Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Stop Being a Victim

Nobody likes being called a victim, so it's the perfect title to this article. Let's start with some definitions and clarifying quotes. [I'm attributing the quotes to where I heard them, not to the necessarily correct source.]

"Victim mentality" is an acquired (learned) personality trait in which a person tends to regard him or herself as a victim of the negative actions of others, and to think, speak and act as if that were the case - even in the absence of clear evidence. It depends on habitual thought processes and attribution. Attribution is a concept in social psychology addressing the processes by which individuals explain the causes of behavior and events. -Wikipedia

"Definition of a victim: a person to whom life happens."- Peter McWilliams

 "Just World Fallacy" is the cognitive bias that human actions eventually yield morally fair and fitting consequences, so that, ultimately, noble actions are duly rewarded and evil actions are duly punished. In other words, the just-world hypothesis is the tendency to attribute consequences to, or expect consequences as the result of, an unspecified power that restores moral balance; the fallacy is that this implies (often unintentionally) the existence of such a power in terms of some cosmic force of justice, desert, stability, or order in the universe.-Wikipedia

“Life doesn’t happen TO you. Rather, it can happen BECAUSE of you. You have far more power and influence than you can possibly imagine. And once you decide, you can use your power to affect your own life as well as the life of the people around you.” - Dick Sutphen

"Enabling" is used in the context of problematic behavior, to signify dysfunctional approaches that are intended to help but in fact may perpetuate a problem. A common theme of enabling in this latter sense is that third parties take responsibility, blame, or make accommodations for a person's harmful conduct (often with the best of intentions, or from fear or insecurity which inhibits action). The practical effect is that the person himself or herself does not have to do so, and is shielded from awareness of the harm it may do, and the need or pressure to change. Generally, individuals who enable others have weak boundaries, low self-esteem, and have difficulty being assertive when they communicate with others.-Wikipedia

"There are no victims without enablers" - Ita Koning

There is not a day that goes by when I fail to hear someone stating how circumstances did not allow a result to take place. Often, very elaborate "rational lies" are used to frame a series of reasons or excuses. We've all done it to one degree or another, but there seems to be a type of Zombie Apocalypse infection taking place. I think the growth of Social Media has turned 'small towns' into cyber towns and into a type of group speak. 

The concept of personal responsibility is lost. Perhaps forever. NO ONE is to blame for their life's path, unrealized goals or frustrating outcomes. No one is willing to step up and say, "I created the problem, therefore I can solve the problem. Really think about this. If you don't have power over the result, then you can never fix it. If you own your outcome you can control your outcome. 

That simple change of mentality is one of the most powerful tools in the Universe. If you want SELF HELP, look in the mirror and see, "SELF". Then get off your ass and HELP.

In a recent Dr. Drew podcast with Lyle McDonald, Dr. Drew was pointing out, in so many words, how we demonize foods or macronutrients. Lyle replied, "We need an enemy, it's a way to simplify things", [not an exact quote]. That is a mouthful. What is the need to moralize EVERYTHING? Good politics, Bad politics,.. foods, exercise, governments, people, hormones, art, music, emotion. It's absurd, yet it creates a cause that people who are not self governing can get behind. Much easier to follow a school of thought than to think on your own, isn't it?

So, the pathway to NON victimhood is a simple one. Take responsibility, don't apply morality to results/outcomes. View it as evidence and strategize change. 
As per some victim-speak,....

Monsanto is evil -- Yes, they created your double chin, third world debt and invented "Jersey Shore". 

The Illuminati controls the earth -- I thought it was Iron Man, Reed Richards, Black Bolt and Dr. Strange sending Bruce Banner to Planet Hulk,.. but I could be wrong. 

Gluten is bad -- No actually it tastes good with deadly nightshades on top. 

Western Medicine is evil -- Make that speech when you sever an artery in a car accident. 

Big Pharma is evil -- About 50% of the population is sucking down Xanax like Tic Tacs it seems, LOL. Try dumping the Xanax, Valium, Ambien, Bio Identical Hormones and HRT for a couple months. Go ahead.

George Bush is evil -- So?

Barack Obama is evil -- And?

The Tea Party is evil -- I agree. I'd like a "Coffee Party". 

Federal Reserve is evil -- Isn't this a building? Didn't Bruce Willis save it in that movie?

And so it goes. Bottom line? If you don't like the outcome, change your behavior. Quit whining. 

