We live in a “hurry up” world. Rush hour, coffee, work, and lack of sleep are part of what we think of when we think of our city, our state, or our country. It sometimes feels like we must “get things done.” All of us to some degree are affected by this speedy mentality. Change must come quickly in this lifestyle. The question for me is why? Why does society worry so much about the amount of time it takes someone to do something? If it takes us an extra 20 minutes to cook a balanced meal than to eat fast food, then should we eat fast food to save those 20 minutes, or should we spend 20 minutes on healthy food, and not add the extra calories to our already excessive consumption of food? Americans are, by far, the fattest group on the planet. We live in the most affluent country in the world, yet we sometimes are the least proactive, and most reactive people alive today. Martin Luther King Jr. said,”Rarely do we find people who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” He’s challenging us to take our time and sort through our thoughts and listen to the many different possibilities that are out there.
Kickboxing MN

It’s important, for me to say, now that I’ve spent the past few sentences setting up this critique of our exaggerated feelings of urgency, that I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to going too fast when I do things. I’ve spent a lot of time on the highway speeding past those suckers on my way to our Academy. I can see us feeling that even in training. We want this instant gratification. Sometimes the best thing to do might just be to slow down and think before you act. “Are my hands up?” “Do I have my balance?” Constantly asking questions leads us to find mistakes in our thinking, and thus our actions. I always say to my classes “Take your time, warm up…” I want you to think about and to be mindful about, just where your body is moving. I guess that’s just another way of saying, “be coordinated.” Simple lessons, are sometimes the most complex ones to understand, those of us who have competed know that the “devil is in the details.” It’s just one more reason to practice slowly, yet focused and methodical.

So be patient with yourself and others. Let go of urgency, because it really is only a temporary feeling that won’t permanently motivate. Set big goals, aim high you might just get close to the mark. Have fun being in the flow of working towards your next rank. Keep in mind it never really stops with the next rank test, because you can always get better. Be patient and forgiving to yourself in training, but also don’t let fatigue or stress turn you into a coward. Just take your time and enjoy all your training and experience.

“With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown” -Chinese Proverb

Plateaus and breaking your Routine

DSC_6847At some point you will get good, it’s going to happen if you put in the time. The problem is once that happens you might find you stop getting better. You might find you’re bored with your training. So what can you do to keep advancing? Avoid some simple mistakes.

Have you been training with the same partner during and after class (yes you should be training outside of class).  I’ve seen a lot of great training partners who get comfortable with each other and they stop pushing each other. They do what they always do and thus they repeat the same mistakes, focus too much on their shared strengths and not enough on their weaknesses. The fact is if you and your training partner never work clinch you will always suck at clinch, if they let you skip your conditioning you will never get as strong. Simple Solution, train with more people…if you’re dedicated and hardworking you will find that people who are better than you will be happy to work with you.

Set new goals and research new drills. You’ve been doing pyramids for two years like a metronome and your conditioning is awesome, but could you be faster? How’s your foot work and head movement? It’s easy to work what you’ve been working, it’s easy to work what your good at. Set new training goals. WRITE THEM DOWN.

Go to a seminar. Believe it or not martial arts masters are real and they have real knowledge to share and you should probably go get some of that sweet, sweet brain nectar. Heck they don’t even have to be a master, just another person with a different skill set who has made different discoveries than you about martial arts might send you in a new direction towards improvement.

Get a new set of eyes. Your training partners are so used to seeing you they will miss the obvious and you see yourself through some pretty screwed up rose colored classes. Ask someone you respect to watch and give you feedback and work on it right away.

Even if you’re a black belt you will fall into routines, you will be limited by your comfort zone, limited by your own knowledge. To break your routines and progress you need to be creative, seek new information and methods, set clear goals, be disciplined and work hard.

Instructor Spotlight: Nora Schull

10247396_10152375113586718_8424570583080340773_nCoach Nora started training at The Academy over 6 years ago. Through perseverance and hard work she has earned a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a black rank in Muay Thai. Her commitment to training, coaching, and competing is unprecedented. Her esteemed title of ‘Momma Bear’ was earned through her commitment to the team which has afforded her teammates the ability to travel and pursue their passion. With over 2 decades of experience in modern dance, she oversees all of the arts programming for Minneapolis Public Schools. When she isn’t occupied by these demanding commitments, she is a proud mother of two children, Ella and Ian, and is an avid feline enthusiast. The Academy thankful to have someone of Nora’s caliber within its roster.

