Goal Setting

Summer is finally here and it’s time to start setting your summer training goals! Goal setting is a critical component to training well and requires careful thought and organization. Below is a formula you can use to start setting your goals TODAY:

  1. Clearly define your goal.

    If it involves losing weight, give an amount you want to lose. If it involves promotion, give the belt color you want to get. “I want to lose 20 pounds.”OR “I want to get promoted to my next rank which is Green belt.”

  2. Set a definite date by when you will achieve your goal.

    a)“Today is (date) and in 3 months, on (mm/dd/yyyy) I will have…. (lost 20 lbs, been promoted to my next rank, etc.)

  3. Explain how you plan on achieve your goal.

    This is your ACTION PLAN. The more specific you are the better!
    a) I will get promoted to my next rank by attending each of my scheduled classes every week and by attending open mat twice a month to practice my shadow boxing.”

    b) “I will lose 20 pounds by attending each of my scheduled classes every week and by using the fitness center twice a week.” Be sure to include important dietary changes you will implement to accompany your workouts (not eating fast food, cutting back on soft drinks, eating more salad and veggies, less processed foods, etc).

  4. Write or type out your goals and place them where you will see them regularly.

    Good places are on your bathroom mirror, next to your bed, on the dashboard in your car, at your desk, on your computer monitor, etc. Seeing your goal daily and repetitively will help you stay focused on what you have promised yourself you would do, how you plan to do it, and by when you will do it by.

  5. Recite your goal out loud every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to sleep.

    Turn your goal into a healthy obsession. By always keeping your goal on your mind you are less likely to get distracted and more likely to follow through on your plan.

  6. Keep a journal of your progress.

    Every time you come to class – note improvements that you’ve made, or areas you want to improve. This is where you can keep track of mini goals: “Today in class I did 15 pushups, by next week this time I want to do 20 pushups. I will prepare for this by doing pushups at night before I go to bed starting with 10 pushups on the first night. Each night after that I will add one more pushup until I get to 20 pushups.”

This is just one of many ways to set a goal. If you have any questions about goal setting, talk to your coaches! We are here to help you become better and we want you to succeed.

Training, the Heart of the Martial Arts

The martial arts have been part of my life for 43 years. From the beginning, I had friends that trained with me, but I spent a good deal of time with myself. Both are important to your development in martial arts and almost everything you do. The most successful that reach their potential and make the greatest strides, hold training as the heart of martial arts life. The ones that push themselves to higher levels and are more consistent have steady training partners along the journey.  Consistent training over time will accelerate your growth and make training more fun.

It is important to know that everyone has talents. At the beginning, we are all unsure how to develop our new skills and talents to reach our full potential. To become the ‘good, better, best’ that you can requires consistent training – consistency is king!   Start where you are, start with small deliberate steps, but be consistent.  Watch techniques, training methods, skills and drills being taught with focus and mindfulness. Keep the image of your instructor doing the skill as you start performing the repetitions with your partner. Practice by yourself in front of the mirror, on the heavy bag, or grab a partner and take 5 – 10 minutes to drill back and forth.  You can also watch the skills being performed over and over with some intense focus. A great source is TeamAcademyCoaches.com to watch the techniques of the month.  You can watch matches, fights, training, and techniques. Watch them over and over until you start to form a mental blueprint. Picture the movement, body mechanics, position and structure. Finally, focus on your body performing the same skills.

Once you begin to feel more comfortable with the technique, it is time to up your training. Keep in mind, ‘Technique is everything.’ You want to drill with precision and sharpen your technique.  Quality is more important than quantity.  ‘Repetition is the mother of skill, but discipline is your Daddy.’  You want to get your reps in but, you need to be specific, detailed and disciplined with those reps.  , it takes discipline to show up and do the reps necessary to reach your potential.  One of the best ways to be more disciplined is to have a solid training partner that shows up.

A training partner that shows up ready to work is important to keep you accountable. They will also give you feedback and make training more fun. Your instructors, top competitors, and top students all do consistent training outside of class with consistent training partners. Pick someone you like to work with and then, “Think like a gardener, work like a carpenter.” It is important to remember that skills grow over time and you have to water, weed and cultivate your skill like a gardener.  You need to plan and prepare your training to build a strong foundation. Connect your skills and techniques together like a carpenter building a beautiful house. ‘Training is the heart of the martial arts lifestyle.’ Training over time with great training partners is where the magic happens.

What is Meaningful to You?

minnesota thai boxingPeople that are at the top of their game, whatever it is, know what is meaningful in their life.  Meaning is a powerful driving force but, how do you know what you find meaningful when asked. High performers worldwide were asked some basic questions about what living the most meaningful life means to them. They were  asked, “what do you find meaningful to you when you have two options put before you?” Now when you have two bad options you can choose neither.  When you have one good option and one bad option, simply choose the good one. Yet, when you have two good options or opportunities put before you, how do you know which one is going to be best?  High Performers choose the one that is going to be most meaningful. So how do they choose what is the better more meaningful option/opportunity?

