Find your wins, big or small, and dwell on them

Several years ago, I went to an Anthony Robbins seminar and walked across a bed of hot coals that was glowing with the heat of 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tony had spent most of the night telling us how hot the coals were, how tough it should be to get ourselves to walk across them, how scared we should be, how hurt we could get, etc. He told us that he was trying to get us all to believe that we couldn’t do it.

And the reason he spent so much time trying to plant all that doubt in us is so that after we did it, we could look back on it for the rest of our lives as something that we overcame when we didn’t think we could.

There have been other things in my life that were no where near as scary or hard to believe.

Like the time I went to the store with our vacuum cleaner that we had accidentally rolled over some fishing line with.

The fishing line burned through the roller brush and ruined the vacuum.

The store we got it from had a pretty good warranty, so I took it back to them just to see if there was any chance they might be able to do something (but believing that they were just going to tell me it was our fault and we were out of luck).

Well, to my surprise, they not only gave me a brand new vacuum, but since that model was no longer sold there, we got the newer model instead. No further cost to me. Wow. Score!

So whenever I start to doubt or fear, I really just need to remember a time when I won. Big win, small win, whatever. We can almost always find a way to believe we can win again if we just look at our past and remember all the times we win.

Because big or small, they all count as wins and they all show us what’s possible if we believe – even just barely enough to try in spite of our doubt.

The power of practicing what might happen

Expect the expected.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “expect the unexpected”.

Well, to be a better prepared martial artist, learn to expect the expected.

One of the best things you can do to be prepared for the unexpected is to think about what could possibly happen and then practice what to say and what to do.

So what may be unexpected to most people is now expected to you. And your reaction is not only not a surprise to you, it’s precise and well executed. Because you’ve anticipated it and practiced it.

In Daniel Coyle’s The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills, it points out this concept:

When U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 mounted its May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, it prepared by constructing full-scale replicas of the compound in North Carolina and Nevada, and rehearsing for three weeks. Dozens of times the SEALs simulated the operation. Dozens of times, they created various conditions they might encounter.

There are actually a limited number of things that will probably happen to you in life. And based on the environment, the people, and the situation, you can usually come up with a few things that are most likely to happen.

So spend some time each week (or each day, if you’re serious about improving yourself) and imagine scenarios. Think about what could happen and see and hear your response. Practice it. Perfect it.

You can get to the point where almost nothing is a surprise.

Like Sun Tsu said “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

Or Seneca. “Nothing happens to the wise man against his expectations.”

Deflect, Trap, and Throw

Last night we practiced a defense against a punch that uses a move we haven’t done before.

First, we did one that was simple and more familiar.

When they punch with the right hand, we do an inside push block with our left hand as we are stepping forward with our left foot. Then we deliver an elbow to their face or chest.


The second one we did was more dynamic and has more potential to end the fight.

This time, as they punch, we block with our left and guide their arm under our right arm as we step forward with the left foot and hook our right arm under their right arm.

We pull them in tight and move our hips around so we are facing the same direction as them. We pull them down over our back, stick our hips under theirs, and pull them over our right side.

The throw happens from the twisting of our shoulders and the pop of our hip.

Your practice partner will need to do a good break fall. This is a good throw.

The counter is to move back, lower your hips, or just generally keep distance between you and the person trying to throw you.

That’s it. Hopefully no one is too sore this morning from being thrown.

See you next week.

Crowe Sah bu nim

If you want them to move, move them

Last night, we practiced getting ourselves into a balanced state while defending against and attack.

The two main thoughts or objectives during this exercise were getting and keeping our own balance while the attacker was trying to take ours, and taking their balance while they were trying to keep their own.

This was mostly a feeling exercise. There was less specific technique being practiced and more getting to know body mechanics, movement, and the dynamic nature of a physical confrontation.

Here are some of the things we talked about in the class.

Maintain a solid stance. Even as you move around, you should transition from one solid stance to another, never giving up your balance to try to take theirs.

