I have talked about how we prepared for the “King Of The Beach” competition on a podcast recently and what I noticed was what we did was very similar to how Andy from School of Grappling recommends that training be structured and also to the GameSense pedagogy I studied at Univerisity.
It was excellent training as everyone had a purpose, it was enjoyable, and it was one of those rare moments in time at a practice where everyone was in the mix together. It makes you grateful for having positive training partners and getting to spend the time training together. Those kinds of moments that I can appreciate even more now that we cannot get on the mats. But one thing I did notice was that the level of everyone in the room did seem to progress substantially during that time and made me think about what we did.
We trained for around 6-8 weeks doing two classes a week that followed this format. Generally, we did between five to ten rounds of each segment depending on how many people were in class, they were 1 minute long with a 15-second break. Everyone in the class rotated at least once with different partners, so they had a chance to work with everyone in the class. Once everyone had been around once I would briefly show one offensive or defensive option that could work from the scenario. Partners would drill these a few times each, and then we would do a couple more rounds of the drill.
The warm-up consisted of stance drills and shadow wrestling to get people moving in a way that was directly applicable to the sport.
The goal was to work for either an inside collar tie or underhook and to hold it for 3 seconds.
The goal was to snatch and hold a single leg of the partner for up to 3 seconds.
After you had the single-leg, then the goal was to complete the takedown and put your partner on the mat.
A few rounds where you could score from pushing your opponent off the mat or into the wall. My memory of the particulars seems to be hazy, possibly because this turned out to be an area that I was less than excellent at.
Then to finish, we did rounds rotating with the complete ruleset that the competition would be held under. I think on a few occasions we also di a mini knockout tournament at the end to simulate the competition setting.
A standard static stretch routine for a cool down. Maybe on some days we also took an obligatory post workout commemorative photo.
As you may be able to tell from that the focus for the competition was on snatch single-leg takedowns which based on the ruleset I thought would be the best way to play to win. But any takedowns were allowed once it came time to practice under the full beach wrestling rules.
Overall everyone who competed did really well with everyone managing to score takedowns, and overall it was merely a fun day of wrestling and camaraderie for the team. An experience I hope we can get close to replicating again in the future when things get back to normal!
Frank Shamrock was an early pioneer of mixed martial arts training with a unique approach to cross-training and fight strategy that enabled him to become the first UFC light heavyweight champion before vacating it after an all-time classic match against Tito Ortiz. He formed an alliance and cross-trained his shoot wrestling style with the kickboxing skills of Maurice Smith and the guard work of Tsuyoshi Kohsaka and successfully blended them together to form a well-rounded skill set. Each member of the alliance was able to help each other improve in a different area and in many ways exemplifies his plus, minus and equals training system which we will discuss in this article.
Perhaps due to its inclusion in the book “Ego is the Enemy” by author Ryan Holiday one of the most notable aspects of Frank Shamrock’s training is his system of plus, equals and minus. The plus, equals and minus formula is as simple as have a training partner that is better than you, at the same level and of lesser skill than you, which will enable you to always continue learning and growing. Author Ryan Holiday explains the benefit of the system as follows:
“The purpose of Shamrock’s formula is simple, to get real and continuous feedback about what they know and what they don’t know, from every angle.” – Ryan Holiday
Let’s now go more in-depth about how the three parts of the plus, minus and equals system will connect.
The plus will be a martial artist who is more skilled than you who you can learn from and will expose your gaps. In many cases, this will be your coach who will have more expertise on the subject than you but also sparring partners who can put that knowledge into action. The coach can provide the role of mentoring, training guidance and knowledge of techniques that can help develop your martial arts skills. But martial artists will always have a coach who should fill this role except in the rare case that someone was self-training and if so they should go find a coach to become “the plus” immediately.
Sparring partners who are also a step above you will fill this role as you need someone to be exposing the weak areas in your game to help you become aware of them and give you the incentive to work on them. Without a partner who can best you in training, then you are merely giving yourself delusional confidence that may be exposed by in a real fight or confrontation. These mini losses in practice will help you grow, and you want to have these experiences in the gym in an environment where your partner is helping you to learn rather than for it to occur in a public competition setting.
The minus will be a martial artist who is of lesser skill than you who you can teach and help grow. It is someone that you can help along the way to improve their skill set, and in the process, it will help you gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of your skills. It many ways the best way to understand is to figure out how to teach it to another person, and these people will provide an opportunity to do so, ensuring they are willing. Simply giving unsolicited to people can be very frustrating, and some peoples pet peeves in the gym when it is considered the primary responsibility of the coach.
Another practical way that you need to have someone who is a minus is you need someone who can help you put implement skills you have just learned before you can get them to work at a higher level. When you learn a new technique, the chances of you being able to execute it flawlessly at first will be very slim. But you might be able to make it work on someone less skilled than you while you refine the application of the technique over repetitions. Whereas if you immediately try to apply a new technique on someone who is of more considerable skill, it might be stopped immediately before it, you can see it develop into being usable. Ideally, you can take a new ability and troubleshoot it on a minus to a point where it starts working on equals and further and then get a chance to show that technique and any possible counters to your training partner to help them also benefit from the process.
The will be a martial artist who is roughly at the same skill level and can match you in sparring. It can be someone who started training at the same time as you or someone who you happen to be matching skill levels with but overall these are people who are the same point in their development as you. Now we can consider every one of our training partners as our equals as everyone trains together with the same goal of improving and solving the same problems. It can be everyone in your gym being on the same team and all trying to strengthen each other on the same journey. But at a more individual level, you want to have people who are matching you in training with neither person able to get a clear advantage.
