Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Clark Kent

Once again and not for the last time I suspect, the  spectre of bullying has cast a shadow over our society. This contagion is not just limited to our own localities but is omnipresent in society in general.Over the years I have been approached by many individuals who have attracted the  unwanted and unwarranted attention of bullies.I have always advocated the use ( initially) of non violent methods in order to extradite oneself from a potentially dangerous or life threatening situation.Of course bullying takes many forms and is not just confined as we know ,to a physical assault  Please visit my blog on bullying Wicklow Bully Project
However some bullying enters the physical realm.Here the rules are quite simple. You survive, initially. Then you tackle the problem.Now what is surviving  ? Well either you run, enlist the help of another, tell a figure in authority,use verbal dissuasion skills or if the aforementioned fail or are not  an option then you have to switch , very quickly to plan B.
Plan B ? Well plan B is where you give yourself the permission not to have to take it any more  At that moment you must switch from being mild mannered Clark Kent to becoming Superman. It can be done. 
No one said it was going to be easy right? But, with the correct training physically and mentally, you can achieve this.
Your training must reflect the purpose for which is is intended. Remember Martial arts are not ( necessarily ) self defence. Consider this in your training and seek out those trainer with the skill sets to help you in your specific situation..

For advice on dealing with bullying Alan Ellis can be contacted on 089-4567533

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Bullying & Suicide

After the tragic death of a 16 year old deaf boy who, due to bullying tragically took his own life I am revisiting my project on bullying. As a martial arts teacher I have often been contacted by parents whose child or in some cases children have been victims. What I have discovered on a personal level is that the average martial arts teacher has little or no training nor education in dealing with this issue. Parent entrust us with helping their children. Often times the only contribution we make is the teaching of some self defence technique or lip service to increased confidence or self esteem. Of course our instruction is well intended. However I put this to you. If you or your child were diagnosed with a life threatening illness would you be content to take the advice of a doctor who practiced a couple of hours per week and did not update and educate himself in the latest medical techniques ?
Now most of you reading this may never want to become martial arts teachers , though you can engage and help in your community. Your time and your input can make a vast difference in addressing this issue (bullying). Most of us have family, friends,some of us have children who may have or indeed may be suffering from bullying. Let us not also forget that adults too can suffer from the effects of bullying.
As martial artists lets try to put something positive into our local communities. We, most of us martial artists, or aspiring martial artists, turned to this path as a direct result of bullying. Perhaps we felt insecure, weak, powerless. For those of us lucky enough to have had instructors who made all the difference and for those of you who are looking for instructors to make the difference , I say this ; be the change you want to see in the world ( not my words, but definitely my sentiments).
I have a bully project group on this site. You can join here
Most of us don't address topics such as this. We tend to wait until the  problem comes to our own door. Unless we make change happen it is I fear, only a matter of time until some of us are adversely affected by this insidious and life destroying epidemic.
I am intent on developing an ongoing project that will see workshops and seminars dedicate to dealing with this problem. Perhaps some of the instructors and black belts on this site would  join me in this? I think that together we can make a really positive and long lasting difference.

Wicklow Bully Project

Wicklow Bully Project

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Manners & Martial Arts

Perhaps one of the most profound benefits children can develop through martial arts are manners. Plain and simple. Well, its probably not that plain nowadays though it can be that simple.

Growing up in an Ireland of the 1960' &70's good manners were a fundamental part of childhood."Please" and "Thank You" , "Yes Sir "and "Yes Ma'am" were daily phrases used abundantly and without a second thought.

The subsequent decades have seen a steady erosion of what is often refereed to as old fashioned values.The common knee jerk reaction to this lowering of basic etiquette and general good deportment is to blame the parents of today's youth. However, to do so ignores the profound impact T.V., movies, internet and social network sites have on children. Schools no longer  assert  the influence over students that they once did.

So, where then are today's youth to learn good manners. Well, there's the military. Have you ever noticed the very fine manners and general good etiquette displayed by those who have served in the military? When you encounter a former career military person who has moved up the ranks you will be impressed with their old fashioned courtesies .You see, in the military you are taught to serve first before you earn the right  to command.

Short of enrolling your child in the armed forces where then can you ensure that they receive first rate education in manners, deportment and civility.

 Martial arts training, conducted by a mindful coach can teach really great manners.. Here's how. Like the military most schools of martial arts have a structured system of rank. In the martial arts we call it grade rank , denoted by a belt, strip, sash, badge or whatever depending on the school. Students can, with hard work, move up the ranks. In a good school this advancement is not just a matter of physical skills.Students must learn, demonstrate and advocate discipline, respect, courtesy, humility, etiquette and many more attributes of " good manners".

By virtue of its structure and  nature martial are an ideal method to imbue good manners.

If I can be of any service regarding martial arts please don't hesitate to contact me on 089-4567533 or
 email aemartialartist@gmail.com

Motivational Martial Arts

Childhood Obesity & Diabetes

It may appear unusual to find a blog here,on a martial artists blog site, relating to childhood obesity and its role in the ever increasing incidence of  type 2 diabetes.

However to Wicklow based martial artist Alan Ellis topics such as this are part of his mindful curriculum at his Motivational Martial Arts school. Ellis who is a member of Tom Callo's The 100 group believes that martial arts teachers should pay more than lip service to the ideal's of exercise and good diet.

"When I started out in martial arts some forty years ago, it was unheard of for instructors to talk of healthy diet" remarks Ellis." Unfortunately in many cases that hasn't changed"

Ellis feels that while some martial arts leaders do refer to diet, its only in passing to advertise their lessons.Quotes such as "we teach kids to eat healthily" are sometimes just lip-service.

