Sunday, November 29, 2015

Nippon

 

Well, I'm back in Japan! I just came off from a week and a half RGI stint in New Jersey that, due to bad weather in Chicago resulted in an airport stay-over, turning my 4 hour flight into a 26 1/2 hour airport extravaganza. Fast forward to Friday, (5 Days Later) and I'm wheels up for Japan. It's no wonder that I'm going at things a bit raw to begin with regarding travel. Not that I'm bitching mind you (well, ok you caught me, I am whining a bit... sorry.).

I'm am so fortunate to be able to do what I do! I just am looking forward to the time where we can be beamed places instantaneously, rather than spending hours or in some cases days getting to our destination! I can just hear the voices of days long ago screaming in harmony, "Cry me a river you big baby! Do you even have a clue what we went through to travel to places? Try being on a crappy, disease ridden, cramped, leaky boat for 6 months w/no guarantee that you were even going to survive the journey to your destination! ...and you're complaining about traveling half way around the world in hours not months in a comfortable cabin with cushioned seat, meals, adult beverages and a book!? Really?! Are you friggin' kidding me?! No symphony here mate!"

Yeah... I get it, life's good!

Anyway, transit here was a bit long, but I'm good to go. I hooked up w/some Buyu friends, we're grabbing breakfast in a few hours, then it's off to the Hombu to train.

More later.

~Craig

Monday, November 23, 2015

In Search of the Heroic




Thanks to a snow storm in Chicago that turned my 4 hour flight into a 26 hour airport marathon, I'm a bit disoriented from my journey home from New Jersey. We've (www.rgi.co) been working with the Camden County Police Department since April of this year and this last crew was the largest group to go through the course yet. A bunch of tough hard charging young officers and a handful of veteran cops as well. It was great seeing all of the Camden mentors again. You all did a fantastic job helping out! We couldn't have done it without you folks.

I always get  back from these training's a little wiped out emotionally and physically, but so inspired! Reconnecting with my RGI compadres', working side by side w/the new Camden mentors and of course training the officers going through the course is an honor, a way for me to not only give back, but to learn as well. An all around fulfilling experience that helps me to reactivate, sustain and Keep Going!

Working with these officers reminded me of a passage in James Owens book Cowboy Ethics.


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If ever we have needed heroes, we need them now. I'm not talking about comic-book warriors with superhuman powers, or the magazine-cover denizens who flaunt their celebrity and wealth, we've got a surfeit of those. What's in short supply are authentic, real-life heroes who remind us of our potential to be heroic ourselves.

We may be living a so-called ordinary life. Yet even as we move through the rhythms of our daily tasks, we still hope we can find that reservoir of courage, determination, and nobility we really need when life puts us to the test. We want to know, when all is said and done, that we are not ordinary at all.

This is why we need heroes, not to show us what it's like to triumph, but to help us transcend our fears and find heart for the struggles we inevitably encounter in life. Through the ages, every culture has had of legend and history. In stories of hardships endured, challenges overcome, and great deeds accomplished, these role models show us a way of being that we can aspire to. They help us believe that we, too, can rise above the obstacles we face, no matter how daunting. They inspire us.

From James P. Owen's book Cowboy Ethics

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What a great passage! This simple yet profound insight articulates my feelings pretty well. This is why I do what I do and how I am inspired by others. I met and worked with some heroes this past week. Ordinary people doing the right thing during extraordinary circumstances. These people are the quintessence of the Ethical Protector or PeaceWalker.  This is what motivates me to continue to train, teach and keep going. 

I have never really been into cowboys or the westerns, but if you haven't read Cowboy Ethics by James Owen, I would recommend that you do. It's not a long book, however it is profound in its uncomplicated simplicity. Not to mention it has many beautiful pictures as well.


Keep going!