Team Academy Winter Fight/Competition Results

Another great season of competition brought with it both adversity and triumph. We’re so proud of all our Team Academy competitors that continue to push themselves and grow as martial artists in victory and in defeat! Here is a quick summary of this winter’s results:

Ben Smith RFA

Ben Smith taking the title!

MMA Results

RFA 24 (3/6/15)

  • Ben “Silver” Smith captured the RFA welterweight title with a TKO from punches
  • Dan Moret suffered a defeat by unanimous decision
  • Andre Tieva got caught on the receiving end of punches and lost his fight via TKO
  • CT Bailey took a loss in a unanimous decision

King of the Cage 17 (2/21/15)

  • Nick Compton defeated Brandon Jenkins via unanimous decision

A-Town Throwdown (2/13/15)

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Sean Richman, victorious at WWFC

  • Jon Ebert submitted his opponent with a triangle choke in the 1st round, winning his amateur debut!
  • Anthony Rose lost his bout, tapping to a guillotine choke in the 2nd round

Dakota FC 20 – Winter Brawl (1/24/15)

  • Clarence Jordan lost his fight by unanimous decision
  • Jason Huntley suffered a close, split decision loss

World War Fighting Championship 17 (1/17/15)

  • Sean Richman finished his opponent in the 1st round by TKO
  • Nick Compton put up the second “W” of the night for Team Academy, securing a rear naked choke to win his fight in the 1st round

Chaos At Cantebury VI (12/20/14)

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Nick Compton with the “W”

  • Nate Howe earned a victory from an arm bar submission in the 1st round
  • CT Bailey also edged out his opponent with a 1st round arm bar
  • Melvin Cruz secured the win by TKO/referee stoppage in the 4th round
  • Jason Huntley won out in a unanimous decision

KOTC Industrial Strength (11/22/14)

  • Clarence Jordan found himself on the winning side of a unanimous decision

A-Town Throwdown IV (11/15/14)

  • Hayden Buckner tapped out his opponent with a guillotine choke early in the 2nd round
  • Anthony Rose executed a beautiful knock out after just 14 seconds of the 2nd round

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    A beautiful TKO by “The Marine”

Bellator 131 (11/15/14)

  • Mike Richman earned a swift TKO victory over Nam Phan, prompting a stoppage to the fight after just 46 seconds!

RFA 20 (11/7/14)

  • Ben Smith defeated his opponent via a unanimous decision after 3 rounds

BJJ Results

Submission Hunt (11/22/14)

Bergeron Subhunt

Team Academy grabbing gold at the SubHunt

  • The Academy competitors came out on top, winning several divisions and taking home the championship trophy for team points!

NAGA Chicago (11/1/14)

  • Another exciting and successful grappling tournament for Team Academy!

FIVE Grappling Tournament (10/18/14 – 10/19/14)

  • Brandon Bergeron took home gold in his gi division
  • Kelly Johnson was victorious, also taking the top spot in his division

    Troy Jones ESP

    Troy Jones celebrating the win with a proud team!

Muay Thai Results

ESP (2/21/15)

  • Troy “Trouble” Jones captured the ESP kickboxing title!

Brandon Bergeron: Technique Video – Cross-Choke from Mount

Greg Nelson Cancer Survivor Kare 11 Extra

Coach’s Corner: 10 Nutrients Proven to Make you Feel Awesome

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Hello Team! You may be thinking, “What’s up with all the nutrition articles?” Well, you may not know this, but nutrition is one of the most important aspects of losing weight and staying in shape. No matter how much you train, if you’re eating garbage you’re not going to optimize your results.

Here are 10 key nutrients that have been scientifically proven to improve your health and make you feel great!

Calcium

Did you know that calcium is the most abundant mineral in our bodies? It helps maintain strong bones and healthy blood vessels! Don’t like milk? Try adding collard greens, kale, or plain yogurt to your diet!

Chromium

There are only trace amounts of chromium in our bodies, but it’s important in metabolizing food. It also plays a huge role in helping the brain regulate emotions and your mood. Feeling depressed? Try adding broccoli, potatoes, and turkey breast into you weekly meals!

Folate

AKA B9, this nutrient is a key player in creating new cells and supports serotonin regulation. Not having enough folate in your diet can make you feel more fatigued than normal. Boost your folate levels by eating spinach, avocado, and brussels sprouts.