Below,.. "The Victim". A painting by South Florida artist, Robin White. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Frank Sinatra Template

Chairman of the Board

"But now the days grow short
Im in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine
>from fine old kegs
>from the brim to the dregs
And it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year"
-Sung by Frank Sinatra, "When I Was Seventeen"

The idea I grasp from this song by Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra, that he has reflected on his life and is careful to cherish the time and the season. 

The idea of enjoying the season, in parts of the country that have seasonal change is good. You can't put off time till summer arrives to work on your jogging or your tennis game. You have to adapt to changes in weather and environment. Growing up in Pittsburgh, there was the standard, Football in the Fall, Basketball/Wrestling in the Winter, Track in the Spring and Baseball in summer. It gave young athletes variety and exposure to a broad spectrum of physical disciplines. As far as supplemental training goes,.. the Fall and Winter weight training along with Mom's cooking build the size and strength. Then the Spring and Summer running, swimming, hiking, burned off the blubber. It was a pretty simple yet elegant system of checks and balances. 

The advantages of the system is that you are pursuing goals long enough to progress and get good, then you are shifting the emphasis to expand in another arena. Many great athletes practiced multiple disciplines. It gives younger athletes a mental break and is a natural way to avoid compensations that occur by adapting so strongly to one isolated activity. It's a possible way to avoid injury from over training or mental fatigue as well. 

Back in the 80's [and don't we all miss them?] Aerobics Bunny, Kathy Smith was asked about her personal training, aside from teaching aerobics. She said that she had three activities and depending on the time of year, she would weight train with a bit of running and yoga. Then she would run much more with a bit of yoga and weight training. Lastly if she felt beat up from running and weights, she'd focus on yoga but maintain some weight training and running at low levels. Once again, simple and elegant. It's something you could continue without pushing the envelope to much and still be very fit all the time. You don't drop any activity,.. you keep it in the mix, but prioritize other components. That way it's not like starting over again. 

How could you apply this to other people? Well if you are lifting, you could focus on the three power lifts, each for 4 months by minimizing the other two. If you are an MMA fighter with no competitions for a while, it can be cycles of stand up, clinch and ground. Speed skaters spend time on the bike, at least in the old days of speed skating, when the weather got hot. 

The idea is simple, savor your seasons and alter your emphasis. The change keeps you mentally fresh and physically fresh. Then when you finish your training log, like Ol' Blue Eyes, you can say it was a very good year. 

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Warrior,... Mentor

Every so often you meet amazing people in ordinary places. I was lucky to meet Harold Koning at a Dan Inosanto workshop. We were practicing hubud drills and this scholarly man with the demeanor of a college professor was turning my forearms into mash potatoes. The bones in his forearms were like steel. I inquired about his background and he told me that he studied Mustika Kwitang Silat in Amsterdam with George DeGroot. 

I later became a student and friend. I wrote down every lesson and analyzed how he moved and why. I could never move like him, but his explanations, applications and demonstrations were backed up by explosive force, extreme pain and lightening speed. 

Let me say I've been at this game a while. I've been thrown by Larry Hartsell, put in the stocks by Rickson Gracie, held kicking pads for both Chai Sirisute and Cliff Stewart. All of these men are legends. Facing off against Guru Harold is in the same league. His skills are elegant, yet deadly. You have to be tough to train with him. If you can't take some impact, you are going to quit. 

Well Guru Harold is 76 years old and still moves incredibly well. It would be foolish to ignore certain components of his training program and lifestyle since they seem to have effectively allowed him to maintain an unusual level of vigor. 

I'll break this down into categories. I'll elaborate on the fitness based ones but they are all important. 

Harold is a Sociologist and Doctor of Psychology. He coaches people via Skype on personal performance and stress management. He also gives workshops on Chi Gung. His schedule looks like this as best I can remember. 

1. Chi Gung - to address the spirit and life energy, daily.
2. Guitar and Drum practice - to address his presence as a musician. 
3. Physical Training - to address his role as an athlete.
4. Time with family/friends - to address his role with others.

Harold started with Western Boxing in Surinam in I believe 1957. He still uses the tools of Bag Work, Rope Work and Body Work. 

He also practiced a type of Indian Wrestling [East Indian]. To this Harold includes time on the ground exercises. 

In Amsterdam, Harold trained boxing, kickboxing and Kenpo. He still uses the old school karate implements of kicking bag, leg weights, pulleys for stretching and light weights for shoulder work. 