These sessions with people who have been your equals should be fun and enjoyable and will also give you a guide to know if you or they have improved. It would help if you were motivating each other by knowing that you are on the same course together and that you are helping each other grow and develop in a way that can be more team building than being bested by someone better than you. A practical example is having a group of people preparing for a competition on the same day. Everyone can help push each other and raise the overall level of the group as everyone works towards the same goal.
The Plus, Minus and Equals training system
The plus, minus or equals system will be there if you look for after training for a short period of time. Even if it’s just having the plus being your coach and the equal being your training partners. Once identified, you can use the system to provide you with continuous real-time feedback on your progress throughout training. Getting that constant feedback will help keep you grounded and honest about your skill level and in the book “The Ego is the Enemy” the chapter that discusses this focuses on always remaining a student throughout life. Frank Shamrock describes the benefit of doing so as follows:
“False ideas about yourself destroy you. For me, I always stay a student, that’s what martial arts are about, and you have to use the humility as a tool”. – Frank Shamrock
The system of plus, minus and equals training will simplify the process of remaining a student by giving you a readily identifiable way to learn new skills, collaborate as a team and share what you know with others while continuing to grow, improve and strengthen yourself as a martial artist.
Cutmen at an MMA fight are responsible for treating a fighters lacerations or swelling in the one-minute break between rounds. Therefore, a cutman’s duties include getting the fighters to perform at their highest level of ability by minimising the effects of cuts and lacerations that could hinder their performance. Also, if cuts become too severe, it may lead to a fight being called off by a referee or doctor so in some situations a cutman’s work could make the difference between winning and losing a contest.
All major MMA promotions will provide corners with their cutmen; a smaller show may provide one cutman per fight and rely on the chance of both fighters requiring a cutman from not occurring. However, at smaller regional shows a cutman may not be provided at all, and it will be expected that the coach or cornerman of a fighter will fill this role.
Learning the skills required to be a cutman can be through an informal apprenticeship where you could help out a more experience cutman in their duties and learn on the job. In this case, you will have more success finding experienced cutmen in boxing clubs and venues rather than in the MMA circuit. Otherwise, a few formal training courses exist online and around the world that attempt to pass on the knowledge while providing an “Official Cutman” certification upon completion. The article below will give an overall guide as to what is required, but real insight will come through working corners and getting experience 60 seconds at a time.
The equipment of a Cutman
The lists of equipment for a cutman will be as follows and may include some crossover with the equipment you would be expected to carry as a cornerman. Enswell, coagulant, vaseline, gauze, cotton swabs & towels.
The Enswell (Sometimes called an End Swell or No Swell) is the most distinctive piece of equipment in a cutman’s toolkit, and It is merely a flat piece of metal that is kept cold and used to apply pressure to cuts or swelling on a fighters face. Different styles and variations on design exist for enswells, but their essential use is all the same and can come down to personal preference as to what type you would use. As you want to keep the enswell cold for its use, it should be kept stored in your bucket of ice on fight night, and a thin layer of vaseline can be applied to the enswell to prevent the metal from being so cold that it would stick to a fighter’s skin when used. In the event that you cannot find an enswell to use any small piece of metal can be used as a makeshift enswell providing that it doesn’t have any sharp edges that could cause a cut. A simple bent spoon is always a good option that is available to use if necessary.
A coagulant is a medicine used to assist in clotting the blood to stop or slow the flow of bleeding from a cut. The most common and available coagulant used by cutmen is adrenaline 1:1000 or epinephrine. The epinephrine can be applied to cotton swabs and then pressed directly onto a cut to in-between rounds. It can come in bottles that are designed to be used for injections so it can be useful to transfer the liquid into an eyedropper bottle which is easier to apply to a cotton swab. Also, you may need to get the adrenaline from a doctor or nurse, so if it is unavailable, a hemostatic gauze is also another option to use. Hemostatic gauze is a medicated gauze strip that contains a coagulant in it to promote blood clotting that usually is either zeolite or kaolin. The hemostatic gauze can be cut into smaller pieces that can be applied directly to a fighters cuts in between rounds. Other coagulants do exist, but adrenaline is the most commonly used by cutmen, and hemostatic dressings may be the most easily available over the counter option available from pharmacy or military surplus stores.
A cotton swab is used as the application method for the coagulant and to apply pressure against a cut. Many cutmen will use a wristband that they store multiple cotton swabs in that they have prepared before a fight. Cotton swabs can also help in treating a bloody nose as they will be able to fit up a fighters nostril and help with stopping the bleeding. The cotton swabs used by famed cutman Jacob “Stitch” Duran are not your regular swabs used for cleaning out the ear. Instead, he will purchase cotton balls roll them out as much as possible and then cut and attach them to smaller cotton swabs to help bulk them out so they can contain more adrenaline and cover a larger area (Bartlett, 2008).
Petroleum jelly is more commonly known by the brand name vaseline and is an essential piece of kit for any corner to have. Vaseline will be applied to a fighters face before they enter the ring or cage as a preventative measure to avoid cuts by helping gloves slide off the fighters face rather than sticking and breaking the skin. When dealing with an existing cut, vaseline will be applied entirely over the wound as a filler to help “seal” it up and help prevent further bleeding. When using vaseline as a filler, it can be kept cold which will make it harder and more malleable, but this can also make it more difficult for a doctor to clean and stitch together after the fight. The vaseline can also be mixed with adrenaline 1:1000 to provide an additional application of the coagulant to the wound.
