Context and The Thought Provocation Method

•02.11.2012 • Leave a Comment

Context and the Thought Provocation Method

I remember having a conversation in graduate school on the topic of leadership, when a friend of mine simply stated that “leadership is defined by context”. I think we had been debating on the development of students’ participation in extracurricular activities, and the foundations of initiative that would allow them to make the jump from receiving information in their classes, to enacting and living those lessons throughout all aspects of their lives.

This is not that different from our own training. Every technique, every strategy or tactic, every application of weapon, individual or group is seated in a foundation of context. Onlookers often speculate on why we begin our template training in a “scarecrow” fashion, with our opponent simply standing still in front of us. When we relate our methodology to that of shooting however, to putting rounds downrange in a static stance at a fixed target it suddenly doesn’t seem so foreign. Every form or set in most martial arts around in the world and throughout history at one point had an appropriate context. The unfortunate phenomenon is that in many systems these contexts of applications have been lost or forgotten. The Japanese Martial Arts world encounters this frequently with their interpretations of kata, and Guro Dan often recounts an experience of watching a well known eskrimador perform beautifully executed movements but then had no idea what they would be used for.

One of the tools we like using to influence our training or lesson plans is surveillance footage of attacks. These examples demonstrate real attacks, in real world context. While we do not rely on these videos as our sole source of information, they are a valuable resource in reminding us that what is easy to conceptualize in training, can truly happen to ordinary people in ordinary places like our homes and towns. Some of the more recent viral videos include the Chinese student being beaten behind a school in Chicago, and this one if a seven-year-old escaping a kidnapping attempt at Walmart.

http://youtu.be/_9rqjT3Yzsw

Our Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does this kind of thing constantly, so every time someone tries to use their shoes or liquids to threaten air travel the rest of the population is subject to reactive searches based on previous threats. No matter how real or informative these videos or experiences are however they are still receiver based. We wait to see information, or hear about some breach and base our knowledge, awareness and subsequent training on what has happened. But what about what could happen?

Sayoc Kali addresses this question with a fundamental cornerstone to our Philosophy of Learning, known as the Thought Provocation Method:

http://sayoc.com/pages/articles_philosophyoflearning.html

The Thought Provocation Method is basically this: what are all the ways we could think about scenarios or situations, no matter how fantastic they seem? Could we imagine an instance where we would need to strike at Vital Targets while a body is fixed in front of us? What if they were running away from us? What if that was our own little girl, taken of her feet in front of us. What if instead of letting her go that man began to run away from us? Does practicing targets from behind an opponent make more sense now?

The martial arts taught at IEFMA come from individuals and families that no only examined their own experiences, but constantly research and develop our curriculum in real world situations and scenarios. What I have been taught has at one point been done, and been done successfully. So if I teach it, it comes from a relevant context. I am in no way smart enough or experienced enough to design, develop and propagate original material or techniques. In her book “The Philosophical Baby”, Allison Gopnik discusses the concept of counterfactuals, and our human ability to imagine possibilities; alternate realities founded in a long and carefully protected childhood that allows us to use play as a developmental tool. We are given the gifts of reason, of intellect and of imagination, and we are taught in a methodology of Thought Provocation. We are feeders. We use the past, we research our own and others’ experiences and we take that knowledge and expand on it. This is how we use our drills and templates and techniques and learn to grow with them, to evolve through them.

I give you all situations in class, and many of you have already incorporated the practice of imagining scenarios in your own lives at work, at home or even at school. And now, we can take dated technology such as using a flying sidekick to knock someone off of a horse, and apply it to someone trying to abduct your child and run away in front of you. Use your imagination. And keep training.

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The Importance of Roughhousing

•02.10.2012 • Leave a Comment

http://artofmanliness.com/2012/02/07/the-importance-of-roughhousing-with-your-kids/

The Importance of Roughhousing With Your Kids

by BRETT & KATE MCKAY on FEBRUARY 7, 2012 · 76 COMMENTS

in RELATIONSHIPS & FAMILY

Roughhousing. Horseplay. Wrastling. Whatever you call it, it’s one of the best things about being a dad. I love chasing my one-year-old son, Gus, around the house or pretending that the living room is a lucha libre ring and wrestling with him. No matter how stressed out I’m feeling, hearing one of his big, belly laughs erupt as I swing him around like a monkey makes all my cares go away.