All the best,
~Craig

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Warrior Sage


My friend Jack Hoban  often jokes about how easy it is being a "Warrior Sage" for a couple hour class or weekend seminar, but then there's the rest of your life. There is how your students see you and then there is the rest of the world. Your significant other, sibling or best friend probably has a much different perspective of your sage like qualities compared to that guy or gal who read your book, watched all of your videos and is hanging on your every "enlightened" word of inspiration regarding human nature and the path of the Bodhisattva Warrior.

But all cliche's aside, if you are training protector tactics, self defense, personal protection, etc. there is a reason and benefit for you (professional protectors or not) to find someone or group of someones who are helping you to clarify, connect and sustain this warrior ethos. Being an Ethical Protector as Jack says, or a PeaceWalker in my lingo is essential.

Why?

Because if you don't it can be detrimental to your own well being. If you are just training for physical effectiveness minus the ethics of being a protector you may find yourself beginning to see the world in a different way and that view will cause you to make decisions that may increase the violence you were initially trying to defend yourself (and others) from. You may even become the very problem you are training to prevent.

When I was younger I would train with anyone who I thought I could benefit from regarding learning martial arts and defensive tactics. I would even seek out people who saw a lot of "action," meaning instructors who had experienced real violence. I often let my perspective overlook a fair amount of "character flaws" in them. Now don't get me wrong, we can learn something from anyone or thing, however be careful who you continue to train and surround yourself with because that "Out Thug the Thug" mentality is challenging to contain only in your training. The next thing you know you may likely develop a perspective of aggression and violence to others in general. The line between "us" and "them" broadens and it really becomes more about your fear, ego and relative values. Your "tribe" shrinks which can increase the violence (emotionally, verbally, physically, socially, spiritually, etc). Not to mention because psychologically speaking we will seek to feel good about ourselves, we will begin to narrate a story that will support our fear mongering, out thug the thug perspective and actions to ensure that we are justifying our beliefs and behavior, keeping us the "good guys" so to speak. The hidden, yet circular validation process becomes a vicious cycle of disrespect and violence. Eventually you may become a tribe of one! Treating others with disrespect that causes or increases violence.

Because training in defensive tactics deals with human conflict including hurting, maiming and possibly even taking someones life; it has to be done from the right perspective, with the right heart. If it is approached in the wrong way it could not only harm the other person, but it can also physically and emotionally harm you if you are not careful about your ethical and physical training methods.

This is even more important when responding to incidents such as the recent terrorist attack's in France, Beirut and Kenya. In the wake of such violence it is human to feel a wide array of emotions: Anger, fear, sadness, frustration, helplessness, uncertainty, etc. People want to do something. We want something solid to push against, to defeat, for justice, or maybe revenge and to feel safe again. Unfortunately it's not that simple. It's not conventional warfare. It's not army vs. army as much as conflict within our boarders. No longer is it the foreigners "over there" it's our neighbors, our customers, our vendors, cousins, friends and family. We can try to make higher fences, wider rivers or more check points to keep the threat out, but it will be minimally effective at best. Our worst fear is the truth: The threat isn't outside of us, it's in each of us. 

Terrorist attacks in France, Beirut, Kenya, Israel, 9/11 - Incidents in Saint Louis, Baltimore, Ferguson, Sandy Hook & Fort Hood, Boston bombing, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Texas bell tower, McVay, Kaczynski, Rodney King incident, Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, segregation, Rwanda, Khmer Rouge, the Holocaust, Stalin's Holodomor, Mao's Great Leap Forward, the KKK,  slavery, wounded knee, the trail of tears...

What do all of these things have in common? Incidents where individuals or groups of individuals put their relative values over the value of other peoples lives. Many of these situations were carried out by people from within the very society in which they lived. Each, in their own unique way convinced themselves (and in some cases many followers), that their beliefs were more important than someone else's life. This belief justified the decisions they made leading to their acts of violence.