At his schools throughout Wicklow, Ellis implements programs that address and educate students in various topics, not least that of mindful eating.

" Levels of childhood obesity in Ireland have reached epidemic proportions" states Ellis. These levels are now among the highest in the world , a lack of exercise,unhealthy diet,and socio-economic background all play a significant role in this"

In addressing these alarming statistics Ellis believes that education and example will pave the way for a reversal of these trends.

"If we fail to rectify this problem then society as a whole will suffer" he believes.

In a recent article in the Irish Times Dr  Donal O Shea consultant endocrinologist at St Columcille's Hospital , Loughlinnstown , Dublin echo's his concerns:


While children are constantly bombarded with media advertisements to eat junk food and imbibe endless quantities of fizzy drinks, Ellis believes that those with influence in children's lives should seek to educate young people on healthier and ultimately more enjoyable options.

Martial arts teachers are ideally placed to exert that positive influence, however Ellis encourages parents to question their kids martial arts instructors on the programs available at their schools that address issues such as obesity and diabetes.

" A martial arts teacher has a duty of care to his students while they are on the mats at their training facilities" says Ellis " I believe that the duty of care should extend beyond the mats and into the daily lives of the students"

At his schools healthy mindful eating is a prerequisite to advancement in grade rank. Students are encouraged to follow a program which will evolve as they progress and ultimately make a great difference in their lives. In fact Ellis believes, it may save their lives.

 For more information on programs at Motivational Martial Arts or for advice in any area of martial arts training Alan Ellis may be contacted at 089-4567533 ,email aemartialartist@gmail.com

Monday, 30 July 2012

Questioning - You’re First Step In Kenpo

Questioning - Your First Step In Kenpo
Ask a question. In fact ask as many as you can. Remember this, there are no stupid questions. At his Kenpo school in Wicklow, Motivational Martial Artsowner Alan Ellis encourages his students to constantly question.
“I have been to various clubs and schools of martial arts where to question is deemed as disrespectful” remarks Alan.” My own view is that if you don’t ask then you’re going to significantly impair your ability to learn”
Some schools have a policy that the students should never question. In Ellis’ view this philosophy is short changing the student.
“If I go to my solicitor or my doctor, I’ll ask questions” states Ellis. In fact asking questions of his doctor may just have saved his life! Ellis documents that experience in his Heart Defence Project.
When it comes to learning a martial art and one that pertains to be a self defence art, the Wicklow based martial artist belives that students should be encouraged to ask questions from day one.
Some students will learn more visually. Others will take in information through auditory means. Its important that instructors recognise this and seek training in how to communicate with students.
Ellis is thankful that his instructors encouraged his questioning.
“I’m sure that at times I was at bit too much “ quips Ellis. “I was fortunate to train with men such as Tommy Jordan and the late Erle Montaigue” “Questions were always encouraged and answers explained in depth ”
Ellis recommends  that if you’re thinking of taking a Kenpo class, or any martial arts class, then you should look at a class and watch how the instructor will interact with his students.
“Use your common sense” " You wouldn’t accept second rate service in any other area” states Ellis
“Martial arts training should be no different”
If you need help in finding a martial arts class that is right for you Alan Ellis may be contacted on 089-4567533 or email at aemartialartist@gmail.com

Friday, 27 July 2012

Mindfulness or Mindlessness in Training

Mindfulness or Mindlessness in Training
Training in any discipline requires effort.That should go without saying. In examining our methods we should look at how effective those training methods are and what return we actually get from our efforts. Repetition it has been said is the mother of perfection. So perhaps it might make sense to understand what we are repeating in our training sessions and why.
In Kenpo, we learn through a process of seeing , doing and feeling. Our conscious mind filters this information and with enough repetition it is (we hope) hard-wired into our sub concious mind. Once there ( in the sub conscious) the information is stored forever, ready for utilisation in the case of a pathogenic attack.
In training at my school Motivational Martial Arts based in Wicklow, I am looking at  training methods by which accessing the sub conscious mind is made easier.
To learn marital arts or self defence on a conscious level by looking as if we are ,well, learning to fight, doesn’t yield as much as if we were to practice abstractly.
In order to assimilate the physical and bio chemical attributes needed to actually fight, for real, we must by pass or distract the conscious mind. This involves shutting out the “clutter” of the conscious mind.
In my study of Kenpo and Tai Chi I have found that this “distraction” or “abstractness” occurs most significantly in form work. Long seen by many as a mere prerequiste for grade testing or a collection of techniques, forms or kata serve a much more important purpose.
Enraging the body in form practice will, after the basic understanding of the physical motion, enable a relaxation or slowing down of conscious thought. Once this is achieved the real lesson can begin.
With the conscious mind now relaxed or distracted the sub conscious mind is open to suggestion. The suggestion or information that we present to the sub conscious is contained within the form. This data includes correct body alignment,balance, integrity of our physical structure, power generation through optimum body mechanics, sequential flow and harnessing of explosive energy.
By being mindful of becoming mindless we really begin to reap the rewards of our systems form work and training methods.
Note: Accessing the information in kata or forms requires an understanding of the sequences of movement in a particular form. This requires practice. In my opinion this is one of the prime reasons for a high drop out rate in classical martial art. Most students will not stick around long enough to really learn the form and to reap the benefits. In my locality , as is the trend nationally, the most popular ”martial arts” are kickboxing and mma along with the occasional ulitamte commando killer elite “guru” ( not to be confused with those who genuinely teach real defensive tactics, from real experience). The rise in popularity of the aforementioned is in my opinion partly due to the ommision of any type of form or kata in their systems apart from a make your own up musical form which would be more at home on the X Factor than in a real dojo.