One large white towel should be kept for wiping down a fighters shoulders and back and in the unfortunate situation where it may need to be thrown into the ring or cage to halt a contest. Multiple smaller face or hand towels should also be in the toolkit and kept damp on fight night for use in wiping fighters face clean of any blood or vaseline between rounds or at the end of the fight. The smaller wet towel will be easier to handle and manipulate along the curves of a fighter’s face than the standard large towel which has a rough texture when kept dry.
A cutman may use various other pieces of equipment with a lot of crossover with standard corners supplies. Latex gloves are one piece of additional equipment. Wearing gloves is simply a hygiene issue as dealing with open cuts you want to keep your hands as clean as possible to prevent infection. A bucket will be required to help store all the other piece of the kit and taken to ringside. Fishing tackle toolboxes can also be useful to store all the smaller pieces of equipment between fights. Icepacks to help keep your enswell cold or apply to a fighter are also helpful to keep in your tool kit. Plastic zip lock bags make for cheap and useful ice packs as you can fill them with ice you get at the venue. Ziplock bags should be double wrapped to help prevent them from accidentally opening and spilling ice on the floor when used.
What to do In-Between Rounds
During the closing thirty seconds of a round, you should begin to assess what work will need to be done during the break. While a cut could still occur from the last punch in the last second of a round, you should always begin to form a general plan before the bell rings. After the bell rings, you will then need to asses the severity of cuts as soon as you are allowed into the ring or cage. A judgment will then need to be made about what will be worked on during the minute break with priority going to preventing the fight from being stopped and then too, which cut impairs the fighter the most (Matuszak, 2015). In general working out how you will work with other members of the fighters corner who will be wanting to provide technical instruction should be discussed backstage before the show starts.
The following image is a guide to help asses the severity of the cuts according to their placement on the fighters face. The most common and severe cut you will deal with are ones running horizontally along the eyebrow. These cuts are dangerous as they can bleed into the eye and obscure the fighter’s vision and if they are deep enough they can damage important nerves (Gelber, 2016).
Cuts that have occurred within zones 1 and 2 are the most serious and may need you to consider ending the bout. Cuts within all other zones will require careful inspection of their depth to make a judgement call
SUMMARY OF LACERATION ZONES
tarsal plate, lacrimal sac
nasolabial fold with facial artery
superficial temporal artery, facial nerve (at the zygomatic bone)
facial artery at masseter
mental nerve (Gelber, 2016).
Working with Cuts
The number one technique to use when dealing with cuts or swelling is to apply cold direct pressure to the affected area to compress the blood vessels and help contribute to the clotting that needs to occur. Doing too much else can end up making things worse, so unless you are confident in what you are doing or find yourself in a unique situation, it would be best to stick to the basics. Even without adrenaline to apply to the wound merely adhering to the basic principle of applying cold direct pressure will be the most important thing you can do.
The first thing to do when dealing with a cut is to quickly clean the area with your small wet towel, which should be cold from being kept in the ice bucket. Then as soon as possible, applying pressure to the cuts with gauze or your cotton swabs soaked in adrenaline should be done if you have them. You could also place the enswell on top of the swab to apply pressure and cold at the same time. When the break is coming to an end, then you will remove the gauze or swab to apply vaseline to the cut. The vaseline should be used over and into the cut to act as a filler and should be seen to seal up the wound to the best of its ability.
Nosebleeds will be another common injury you will deal with as a cutman. Again wiping the blood away from the nose with your small wet towel should be done straight away. Then immediately placing an adrenaline-soaked cotton swab up the bleeding nose of the fighter while applying pressure to hold it in place from the outside of the nose should be done. It would help if you were careful not to pressure both nostrils as you still want the fighter to be able to breathe but as you work on stopping the bleeding advise the fighter to breathe through their mouth, so they do not swallow blood. You should also caution a fighter no not blow their nose if you suspect that the nose is broken.
Dealing with Swelling
As with cuts, the most important technique you can do is to apply cold direct pressure to the wound using your enswell o if you didn’t have one then even an ice pack will do. Some cutmen will advise to rub swelling out to try and lessen it, and I have seen this used to move swelling away from the eye, but this is a technique that Jacob “Stitch” Duran strongly advises against as it can make the swelling worse (Markarian, 2010). Cold direct pressure to any swelling will still be your most used technique in dealing with swelling. Vaseline should also be applied to any swelling before the break ends to help with reducing the chances of the skin tearing on a swollen area and turning into a cut.
Other Duties of a Cutman
Dealing with cuts between rounds is the primary duty of a cutman, but other skills may also be useful to master and cover the scope of a cutman. Wrapping hands would be the number one skill cutmen would also be expected to have, and I will cover this in another article. Along with wrapping hands, general skills in applying sports tape to other parts of the athlete will also be useful and general first aid skills to help assist in fighters well being after the fight will be suitable to acquire.
General people skills are also useful for a cutman to have as they will need to negotiate with corners to figure out how they will operate in between rounds. On top of that, giving the fighter confidence that they are working with is also helpful as they can help calm them in-between rounds and provide them with confidence backstage going into a fight. Part of the trust you can instil in a fighter can be done by building a reputation as being the best at your craft so that when they know you are working with them, they feel confident in your abilities.
Sixty Seconds to Work
Being a cutman will always be a pressure-filled role as you have sixty seconds to work within where you will need to prioritise what you do and work effectively with the rest of the corner. It may be repeated twice or four times within a fight. With that in mind have a good handle on your equipment and what you will do with them ahead of time will make you better prepared when the time to work on a cut comes.