Pay attention to the other person as you get and then keep their balance. You’ll be able to feel your control over their balance. Stay aware of their subtle movements and react with the smallest corrections so you use as little energy as possible and counter any attempts to take control before they go anywhere.

Two key factors in controlling the balance are low center of gravity (your hips have to be lower than theirs), and getting rid of the space between you (wear them like a coat).

If they ever offer you their back, take it. Offer them a full nelson in return.

In Hapkido, we make use of the energy already in play. If they try to come around the front of us as we’re trying to get in a throwing position, and they succeed in coming around the front of us, keep them moving until we are around the back again and apply a full nelson.

Conserve your energy and make them use energy. Once they are tired, strength and speed are less of a factor and good technique can win the moment.

Become one unit and control the balance of both people.

This was a great class. We had a lot of fun and got some really good experience of learning to feel the other person.

Next week, more awesome training. See you there.

Block, figure four choke, takedown

Last night in class, we practiced a new technique.

The is a standing defense for a punch. They punch with the left hand and we do a quick outward block with our right hand.

Our right hand then goes quickly to the outside of their left arm as we step in and slide their arm to the top of our shoulder. Our right arm circles around over the top of their left shoulder and comes up under their chin.

Our left arm comes up to the side of the opponent’s neck and our right hand grabs our left wrist completing the choke. This is a very effective choke.

Rather than stop there, though, we step in with our right foot and use our hips and shoulders to throw them to the ground, letting go as we get to a deep horse stance.

From the other person’s perspective, we practiced the counter for this.

As soon as they come up to our neck, we reach up and grab their hand to take the pressure off our neck. We then move toward them and drop our hips so we control our center of gravity.

This should neutralize their move.

If you can’t get your hand up and your hips in fast enough and they get the throw, we then palm the back of their neck or grab the collar of their shirt and pull them in on top of us as we go down.

We’ll build more on this next week.

Enjoy your practice until then.

Crowe Sah bu nim


Ground Choke Defense

Last night, we went to the next step of the previous scenario, which was the circle, block, takedown.

This time, we took the role of the guy on the ground being choked.

So we got taken down to the ground and got our arm free from the figure four and our opponent then goes inside our collar to put a choke on us.

The first move we make is to place our hands on their elbows and push down toward our legs. This takes some of the pressure off our neck. Since they are focusing their energy toward our neck, they are not as able to defend against our force which is going 90 degrees to to the side of their force.

Now we move our hands in, pushing with our forearms as we cross our hands and trap their arms to our chest. This releases (or at least eases) their grip on our neck and makes the two of us one unit.

We take our arm that is on top  and slide it up to the side of their head that is opposite the side of the arm we use. Our other arm continues to pin both of their arms to our chest.

We lift our hips using our leg that is on the same side as the side of their head our hand is on and thrust them off of us as we push their head.

We hang on and ride the momentum of our throw so that we end up on top of them with one arm still pinning both their arms and our other arm pinning their leg, and cocked, ready to punch.

We end up in the guard position with the option of then passing the guard and ending up in a mount position.

We also talked a bit about what to do in different scenarios outside the norm, like defending against someone bigger and stronger.

That’s all for now.

See you next week.

-Crowe Sah Bu Nim

Skateboard Balance

Raise your hand if you’ve ever lost your balance and fallen on your face at work? Me too.

During the day, I’m a T-SQL programmer. I work at a standing desk. To make use of all this time standing, there’s one thing I do to work on my balance. I stand on a skateboard.

I also listen to music and move around while trying to balance and type at the same time (while trying to solve complex coding problems in my head).

It’s one of the best things I’ve tried for improving my balance. Especially my unconscious balance. By doing other things that require my main focus, it forces me to learn balance deeper – on a level that I won’t have to think about during times I really need it.

To step it up a bit, I do things like eat and drink on the skateboard. Now, I’m still right in front of my desk while doing all these things, not rolling down the street (or hallway). But it’s a huge challenge.