About now you may be thinking that I am naive, unrealistic and very liberal; none of which are accurate. I believe that we should have a strong defensive position and be willing to bring down a good ole' fashioned ass whoopin' on folks who go around hurting and killing people over their relative beliefs, but at the same time we have to be careful not to let our emotions get the better of us. We have to have the clarity and skill to see through our emotions to the tactical space and ultimately to the Life Value that we are trying to protect. Doing the right thing without over reacting or reacting in the wrong way isn't going to help anything or anyone. It is easy to do both of these things if we're not careful.

I have always liked Teddy Roosevelt. He was far from perfect, however he was one of my favorite presidents. His words; "Speak softly, but carry a big stick" always made good sense to me. Keep in mind that when you use that big stick you should:

A) Know when to use your stick.
B) Know when to not use your stick.
C) Know how to use your stick (skillfully).
D) Know why you're using your stick.
E) Know how much whoopin' is needed to solve the problem.
F) Know when to stop using your stick.
G) Be clear that using your stick is the last resort. (So you don't end up with regrets [aka PTSD], false justification and more [or more resolve] enemies).  
H) Know what to do after the whoopin'.


Seek to be an individual/society who is well versed in being a protector not just physically, but ethically, emotionally, verbally, socially, etc. It is essential for healthy development, making better decisions, creating a better global community and living a more fulfilling life. The skills, technology and resources that we are developing should protect life, not simply create profit or inflict injury. If we are training to out thug the thug, don't be surprised if we actually become one ourselves.

Is it risky being an Ethical Protector? You bet it is! That's why you have to be good! 

In the words of Iwo Jima Marine and cold war conflict resolutionist Dr. Robert Humphrey:

Where ever you go everyone's safer because your there.
Where ever you are someone in need has a friend.
When ever you go home people are glad you are there.

It's a better life.



Keep going,
~Craig


Monday, November 9, 2015

Say HELL YEAH or Hell No!


 

I wish I'd written the blurb below. Words to live by once you get passed the point of living and working only for necessity and simply sustenance. Every year I get one step closer to taking on more projects that I want to be involved in; working with more people that I find fulfillment engaging with; making more of a difference. This all means saying no to many of the things that pull me away from the projects, and people who take up time in a way that I don't find as beneficial to me and my life. It's not all bad, there are a lot of good ideas out there and it's easy to get caught up in "busy work," but before you know it there is no time or energy left for the things that really matter. These are some of the reasons why I left Corporate America many years ago. Not that I really wanted that (corp. America) in the first place, it kind of happened and I got caught up in it. Luckily, I was able to break free to do more of what I want. Following your bliss comes with risks and insecurities, but IMO it's well worth it.

You don't have to be anywhere other than where you are at to benefit from this advice though! All you have to do is be clear enough to know what to say HELL YEAH to, and of course, Keep Going!

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Those of you who often over-commit or feel too scattered may appreciate a new philosophy I'm trying: If I'm not saying "HELL YEAH!" about something, then I say no.
Meaning: When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than, “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” – then my answer is no. When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say “HELL YEAH!”

We’re all busy. We’ve all taken on too much. Saying yes to less is the way out.


By Derek Sivers

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Do NOT Approach: A Tale of Mistaken Identity

 


I don't consider myself a jogger, however as part of my workout, I typically run 3 to 4 miles a day, pretty much everyday of the week. I run rain or shine, snow or sleet. My apparel isn't elaborate; typically beat up olive drab fatigues, an old t-shirt and sometimes a hat if it's chilly or wet.

Yesterday, Because it was raining I had my forest green rain coat on along with a baseball hat that I picked up twenty some years ago when I did some training in South Korea. Soaked from head to toe, I finished my run. I sprinted across Leonard street toward Westside Fitness, the gym that I teach my Krav Maga Classes. The gym is in an old strip mall that used to be what we called "little Meijers." It was a Meijers grocery store before they transitioned into the gigantic hyper markets they are today. Anyway, there are a number of other shops in the building one of which is a subway. There was a lady coming out of that subway. She was walking to her car when I came jogging into the parking lot. Our paths were intersecting, so I said hello to her. Her reply caught me completely off guard:

"Do NOT Approach!" She said loudly, with venom dripping from her tongue and an angry look in her eye.