If you spend time in a fight gym, you may want to keep your toolkit in your gym bag. If a fighter gets cut during practice or sparring, then it may allow you to work with a cut without the pressure of the 1-minute time limit and gain some experience. Otherwise except for the few cutmen courses that are available then first-hand experience working on fights will be your best teacher or if you are lucky you will be able to find someone willing to let you shadow them and learn the craft.
Dealing with cuts is all about helping your fighter be the best they can be and also keeping them as safe as possible during their fight. The above article is a good rough guide, but if this is a topic that you are serious about mastering, then you should seek further instruction, particularly from medical professionals.
(Although this didn’t fit anywhere in the article I thought it was interesting to include at the end. While researching this article, I found a study they did on fighters in the fifties on sewing a single stitch to fighters cuts between rounds which I found fascinating: “Closure of Boxing Lacerations Between Rounds”. )
Bartlett, S. (2008). A look at the tools Stitch Duran uses to stop the bleeding. Retrieved 26 January 2020, from https://www.espn.com/espnmag/story?section=magazine&id=3686568
Duran, J. (2008). Jacob “Stitch” Duran Presents DVD: Giving the Fighter One More Round [DVD]. America: Jacob Duran.
Fleischer, N. (1951). How to Second and How to Manage a Boxer. Nat Fleischer.
Gelber, J. (2016). The Ultimate Guide to Preventing and Treating MMA Injuries. ECW Press.
Markarian, R. (2010). “Stitch” Duran: This Cut Man Gets Priority Position. Retrieved 26 January 2020, from https://tss.ib.tv/boxing/articles-of-2010/11826-qstitchq-duran-this-cut-man-gets-priority-position
Matuszak, S. (2015). UFC 189 From a Cutman’s Perspective | FIGHTLAND. Retrieved 26 January 2020, from http://fightland.vice.com/blog/ufc-189-from-a-cutmans-perspective
MMA Junkie Staff. (2013). Alex Davis, Jacob ‘Stitch’ Duran discuss the science of the cutman. Retrieved 26 January 2020, from https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2013/07/alex-davis-jacob-stitch-duran-discuss-the-science-of-the-cutman
Reddy, L. (2019). Adrenaline, Vaseline and composure – Kerry Kayes on the art of being a boxing cuts man. Retrieved 26 January 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/sport/boxing/47026147
The core of talent in martial arts is not dependent on the presence of remarkable attributes but rather the absence of limitations imposed on yourself by society and your subconscious. Society and self-interference can hinder your mental, physical and emotional performance and the four principles which embody this lack of obstruction are non-resistance, accommodation, balance and the natural order. All humans are naturally born free of all obstructions, and it is only through external influences of society and our upbringing that we unconsciously develop these restrictions that stifle our development as martial artists.
These four principles can all be witnessed in the natural world and explained in proverbs with which you might already be familiar. Trees that bend in the wind are examples of the principles of non-resistance, a gentle stream that can cut through stone is a case of the principle of accommodation, life thriving in moderate cycles is an example of the principle of balance and the regular changing of seasons is an example of the natural order. Nature can reveal these principles in action, but they are all psychophysical forces that transpire both equally in the human mind as well as the human body. It is said that training in the martial arts is 50 percent physical and 50 percent mental, or as former UFC heavyweight champion Bas Rutten would say it is 100 percent mental as you have to use your brain to want to get out of bed and go to training. A connection between the natural environment, the human psyche and body that creates a psychophysical hurdle that can be overcome by the four principles mentioned. Including these principles in your martial arts practice will change your training from a mere repetition of physical movements to natural movements that are influenced by your mental state, energy and environment. Embracing these principles can lead to reawakening your learning abilities and create benefits that will be developed through martial arts that can transfer to your daily life.
The Principle Of Non-Resistance
The forces of life will impact upon people in various forms, yet the ways to deal with these effects can be broken down into four different ways. You can disregard these forces them and risk having accidents that are caused by your ignorance; you can attempt to resist them in a manner that is inefficient and turbulent uses of energy, or you can implement the principle of non-resistance and use these forces to naturally blend with and energise your life. H is like building a sail that catches the wind to cross vast distances or how a bird can use that same wind to fly or a fish that swims with the current. All are examples of working together and in harmony with natural forces as resistance is not found in nature but is constructed in the minds of humans.
“Non-resistance is the key to the greatest power in the universe” – Eckhart Tolle
It should be clarified that non-resistance is not merely passive inaction in the face of life events as anyone with a lack of motivation can resign themselves to do nothing of consequence. Rather non-resistance is actively cultivating a sensitivity and intelligence to discern and interpret life’s subtle forces and then be able to naturally flow with them in peace. Problems of day to day life can be handled using the principle of non-resistance, but martial arts training and competition will also benefit from this concept. Through non-resistance, you use an opponents movement to your advantage and you can understand your opponent is a teacher that will educate you on your weaknesses and help you to improve and better yourself. Redirecting an opponent’s force to use it against them is a common theme in martial arts and is an excellent example of the principle of non-resistance in action.
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Master Yoda
Unfortunately, most actions of humans are endeavours to push or pull on the river of life rather than flow with it in harmony, and this constant resistance is what causes physical and emotional anxiety. Anxiety or tension are subtle signals that something is amiss and should be carefully listened to so you can take responsibility for actions that may be causing this pressure and not resist by shifting the blame onto circumstances out of your control. The most common way a martial artist will experience resistance is by “trying” because the moment you begin to “try” you are immediately assuming a weakness to the challenge ahead of you, and this will cause tension. The tension created by “trying” is entirely a mental construct generated from trying too hard instead of flowing with nature.
