January, 2011: Great Achievers

Let me share something I read from the book: 8 ATTRIBUTES of GREAT ACHIEVERS, by Cameron C. Taylor.

”The world bestows its big prizes, both in money and honors, for but one thing.  And that is INITIATIVE!  What is initiative?  I’ll tell you:  it is doing the right thing without being told.  But next to doing the thing without being told is to do it when you are told once.  Next, there are those who never do a thing until they are told twice: such get no honors and small pay.  Next, there are those who do the right thing only when necessity kicks them from behind and these get indifference instead of honors, and a pittance for pay. Then, still lower down in the scale than this, we have the fellow who will not do the right thing even when someone goes along to show him how and stays to see that he does it: he is always out of a job.  To which class do you belong?”


”Life is like trying to go up a downward escalator in that if you’re not stepping up (putting forth effort), you’re going down.  Life is not like a stairway upon which you can reach a certain step and then stop and maintain our position.  Just as a tree is either growing or decaying, so we are either progressing or regressing.  In life, you cannot be at a standstill.

Congratulations to the people who earned promotions since our last newsletter. Junior Yellow Belt – Alexis D’Ambly, Nicholas Puma, Sarah Irizarry, Jonathan Condon, Michael Condon

GOLDEN RULE KARATE TOURNAMENT – Warren Hills High School – Washington, NJ. SUNDAY, February 13, 2011 – – – This is close, well run event. Plan to attend. See Kyoshi to Pre-register.

Segments of Gerard Eatman’s, a friend for a number of years, thoughts about training.
Throughout my fifty years in the martial arts, nearly forty in law enforcement, and twenty years in the military the topic of training has been discussed and debated.  From a cop’s view we can’t get enough, but it cost money and time.  Many of our city fathers or county commissioners don’t want to provide the requisite funds.  They don’t understand its importance.  Add to this their lack of knowledge regarding an attitude of deliberate indifference to the importance of training, and you have the makings for a great civil lawsuit.  When we do train we spend the lion’s share on the firing range.  Yet when we have to use force the majority of the time it’s in a physical nonlethal nature.  Those officers who understand the importance of hand-to-hand training (self-defense and come-along tactics) seek instruction outside their departments at their own expense.  They are to be commended.  Sadly they are the exception rather than the rule.  The vast majority of their colleagues maintain the mindset; “if they want me to train they can provide the time and money for me to do it.”  That attitude does not serve them well when the chips are down.  Officers cannot afford this kind of attitude.  They must realize their survival is no one else’s responsibility but theirs.

For the purposes of this article I’ll focus on my experiences in order to illustrate my point. In the martial artists community many focus on sport competition.  Of the three areas we emphasize (the sport, the art and self-defense) in our training; the sport aspect is the least important.  The fault in this lies with the instructors who run the schools.  Many of them are more interested in trophies and awards, and less concerned with their student’s ability of self-defense in the event of an attack.  This requires these students to practice defenses against a variety of attacks regularly and redundantly in order for their abilities to become conditioned.  Once they have arrived at this conditioned state their reactions will be instantaneous in an attack.  Likewise their self-confidence and competence will also improve.  If all they do is practice sport type sparring in preparation for competition they will not be prepared for the streets. 

To be prepared for street survival you must first know there are no rules.  There are no issues over excessive contact or illegal techniques.  You train to stay alive.  The more you train and the longer you prepare the better you are at applying a varied response.  By this I mean knowing what level of force to use.  If a drunk friend is being obnoxious and pushy you don’t want to break his arm; the use of minimal force is sufficient.  On the other hand if the person is unknown to you, but unarmed, your response can be more debilitating without breaking something or being lethal.

I teach my students a three-pronged approach that incorporates light, moderate and hard responses.  The nature of the response is dictated by the threat.  It is in this area each person must learn to judge for himself or herself.  What might not be considered as a serious threat by me might be to a young lady of smaller stature. 

