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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Our first ever GREEN STAR for behaviour leadership goes to !!

Our first ever Green Star for exemplary behaviour went to Molly SALAN.  What a star!.  Now if you haven't heard about the star system at Mt Evelyn, this article will explain a few things.  But first - this story is about Molly.

A student can earn any one of many coloured stars to wear on their Gi (uniform), but this one is different as it is a combined effort and assessment between her parents, her teachers and her karate instructors.



History is made by young Molly! She received the Green Star after many months of gaining ticks of approval from her parents, the club instructors, her school teachers and so on.  This was by no means a simple "I'm good today, get a star tomorrow!".  Molly was assessed at home, out at events, with friends, at school (by her teacher) and during class by the instructors.  Molly needed validated good behaviour entries over months to get this - and now she is successful as the first recipient in 2016.(introduced this after trialling the new 'star' system)


The book you see being held is the Student Book and record of Mollys performances for all belts and star attempts.


Molly receives her Green Star in front of onlooking parents and students.  A great example of ethics and discipline she leads the way today.


In support of Molly, Shae (the official club 'Mentor') gives her the thumbs up!

The stars and book explained.

So what is the star system all about?  Now this type of system is common in some Martial Arts  Schools and sporting clubs - but here it exists with a difference.  The student book is received when a student first joins and it lists behavioural standards, expectations, pathways to success, instruction on how to tie a belt, everything you need to do to earn stars.
If children have constant achievable goals before them with positive rewards you would be surprised with the intensity of their want to gather them!  We looked at how we quantify behaviour and ethics and discipline learnings within the club, and this book was born some years ago.  We trialled the yellow star first which corrects how belts are tied.  It corrected children's ability to tie a belt correctly and kicked off their first sense of independence within the club.  Once assessed in class for the 6th time successfully, the child earns their first star!  This is a club process and every time it is conducted, all children partake and it becomes a race to perfection to the befit of all.

These yellow stars took off and the next phase of stars was released.
In a previous article the Black and White Stars were issued to Matthew MOSS.  This was in response to a challenge that was set in private between parents, the student and the head instructor.



It doesn't finish there.  Over the last 3.5 decades we have searched for ways to increase a students learning about our founder, our history and the traditions we have ventured through to become what we are today.  This star is the Blue Star!.  A knowledge test conducted on-line to record the students knowledge checks and validate learnings.  I know for a fact young Molly has already attacked that exam and will be tested very shortly in class in front of her peers!  She will fill that Gi pretty quick I'm tipping.

So what about these accelerated students?  How do we as club instructors deal with the super fast learners, and how do we keep them engaged in their classes and retain them?  The book further deals with this by providing an accelerated program.  The accelerated program issues no less that 10 silver stars for one arm and 10 gold for the other.  Each star must pass the easy to follow the 'Accelerated' program chart in the student book.


So from here many intermediates remain engaged while passing through their belts and genuinely improving their fitness, health and knowledge.  From this point they will have the option of doing further on-line courses listed at our dedicated elearning site - www.mymartialartselearning.com site.

The courses here step right up to adult standard and require study and even an interview or 2 with the instructors (keeps them on their toes too!).  The contents of the elearning web site will be visited in another article, but from here you can see how student can make Martial Arts a guide for life, just like young Molly appears to be doing!

Go Molly...



Saturday, 26 March 2016

The Knife Defence Experiment. What we found!



We asked the students directly - 
What do you seek from your karate?  
Interestingly the theme was pretty consistent.  

"Oh..I reckon its for the fitness and to protect myself"  
"For me its so I can look after myself" and the list goes on.  

In over 35 years this has been the regular feature of peoples responses.  I then asked the question, does the training we provide actually do that?  I'd have to agree I'm in it for the journey of self defence and fitness - but - there is also the interest in furthering myself in a spiritual sense which I notice most weren't game to mention for concern about what others may think (which members would confirm more so in private than public).  Another common story is the history of students which rightfully so doesn't get mentioned - that is, their experiences as a victim of violence somewhere in their life that sat deeply in their minds and drove their need for a sense of safety.  This often seemed to manifest itself into - 

"I'm in it to learn how to look after myself".





