Monthly Archives: June 2016

Positive Coaching?

I stumbled upon an article, through researching good leadership and coaching for Martial Arts that talked about Coach Gus Bradley. He is well known in the world of Football for being an upbeat, positive coach who rarely offers negative comments. To me, positive coaching is sort of a redundant term. Coaching is (supposed) to always be a positive thing, even if you are telling a student what they are doing wrong. There are coaches who are famous for their “in your face” coaching style. Mike Ditka was infamous for being a hard coach. His no nonsense approach to his Chicago Bears brought them a Super Bowl Championship and 1 game shy of a completely perfect season. As you watch youth athletes, it is almost always in the whispers that every great team has a demanding coach no matter what the sport. I suppose that we have to ask ourselves what is really important in the long run.

We do know from research across many performance domains that taking this type of positive approach has long-term benefits.~ Trent Petrie

Is winning the goal once you get to the pros? Is the positive coaching method of one coach going to ruin athletes for other coaches? Trent Petrie, director of The Center for Sports Psychology and Performance Excellence at the University of North Texas and he says “We do know from research across many performance domains that taking this type of positive approach has long-term benefits,” Petrie said. “The approach is focused on learning and growth. The ability to make mistakes, but learning from those mistakes. Focusing on long-term goals with positive feedback. All those things that are part of this climate that he’s creating and is one in which athletes can thrive.” So basically, the stress of being chewed out or punishment for not performing is removed from the equation. Is this a good thing?Since Gus Bradley has an NFL head coach record of 12-36, I don’t know if this approach is the best for winning results.

I would say that at a young age, kids need to be coached with a combination of positive feedback about progress they are making and honesty about where they can improve.

Being honest about the mistakes they are making is the part that some athletes and parents don’t want to hear.

There are several ways to describe it. It is often said that you learn everything from a loss and nothing from a win. I want to use Jordan Burroughs as an example. Jordan Burroughs has stated all of the tough coaching and sacrifices he had to endure to get where he is today. Jordan Burroughs is the reigning Olympic Champion Freestyle Wresting Champion at 74 kilos. He is considered, rightfully, to be the best wrestler in the world in any weight class.

I’m curious to hear what other people think about this subject. Obviously Gus Bradley doesn’t have championship success with his strategy, but he is well liked by his players and fellow coaches. What is the goal when coaching though? Some would say coaching youth would emphasize teaching skills like leadership, team work, and good sportsmanship. Others would say that teaching youth athletes should emphasize on getting better and becoming successful. A winning attitude does not come at the price of soft coaches and being friends with your players. That is the general consensus and an educated opinion that I share. Anyone who reads this blog can comment and let me know what your opinion is.

Another One of Those Weeks

So we had some major issues this past weekend. A shooter in Orlando walked into a club and started shooting people. Tactics were employed and the shooter obviously had weapons training. How effective would a gun be against a group of unarmed, untrained, unsuspecting club-goers? Well, obviously very effective. There was another tragedy in Orlando just yesterday when an alligator drug a 2 year old child into a man-made lake to his death at Disneyworld. The father was in striking distance but was unable to save his son. It is a really tragic occurrence and I can’t help but feel horrible for the victims and their loved ones. With that said, other things always come to mind. I wasn’t in either of these situations nor have I ever been in similar situations. These are extremely rare but it does make me wonder what would happen if the victims, or the bystanders were devout Martial Artists.

I am always discussing all of the wonderful qualities that Martial Arts brings us, and I mention discipline, honor, integrity, and other helpful tools that Martial Arts teaches us. I want to talk about the raw power and skill that Martial Arts brings. Now, if an active shooter were to walk into a large Brazilian Jiujitsu tournament, I doubt there would be 103 victims. I have the sneaking suspicion that as soon as an active shooter were to walk into a crowd of martial artists, the problem would be solved a lot faster.

Fight or flight is the response when faced with a dire situation.

In my humble opinion, Martial Artists choose the fight reflex far more often than flight. Listening to the people in the club when the madman was shooting seemed to revolve around the same theme, hide then play dead. One victim even said that he got shot while he was playing dead because the shooter was walking around making sure everyone was dead. Now who am I to judge? Nobody, but I can’t help but feel that he was somewhat of a coward.