Iron

Responsible for moving oxygen, supporting energy levels, and aiding in muscle strength – iron is really important, especially for women who may suffer from anemia. Low levels of iron typically result in fatigue, apathy, ad mood swings. Keep the blues away by eating lentils, beef ribeye, and oatmeal.

Magnesium

With over 300 roles, this nutrient is one you don’t want to lack. Keep your Mg levels up by keeping ample amounts of almonds, spinach, edamame, and cashews in your diet.

Omega 3s

This essential fatty acid is critical for improved brain health and contributes up to 18% of the brain’s weight! Our bodies can’t naturally produce omega 3s so it’s really important you get them through your diet. You can take fish oil, or add chia seeds, Atlantic salmon, spinach or Chinese broccoli to your meals!

Vitamin B6

This essential vitamin helps produce and maintain the neurotransmitters that send messages from our brain to our bodies. A lack of B6 can result in short term anemia, a weakened immune system, confusion or depression. Get your fill by adding chickpeas, tuna, salmon, or chicken breast to your salads and sandwiches.

Vitamin B12

Feeling tired and paranoid? You might be B12 deficient! Give yourself a boost with Rainbow trout, swiss cheese, and Sockeye salmon!

Vitamin D

Known as the “happy” vitamin, vitamin D has been linked to helping ward off depression, especially during the winter months when its cold and gray. Give yourself a pick me up by adding D rich foods like eggs, salmon, milk, and Chanterelle mushrooms to your diet.

Zinc

Found in almost every cell in our bodies, it playing an important role in supporting a healthy immune system and helps the body protect our guts from damage. Get your zinc on by eating cashews, pork loin, and swiss cheese!

Well, there you have it! Your homework for this month is to review what you’re eating and make sure to get as many of these into your diet as possible.

Coach’s Corner: 8 Ways to Set and Achieve your Goals

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A new year means new beginnings. We like to talk a lot about goals and how to achieve them because goals are measurable pieces of success. Here are 7 ways you can set goals and achieve them once and for all!

 

 

1.  Define what you want to achieve.

Before you can set a goal, you need to know EXACTLY what you want to achieve. Be specific. If it’s weight loss, say you want to lose 10 pounds, or 50 pounds. Goals should be quantitative.

2.   Know your time frame.

Goals need to have a time frame, and it should be realistic. Decide WHEN you want to have your goal achieved. Again, be realistic – give yourself adequate time to do things right. Need help coming up with a time frame? Talk to your coach!

3.   Write your action plan.

Without an action plan, goals are just wishes and dreams. Write down what you are going to DO to achieve that goal. Are you going to commit to training 4 times a week? Are you going to start a meet-up group on the weekends to go over drills? Be specific about who, what, where, and when you are going to work on your goal.

4.   Keep track of your progress.

Start a goal journal that you keep in your gym bag or in your car. Every time you do something that gets you closer to your goal, write it down! Write down the small successes, big successes and failures alike; what you’re getting better at and what you’re still working on. This will help you see your progression in a more concrete way.

5.   Have a team.

Have a team of people that you share your goal with and that you train with on a regular basis to achieve that goal. You NEED a support group to keep you on track. You can’t do it alone, despite what you may think!

6.   Tell your friends and family.

Share you goals with other people. The more people that know about your goal, the more you’re going to stay accountable. If you are hesitant to share your goal, then you’re not that serious about it. When you share your goal, the pressure is on to achieve it. That’s what you need – pressure and motivation to succeed!

7.   Consequences for slacking.

You need to set consequences for yourself when you miss workouts or action steps. This could be anything from no morning lattes for a month, or ice cream before bed (you should probably be doing this already, but it’s just a friendly reminder.) Hard work and focus should be the only things that are rewarded.

8.   See, say, and work on your goal every day.

The last, and probably the most important step is to see, say, and work on your goal EVERY DAY until you achieve it. Write them down and stick them on your dashboard, on your mirror in the bathroom, on your phone, on your computer screen, etc. In order for you to get to where you want to be, your goal has to become an obsession to the point where you don’t want to do anything else until that goal is achieved. Otherwise, it will just get put on the back burner and become a lost dream. It sounds harsh but it’s the truth. So really think about how badly you want it and what you’re willing to do to get it.

We’re here for you, so if you have questions, talk to your coach!

Nat Mcintyre Highlight Video