So moving along I pressed the students to consider whether they really believed their karate was giving them this, or whether it just made them feel like it was, and had never though to question or test it.  The subject is a tense and sensitive point to cover in class and requires a very delicate hand to guide conversation without exposing student vulnerabilities in front of others.  Not recommended for instructors as off the cuff discussion.  Do a risk assessment, have the right information and get your risk mitigation strategy in place first!  Give the class for warning and ability to opt out without pressure or public humiliation before the class starts.  Our group had a month warning!

Types of Violence
Of particular concerns raised was the recent trends in Drug and Alcohol fuelled violence, weapons like knives guns and broken glass.  Terrorism naturally came up as it seems to hit us every night in the evening news.   

Locations Discussion
In the lead up to the discussion we discussed the natural breeding grounds of this type of violence with current industry security professionals, some text references, information from interstate and local law enforcement and health sector professionals (who we often consult with).  The proximity/location discussion revealed common places for this behaviour appeared to be in and around those areas where drugs and alcohol were commonly present - the clubs pubs bars and festive/sporting type mass gathering events.   In particular where the concentration points such as entry and exit points of licensed premises where late nights saw concentrations of alcohol fuelled patrons gathered with agenda or who were issue motivated.


Profile Discussion
The talk then covered who the violence they feared would most likely come from.  The unequivocal prominent demographic was the intoxicated male in their teens to early 20's as a generalisation.  While this does not preclude other groups it was the most commonly mentioned group among the students.  The profile of the violent person (who ever that may be) was broken into 2 groups.  The fool who was out of all control (reckless type - usually fuelled), and the predator type (possibly mentally ill, psychotic and potentially fuelled but not absolutely so) whose sole aim was to inflict injury for some personal gain.

Our Victim Mentality (our weakness?)
The discussion by this point had some emotion building and so we broke.  This was clearly close to many peoples hearts and minds.  We don't normally get this raw in open discussion and so trod lightly.  The concern here is that some of your students may have had more experience than the facilitator.  That means they may have experienced more violence than you and or may be better equipped than you - so all conversation needs to be non judgemental and exploratory of group opinion rather than centred around particular participants.

We looked into the mindset of the predator, the attacker and the victim.  It was interesting to see the difference in the minds of the group.  They expressed the following sentiments in summary - so this is not all inclusive and exclusionary to every other trait.  Whether accurate or not, it is the belief and assumptions made.



The groups view was that the predator was likely very determined, quite calculating, ruthless in their resolve and driven to create an environment that made their job the easiest (and the make the victim most vulnerable).  Also it was the groups view, that these types were likely to be by themselves rather than a pack of mates.  Likely to be armed if necessary as part of any plan.

The groups view was that the typical fuelled attacker was commonly issue motivated, likely more reckless than a predator, driven by reaction to particular circumstance on the occasion (rather than a psychotic life long fixation), more intent on reckless damage, potentially in a pack.  Potentially armed if need be.


The groups view of the victim (this means innocent victim - not another aggressive attacker fighting the first one) was that they were generally reactive to the actions of either the above.  Further to this, it was the groups view that the victim generally did not have an 'attackers' intent to do harm but would more likely fear what could happen to them and how to avoid it all together (even mid way through an attack).  The group also felt the victim would commonly not have a preconceived idea about how they would react if attacked, or to what level they would need to respond to survive.  It was interesting that this good group of people did not sit comfortably with being what they felt they needed to be - to survive!  An interesting point.  This mindset is discussed in more detail in later classes.

Self loathing seemed to feature strongly in the group discussion had they chosen to act in any way like an attacker - even if it was to live rather than die.

What about knives?
The knife discussion came up (as did other weapons).  Most in the group discussed the difference between facing a gun Vs a knife.  The exact content of which is reserved for the class room environment.  Needless to say we ventured through and past the obvious - guns and knives are both dangerous, knives dont need reloading.  We discussed the tactics of Martial Arts (not styles), and how empty handed techniques with securely planted feet, balanced bodies etc - were a key feature for power in the dojo, but difficult in battle.  The truth of a dynamic and violent knife attack demonstrated many events were likely 'in motion' and relentless and more than a 3-5 second step through response.  We looked at some genuine knife attack footage, compared our current strategy and soon came to accept the nature of movement in battle being something different to timed practice in a dojo - regardless of sparring experience.