First, it was found that meaning is closely associated with enthusiasm. Simply put, which choice excites them the most. Which choice would they want to spend the most time doing for the longest time. Which one would they talk about the most, geek out about, they wake up thinking about and wanting to do it. Second, there was a deeper level of connection. They found it to be something that was right to them. It had greater depth and/or they found a better connection to the people associated with one option and found deeper relationships. Third, they find more satisfaction by doing one over the other. They feel that they will be more fulfilled, more satisfied at end the of the day. Which would make them feel more proud, or engage  them more helping them grow. Which would require them to give more of themselves to the process and give them a real sense of personal satisfaction.  When I was battling cancer and unsure whether I was going to live. I did a lot of thinking about what I did. Was I satisfied with my life? Did I have any regrets? What would I do different? Was I completely engaged? Did I give back to others? Did my life have meaning? Personal satisfaction is a huge thing and high performers find themselves asking, am I satisfied with what I’m doing? If not they either change their approach or change what they’re doing. Lastly, is there coherence or does it fit with your overall life story. Does what you choose to do make sense in the broader story of your life. Does what you have in front of you bring you closer to where you want to be?  There is a feeling of alignment, do you feel you are going in the right direction…

Here is a simple question you can ask yourself to help find more meaning and be more intentional in your life:

  1. How can I make what I’m doing more meaningful to me? Take some time and focus on the opportunities in front of you.  In the end you will be happier. You will do better and find so much more meaning if you are enthusiastic. You will find connection and satisfaction, and feel a sense of coherence in what you’re doing.

 

Energy

Who doesn’t want a high level of energy, happiness, and joy. Who doesn’t want to be more alert, engaged, fully present and alive? We all do! Energy and vitality, health and well being are all at the top of my life goals. Having more energy alone will make you more optimistic and positive: you are going to be more patient, productive, and more happy person. More energy benefits everyone in your life, because it is such an important part of being the best that you can be. I am going to have a series of articles breaking down some of the best physiological practices used by the highest performing people in the world.

Taking care of yourself should be your highest priority. Being a lifelong athlete and martial artist fitness has been a huge part of my life. In the last few years I have dedicated myself to increasing the fitness of my brain, body and breathing. In each article I am going to focus on one best practice for your Brain, Body and Breathing.

The brain is your body’s priority and requires a lot of energy to run the body. oOne of the most important things we can do is sleep 7+ hours a night. There is tons of research on the importance of sleep. Here’s what I did to sleep 7+ hours, increase my energy, focus and productivity.

  • I started going to sleep 30 – 50 minutes earlier. Over time adding 3 hours more sleep.
  • My room is completely blacked out. Blackout curtains and all light sources covered or removed. I also have a nice padded eye mask. Any light seems to wake me, so I take no chances.
  • I do not look at any screen 50 minutes before I go to bed. No phones, computers or TV. Instead I will read or listen to fiction, write and/or listen to relaxing music.
  • I lowered the temperature of my house to 67 degrees.
  • I try not to eat 3 hours before I go to bed.
  • I go to bed and wake up at the same time as much as possible. I haven’t heard my alarm in my house in a long time.
  • I do not drink coffee or any caffeinated drink after 2 pm. Caffeine has a half life of 8 hours and I do not need any caffeine after my morning mushroom coffee.


Regarding our body, we need to make sure we drink a lot of water all throughout the day. You should drink clean water immediately after you wake up. You usually haven’t had any water for 7+ hours so it is necessary to drink when you wake up. Throughout the day it is important to drink at least every hour. If you sweat a lot you have to replace that water and continue to drink every hour. , I do not drink sodas only kombucha or vinegar drinks besides water. Most people do not drink enough water, so…drink a lot more water.

Breathing is often taken for granted. When we sleep we breathe deeply yet, when we are awake most people do not breathe as well. One of the easiest ways to get a jolt of energy that will pick you up is to bounce and breathe. Close your eyes, make a light bounce up and down in place, like you are doing basic footwork, and breathe. You should inhale completely and exhale audibly.

All of these ideas are connected. As we investigate more best high performing practices. You will find that you too will start to increase your energy, focus, health, happiness, productivity, & well being.

Bring up Your Energy

Without a doubt most people want to have more energy. They want to feel enthusiastic about things to come and excited about what they are doing. Drive, motivation, excitement, energy and total focus are all important to finding personal success. There are many videos, books, podcasts, seminars, and courses. Each giving you the information to be your best. Yet, it all starts with your physical health and vibrancy,  your mental attitude and emotional well-being. One of the most important ways to affect all the above is to focus on what is going to give you more ENERGY! Here are 6 simple ways to boost your energy by having great health and vitality. 