Try it. Try standing on a skateboard while drinking. You tilt your head back and adjust to the balance shift while you make sure you don’t spill all over the front of your shirt. Now, as you finish that sip and tilt your head forward again, you have to not fall off the front of the board.

It sounds easy, right? Try it. I think you’ll see the benefits.

And, it’s actually really fun.

Circle, Block, Takedown

In last night’s class, we practiced a series of moves in response to a punch attack. Here’s the breakdown of the moves.

The attacker punches with their right hand and we step forward and to our left while using our right arm for an outward block circling around to a trap (dorio).

Our left hand follows closely after our right arm and circles around their right shoulder ending up with out left knife-hand under their chin (makhu).

With their right arm securely pinned under ours, and our hand under their chin, we step back and turn our torso to our left, pushing up and around on their chin to take them to the ground on our left side. We hang on to their right arm.

Now, with them on their back and us in a solid kneeling stance, we put their right arm in a figure four. If they struggle or try to hit us with their left arm, we pull up on their right arm to control them.

From here, we practiced letting them out of the figure four so we can practice what to do if they get out of it.

Once we let go and they start punching or grabbing us, we take our right hand and place it palm up inside the right collar of their do bok, blocking their hands as we go.

We slide our left hand palm up inside the left collar of their do bok. With our hands crossed, we slide our hands back till our fingers reach the ground behind them. We now grab the do bok tightly with both hands and pull our hands apart while we apply downward pressure. This should create a firm strangle.

Next week, we’ll go over what to do if we are the person who initiated the first grab and are now on our back being strangled. See you then.

-Crowe Sah Bu Nim

Your life should be a never ending quest to become better

I read something today that I disagree with. It was one of the items on a blog listing a bunch of great ideas on how to create a fitness lifestyle.

The ideas were all good and pretty helpful. But I didn’t like the way one of them was worded.

It said “accept yourself as you are”. Hmmm. OK. I want to change that just a bit. Slight change, but I think I think it’s an immensely important one.

Love yourself as you are.

I don’t think that accepting yourself as you are will bring happiness.

It sounds like your settling for your current self because you think you can’t get or don’t deserve better.

Well, you can and you do.

You deserve to be happy in this life. You deserve to be the best you that you can be. You don’t have to compare yourself to anyone else or live by anyone else’s ideas of what you should achieve.

But you definitely should compare yourself everyday to yourself. To where you are and where you want to be.

Life is about growth. We are here to become better.

Absolutely you need to love yourself and believe in yourself. But don’t ever think that you can’t be better.

Thinking about what you could be if you put in the effort should not bring you a sense of shame or guilt. It should bring excitement.

So love who you are now, and get to work becoming even better every day.

Focus on your path to get past distractions and reach your goal

Sometimes the Path to Your Goals is Unclear

My neighbor’s sprinklers get secondary water all over my car’s windshield. That means that when I’m driving to work in the morning with the sun just coming up over the mountains, there’s a glare that makes it difficult to see. And my washer fluid does almost nothing to clear it up.

The usual instinct when driving under these conditions is to focus even harder on looking at the road through the glare on the windshield.
What I do instead is change my focus to something that’s more effective – the lines on the road.


The road to your goals has a guide to keep you on the path

Find Something to Focus On

By focusing on the lines, I make sure I stay right on my intended path, without having to deal with all the distractions through the clouded view and glare. I still see what’s going on ahead with the fact that my field of view takes it all in, but my focus is no longer on several indiscriminate things, but one definite thing.


This is just like practicing martial arts. There are always distractions – and there should always be one goal, or one intent. If you focus on everything going on around you instead of your one intent, you’ll work too hard on the wrong things, and you may be defeated.

Life in general is the same

With any goal in life, you need to figure out your true intended path. What is your one goal in the moment.


Focus on that. Keep track of the surroundings, but focus on the specific thing or things that will definitely take you where you want to go.


Focusing on your true intent will bring you right to your true goal.