Gus-Dad Throwdown

Unfortunately, in recent years, horseplay has gotten a bad rap. Parents, concerned about safety and preventing ADHD, limit the amount of rambunctious play their kids take part in. At least 40% of US school districts have eliminated or are considering eliminating recess, because  teachers need more time to cram kids’ heads full of information for standardized tests, because they’re afraid of children getting hurt and the school being held liable, and even because play can apparently encourage violent behavior; according to a principal that banned recess at her elementary school in Cheyenne, a game of tag “progresses easily into slapping and hitting and pushing instead of just touching.”

But recent research has shown that roughhousing serves an evolutionary purpose and actually provides a myriad of benefits for our progeny.  In their book The Art of Roughhousing, Anthony DeBenedet and Larry Cohen highlight a few of these benefits and the research behind them. Instead of teaching kids to be violent and impulsive, DeBenedet and Cohen boldly claim that roughhousing “makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful.” In short, roughhousing makes your kid awesome.

Below, we highlight six benefits of roughhousing with your children. The next time your wife gets on to you for riling up the kids, you can tell her: “I’m helping our children develop into healthy, functioning adults, dear!”…right before performing a baby suplex on your daughter.

The Benefits of Roughhousing

Roughhousing Boosts Your Kid’s Resilience

Helping your child develop a resilient spirit is one of the best things you can do as a parent. The ability to bounce back from failures and adapt to unpredictable situations will help your kids reach their full potential and live happier lives as adults. And an easy way to help boost your kids’ resilience is to put them in a gentle headlock and give them a noogie.

Roughhousing requires your child to adapt quickly to unpredictable situations. One minute they might be riding you like a horse and the next they could be swinging upside-down. According to evolutionary biologist Marc Bekoff in his book Wild Justice, the unpredictable nature of roughhousing actually rewires a child’s brain by increasing the connections between neurons in the cerebral cortex, which in turn contributes to behavioral flexibility. Learning how to cope with sudden changes while roughhousing trains your kiddos to cope with unexpected bumps in the road when they’re out in the real world.

Additionally, roughhousing helps develop your children’s grit and stick-to-itiveness. You shouldn’t just let your kids “win” every time when you roughhouse with them. Whether they’re trying to escape from your hold or run past you in the hallway, make them work for it. Playtime is a fun and safe place to teach your kids that failure is often just a temporary state and that victory goes to the person who keeps at it and learns from his mistakes.

Roughhousing also helps children learn how to manage and deal with pain and discomfort. You shouldn’t intentionally hurt your kids while roughhousing (obviously), but little bumps and scrapes are bound to happen. Instead of cuddling and kissing a child’s “boo boo,” dads have a tendency to distract their kids from the pain with humor or some other task. Learning to deal with and manage minor discomforts while roughhousing can help your child handle the stresses they’ll encounter at school and work.

Roughhousing Makes Your Kid Smarter

Image by ctsnow

Go ahead. Toss your kid like a sack of potatoes onto your bed. It will help turn him into a Toddler Einstein.

Psychologist Anthony Pellegrini has found that the amount of roughhousing children engage in predicts their achievement in first grade better than their kindergarten test scores do. What is it about rough and tumble play that makes kids smarter? Well, a couple things.

First, as we discussed above, roughhousing makes your kid more resilient and resilience is a key in developing children’s intelligence. Resilient kids tend to see failure more as a challenge to overcome rather than an event that defines them.  This sort of intellectual resilience helps ensure your children bounce back from bad grades and gives them the grit to keep trying until they’ve mastered a topic.

In addition to making students more resilient, roughhousing actually rewires the brain for learning. Neuroscientists studying animal and human brains have found that bouts of rough-and-tumble play increase the brain’s level of a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF helps increase neuron growth in the parts of the brain responsible for memory, logic, and higher learning–skills necessary for academic success.