The journey into Silat was with George DeGroot. Pak Degroot was not only a Silat man, but a boxer as well. Hard contact was not unusual. The silat based drills include high repetition calisthenics for the lower and upper body, followed by stretching for those regions. Kind of heat up the area, then stretch it to get the proper range of motion. Like being a blacksmith and tempering your muscles. Extensive use of open hand and finger based strikes means that your fingers have to be strong from fingertip pushups, playing guitar and drumming. 

Any trip of a few miles or less are done by bicycle. Regular kayaking in the canals of western Fort Lauderdale is done as well. Therefore long, slow, distance aerobics are covered in a way that is also a stress reducer. 

Weights are used for shoulder work with dumbbells, some thigh work and leg weights to build the hips for kicking, sweeping and trapping. 

So a workout would look like- 
Mobility drills for waist, shoulders, hips, ankles, knees, neck, etc. 

Leg drills, body weight squats, lunges and some drills unique to silat. Sapu, beset, puter, langka and djuru. 

Bag work, rope work and abdominal work. 
Some weight work. Mainly pressing, laterals, etc. Some done from kneeling. Stretching and more leg work. 

The amount of high repetitions can be crippling in the leg work. Each set is punctuated by stretching the leg muscles as they saturate with blood. 

The basics,.. Leg work, strikes, abdominal are done often and varied. He's been doing this since he was age 14. 

Diet is a fairly high carbohydrate mix of Surinam based and Cuban style foods. 

Harold maintains a weight only a few pounds off of his boxing weight he carried as a young adult. He's a light eater. 

From personal experience he's like a lot of silat men. They are similar to spice, getting more fiery with age. 

Photos are all by Andrea Abarca. Last photo of Willem DeThouars and Harold Koning is by Glenn Harris.
Dr. Harold Koning is a Social Psychologist. He was born in Surinam and taught International Relations in Amsterdam. He also lived in Djakarta, Indonesia. He is a boxer, kickboxer, Kenpo Black Belt and Silat Guru. As an international traveler he speaks many languages, is a master drummer, flamenco guitar player, Chi Gung instructor and spiritual leader. 

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Paleo Man Takes It Through The Heart

In this presentation by Alan Aragon, he presents the evidence regarding the Paleo Diet. He came to chew bubblegum and kick ass. Apparently he was out of bubblegum. 

Go to this link -->

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hillfit 2.0

Chris Highcock has upgraded his book Hillfit with an additional 70 pages of data. Getting this book is a no brainer. If you are an outdoor person who avoids the standard gym routine,.. this is the route for total fitness. This book is not geared as a sports training manual, powerlifting template or pathway to an Olympic Medal in Greco Roman wrestling. It's how to stay fit and strong, mobile and lean, while enjoying the outdoors.
The ebook is well put together and not just filler. I like Chris' style. It's not overwhelming, its' informing.

What I liked-
Information rich

What I didn't like-
I disagree with the HIT philosophy.

That aside, this is a solid piece of work. Remember, grown men can disagree on ideas and still agree on positive outcomes.

If you'd like to get the book,.. buy it here ->

Friday, April 19, 2013

Casting Pearls Before Swine

“Don’t give that which is holy to the dogs, neither throw your pearls before the pigs, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
- Matthew 7:6

"Wizard's First Rule: people are stupid." Richard and Kahlan frowned even more. "People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People's heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.
—Chapter 36, p.560, Wizard's First Rule

I've not grown weak as I age, I'd prefer to think I've gained wisdom. The only way to get better insight is to have some bad insight. Then rather than complaining about the results as good or bad, you realize you are successful at producing outcomes. What you do with those outcomes is up to you. If you make a change and try again, you are far ahead of the curve. 

Arguing with idiots is somewhat of a sport on the internet and social media. It's equivalent to a Town Square. Through observation, understanding and actually changing my way of thinking, it gets down to this. There is comfort in being stupid for many people. Willingness to learn new things and be proven wrong is scary. You get challenged. It's like being a fast gun in the Old West. There is always someone younger and faster riding into town. How do we figure out who the idiots are? Here are some indicators. 

1. They adhere to a school of thought, political party, religious group, conspiracy theory, dietary science, training method, vocation, etc. 
2. They really don't understand the concept of evidence. [More on this later]
3. The soak their being in the use of Logical Fallacy. 
4. They are typically followers and not leaders. Free speech and free thought is not all rainbows and unicorns. 