1. Get 7+ hours of sleep a night. I use to feel this was a joke. Now, as a habit I get 7 hours of sleep. Set a sleep schedule and stick to it. No screens 30-90 minutes before bed. Make sure there is no light anywhere in your room. Set your room temp at 65-69 degrees. Try not to eat 2-3 hours before bed. It took me about 4 months to sleep 7 hours a night

2. Drink 4-5 liters of water a day. The first thing you should do in the morning is drink a big glass of water. Stay hydrated throughout the day. Get a liter container and fill it up and drink it 4-5 times a day, or a 1 gallon jug full of water and drink it down.

3. 2-3 healthy meals a day. The one plate rule at each meal; only have one plate of food. For me I now eat 80% greens and 20% meat and carbs. Of course this is an individual thing. But, if you are serious about your diet, go see a nutritionist. Get a blood and saliva check and see what you allergic to, deficient in and recommendations for you.

4. 5-6 workouts a week. Having a consistent Martial Arts class schedule will take care of 3-4 of those workouts. You should do some kind of strength training, endurance work and mobility training on top of that.

5. Meditate 1-2 times a day. Meditation does not have to be any specific kind but, find something that works for you. There are apps such as Headspace that you can get to help calm down your brain and release tension.

6. While working take a break every 50 minutes. Step away from your desk and rejuvenate yourself.  Such as getting water, doing some light exercise, deep breathing, take a short walk. Anything that will allow you to refocus and regenerate, to invest some energy into the next 50 minutes of work. I have started focusing on these 6 ways to generate more energy. I have increased my health and well-being. I have increased my physical, mental and emotional vibrancy. Start making these 6 areas a habit. You will have more enthusiasm for upcoming tasks.  You will have more motivation and increase your health and energy.

Opera Non Verba, Deeds Not Words…..Just Do It!

Rules For Living Part 2

Rule #4

All Champions Have To Start Somewhere And Quite Often It Is At The Bottom

My first year of wrestling I was on my back looking up a lot! I counted a lot of gym lights my first year of wrestling in Jr High losing 11 matches and winning only 1. I was a real ‘loser’ all around that school year. I got in a ton of trouble and was eventually expelled in the last 2 weeks of school. Incidentally, that made that summer a turning point in my life. My dad, who was athletic, an eagle scout, a successful manager at one of the first computer companies, grew up poor and worked on a farm, put me to work. My dad gave a list of chores to do everyday, and I was expected to finish it. What wasn’t finished was added to the next day’s list. I started my 7th grade year pretty much on the bottom of every area of my life, sports, school and letting my parents down. However, with my dad’s stern guidance and a summer of continuous work something changed in me. I definitely started on the bottom, but the following year my season record was 12-2. In addition, I stopped getting in anywhere near the same amount of trouble.

It is not where you start, but where you end and how you get there

Rule #5

If You Truly Believe In Yourself, Others Will Too

 

After starting from ground zero and working to change my self image, I started winning. More than that I was pushing myself in ‘most’ areas of my life. I decided to set my alarm for 30 minutes earlier every morning and get up and jog. Training was now a habit and by high school I was excelling in gymnastics, doing well in wrestling and my grades were good, but not great. My teachers saw that I was working harder than ever and taking classes more serious, but I was certainly not one of the most studious in the school. They soon began to realize that I was beginning to believe in my ability to be scholar athlete. I began taking an interest in my classroom work and looking at my school work in the same way as my athletics. A few teachers began to really work with me in areas I did not excel. They saw me not just as a high level gymnast and good wrestler, but as someone that wanted to succeed.

 

There are two types of people who begin to attract help from those in the know: those who try hard, fail, get back up and go hard again, and those who succeed and are always open to suggestions to get even better. I was of the first group and I found that people like to help those who work hard to improve, listen and actually follow their advice. When you go to a coach, mentor or teacher and share your goals and ask for advice, criticism and guidance they are in your corner as you fight to succeed. We should make sure our mentors become part of our successes, let them know how much we appreciate all they do and show your gratitude with every new victory.

Judge your successes by what you had to give up to get them

One Minute Tip Clinch Crash Course

Coaches Corner: Rules For Living: Part 1


I threw my first judo throw, kicked my first kicks, and punched my first punches 42 years ago. I found my passion and immediately started to make training a part of my life. I made ad hoc training areas in my garage and laundry room. I started on a path I am still on today. When I think about all the years training Gymnastics, Judo, Wrestling, Boxing, Karate, then Jun Fan Martial Arts, Filipino Kali, Muay Thai, and Shooto, followed by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA, it all started with a deep seeded passion.