“Aikido is the principle of non-resistance. Because it is non-resistant, it is victorious from the beginning. Those with evil intentions or contentious thoughts are instantly vanquished. Aikido is invincible because it contends with nothing.” – Morihei Ueshiba
A talented martial artist will never “try”, they will instead be smooth, relaxed, calm, confident and have a naturally continuous and flowing approach when training and competing. Trying to make or force things to happen creates turbulence and will be met with direct opposition, you can still achieve your goals by working with nature and flowing. Let things transpire naturally based on the complexities of circumstance and train without tension and resistance. For an example of this, consider placing a balance beam on the floor and walking across it and you will find the task relatively simple. But if you place the same balance beam across two skyscrapers you be in a different mental state that can cause tension despite it being the same physical task you have to perform. As soon as you begin to “Try” in martial arts you have created a mental opposition to your work instead of flowing, this psychological opposition will then create physical symptoms causing muscles tense and breathing to be interrupted.
The Principle Of Accommodation
Placing demands on yourself to encourage growth in training will need to take the form of progressive overloading where you repeatedly demand a little more of yourself than you are currently capable of dealing with comfortably. Progressive overload will require patience and the ability to tolerate repeated failures as you continually push yourself and take risks to achieve your life goals. Tolerance for failure will come with an intuitive understanding that each failure is an opportunity to learn and to make accommodations for these failures and lessons. To be able to build tolerance for your inevitable failures you must make your expectations realistic and achievable, so you know that with patience and continued perseverance you can achieve the goals you have set if you make your goals unrealistic and unachievable you will create frustration at your repeated failures.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
Martial arts training then becomes a process of consistent development through an incremental progression of practical and sensible demands of your body and emotions. The principle of accommodation is much similar to a bodybuilder who wishes to increase muscle the muscle fibres must be broken down over time so that they can grow back stronger and evolve over time. Or think of grinding a rock into the shape of an arrowhead, this can be achieved if you grind the rock slowly and with patience but if you attempt to rush it and grind the rock quickly you risk breaking it. The demands you place on your body, mind and emotions must be gradual and within your capacity, taking one step at a time and this is the principle of accommodation. If you ever find yourself asking if you can become good at a skill, thinking that a particular skill would be too difficult you are not embracing the principle of accommodation. These question to yourself will create tension in your body and chip away at any motivation you have to achieve your goals. Instead, you must look at the gradual demands you can place on yourself and start making the steps on your path to whatever higher goal it is you wish to achieve.
“Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.” – Morihei Ueshiba
The Principle of Balance
Essentially the principle of balance can be summed up by stating “Neither too much nor too little.” and it is a principle that can be used in every aspect of your daily life, martial arts training and body and emotion. For a martial artist, balance is seen by not moving too fast or too slow, not being too aggressive or too tentative and not being too far high, low, left or right. The balance will control the pace and timing that every martial artist relies upon to be successful, and this will also filter through to your mindset in training. Understanding balance in training will allow you to accept that you will have good days and bad days and not become frustrated or impatient with an unrealistic expectation that every day of training should constantly be “good”. This understanding will free your mental state from the dependence of your outcomes of any particular training session and instead leave you to focus on the practical process of training and realise that the cycle of good and bad days will balance itself. Training becomes a balance of body, mind and emotions and any days where your physical performance is not excellent should be used to pay more attention to your mental clarity and emotional stability.
“Everything too fast is not good but everything too slow is also not good. You need balance. That’s why I like martial arts: it always tells you how to control your body, your mind, your heart. Balance. Balance can keep the world’s peace. I think that’s a very good thing.” – Jet Li
A martial artist will become centred and in balance with your physical body, mental and emotional states all simultaneously and notice how they all affect each other and are interconnected. The opposite effect of this can be seen in an opponent who is mentally out of balance or emotionally upset as they become much easier to defeat. Upsetting an opponent’s composure is what some prizefighters look to exploit when they trash talk an opponent in an attempt to emotionally unbalance their opponent so that their physical performance also becomes unbalanced. Physical balance and emotional turmoil are like fire and water as they do not mix.If you spend too much time thinking about your emotional problems, then you will become unbalanced, but if you meditate on your balance, then you will get rid of your emotional problems.
The Principle Of Natural Order
The principle of natural order is understanding the continual progressive development and changes that occur over time. For instance, the four seasons always stay in the same order and a tree always grows from a seed and never goes from a tree to seed. These processes cannot go backwards and cannot be rushed; it is human nature to want to accelerate the natural order, and this causes our mind to race faster than life is capable of moving. Although progression in the martial arts can still be seen as an equation of both time and concentration where you can spend less time to make the same progress if you concentrate your intensity, it still must remain in balance at all times. Training too long and too intense will cause you to overtrain, which is where your body cannot properly recover from the stress you are putting it under. Also not training enough and without any passion will cause you never to achieve your goals, so it is something that must be balanced and follow the natural order. A great sign that you have a balanced attitude to training is that you are happy and have a sense of humour, as you understand that no matter what achievements you make in martial arts they will not matter in the scheme of the universe or on the scale of the cosmos.
“There is no quick way to grow a tree that is strong enough to withstand a storm”
If you ever find yourself thinking that you should be doing better or you should be progressing faster, it is a sign that your mental state is not in the natural order as the word “should” has no place in the mind of the martial artist. As with the word “Try” the word “Should” suggest you are dissatisfied with your current state of being and will cause tension and emotional turmoil. Time is better spent taking action on what you can control rather than spending time thinking about the way things should be which can eventually lead you nowhere other than into neurosis. To continue your martial arts training with the principle of natural order, you must look to always be happy with your training and keep the enthusiasm and inspiration of a beginner.