Rather than target any group or just stupid people in general, I'd like to elaborate on points 2 and 3. 

The concept of evidence is a weighty subject and I'm far, far, from an expert. There are different types of evidence from good to bad. For example, there is LOTS of evidence for the Easter Bunny. However it's poor evidence. The most sensational and emotional type of evidence is anecdote or personal testimony. In other words, if you say it, it's real. "An alien spacecraft passed over my car," is an example of this. Sensational but worthless. It doesn't matter who said it. Oddly, this model is the most powerful one in advertising. 

Another type of evidence is "correlation to causation". For example people falsely attribute the increased use of high fructose corn syrup to the increase on obesity. There is an increase in smart phone use, reality TV and hybrid cars. Why aren't these attributed to obesity? It's the same idea. It sounds compelling and dramatic but it's hardly science. Think of Jenny McCarthy and vaccines. We are aware how more versed she is in molecular biology than Jonas Salk.

"Facts won't change beliefs." - Lyle McDonald

With poor evidence such as this people rely on "Logical Fallacies" to leverage opinion and persuade followers. There are many logical fallacies, but here are the most common ones.

The key of course is to invest in discussion with those who are interested. They may not agree with you, but they ask for your input. To simply draw the masses into meaningless discussions is a waste of energy. Nothing to gain and a lot to lose. When you argue evidence versus faith, you end up in a Red Queen's Paradox. One side fortifying their point with logic and evidence, the other with fallacy and belief. Fundamentally, nothing will ever be resolved. 

The people who need the information will not only ask specific, honest, questions,.. they will actually force growth by inquiring with energy that causes you to stretch. The stupid people will repeat the same tired doctrine. At some point in your development it will be come apparent. The problem though, is like Al Pacino in Godfather 3,.. they keep pulling you back in.

So fight the good fight. Ignore the stupid, educate the willing,.. forget the rest. You can't fix it.
In light of the tragic terrorism in Boston it's hard to think there will be 9/11 Truthers claiming an inside job. Yes. People are stupid. The following list is just a wonderful collection of flawed thinking. Read it and see how many you can apply to people you know. 
Fifteen Styles of Distorted Thinking [multiple internet sources on psychology/recovery]
1.       Filtering: Taking the negative components of a situation and magnifying them while filtering out the positive components. People may have a consistent theme such as loss, danger or injustice. Consequently they evaluate everything though that particular lens. 
2.       Polarised Thinking: There is no middle ground or gray area – things are either right or wrong, good or bad. If you aren’t perfect, then you’re a failure. This style of thinking has a significant impact on how people judge themselves and others. 
3.       Overgeneralisation: One single incident or piece of evidence is the foundation for a general conclusion, and so if something bad happens once, it can be expected to happen again and again. If a person has let you down once, they can never be trusted again. 
4.       Mind Reading: Mind readers think that their assumptions about others and what they are thinking are true. They know why people do what they do, and what they are thinking and feeling – especially in relation to themselves. 
5.       Catastrophizing: Disaster is always round the corner, and you expect it. As soon as there is suggestion of a problem, you start with “what-if’s”, assuming that the worst case scenario is on the way. 
6.       Personalisation: You have a tendency to relate everything around you to yourself, and think that everything others say and do is a reaction to you. These people characteristically compare themselves to others. 
7.       Control Fallacy: This usually manifests in one of two ways. You may feel as though the locus of control for your life is outside, and you are a victim of fate. Everything is beyond your control and you can’t influence important outcomes. The other common manifestation of this style of thinking is that you feel excessively responsible, as though everything depends on you. You are responsible for the pain or happiness of those around you. 
8.       Fallacy of Fairness: Fairness and justice are big standards for you, and you think everything should be fair – even though the evidence shows life often isn’t. You feel resentful that you know what is fair, but people won’t believe you. 
9.       Emotional Reasoning: You believe that your feelings are the truth. If you feel stupid, you are stupid. 
10.   Fallacy of Change: Your hopes for happiness depend on others, and so you need to change them to suit your needs. You talk about how people should change, and you give a lot of advice. You expect people will change to suit you if you pressure or cajole them enough. 
11.   Global labelling: You generalise a small number of qualities into a global judgement, for example if you have a negative experience with one person from a company, the rest of the employees are branded accordingly. 
12.   Blaming: Other people are held responsible for your pain, or you are responsible for the pain of others. If a problem occurs then someone must be at fault. Blame is how you respond to difficult situations. 
13.   Shoulds: You have a set of rules about how people “should” act and how things “should” be, that no one could realistically live up to. If you break your own rules you feel guilty, if others break them you become angry with them. 
14.   Being Right: To be wrong is unthinkable, and so you are always out to prove that you are right – and you will go to great lengths to do so. You are defensive and will hang on to your opinions and try to justify your actions. 
15.   Heaven’s Reward Fallacy: You work hard and deny yourself rewards in the hope that some kind of reward will come later. You make sacrifices, and consequently if the expected reward doesn’t come you become upset.