Roughhousing Builds Social Intelligence

I’ve talked to several parents, especially moms, who are afraid to encourage roughhousing because they think it will turn their kids into little bouncing-off-the-walls hellians who will someday wind up in a juvie center. I guess I can see the reasoning behind their concerns–five-year-old play fights with dad; five-year-old thinks violence is fun; five year old turns into violent sadist bent on human destruction.

The problem is that research actually shows the opposite outcome: children who engage in frequent roughhousing are almost always more socially and emotionally adept than kids who don’t. Dr. Stuart Brown, an expert on play (Yeah, you can be an expert on play. Who knew?) says that the “lack of experience with rough-and-tumble play hampers the normal give-and-take necessary for social mastery and has been linked with poor control of violent impulses later in life.” That’s right. Wrestling your kid around in a play fight ensures that he doesn’t turn into the next Ted Bundy. Keeping him away from the neighborhood cats helps too.

Roughhousing builds social intelligence in several ways. First, when kids roughhouse they learn to tell the difference between play and actual aggression. Dr. Pellegrini found in a survey among school-aged children that the ones who could tell the difference between play and real aggression were more well-liked compared to kids who had a hard time separating the two. The kids who mistook play for aggression often ended up returning their classmates good-natured overtures with a real punch in the kisser. The ability to differentiate between play and aggression translates into other social skills that require people to read and interpret social cues.

Roughhousing also teaches children about taking turns and cooperation. You might not recognize it, but when you horse around with your kids, you’re often taking part in a give-and-take negotiation where the goal is to make sure everyone has fun.  Sometimes you’re the chaser and sometimes you’re the chasee; sometimes you’re pinning down your kids and other times they’re pinning you down. Your kids wouldn’t want to keep playing if they were constantly on the losing side.  Everyone has to take turns in order for the fun to continue.

What’s interesting is that animals even take part in this back-and-forth role reversal. Adult wolves will expose their bellies and necks to their cubs and let them “win” the play fight. Stronger rats will handicap themselves during bouts of play and let the weaker rat win so play can continue. Marc Bekoff posits that roughhousing may be nature’s way of teaching cooperation to animals, a necessary skill for the survival of a species.

Roughhousing Teaches Your Kid Morality

We all want kids who end up like Atticus Finch–moral, upright, compassionate. That’s exactly why you need to body slam your kid every now and then.

When we roughhouse with our sons and daughters, they learn boundaries and the difference between right and wrong. If they start hitting hard, aiming below the belt, or becoming malicious, you can reprimand them and then show by example what’s appropriate roughhousing behavior.

Also, roughhousing teaches our children about the appropriate use of strength and power. As I mentioned earlier, when we roughhouse with our kids, we often take turns with the dominant role. Because we’re so much bigger and stronger, we have to handicap ourselves. The implicit message to your child when you hold back is: “Winning isn’t everything. You don’t need to dominate all the time. There’s strength in showing compassion on those weaker than you.”

Roughhousing Gets Your Kid Physically Active

Dads have a profound impact on their children’s physical fitness. Studies have shown that the father’s, (not the mother’s), activity level and weight strongly predict what their children’s activity level and weight will be as adults. If you want your kids to be healthy, active, and fit, then you better be healthy, active, and fit yourself.

What better way to teach your kids to live an active lifestyle than by getting down on the carpet with them for some vigorous roughhousing instead of everyone vegging out in front of the TV? All that running, tumbling, and tackling helps develop strength, flexibility, and coordination in your child.

Roughhousing Builds the Father-Child Bond

Some of my best memories of my childhood were when my dad roughhoused with my brother and I. When we were smaller he’d do the obligatory “ride the horsey.” When we got a little bigger we moved to slap fighting, which consisted of my dad dramatically swirling his hands in front of him like you see fighters do in the old kung fu movies and then very lightly smacking our heads with quick open-handed jabs. Slap fights were the best.

You probably have similar memories of roughhousing with your dad. Roughhousing offers dads a chance to physically show their affection to their kids in a fun and playful environment. When Gus and I wrestle, there are lots of hugs and kisses scattered in-between pretend sleeper holds.