"I'm mindful that the Chief has always said - MOVE, KEEP MOVING"..  He has expressed the need for this in our personal forms for as far back as I can remember!  He was and is right!


Planting our feet in a self defence move in order to execute the worlds most perfect front punch - in a reactive sense - whilst in a dynamic and violent encounter could simply make you an easier target to stab.

How to shift the mindset of the potential victim in order to survive is the subject of our next classes.  Steady as we go!



The Knife Defence Experiment Begins
The videos of the first trials of a knife attack generated by a fast moving attacker.  The reality is that they are wielding just a texta or marker.  The students (as the victim) by wearing a white T shirt helped us break down the incidence rate of being stabbed based on various response methods.  (we added up the number of clean texta marks)

The average rate was between 11 and 13 replicated stab wounds were common in the 20 secs - where students did not 

ESCAPE
STOP THE STABBING MOTION
REMAINED WITHIN RANGE
DID NOT SEEK A TOOL TO INTERVENE (CHAIR ETC)
DID NOT IDENTIFY AN EXIT ROUTE
DID NOT STRIKE THE ATTACKER WHEN ABLE
DID NOT HAVE A PLAN
STAYED STILL

The responses were intriguing to say the least.
The attacker and responder were experimenting with different methods of response, they were not trying to show you how you should do it!
The learning was deeply embedded and more so than not applying the pressure as seen here.

The Attackers Point Of View
We chatted to the attacker (a second Dan Black Belt under 25 - reasonably fit and very agile).  The attacker was asked what things made it hardest for him to attack (backed by a lower incidence of replicated stab wounds).  While not all inclusive and not necessarily representative of every knife attack some points were interesting.  The attacker claimed the things most difficult to win were when

THE VICTIM MOVED QUICKLY AND RANDOMLY
THE VICTIM ESCAPED THE AREA
THE VICTIM STRUCK HIM CLEANLY
THE VICTIM HAD A PLAN
THE VICTIM WAS CONSTANTLY OUT OF RANGE
THE VICTIM STOPPED AND JAMMED HIS STABBING MOTION WHEN ENTANGLED
A CHAIR OR TOOL WAS USED
THE VICTIM WAS AGGRESSIVE AND AIMING TO SEVERELY INJURE

The Victims Point Of View
The victims all reported that in the process of putting on their white T Shirts, their Heart Rates increased instantly.  Further to this they all recognised -

FOCUS WAS DRAWN SO MUCH TO THE ATTACKER THAT SURROUNDINGS DISAPPEARED (TUNNEL VISION)
THEIR RESPIRATORY RATE INCREASED INCREDIBLY
PAIN WAS NOT FELT WHEN HITTING THE FLOOR
A SENSE OF PANIC CAME ON THE CLOSER THE ATTACKER CAME
THINKING OF A TECHNIQUE WAS VERY DIFFICULT
EXECUTION OF TECHNIQUES IN MOTION WAS VERY DIFFICULT
GAINING POWER IN STRIKES WAS VERY DIFFICULT (IN REACTIVE  MOTION)
FEET WHERE NEARLY NEVER ABLE TO BE PLANTED IN STILL STANCE
4-5 STAB WOUNDS COULD OCCUR IN LESS THAN 1.5 SEC
DEFLECTION WHEN UNABLE TO ESCAPE SIMPLY RESET THE STABBING MOTION
30 SECONDS IS A LONG TIME!
ITS TOO LATE TO PLAN A RESPONSE ONCE ITS ALL STARTED


This is not all inclusive but makes us think.  Physiological changes are almost inevitable and can be both debilitating (if combined with panic and lack of  intent) as well as helpful.

This first step has helped many of us break down the myths of knife attacks.  It has highlighted some of the fallacies surrounding static powerful striking in a perfect world.  Largely many members felt that when  training only once or twice a week, we may not be able to be the perfect self defence machine we hope for.  Memory of techniques while under extreme pressure fails if not drilled sufficiently.  We realised that even doing this once or twice puts you in a far better position than seeing it a 100 times on you-tube.  We all agree the subject is sensitive and requires careful discussion.

Every persons involvement in this experiment was voluntary.  It was the choice of the group members what intensity and shape the testing occurred.