These four principles of developing talent in martial arts will help you with your enjoyment and growth of both your martial arts practice and your daily life. You want to balance between the positive and negative aspects of life and practice nonresistance with whatever circumstances life will bring towards you. Do not get stressed if things do not happen fast enough for you and realise this it part of the natural order and instead embrace accommodation and work on the process of achieving small goes and make continued progress. You will use all these principles to transcend illusionary self-concepts, break down emotional obstacles and develop martial arts talent.
Reference: Millman, D. (1979). The Warrior Athlete. Walpole, N.H.: Stillpoint Pub.
The Australian colloquialism where your jovial mood is suggested to be “As happy as Larry.” find its etymological roots in the early bare-knuckle pugilism of a Sydney prize fighter and undefeated middleweight boxing champion at the turn of the 19th century.
The Larry in the idiom is Laurence ‘Larry’ Foley (1849-1917), who was born in Bathurst and would gain recognition as the “Father of Australian Boxing”. He spent his formative years in Wollongong where he served a Roman Catholic priest and had an expectation of joining the priesthood but instead moved to Sydney where he would later participate in a Roman Catholic street fighting gang that feuded with a rival Protestant group. Larry Foley would become the unofficial bare-knuckle champion of Sydney by beating Sandy Ross the leader of the rival gang in a contest which lasted 71 rounds and went for over 2 hours and took place at Como in South Sydney.
The bout which leads to the birth of the phrase “As Happy as Larry” was against the Australian boxing champion Abe Hicken. The contest lasted 16 rounds with the first round of the match lasting for 23 minutes because in 1879 rounds lasted as long as it took for one man to achieve a knockdown. Larry Foley claimed the victory and won £600 which made him a jubilant man and it was apparently reported in the newspapers that the crowd was said to be just as “Happy as Larry” leading to the creation of the phrase that is still used to this day.
Larry Foley retired from boxing at age 32 and became a publican running the White Horse hotel located on George St in Sydney. He opened a boxing academy in the back of the pub called the “Iron Pot” where he trained many boxers and which also held many boxing contests. He died of heart disease in 1917 and is buried in Waverly Cemetery. In the above photo, we see a picture of Larry in his boxing stance and a picture of his White Horse hotel.
Yoga would be the most important part of any evolutionary or spiritual practice.
No other skill in the entire arsenal of spiritual techniques will do more for you than meditation and yoga. These are the core techniques.
In modern terms, it is sold as a new age de-stressing techniques but this is only a very shallow teaching of it.
The more you meditate, the more resilience you build up against the little stresses of life.
It has to be a constant daily practice like showering and brushing your teeth.
The discipline built through meditation could also be the most important part of keeping you on point in life.
The 10,000 things.
The attention overload of modern society makes meditation more difficult but also more important.
The concept in Buddhism of the 10,000 things is the idea of the infinite distractions that life throws at us. These are the 10,000 things that are constantly calling for our attention and pretending to be what matters.
Meditation is the practice of disentangling from the 10,000 things and re-engaging with your deep self in the non-distracted silence of your mind.
There are the external 10,000 things that beg for attention in the physical world, but you also have 10,000 internal things like emotions and feelings.
Meditation is establishing order in your life to overcome the monkey mind and develop single-pointed focus. The mind needs to be trained to do this.
Western culture does not have any mind training as part of its core curriculum or values; It is all focused on logical, rational and alert processes. But mind training will strengthen the mind to make it perform better in all th3se alert tasks. Basic mind training in the West would be positive thinking.
A lot of distractions that people become involved with are attempts to quiet the mind that can be achieved through meditation without any harmful side effects and a constant process instead of swinging from branch to branch to find new distractions for the mind.
Meditation is more than just relaxing. It is a set system of steps for achieving inner peace and ecstasy.
Gurus, Cultural interchange, Cults and the dangers of transference
Meditation can be practiced without any religious dogma. But the fact is from a spiritual perspective meditation has been practiced by many traditions as a direct route to God. This is true with Hinduism, which is the foundations of yoga.
In the traditional Vedic literature, it does say you need a guru to complete the path of meditation. This is when the path is considered to be started from a young age and would take decades to complete. We cannot get hung up on this and instead just throw ourselves into the process.
But a student of real meditation will need to see someone who is the finished product to know even what that is. This is especially difficult as the world is full of frauds and charlatans. Both in the East and especially in the multimillion dollar new age industry.
There are still many legitimate Hindu or Buddhist teachers who live in the west or travel to the west so it might now be easier than ever to gain access to these people. But remember they are just people and many gurus get involved in scandals and cult behavior. While we go to the east and do not understand Eastern spiritualism many gurus can come to the west and not understand western materialism and it causes problems for them. People are people.
All expectations need to be managed. IN our western traditions, we will already have a stereotyped idea of what a holy person should look like. This can sometimes mean the expectation is set as high as Jesus. In the eastern tradition, holy people are not expected to be perfect. Even big deal gurus will not be perfect. They may have brought their divine nature to the forefront but still this is not going to equal a perfect person. People are people. Consider a guru or meditation master as possibly someone who has more expertise in the field but not as an excellent teacher or complete human.
Of course, this gets tricky as the eastern tradition does promote surrendering completely to your guru. This is fraught with danger in the western world with so many charlatans running rampant.
People are people.