When you throw your kids up in the air and catch them or swing them upside-down, you’re building your child’s trust in you. As they take part in somewhat risky activities with you, your kids learn that they can trust you to keep them safe. Just don’t be like this guy when you tell your kids to jump into your arms:

How to Roughhouse With Your Kids

The beauty of roughhousing is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Roughhousing is just spontaneous, improvised play that’s both rowdy and interactive. Don’t think too much about whether you’re doing it wrong or right. Just have fun.

With that said, the The Art of Roughhousing provides a few guidelines to keep in mind while you’re tossing your kids in the air:

Safety first. While you want to get rough and rowdy with your kids, you don’t want to get too crazy with them. Just be aware of your surroundings and keep your kids away from areas where they can get hurt. Also, keep in mind that a child’s joints are prone to injury when roughhousing. Save the joint locks for when your kids are older and fully developed.

Don’t roughhouse right before bed. For me, I have a tendency to want to horse around with Gus right before bed. I’m going to miss the little guy while he’s asleep, so I want to get in as much daddy time as I can before he hits the hay. But just like adults, kids need some time right before bed to relax and ramp things down so they can get into sleep mode. Unless you want a little night owl joining you on the couch to watch late-night TV, roughhouse earlier in the day.

Roughhousing is for girls, too.  While boys are naturally prone to engage in roughhousing, make sure you don’t leave your daughters out of the fun. Studies show that girls who roughhouse with their fathers are more confident than girls who don’t. And some studies even indicate that roughhousing can prevent your little angel from growing up into one of those Queen Bee, Mean Girls that psychologically terrorize other girls.

If you’re looking for specific things to do with your kids while roughhousing, I definitely recommend picking up a copy of The Art of Roughhousing. The book features some great suggestions for roughhousing fun, along with helpful illustrations showing you how to do them. Also, you can visit their website for roughhousing ideas, too.

Sources:

The Art of Roughhousing by Anthony DeBenedet and Lawrence J. Cohen
Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals by Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce
The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland

Quotes of the Day

•02.03.2012 • Leave a Comment

I couldn’t decide, so now there are three.

“I try to catch him right on the tip of the nose, because I try to push the bone into the brain.”

“How dare these boxers challenge me with their primitive skills? It makes me angry. They’re just as good as dead.”

“My power is discombobulatingly devastating I could feel is muscle tissues collapse under my force. It’s ludicrous these mortals even attempt to enter my realm.”

– Mike Tyson

Iron Mike was king when I was growing up.

Quote of the Day

•02.02.2012 • Leave a Comment

Several years ago, Guro Travis Downing shared this piece from Greg Glassman to Crossfit Trainers.  It has been on my mind recently so I asked him for the reference.  I thought it was fitting given my recent post on “Work”, and an important reminder to us all.  Thanks again Guro.

Fundamentals, Virtuosity, and Mastery
An Open Letter to CrossFit Trainers
CrossFit Journal August 2005
Greg Glassman

In gymnastics, completing a routine without error will not get you a perfect score, the 10.0—only a 9.7. To get the last three tenths of a point, you must demonstrate “risk, originality, and virtuosity” as well as make no mistakes in execution of the routine.

Risk is simply executing a movement that is likely to be missed or botched; originality is a movement or combination of movements unique to the athlete—a move or sequence not seen before. Understandably, novice gymnasts love to demonstrate risk and originality, for both are dramatic, fun, and awe inspiring— especially among the athletes themselves, although audiences are less likely to be aware when either is demonstrated.

Virtuosity, though, is a different beast altogether. Virtuosity is defined in gymnastics as “performing the common uncommonly well.” Unlike risk and originality, virtuosity is elusive, supremely elusive. It is, however, readilyrecognized by audience as well as coach and athlete. But more importantly, more to my point, virtuosity is more than the requirement for that last tenth of a point; it is always the mark of true mastery (and of genius and beauty).

There is a compelling tendency among novices developing any skill or art, whether learning to play the violin, write poetry, or compete in gymnastics, to quickly move past the fundamentals and on to more elaborate, more sophisticated movements, skills, or techniques. This compulsion is the novice’s curse—the rush to originality and risk.