In robbery situations and scenarios of extremely violent crimes, the Police (who are experts in these situations) say to cooperate unless a victim really feels that their life is in danger. If someone feels that their life is in real danger, the Police recommend fighting back. Rape, kidnapping, and murder of cooperative victims is far more likely to come to fruition if there is no struggle. We teach children to scream loudly if someone tries to accost them. Going to the Orlando situation, I can’t believe that in a club with several hundred people, the masses chose to hide and run as opposed to rushing the attacker. Maybe it boils down to selfishness and those individuals felt that they would self-preserve if they fled. Maybe self-preservation is a great instinct, but for 103 people, that didn’t work. I find it very hard to believe that there would have been 103 victims if the crowd turned immediately to the attacker and decided not to be victims.

Now once again, maybe I’m no expert, but I did research this. I searched active shooter situations (like the one in our home town of San Bernardino) and violent crimes. Violent crime prevention and intervention, as well as the information known about the Orlando shooter.

Maybe we should aim more toward self-defense as opposed to self-preservation.

In the 9/11 attacks, one of the flights never made it to its destination of a highly populated target where there would have been way more casualties. A passenger on the plane was talking to his wife who informed him about the terror attacks at the Pentagon and World Trade Center Towers. The flight was being taken over by terrorists with box cutters, so when the man learned that the same fate was intended for the plane he was on, a group of passengers rushed the terrorists. Now, yes, the flight went down, but it went down in a field, not in a crowded metropolis where there would have been a higher death toll.

All of this is very tragic, but we as a nation need to understand that the threat of violence is always around us. Domestic, foreign, or alien (lol) but having the confidence and skill to defend others in a situation like this can truly save lives. I’m not saying that everyone is a hero, but martial artists have a better chance of being one. My thoughts go out to the families who have lost loved ones in this dark past few days.

Why Kimbo Mattered

Earlier this week, we lost an imposing figure that went from street fighting sensation to full blown Mixed Martial Artist. Kimbo Slice as you may know him, or Kevin Ferguson as his family knew him passed away at the age of 42 due to heart failure. Ferguson was set to fight in July against James Thompson, who he previously fought and beat in the first MMA fight card ever televised on broadcast television. Kimbo got his career beginning on YouTube. He was a street fighter who received tens of thousands of views and had some serious street credentials.

Once the shirt came off, it was on.

Kimbo showed some good power and movement for a big guy and seemed to drop other big guys while taking very little damage. The fights were bare-knuckle and didn’t seem to have any rules. Many of you won’t know what I’m talking about but Clint Eastwood played in a few movies like “Any Which Way You Can” and in those movies he was a winning street fighter who participated in organized fights for cash. He was the king of the hill and had the rough background to compliment the lifestyle. Kimbo reminds me of those movies, he had a serious cult following and the air around him and his confidence made him a scary sight to opponents.

The YouTube sensation was taken seriously on the street but not many MMA pros would have given him a chance. Of course to boost revenue, EliteXC picked him up in hopes of making some money off of his following. A lot of people thought it was a waste of time and really dumb idea. Back in the “old” days, EliteXC was second rate to the UFC and needed someone to spark interest among casual sports fans who weren’t exposed to MMA. It’s hard to imagine now but in 2008, the sport wasn’t getting much coverage on SportsCenter or online. Unless you were a hardcore fan of the sport and watched UFC bouts on Spike TV, there weren’t many other options for MMA bout viewing. Despite being nowhere near the level of the UFC, EliteXC aimed to be the trailblazer that made MMA relevant and they believed Kimbo Slice would be the man to get them where they wanted to be. For a little while, EliteXC’s hypothesis worked. Kimbo’s fight with Thompson aired on CBS at primetime on a Saturday and is still the highest rated MMA fight ever to air on television with 6.51 million viewers. I guess they weren’t so dumb after all.

Kimbo, of course, did as Kimbo always did and kept fighting. His last EliteXC fight, in which he lost to Seth Petruzelli, averaged 4.56 million viewers. Numbers never lie and the numbers did not lie in Kimbo Slice’s case. Without the pandemonium surrounding Slice and the numbers to back it up, there is no way the UFC signs a deal with Fox in 2011. Kimbo proved that mixed martial arts was acceptable to mainstream audiences.

Kimbo was the first mixed martial arts star to get recognition from major sporting outlets and in some ways made the UFC jealous because of all the years of hard work they had put in before Kimbo became a sensation.

But there is no doubt that fears of the sport being too violent or bloody to air on broadcast television or basic cable were toned down after Kimbo became a star.