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yoganada
That being said a good starting point for an additional study if you are looking for more is the “Autobiography of a Yogi”. Gandhi was a student of this teacher. Of all places, this would be the safest place to start. He was not over the top; it was the simple cut and dry meditation. The organization was continuing the work known as the self-realization fellowship.
Distinguishing Vedic vs. Buddhist vs. New Age meditation and Raja Yoga vs. Hatha Yoga
This information covers Vedic meditation from the Hindu tradition. This is not the same as Buddhist meditation even though they are often thrown in together.
Hindu meditation posits that there is a core self that is covered by the personality and Buddhist meditation posits that there is n9 core self.
You do not want just to mix up a bunch of random meditation techniques as they all have specific functions and have different theological underpinnings.
Meditation has now been filled with common misconceptions about what meditation is from the modern western culture. It is not merely positive thinking, this idea came out of the new thought movement in the 20’s and made a resurgence with the secret and Oprah. Meditation is concerned with turning off the mind and not thinking positively. Meditation is not just sitting comfortably, burning incense, playing new age music and feeling good. This is play acting meditation, it may be calming, but this is not the hard-core work of meditation of shutting off the mind. The hard-core work of meditation is a lot drier and boring then what is popular and sells to the new age movement,
Hatha yoga, where the body is contorted into different body positions, is not meditation. There are lots of different Yoga’s, the exercise yoga being taught is hatha yoga. Hatha yoga is not even a traditional step in the meditation process.
Raja yoga , the king yoga, is the eight fold path of meditation. This is the real yoga and although it does contain physical postures these are for sitting still for long periods of time. Hatha yoga still has many benefits but it is not the hard-core work of meditation. Hatha yoga can still be a good base to prepare for entering into Raja yoga.
“Mindfulness” is now very popular in the west. This is used in many different things in different contexts. It is essentially a Buddhist technique of being aware of your mental processes. It is now used by corporati9ns and politically correct conversations. It is not the hard-core meditation of Raja yoga. Eventually corporations might start to say people are not being mindful if they are not doing their jobs.
“Spiritual materialism” this is a concept from Buddhism which will be brought into this course. From a book called “Cutting through spiritual materialism”. If you go to a yoga centre, a new age book store or anywhere people are studying meditation you will see people with all the material objects to denote themselves as being spiritual. This is all ego satisfying, you cannot dress yourself into meditation, you cannot buy the right toys or necklaces or books to bluff your way into meditation. Just because your brought all the clubs and clothes that tiger woods uses will not make you as good as tiger woods. The only way to get on an oath to playing better golf is to commit yourself to a discipline of practice like tiger woods. If you are attempting to achieve peace and emptiness you are doing yourself a disservice by trying to fill yourself up with as many different spiritual artefacts, both material and internal will be a disservice to you. The techniques of meditation of simple they just require a lot of discipline.
How to set aside the right time and space.
Establishing a meditation practice requires daily prate. It has to be a daily practice. The best time is when you wake up in the morning , but if you have to do it at lunch or in the afternoon you can. But in the morning will be best as you will not be distracted by the day or have an excuse to miss it. But the most important thing is to start a consistent practice and do it every day. Pick a time and pick a length for meditation and do it every day. You can start at five minutes and increase it over the weeks. You first need to carve out a time that you devote for yourself. The most important thing when starting is not how long you meditate for but sticking to the daily ritual and carving out the habit.
You will need a space that is dedicated and setup for meditation. In the same way you may have a desk setup for work so that every time you sit down you know you9are there to work, or your bed is there for sleeping, have a space setup for meditation. It can be corner of a room and does not need to be grandiose. Ideally it should be quiet and good ventilation. The best thing to sit on is just a folded up blanket or a basic pillow, Feel free to put thing that are inspiring to you in your meditation space.
The best meditation posture is cross legged on the ground with a straight back. If you physically cannot do this and you have to use a chair it must allow you to keep a straight and upright spine.
A simple clock to keep time of your sessions may be needed and you may like to keep a simple journal of your practice.
First limb of yoga – Yama
These are the moral scriptures of yoga. This is the type of life you want to be living to be a yogi. This is to be living a non-chaotic life. A simple and calm existence. You can look up the specifics of what was written but this was in the 14th century.
A stable income, a stable living, a stable home, live a good moral life, speak the truth. Lead a moral and upstanding life as much as possible. The practical reason for this in regards to meditation is if you live a shady life you are giving yourself many more worries to weigh down your mind.
Lead a relaxed, moral, non-crazy, non-chaotic life. Boring is good Boring externally but a free mind full of ecstasy. Go to bed early, wake up early, eat well, have healthy relationships, work a job. Get rid of chaos. These are basic tenants of a Yogi to make the meditation practice easier.
You can also just look at living a life that is most in tune to you that will lead to a drama free life, In your case a boring existence may create some drama, so just look at living a chaos and drama free existence,
Second limb of yoga – Niyama
This is really z list of don’ts if you want to practice meditation. Can be summed up as don’t do bad or immoral stuff. Don’t cheat, lie, steal or kill. These will all create disturbances in your mind to deal with.
Don’t do stuff that weighs on your mind and heart as this creates obstacles for meditation.
Also don’t be a smoker, this will disturb the breath which is crucial to meditation. Along with all the other health detriments, Your mind is a by-product of your breath so if your breath is disturbed so will your mind.
Drinking alcohol is also a no go. Meditating hungover will be very difficult. Avoid drugs. Live a clean life. You do not want substances disturbing your equilibrium.