The novice’s curse is manifested as excessive adornment, silly creativity, weak fundamentals and, ultimately, a marked lack of virtuosity and delayed mastery. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to be taught by the very best in any field you’ve likely been surprised at how simple, how fundamental, how basic the instruction was. The novice’s curse afflicts learner and teacher alike. Physical training is no different.

What will inevitably doom a physical training program and dilute a coach’s efficacy is a lack of commitment to fundamentals. We see this increasingly in both programming and supervising execution. Rarely now do we see prescribed the short, intense couplets or triplets that epitomize CrossFit programming. Rarely do trainers really nitpick the mechanics of fundamental movements.

I understand how this occurs. It is natural to want to teach people advanced and fancy movements. The urge to quickly move away from the basics and toward advanced movements arises out of the natural desire to entertain your client and impress him with your skills and knowledge. But make no mistake: it is a sucker’s move. Teaching a snatch where there is not yet an overhead squat,
teaching an overhead squat where there is not yet an air squat, is a colossal mistake. This rush to advancement increases the chance of injury, delays advancement and progress, and blunts the client’s rate of return on his efforts. In short, it retards his fitness.

If you insist on basics, really insist on them, your clients will immediately recognize that you are a master trainer. They will not be bored; they will be awed. I promise this. They will quickly come to recognize the potency of fundamentals. They will also advance in every measurable way past those not blessed to have a teacher so grounded and committed to basics.

Training will improve, clients will advance faster, and you will appear more experienced and professional and garner more respect, if you simply recommit to the basics.

There is plenty of time within an hour session to warm up, practice a basic movement or skill or pursue a new PR or max lift, discuss and critique the athletes’ efforts, and then pound out a tight little couplet or triplet utilizing these skills or just play. Play is important. Tire flipping, basketball, relay races, tag, Hooverball, and the like are essential to good programming, but they are seasoning—like salt, pepper, and oregano. They are not main courses.

CrossFit trainers have the tools to be the best trainers on earth. I really believe that. But good enough never is, and we want that last tenth of a point, the whole 10.0. We want virtuosity!!

Work

•02.01.2012 • Leave a Comment

Recently ITS Tactical ran an article on their website (originally published on The Art of Manliness, see below) called “The Hard Way”.  Soon after I saw a picture circulating on Facebook of a young Manny Pacquiao putting in his work as a teenager, long before becoming the accomplished boxer he is today.  They were great reminders that despite the recent phenomena of overnight successes and instant notoriety due to the internet and social networks such as Facebook, truly great contributors to our society and culture do so only after incredible amounts of blood, sweat and tears.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers: The Story of Success”, he uses several contemporary icons like Steve Jobs and The Beatles to illustrate the point that in addition to tremendous talent they also logged hundreds of thousands of hours honing and perfecting their craft.  Even the great Muhammad Ali has been credited as saying:

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

There can be a lot of “magic” in martial arts.  Audiences are amazed at flashy movements, students are awed by effective techniques.  The truth however lies in the fact that if you want to be good at something, you actually have to do it.  A lot.  Guro Travis Downing gave me two of my favorite quotes (actually several more), the first being today’s Quote of the Day and the second from what he heard from Guro Inosanto.  He said,

“Repetition is the mother of skill.”

In the Filipino Martial Arts it is easy to be swayed and then rely on various series of techniques, especially when augmented with a force multiplier such as a stick or knife.  And I may contribute to that, in that I teach in concepts just as I have been trained.  But understanding a concept and applying it in real time, under stress and in a continuum of progressive resistance is something that can only occur through time and effort.  We have faculties built into our training to distract us from rote repetition, and they occur in the form of drills, partnered as well as solo, and the ability to cycle patterns into infinite loops.

“I’ve been laying, waiting for your next mistake.  I put in work, and watch my status escalate.” – Gang Starr, “Work”

There is a speaker by the name of Eric Thomas who has a great video speech online.  He talks about a time when a journalist was following 50 Cent around on the set of a movie.  After an exhausting day’s work he still put in time to work on the soundtrack.  When he was asked the generic “when do you sleep” question, he said “I don’t sleep. Sleep is for those people who are broke. I have an opportunity to make a dream become a reality. I don’t need sleep.”