I was confused for a split second, than it dawned on me that she must of thought I was a homeless person asking for money. 

I started to explain that I wasn't what she thought I was, but no sooner than the words formed on my lips, she said in a louder, even more pissed off tone, "DO NOT Approach!" And picked up her pace toward her vehicle.

As I turned toward the door, she spit her final words of advice to my back, "Get a fucking job!"

I smiled and shook my head as I headed to the gym.

After my amusement subsided, I have to admit a bolt of anger shot through me from the way she treated me. And then just like that the feeling passed and I chuckled to myself.

After that interaction I couldn't help but to think a few things:

1) Apparently I need some new schnazzy jogging gear that distinguishes me from being a homeless person.  =)

2) It is interesting to me how socialized we are. What do I mean? Well, a few things really; for starters, the disdain we have for those who we feel aren't part of our social "norm" be it people who we believe aren't contributing to society, or even worse "living off" the work of others, so to speak. Free loaders, bums, vagrants, homeless, drifters, gypsies, street people, etc. we tend to avoid them, scorn them, judge them, sometimes people take advantage of them, try to teach them a lesson or hurt them in some way. Now, I'm not a sociologist, psychologist or anything, but I think that another aspect of people treating others badly is due to being conflicted in ourselves:

A) Much like the iconic 80's movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ferris's sister was jealous because she worked hard and Ferris chose not to be a drone of the system, but instead played it and (in the movie), got away with murder.  This of course, pissed her off to no end, because she how dare someone else try to shortcut the system that she was working so hard to be good at? They shouldn't have things "easier" than her, they should know their place in hierarchy of things. How dare Ferris actually get what he want and be popular beating the very system that she toiled so hard to get to the top of?

Anyway, some people are like this in real life too. They worked hard to "get ahead" in the system in which they live and it really pisses them off to see someone "play" that system they are "slaves to." So in their eyes, seeing people on welfare, beg for money and/or not have a regular job for whatever reason may look like someone is trying to soak the system that they themselves adhere to so loyally, even if they struggle with it, or resent aspects of it. Kind of like people who get mad at others who can eat whatever they want and never gain a pound, where you and I look at food and our pant size goes up a size.

B) Another interesting thing is we often find ourselves conflicted. We may feel threatened in some way (maybe physical, social, etc) and believe that we need to defend ourselves. Being that we want to feel good about ourselves (we don't want to feel like the "bad guy" so to speak) and because it hurts us to hurt people we care about or who are like us, we tend to rationalize our decisions and often dehumanize or demonize those we feel we need to defend ourselves from. Thus, the anger in the woman's voice and aggression in her actions toward me due to her perception of who/what she thought I was. Who knows, maybe she was attacked before or was afraid of being hurt again in some way, it's hard to tell for sure.


3) Something else I noticed was the way I felt by her believing me to be a homeless guy asking her for money. I was offended and it upset me that she disrespected me and treated me like a piece of shit, second class citizen. I was able to laugh about it, but there is a part of me that is a bit mad when I think about it. It made me hesitate saying hello to others for a little while after that.

4) Under the circumstance, her attitude was too gung ho and rather than keeping her safe, it could have escalated the situation into an assault or worse. Heck, I'm a pretty good guy and teach protectors for a living and after she treated me that way I wanted to at the very least tell her off.

It was totally alright for her to keep her distance and communicate that she didn't want to be approached (even though I wasn't approaching her, I was just walking to Westside's door). However, maybe with more training and confidence she could learn to assess the situation more accurately, stay baseline and communicate more effectively without escalating a situation and contributing to or even causing a problem.

I have to hand it to her though, she had her interview stance down well!

5) Lastly, it makes me evaluate how I approach and treat others (whether coming from subway, homeless or not). 

Good lessons all the way around!

Now if you'll excuse me I have to go to MC Sports to pick up the latest fashions in jogging apparel! ;-]


Keep going,
~Craig