Training regardless of the reason provides us with an increased confidence in our ability to function at a specific level of competence.  Martial artists and police personnel must train towards a similar level of confidence and competence.  One day while traveling with my family shortly after having retired from the Air Force, we came upon a traffic accident on the expressway.  I pulled our car into the medium and ran over to the car that had been struck by the axle of one traveling the opposite direction.  I checked the occupants to see if they required medical attention.  Once satisfied they were not seriously injured I ran over to a lady holding a cell phone. I ask her if she was calling 911 to which she stated she was.  I identified myself and got her permission to take over the call.  Once the operator answered I told her who I was and described the nature of the accident.  Because the car that was struck was partially on the inside lane on the downhill side of a bridge I was concerned they would be struck by oncoming traffic as they came flying over the bridge at 70 miles per hour.  When the first marked police unit arrived on the scene I instructed them to go to the other side of the bridge and begin directing traffic to the outside lane.  As other officers arrived I briefed the senior patrolman and rejoined my family.  As we were driving away my older daughter asks me how I knew what to do.   I merely told her it was a combination of training and experience.  Some years later that same daughter went into a panic when her eighteen month old little boy began having a seizure.  Later, after tending to my grandson, I explained to her she should get training as a first responder or even as a basic EMT.  She had panicked because she felt helpless.  She didn’t know what was happening or how she could help her son.  Had she received the kind of training EMT’s undergo she would have been better prepared for such an experience. 

Training is something that cannot be over emphasized.  We need it initially to develop the basic skill sets and attitude that allow us to function in a given situation.  Intermediate and advance training enhances these skills sets and allows us to function at a higher level.  None of this will happen unless we train on a regular basis.  Training helps us develop the necessary conditioned reflexes to immediately deal with a problem as it happens.  It also prepares us for a variety of possibilities.  An example of this is when you find yourself walking down a hallway.  As you come to the corner a person comes from the other direction in a rather abrupt manner.  A non-trained person would jump and probably let out a startled scream.  The trained (prepared) person would take a quick step back while simultaneously raising his hands.  The raised hands might be perceived by another as a gesture of surprise.  The trained eye would see it as the person stepping back into a guard stance.
People who train seriously to defend themselves practice defensive and offensive responses to a myriad of attack scenarios.  By doing this they not only enhance the ability to react instantly, they also develop a keener awareness of what to look for in the assailant’s body language before they launch their attack.  As a street cop having this edge provides added reaction time, especially when there may be more than one subject to be prepared for.  In the gym (dojo) I tell my students they should practice their skills as realistically as possible.  A few bumps and bruises here will lessen the chances you bleed on the street – or worse. 

Throughout my years of training and teaching I have always maintained the philosophy of preparing to fight, in the hope of never having too.  This is the same philosophy true warriors in all walks of life follow.  Without training to defend themselves and their families, or to provide emergency medical care until help can arrive, they will panic and scream at the walls.  The helplessness that will grip them defies description.  With training and preparation it can be avoided.

Goal Setting and Success

  • Be honest about what you really want. The first rule of goal setting is to make sure you are truly passionate about achieving the goals you’re setting
  • Don’t be afraid to think big. One of the biggest mistakes young professionals make is not dreaming big enough
  • Mark dates on your calendar. As you’re goal setting, start to think through the small tasks that add up to achieving your biggest dreams.
  • Get some help. Use friends as a support group and there are some great, inexpensive books and tools to help you with goal setting large and small. Two resources are Your Best Year Yet: Ten Questions for Making the Next Twelve Months Your Most Successful Ever and an app called Things.

A very special thank you.
I am so appreciative of all the support I’ve received from all of you following the death of my Mother in December. Your timely hugs, sincere thoughts and prayers, food, tissues discretely handed when needed, cards expressing condolences and your understanding has made this time much easier for me. For your support and friendship, I will be forever thankful. Renshi Hughes

Posted in Dojo Newsletter.