Two of the greatest rappers of our time, The Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur also put in incredible amounts of time.  Biggie was known to be an incredible freestyler, and in fact it was hearing him freestyle that made Sean Combs a believer (he said that when Biggie rapped, it sounded like he was singing).  Under Suge Knight, Tupac was worked like a horse, so much so that more albums were released posthumously than when he was alive.  These men became great not only for their talent, but for the skill that their hours developed.

So put in your time on the mat.  Get your partner and rep out your drills.  Do whatever it is that you do, and whatever you want to get better at, then do it a lot.  The closer your training is to what you want to achieve, the better you will be at that particular skill.  Supplement your training with attributes and knowledge outside of that specific realm, but keep your end goal in mind.  See you in class.

“Know your template.  Everything after that is just an obstruction.” – Guro Travis Downing

The Hard Way

by ITS GUEST CONTRIBUTOR on JANUARY 27, 2012

Editor-in-Chief’s note: This post was written by Schaefer and originally ran on The Art of Manliness.

“The essential thing “in heaven and earth” is…that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.” – Friedrich Nietzche, Beyond Good and Evil

In 1989, Wyoming-native Mark Jenkins set out with three Americans and four Russians to become the first to bicycle all the way across Siberia, starting at the Pacific port town of Vladivostok and ending 7,500 miles later in Leningrad. Battling mud, wind, injuries, and sub-zero temperatures, the 5-month journey took them through hundreds of villages, an 800-mile swamp, the Ural mountains, and a culture permanently hardened by the savage taskmaster of communism.The trip planted the team in the Guinness Book of World Records, but what made it remarkable was not that it was long, but that it was hard – brutally, numbingly, painfully… hard.The Hard Way

We don’t come across that word too often when discussing heroes or success. Everything we long for is easy and instant. Without a shortcut to the end we often conclude that the journey isn’t worth the time and effort. We want everything neatly packaged and ready for immediate consumption – our food, our friends, even our faith. Our lives have come to resemble those of tourists, wanting the experience, but not wanting to stay long enough to risk experiencing the realities that come with permanence and commitment. In fact, “hard” has become more of a scarlet letter rather than a badge of honor. Let’s face it, the idea of spending years busting your butt at the same job or pursuing the same goal has become downright antiquated, a fool’s game.Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Carnegie are finding their stories of long persistence quickly displaced by those of the flash-in-the-pan celebrity tabloid genre. Teenage phenoms, reality “stars,” 20-something internet billionaires, and people for whom success and its spoils came swift and early are the new cultural heroes and idols. With each new fresh-faced superstar, the idea of success as a secret formula to be unlocked rather than something to be worked for is slowly cemented into our brains.“He or she is naturally-gifted,” we proclaim, inwardly hoping that we too can find our own hidden talent or skill to make us famous, rich, or at least…noticed. The books and seminars that sell out most quickly are those that promise the easiest steps to a better life – the secrets that have been known for ages by the rich and famous, but somehow managed to escape your radar until this very moment.This “easy” epidemic has reached every aspect of our culture from health to education to relationships. People don’t want to workout and eat healthy because it’s hard. No problem, according to the creators of 1,000 different diets promising a great body with little to no effort. As for expanding one’s knowledge, why waste time reading a whole book when you can get the gist from the Cliff Notes? And relationships? Well, working through marriages can be difficult, so “experts” have stepped in to hand you a Kleenex and pat your back as they tell you, “You deserve to be with someone who adores you for you, don’t feel bad about ending things and moving on to someone new who will better meet your needs.”Avoiding What’s Hard

At some point it has become acceptable to avoid things because they’re hard. Success has become some sort of self-help scavenger hunt with all of us desperately wanting to find an easier way than just grinding it out, a magic solution to life’s equation waiting to be uncovered.We cut corners and call it “optimizing.” We take the path of least resistance and dress up our cowardice in the guise of efficiency. And in doing so, we’re killing ourselves, one life-hack at a time.There’s nothing wrong with working smarter or making things more simple. There’s no reason to make something harder than it has to be. And I’m not suggesting we go back to plowing fields by hand or walking uphill both ways to work. The problem is that many of us have begun to think that if something is hard, it is automatically wrong and must be changed or substituted immediately. In the process we often fail to reach our real goals, substituting in ones that are more “realistic.” And more importantly, we rob our character of some much needed pruning. We’re missing out on a fundamental truth of manhood – doing things that are hard molds boys into men of strength and character.In the recent blockbuster smash 300, audiences and critics were shell-shocked by the ripped and chiseled bodies of the actors and stuntmen involved. How did they get so jacked? Surely they were Hollywood-ized, right? Wrong, says Mark Twight, the man behind the regime that molded these actors and stunt men into Spartan warriors. Writing to the critics he responded curtly:

“It appears everyone has an opinion about ’300′ and how the actors and stunt crew achieved the level of fitness and consequentially, appearance for the movie. I have read that it was all CGI, make-up, steroids, etc. However, no one has come right out and said, ‘those guys worked really hard and had the self-discipline to control what they put into their mouths.’”

In short, these guys got their stuff handed to them 10-12 hours a day, five days a week for four months. It wasn’t pretty and they didn’t get the usual, “Way to go buddy!” or “‘Atta boy!” after each set. Instead they were called losers and mocked for being fat. Not the kind of positive, feel-good, self-congratulation you would find most life-coach gurus promoting. It was brutal, it wasn’t fun, but it worked. It was hard, hellishly hard. Lead actor Gerard Butler summed up the experience saying, “Pretty much anything Mark Twight offered up was so difficult in the kind of way where you wish you had never been born – and even more than that, wished he had never been born.”Absolutely nothing replaces hard work. No shortcuts, no 5-steps to success, no secrets. This may come either as a blessing or a curse depending on how one looks at it. But, what makes the hard way so important for men is not just the end result, but the character built along the way.Carpe Diem

It may sound cliche, but the journey we take often matters much more than the destination. How we live our lives each hour, each day determines the type of men we will be in ten years. Knowing this, we should construct our lives to embrace difficult challenges which will mold our character into one of discipline and perseverance. In doing hard things on a daily basis we’re constantly training ourselves so that on other days, in other situations, we can remain solid.The hard way may be scoffed at as old-fashioned, but it produces integrity and strength far more meaningful and concrete than any gold star along the way. This method of living produces men who remain faithful to their wives and children, decade after decade. Men who refuse to sacrifice their integrity for short-term results or gain. Men who at the end of the day are fulfilled with the fruit of their labor. Men who finish a marathon rather than simply starting a million sprints.If we can develop in ourselves a certain zeal for the hard things in life we will reap the benefits for years to come. Not only victories won along the way and character developed, but a fulfilled life at the end of the day. As legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once put it:

“But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: The Art of Manliness is a fantastic Website dedicated to uncovering the lost art of being a man. It features articles on helping men be better husbands, better fathers, and better men. Check them out and be sure to subscribe! Since ITS and AoM admire each other’s work, we’ve agreed to swap one article each month to share with our respective readers.

Sayoc Combat Choreography

•01.27.2012 • 1 Comment

Sayoc Combat Choreography (SCC) is the entertainment branch of the Sayoc Global organization. Spearheaded by Tuhon Rafael Kayanan, SCC has produced captivating and frighteningly realistic combative scenes with some of the biggest names in the motion picture and television industry. Guro Dan Inosanto has said that what works in real life doesn’t always look the best in movies, and what looks great in movies doesn’t always work in reality. SCC has demonstrated that with thought and application, the technology of Sayoc Kali can in fact be represented in a way that honors the deadly effectiveness of the system, while still entertaining the most critical and untrained viewers.

Recently Tuhon Rafael Kayanan and Guro Brian Calaustro worked with music and movie star LL Cool J and the cast of NCIS: LA. Stay tuned for information as to when their work will air!

From the Sayoc Combat Choreography website:

Amongst other fighting disciplines, Rafael is a Master Level Instructor in Sayoc Kali. He has competed and won both full contact stick fighting matches as well as forms competitions. Rafael has also choreographed hundreds of live demos and stage events that feature the martial arts all over the country. Historical sword play, staff and exotic weaponry are part of his studies.

Rafael is the Tomahawk and Edged Weapons Instructor for the Sayoc Tactical Team.