Today, every single sports network either airs MMA fights or covers MMA news in some way, shape or form. Major online sports outlets have also emerged with their own MMA beat writers and verticals. MMA is even discussed on sports radio and TV talk shows because of fighters like Kimbo who were relevant. Kimbo truly brought back the assumption that gritty street fighters have a great chance against seasoned pros. A fight is a fight. I know that Kimbo lived a crazy life, it was evident all over his persona as well as his behavior. After doing research, people have always said the nicest things about him. He didn’t seem to have a troubled legal past aside from some minor offenses. He was playing the cards he was dealt. A lot of people get their shot from YouTube, but very few last through the years. Kimbo did that. Martial Arts Styles are one thing, but there are a lot of videos getting serious hits that involve nothing but a good street fight. Bruce Leroy aka Alex Cazares is another fighter who gained his initial fame on YouTube and ended up in the UFC. He is the new breed of street fighter turned Mixed Martial Artist. I say as long as it is entertaining, people will watch it. Kimbo was certainly entertaining.

Martial Arts for Your Grandparents?

We are always talking about getting kids started young in martial arts. When you go to the martial arts school to sign up, it is usually for your kids, unless you are looking to do something yourself. How often do people go in to sign up their parents or granparents? If martial arts are gentle enough to teach children, shouldn’t that same logic apply with senior citizens? I came across a story about a 93-year-old Chinese woman, Zhang Hexian, who practices daily in Kung Fu despite her age. She is a Kung Fu master who showed off in her village of Dongyun. She was excited to be demonstrating her great physical condition in martial arts. So it brought up a curiosity in me. We see the prototypical sensei in Kung Fu movies, they are always portrayed as much older. In the movie though, it is usually a much younger actor that is wearing a gray wig and beard, so the “old” instructor isn’t really that old. I guess I can really look into what may be the best Martial Arts styles for our senior friends.

To start with, martial arts is another way of working out for a lot of people while learning how to defend, how to relax and how to clear the mind.

It can provide a sense of peace in many ways but since there are many different styles, each style is not meant for every person, especially pertaining to age.

Martial arts contains a lot of striking and grappling and certain ones also contain hard kicking and punching, which seniors may have a hard time pulling off. Muay Thai and Savate are two styles that incorporate a lot of these different moves. Martial art styles such as judo involve pins, throws, and submissions. These three different styles are not meant for older adults and instead are meant for younger adults and even children who are more limber and able to take physical trauma.

There are many other options though, and the martial arts above could be practiced with a great deal of discretion. Why not just start with something more “gentle”, though? Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is very aerobic and can provide the intense training that one’s body needs while also helping to understand submission and passes, it too can be a complex style when it comes to seniors because it exerts the hip and through aging, the hip begin the deteriorate after the age of 50. There are a lot of submissions involved and the pace that it takes to make a good run at it may not be what older people are looking for. I guess the point is to help with fitness and dexterity while not doing physical harm to the body. When you’re older, everything is far more apt to harm you in terms of physical activity.

Based on researching and seeing tons of video with a lot of older people practicing Tai Chi in a park, Chinese Kung Fu seems to be a great martial art style for seniors. Kung Fu isn’t just what you see in films, it is a very spiritual art and requires a lot of patience and discipline. Older people tend to have a lot more patience than their younger counterparts. Most of the striking done in Kung Fu is done open-handed rather than through the fist and it focuses less on raw power and more on speed. When the focus is not on power, it automatically causes less trauma. When you punch or hit something, obviously there is trauma to object being hit, but there is also trauma to the instrument exacting the blow. Trauma and high impact are bad for people with less elasticity in their joints and more brittle bones.

As I touched on earlier, it’s important to find a martial art style that doesn’t exert your body to the point of causing pain. Some pain is expected, after all, martial arts is a form of exercise and if your body is not used to exercise, of course muscles are going to get sore. You want to find a martial art style that provides strength, flexibility, cardio, and mobility training. Becoming stronger is the easy part because exercise automatically helps with this, especially if you have been laying dormant for a long period. Flexibility is the number one way to prevent injuries. Cardio helps you live a longer and healthier life. Mobility training is a great way to keep your legs and arms with blood flowing through them, atrophy can be an issue when you just lay around doing nothing for an extended amount of time.

In conclusion, a doctor should always be consulted and a lot of research should be done to see what is best for you or you elderly loved one. It has to be interesting first in order to even be a change in lifestyle, nobody wants to take on a new task and expect it to stick if it isn’t at least interesting to them. When it comes to the different martial art styles there are many choose from and one thing remains the same, not every style is meant for every person. There are so many to choose from and it might take sampling some of them before choosing the right one for you. Having someone else who is interested in the same thing and is in the same phase of their life may be a great way to bond and take on the exciting challenge that is Martial Arts.