Be Persistent

The best way out is always through.” 

― Robert Frost

For as long as I can remember I have been about the struggle.  When it came to training and pushing myself I didn’t think of it as a struggle. I find meaning in struggle and hard work.  Without a doubt there were many days when it was tough. A battle as much with myself as with the hard training we were doing. Through athletics and martial arts I have developed a mentality that enabled me to continue to push myself and be persistent. The habit of sticking with something until it is complete. Being persistent has enabled me to get through most everything that has ever been thrown at me.  As martial artists, we are fighters, combat athletes and by our very nature… is to be persistent.

I am not sure what made me want to be an athlete and a martial artist , but I have figured out a few ‘hacks’ along the way.  Just so you know, I feel that hard work and persistence are two of the biggest ‘hacks’ to reaching your potential.  That being said, here are a few ways you can become more persistent in your life.

  1. When taking on anything the number one thing is, never stop attacking it.  Whether it is a task that needs to get done, a goal you want to achieve or a problem that you have to deal with, have the attack mentality.  Even if you are regrouping, trying to figure out the next best way to go, it is with an attack mentality.  The task isn’t going to take care of itself. Real goals will keep nagging you. Problems are not going to go away…you have to attack them until they are taken care of.
  2. My motto has always been, “It’s always too soon to quit.” Never Give Up the Fight!  If something is important to you, if it needs to get done, or if others are counting on you, you can’t quit, you can’t give up, sorry that is not an option.  No matter how hard something is you have to figure out a way to finish.  Hey, no one said it had to be perfect and pretty, but if you start something, finish it.  One of the statements I have used is, “Better never begin, once begun, better finish.”  Bottom line, if I didn’t want to do something that I didn’t need to do, I didn’t start.  However, if I started something that I had to do, said I’d do, or wanted to do, I would not stop until it was done.  That mentality has served me well, both in making decisions on what I am willing to do and following through on what needs to get done.  
  3. Do not let circumstances defeat you.  Life happens to everyone We are all going to experience good and bad times, health and sickness, happiness and sadness, good luck and bad luck. We are all going to have circumstances that are going to have the ability to derail you, but do not allow them to defeat you.  I look at everything as a part of life, even accidents and tragedies.  I have had my fair share of accidents, failures, injuries, illness, losses, personal tragedies, even life threatening cancers. But, we are martial artists, fighters, warriors and ready and willing to take on what life decides to throw at us.  When it happens I will take it on, never stop attacking and Never Give Up the Fight!

It is not going to be easy, worthwhile things never are.  You are going to have to be persistent…especially with yourself!  Once you begin to build routines and positive habits in your life you will find your ability to be persistent grow.  Once you know what you have to do and what you want to do, then you have to knuckle up and do it.  As Robert Frost stated, “The best way out is always through.”  You are a fighter, a combat athlete, a martial artist, you attack, you never quit or give up, and  you won’t be defeated by the circumstances of our life.  Be persistent and stand your ground!

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!

Academy History – Learn Our Story – #1 Martial Arts in MN

Don’t Fear The Process

In junior high and high school I was a gymnast.  In the beginning you learn how to simply swing back and forth, learning how to use your body to create more and more momentum.

Once you become comfortable with swinging you then learn how to do a kip. This requires some technique and timing.  On the outside, it looks very simple. However, there are many little movements that must be coordinated and timed to complete the move.  Eventually, the goal is to kip up and cast as high as you can so as to let your body drop and allow your body to swing completely around the bar.  Of course, the bar is 9 feet off the ground and what looks so effortless from the outside, is not so easy.  No matter how many times you swing back and forth, at some point you are going to have cast as high as you can and let gravity work. Allowing the process to happen is always the toughest part. Why is it so tough to just let it happen -fear!
What ultimately allows a gymnast to allow their body to swing through the air around the bar is faith.  Eventually, you have to believe you are going to get all the way around.

We all get to that place when doing something for the first time where fear hangs out and you have to choose to move through it.

Most will never become a gymnast or have to swing entirely around a bar. But at some point you will have something in front of you, something new and scary, that you have to face and get over.  We all get to that place when doing something for the first time where fear hangs out and you have to choose to move through it.  Your first class, your first time sparring or rolling live, your first competition, the list goes on.…  Will you allow fear keep you from taking the next step? Will fear stop you from starting something new or will you have faith in the process, let yourself go and just have fun doing something totally new?

I can tell you I have done both. I have hesitated and even prevented myself from experiencing something new. On the other hand, I have ‘casted straight to handstand and let it rip.’ I have taken chances to do new things, meet new people, experience the curiosity and joy of being a complete beginner again.  What is it that prevents you from taking that swing?  Whenever you are at the cusp of doing something new and hesitate to jump, you must not let fear win.  Courage is not about the lack of fear; courage is about being afraid and doing it anyway.

Learning to trust the process will allow you to experience many things that will never be there if you allow fear to control you.  Learn to simply let go.  It’s something I wish I would have done it always throughout my life. Just like when I went for that first giant swing in gymnastics.  

Start doing those things you are putting off, that you may be afraid of, but will benefit your life….you’ll be happy you did.

Hard Work Beats Talent

‘Hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work hard’ Talent is a gift, skills are learned and when combined with hard work that is where the magic happens. We have that saying painted on our walls because it is truth. The mechanics of kicking, punching, knees, elbows, takedowns, submissions, etc… are all skills that are won through hard work, repetition and continual practice. Skills affect your growth as a martial artist just as talent does. If your technical skills are sharpened through hard work you can be very good, maybe even great! However, we have seen countless Academy members with no special talent and average mechanics become some of our best students and even successful competitors.

Talent and skill are important to becoming a great martial artist, or a great anything. However, they are not the most important elements to that success. We have many high ranking students, competitors in BJJ, MMA and Muay Thai, and instructors who are not gifted with natural talent nor have achieved technical perfection. So what is the most important factor when it comes to achievement? It’s called a strong work ethic.

Remember, ‘Practice Makes Habit’, so make a strong work ethic your habit.

What is a strong work ethic? It is the ability to consistently do the work at your highest level no matter what your circumstances are. In other words, no matter what happens, no matter what outside struggles you may have, you are still able to get in and bring all the talent and skill you have to every class, practice or training session. A strong work ethic is simply you doing your best every chance you get with everything you do.

A strong work ethic is a learned skill. Work ethic has nothing to do with genetics, natural talent or whatever you want to call it. It is developed the exact same way any of your technical skills are. If you don’t have a strong work ethic it simply means you haven’t ‘trained’ it enough yet. Anyone can develop a strong work ethic when they decide to put it into practice. 

Remember, ‘Practice Makes Habit’, so make a strong work ethic your habit.

Creating the habit to work hard starts with simple steps. First and foremost, you have to decide to work hard…it is a choice. Next, you must create a schedule and stick to it. Consistency is key! Stay disciplined, come to class and do your best. Do that every class, week after week, making a habit of pushing yourself and let your hard work speak for itself.

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)