One morning when I was in 8th grade I decided to set my first goal: to get up every morning and run before school. That set in motion the habit of writing down goals I wanted to accomplish and gave me a way to go attain them. I started reading books about great athletes, martial artists and philosophers. I found out what they did to accomplish their dreams and visions. One of the books I read detailed one of the Olympians ‘Rules for Living’ and to this day I still have them hanging at my house.

Rule #1




You Have To Have A Dream To Have A Dream Come True


To start you have to have a clear picture of where you are going. Everything starts with a dream. As the Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”, Even though we may not immediately perish, our goals will die without a dream. My dream was pretty simple, I wanted to be the best athlete I could be, and the martial arts, as well as all the other sports I did, were all lumped into that dream. I had dreams, but now I needed a plan….

 

Rule #2

Champions Set a Series of Intermediate Steps To Achieve Their Goals
I knew what I wanted. Now I had to establish goals: something I could realistically achieve. I had to break down my goals into tangible steps. I did a lot of sports, but I really started to understand how to break down my goals in middle school as a gymnast. I loved gymnastics and wanted to be a champion, but I had to first learn the basics of each piece of equipment. Once I started to get the basics, immediately the task was to string them together, and eventually create routines. Once my routines were set, I had to break them down and work individual series and set a goal to achieve a specific score on each event. I knew what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. Once I figured that out, everything was much simpler. Now, I just had to execute.

Every journey begins with a single step

Rule #3

Champions Never Say No To An Opportunity

I learned to set steps in gymnastics, but it was in Wrestling that I had my first opportunity to meet an Olympic Gold Medalist.  In 1980 we had the opportunity to witness college hockey players come together, and through a ton of HARD work and a visionary coach. They beat the ‘unbeatable’ Soviet Union Hockey team enroute to winning the Gold Medal. 

Being totally psyched after seeing that I had the opportunity to go to a wrestling camp with Olympic Gold medalists Ben and John Peterson.  Incidentally, that is where I learned my first submission, which was a neck crushing pin move I dubbed the ‘Peterson Squeeze’.  Without knowing it another piece of my future was put in place waiting to be used.  Later that same year I got the opportunity to train with professional wrestler Ivan “The Polish Hammer’ Putski. What an experience that was! He showed a whole bunch of illegal moves that began to shape my way of thinking. When opportunity knocks, open that door!  I learned that when an opportunity presents itself, jump on it.
If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.


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)

Coaches Corner: Do or Do not, There is no… not doing what you Need and Want to Do Pt 2

I believe most of us want to improve ourselves, becoming better in specific areas, more fit, healthier and experience more in life. I know I do.  If we want to improve ourselves how do we begin, how do we get over the hump, or stop procrastinating?  There are a ton of books and courses on this very subject, and I have read a lot of books and taken courses….still do.  Many methods focus on dealing with your thoughts and feelings.  All you have to do is change your thoughts, think positive, focus on all the good you can do, and become if you start to balance your thoughts and emotions, so you are mentally and emotionally ready to get after it.  To start this way you have to ‘quiet your mind’ and start to create positive and empowering beliefs, this will build your self-esteem, and through positive affirmations and self-talk you can find your focus to affirm your personal power and gain control over your emotions and visualize yourself doing what you want, how you want to do it and see yourself becoming the way you want to be. Once all that is done you can align everything up just right so that you have the confidence to get motivated to want to commit yourself to start what you want to do…..that’s it….holy Hanna what a lot of psychobabble! 

Or you could just decide to Do It and take action!

No one is ever going to be 100% ready and your life will always be happening.  There will never be a perfect time, but there is always a right time: the time you make to do it. So make time, take a deep breath and get started. Once started, keep going.

Over the 41 years that I have been training and 30 years I have been teaching I have found a couple of things to be true. First, doing something, anything, even the smallest amount of training is a million times better than all the ideas and plans to train…but not actually training. Second, I have never felt or said, “I wish I would not have come in and trained.” However, there have been numerous times when I have said, “I wish I would’ve went in and got something done”.  So whether you are already a capable athlete or someone simply interested in a new experience, when starting a new activity, art, technique, training method…be gentle with yourself.  Show yourself the same tolerance and patience you would a beginner or a small child learning something new….the same child you once were!  No one started out knowing how to walk. Everyone fell many, many times, in the process.  Everyone around you encouraged you and never gave up on you…and lo and behold, nearly every single able person walks…just like you.  We all need to be kids again.  Children make errors, that is what they do – learning to crawl, walk, eat with utensils, drink out of a cup, skip rope, ride a bike, swim….everything must be learned and making mistakes is simply part of the process.  The crazy thing is, children learn at a pace far beyond almost every adult. Stop worrying and become like a child again in regards to trying new things and be on your path towards mastery.  Do what you can, with what you have, where you are, and just have fun doing it.

There is no better way to get better at whatever you’re doing.