No innocent students were killed making this production - LOL..



















Friday, 25 March 2016

Bokken (Wooden Sword) Class with Kyoshi Martin - All Ranks




Every member from white belt to Probationary 6th Dan - were a part of this class.  Every member learned a little something about the Bokken (wooden sword) and the principles behind its use.  So well presented was the lesson that not a person was left behind.  Our thanks to Kyoshi Martin, Shihan Simone and Ryan for their patience and dedication to helping us all understand a little more!


The class begins with an introduction about the parts of the Sword and Bokken and history.


Sensei Josh - First Victim!


Kyoshi Martin explains - "This is the bit we hit Sensei Josh with!"..  well maybe he didnt say that, but we learned what each part of the bokken was.. We started at the very beginning..


Explained the detail before we took off into the class


Shihan Simone shows the focal point of the Bokken and its contact point as part of a demonstration


More of the detail - so we call go it!!


Each technique was clearly demonstrated for members to see and understand.

 

Everyone is involved - no matter what your experience!


Some analogy for the modern fighter


Much 'Do" time!


Correction for each of us..


A little about distancing


And the process of the bow in and out..

This marks the first of many classes to bring the capability of our members up a level.  Many took on the relationship of weapons to open handed techniques and how this extension of ourselves brought new learnings.  

Our thanks for an incredible evening.  Keep a watch for the next classes.

Couldnt resist a few more classic photos!


Mt Evelyn Little Champions
Following our recent nights of Extreme Forms, our photographer has released a few more photos showing the passion glow in our children.  I couldn't resist - so here they are!!
Xavier's face says it all!!


Andre's T Rolls shows it all!!


Lauchies kicks impressed all!


Little Thomas with perfect covers all!


James gave it his all!


Molly showed them all!  Having won the clubs first green star we will do an little article on her achievements next.

Why would you do any other sport!

Monday, 21 March 2016

Extreme FORMS - Expression Session! Wednesday Winners are..

Our Wednesday night crew took off with the idea of XTREME style forms!  Hats off to them for an an incredible display in front of watching parents and students.  Given the parameters of Balance Coordination Timing Focus and Power, each student went about creating their own works of art.  The excitement generated form this concept was truly regarding from an instructor and parents point of view.  Pictured below is our star - Bianca.  A little pocket rocket that gave it her all. 








Bianca the winner of the nights competition on Wednesday.  She truly committed to the concept and embraced the idea of inventing her own dream kata! - No restrictions!!




Bianca kicks off - Literally!




Lauchlan does the same  - and takes off with a flying side kick!





You wouldn't believe the positions some of these kids reached!!!



Bianca under the watchful eyes of parents and students made her way to the final rounds with no end of energy.

I would like to thank all of our children who participated.  The energy and excitement in the room was outstanding.  Parents and Instructors alike watched in amazement as the imagination of the children came to life.  To see so many smiling faces leave the hall that night made it one of those very special memorable nights at a truly special club. 




Our thanks to Rod SALAN for all the photography.  Always there for the club we would be lost without you!!


Thursday, 17 March 2016

Extreme FORMS - Expression Session! Tuesday Winners are..

So after recent demonstrations of XMA at the last State Training day, the children were inspired to create their own forms.  The eagerness was fantastic to see and anything that makes the kids love their karate more was worth a go.  This is how it all unfolded.




Ely - our 1st Extreme Winner!!




Our young Kaelin showed such incredible potential landing him in the championship group - final 3.
 




Kaelin took off like he;d just been plugged into electricity, keen as ever to do the things he always imagined he could do.  Really impressed our judging panel.





So keen was Kaelin he spent more time in the air than on the ground!!!







     



Then along came Anna Rose and Ely.  Both showing excellent agility and flexibility.  A credit to them the crowd enjoyed and applauded their efforts.







Kaelin never gave up but was up against tough competition




This was what the boys were up against!!!  Hurts me just looking at it!





The Tuesday night champions!!





Ely came out on top with a unanimous vote by 3 judges based on Balance, coordination, Timing, Focus and Power!!

Congratulations Ely - you were magnificent!

Our thanks to Rod SALAN for all the photography.  Always there for the club we would be lost without you!!