Another of Rafael’s talents is in art, having professionally illustrated and developed concept designs for every major comic book and gaming company the past twenty years. Titles he has worked on include CONAN, STAR WARS, MAGIC THE GATHERING, and BATMAN. His designs for TUROK helped it launch as the highest selling video game of that year. Kayanan supplied the HUNTED with fight story boards that combined his visual and martial arts expertise. Kayanan also devised several innovative visual aids which assisted several departments on the set to cohesively follow the progression of the groundbreaking choreography in the film.

Rafael has also contributed visual concept art on the following licenses and clients: LORD OF THE RINGS, ESPN, FISHER PRICE, R.A. SALVATORE’s THE DARK ELF SERIES, SPIDER-MAN Musical, Tarsem’s IMMORTALS, DARK HORSE, MARVEL, DC COMICS, VERTIGO and the Opening Ceremony of the BEIJING SUMMER OLYMPICS 2008.

Critical Commentary on Sayoc Combat Choreography for the HUNTED:

Harry Knowles, AICN.

“…It is far more intense than I think you may be expecting,though not so much in a gory fashion, but in a kinetic way brought on by brutal editing and sound mixing. And yes, a knife is shown to be as brutal as a knife could ever be. 

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times

“They both know the techniques of hand-to-hand combat, but in real life, it isn’t scripted, and you know what? It isn’t so easy. We are involved in the immediate, exhausting, draining physical work of fighting… physical action of a high order.“

Walter Chaw, Film Freak Central

The strength of the picture is in the rude, blunt physicality of its fight sequences (particularly its final
showdown that should endure as one of the bloodiest onscreen knife fights in history)

Tom Long, Detroit News

“… beyond the usual Hollywood fare. Ignoring the old-school John Wayne roundhouse punch approach
as well as the new high-kicking martial arts dances, Del Toro and Jones attack each other with a cascade of fast slaps and jabs that look frighteningly real.”

Vic Vogler, Denver Post

“… quick, balletic, authentic. There is nothing celebratory or gratuitous in the men’s violence. It is, in fact, an homage to the animals each reveres and protects in his own way.”

Bruce Westbrook, Houston Chronicle

“…masterfully choreographed if excruciating close-quarter bouts”

David Edelstein, MSN

I’ve seen a lot of fighting in movies in the last few years, but this seemed likethe first real fighting in ages.

Chuck Rudolph, Slant Magazine

“… achieve an incendiary artlessness of movement and ferocity that is infrequently seen in over-the-top, patently stagy movie combat.”

Sean O’Connell, Eclipse Magazine

“In an era of wire battles and CGI combat, it’s strangely refreshing to see two dudes bare-knuckle their way through the back-alley bar brawls that “Hunted” features.”

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

“Choreographed in the distinctive Sayoc Kali style, the up-close-and-personal combat scenes are much more convincing than anything in Steven Seagal’s entire oeuvre.”

About Guro Brian Calaustro and Tribal Tactics:

Tribal Tactics head instructor is Guro Brian Calaustro.  He has over 20 years experience studying and training in the martial arts. His most extensive training is as a student of Pamana Tuhon Chris Sayoc in his family art of Sayoc Kali. Guro Brian began his training in this art in 1993 and never looked back.  Guro Brian was an original member of the first training group ever of Sayoc Kali, established in 1994 in Rockland, NY and in Pleasantville, NY. Guro Brian also had the privilege to go under the intensive tutelage of Tatang Baltazar Sayoc in the Sayoc Finger Touch system and is one of the few certified to teach Tatang Bo’s system.  Without a doubt, Pamana Tuhon Chris  and the Sayoc family is the biggest influence in his training.

Guro Brian has also had the privilege to train with Tuhon Allain and Tuhon Carl of  Atienza Kali.  He considers himself fortunate to be able to train with the Atienza family.  Their training methodologies and tactics make them truly one of the unique and most effective (battle-tested) arts around.

In addition to these arts Guro Brian has also trained in various other arts including Karate, Sambo, Silat and Chinese Shuai Jiao.

Tuhon Tom on Readiness

•01.25.2012 • Leave a Comment