Since Hinduism is a vegetarian culture traditionally the consumption of meat is considered to cause anger, hostility and cause disturbances. A vegetarian or even vegan diet will allow more mental clarity but in the western world this is widely practiced. Make an individual choice with this as nutrition is another topic. Vegetarianism is still probably the best diet for meditation. Also avoid stimulants like energy drinks junk food, etc.
You do not want to eat before you meditate you want to meditate on an empty stomach which is why meditating in the morning is a great time You do not want your body’s digestive functions interrupting your meditation.
Again you can look up the specific by the book rules on this. But again it is written in the middle ages.
Managing lust of result: Focus on the progress and the discipline itself and do not focus on the end result. Just practice it daily and do not focus on if you are enlightened yet. It will take a long time to get good at anything including meditation. Enjoy the journey and do not focus on the destination.
Siddhis: In the yogic literature it is listed that you can achieve magical powers through meditation This can include growing in size and shrinking and certain magical powers. As you get deeper into meditation strange and trippy things will happen in you9r mind but do not get hung up on the idea that you are going to gain magical powers. DO not make this the goal of your meditation. The siddhis are likely just different states of consciousness. Do not get wrapped up n chasing after these, If strange things start to happen just ignore the and let them pass.
Do not become obsessed with things that are not the goal.
The third limb of yoga – Asana
This is just a stable position you can hold your body in for a long period of time this ca just be cross legged on the floor with a straight back. Not to be confused with the many various postures of Hatha yoga.
Alistair Crowley also came up with some good postures for this. Lotus position is also good if you are flexible enough to do this.
Generally the Asana is just a position where you can hold your body without fidgeting. Don’t get to complicated at first so just start with a simple sitting position. But you do want to be able to hold this for long periods of time No fidgeting or scratching yourself or adjusting your weight or stretching. You want the body to be completely still. Still the body and then you can still the mind.
A large list of Asana are available to look up and were codified in the middle ages. It is most important to just start out by finding something simple that works for you so you can build the practice.
The fourth limb of yoga – Pranayama
This is basically breath control, the way of breath or the energy of breath. There are many Pranayama techniques that can get quite difficult and complicated but we just want to start with a steady relaxed state of breathing.
Start by establishing a regular, rhythmic breathing practice. A good basic one is a 4 count while y9 are inhaling and a 4 count while you are exhaling. You can up this to an 8 count if you want.
Focus on deep stable breathing, rhythmic and regular.
We are stabilising our environment, stabilising our life, stabilising our body and n0w this will stabal9se our breath to lead us on the way to stabilising our mind.
This is taking care of everything that might disturb our meditation be it our life, body or breath itself.
You can learn more advanced pranayama’s but it is more important to establish your practice and keeping it simple makes this easier.
Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga
The fifth limb of yoga – Pratyahara
It is basically withdrawing your senses from the exterior world. You are not focusing on anything external to you, This is where all the previous stages will have assisted in eliminating these distractions. Earplugs are your friend if you live in the city.
The sixth limb of yoga – Dharana
This is basically concentration. We now need an object of focus that is internal. This is where chakras can be objects of concentration. But for our beginning steps the best point of focus is our “third eye” or between your eyebrows about an inch behind.
Focus and concentrate all of your energy to this one point. This is a lot more difficult than it might sound and is most of the work of meditation. All kinds of thoughts will intrude and attempt to distract you. Just let the thoughts go by and keep your focus, DO not try and aggressively fight the thoughts away as you will become entangled in them.
As you progress your mind may even come up with what you think are intelligent thoughts or insights but this can just be your mind being more sophisticated at distracting you. Still let these go by as it is not the goal. We are meditating to quiet the mind.
Start at 5 minutes a day and increase over time. Consider it like going to the gym and working up the amount of weight you can lift. Eventually you want to up this to 30 minutes a day, If you are able to keep a strict schedule of 30 minutes a day then you are well on your way. Ideally you could get this to an hour a day which will be of great benefit but just stick to your daily practice and get as much time in as you can.
The seventh limb of yoga – Dhyana
This is the actual process of meditation. It is going to take a long time to get to this point but will decrease with practice. This is when your mind goes quiet. It calms and is focused on your internal point and you are completely still. You have single pointed concentration. This is when you start meditation proper. You are not disturbed by the world, your body, your breath, your mind and you are now meditating.
This is a victory you ca make over yourself that few people ever make. It is not easy. But with discipline it will get easier over time. The more meditation you do the easier it will be to get to this point. But in the modern world any more than an hour a day can be very hard to achieve.
When you start your practice you may not reach this point in a session or you may only get here briefly but just persist and keep working on it,
The eighth limb of yoga – Samadhi
This is when you achieve unity. This is extremely difficult to talk about without using imprecise language as It is always regarded as mystical and religious terms like a unity with god.
A broad way to describe this would be a break between a sense of subject and object. We have concentrated on an object in step six; we are meditating on the object in step seven and Samadhi the distinction between those two things vanish. There is no meditate or object, and it bec9mes the same thing.
A COLLAPSE OF THE DUALISM BETWEEN SUBJECT AND OBJECT.
Also referred to as the disintegration of ego. Obviously this is a topic that can get very complicated and mystical and spiritual but again just focus on the process of meditation and you can investigate this further when required.
AS you go further there are different levels of Samadhi. Again you can investigate this later.
Further research and practice
As you can see the benefits of yoga meditation itself are immense and it has many knock on effects in life.
Yu can go much deeper but the most important part is to start your practice and be disciplined in it.
The self-realisation fellowship is a great resource if you go deeper into this and want to research further.