"You can't fix stupid." - Ron White

Friday, April 05, 2013

Dan Inosanto on Silat

This article is snagged from an earlier interview I posted on this blog. The portion on silat is quite good. I edited it a bit for flow. The fact that Dan was a public school teacher for so many years kind of paints his expression of history, geography and the sociology in this piece. With the current silat based movies, Merantau, Raid:Redemption and the upcoming Berandal,.. a bit of background about this violent art adds clarity. Enjoy. 

"Silat is an Indonesian or Malaysian or a Southern Filipino martial art. However, silat can be found in Southern Thailand and it can also be found in Southern Burma. Silat can now be found in Holland and it can also be found in England, the United States and in Australia. I think Jon Dejong used to teach it out there. There are just so many different types of silat systems. I think that Don Draeger once said that there’s over 158 different styles of silat. However, Herman Suwanda before passing away, said in West Java alone, there are 200 styles of silat. What it is is an individualised art and it is my belief that sometimes you cannot use that art because it is individualised for that person. So the mistake most people make is, they try and learn that particular silat system and it may not fit their attributes because it may not be their game. However, I think from a coaches view point and more or less a philosophy and martial art view point, each silat system has its own different characteristics and it’s kind of fun to research it, just to see how different people defended themselves and attacked from that type of system.

John De Jong was a Dutch Indonesian who studied an art called Minangkabau from the island of Sumatra. He also studied Serak and he kind of joined the elements of Serak and Minangkabau. He also studied under another Silat Instructor who was also Dutch Indonesian that taught him Silat. He had three tours of Vietnam in the Special Forces and was in a group of Special Forces with a bunch of Native American Indians from different tribes. That’s why he was heavily into all the Native American customs and things of that nature. I met him I believe in 1977 or 1978 and we then became just really good friends, we exchanged tactical things. We formed at that time what we called Kali/Silat. He has passed away now, but he was really outstanding. He was more of a fighter than he was a teacher, that’s why many people found it very difficult to train under him because he was more into fighting and everything was for the fight. He was not too much on the artistic part although he could do it.

He also trained in the Japanese Katana, so he was very good at training that also. But every time he did it, he had a kind of like Japanese/Indonesian look when he did the Japanese art. But he was a great martial artist and was very knowledgeable but sometimes, because he was in such a rush to get the material out, that there wasn’t any kind of curriculum and he would say “o.k., let me feel it, this is what you want to do.” So he would teach more through feel and that’s the way he taught.

I’ve studied Serak from four different views, from Willem De Thouars who also studies Kuntao. I study with Victor De Thouars now and have been for the last three and a half years. I’ve studied with Paul De Thouars and I studied with Maurice De Thouars for three lessons because he lives in Holland but when he came to the United States I had the privilege to train with him for the three lessons. I’ve trained with Herman Suwanda and I’ve also trained with his sister.

I’ve trained with Johnny LaCoste which is Southern Filipino Silat. I’ve trained with Eddy Jafre who’s from Sumatra and he has a combination of four or five different systems. Then I trained in Malaysian Bersilat under Nik Mustafa and that was a combination of Lyncha Java Silat Betaga they call it. He mixed it with what they call Gayong Harimau which is different from original Gayong. So they’re very in between and he kind of mixed his art too, because where he lived, it’s very close to the border of Thailand. So there’s kind of a Thai / Silat look in his buahs and that’s where I learned it from.

These were the main people that taught me. I think I can say, De Thouars, Eddy Jafre, John De Jong, LaCoste are the main people that taught me although I have been very lucky whenever a guy comes into town that has a Silat base, he is nice enough to share his Silat with me."