Friday, May 31, 2013

When Heart Wins Over Matter, Part 2

May 16th, 2013, after three years, since the first instructor try-out, the long awaited day of coming to Phase A ( Level 1 instructor certification test) had finally arrived. My knee seemed to be holding up nicely up to this point, but I started medication to keep inflammation down as a precaution. Everything was packed and loaded into our rental van:

Clothing: check
Food: check
Snacks: check
Drinks: check
Gear: check
Kid's Stuffed Bumble bee: check

Kid's Bumble Bee??? My kid gave it to me to help remind me why I was doing this, just in case I had a temporary, last minute epiphany, gained some sanity, and decided to run away during the test. I say SANITY, because anyone would have to be just slightly disturbed or insane to put themselves through this much stress... for...wait for it... FREE! I think the only time I ever did that was when I was in labor, and that was kind of a take it, can't leave it, no refunds, kinda deal!

I NEEDED to do this, not just for myself, but I have another little pair of eyes who is constantly watching what I'm doing. Someone once said to me that kids may not always be listening, but they are always WATCHING! I don't want to be one of those mothers who projects the pressure of success on to her children because somewhere in her life, for whatever reasons, didn't meet or accomplish her dreams. It's important that while I'm telling my child that it's okay to take risks, finish what you start, persevere under difficult times, I too, am walking that talk and making it real to this little person.

Was I nervous on the day of the test? Scared, perhaps? Of course. I wasn't as fit as most of the guys in the room, especially the females, of which there were two others, and I could feel the pressure of not failing stirring inside me. After all, I told Chief Instructor Vein that I wasn't going to fail him either (see Part 1). I HAD to open my big mouth! I couldn't shut up and just take it: "Just get me there," I said, "and I would handle the rest," I recalled.
Brave soul, Josh Vega, took one for the team.
His wife has such a wonderful sense of humor,
she made him this special cup!

So what was it like? Very intense! We started with warm-ups and teaching. I taught headlock from the side and was assigned to teach kick to the groin. I suppose I did a good job, since Josh Vega, one of my partners, related afterwards that he could still feel the kick, not on his groin, but still nagging him all the way up and right behind his eye. Sorry! Ooo, I forgot...there are no sorries in Krav Maga. I take it back Josh! (*whispering aside: who am I kidding, I really am sorry I hit you that hard, and I hope you can still have plenty of children later on- wink*)

The most difficult part of the test, and I think most who have taken it would agree, that it's the drills. You are
placed in a position of disadvantage and have to defend yourself with any of the attacks that come your way. There was one that I felt I was done for, but kept going anyway. We were asked to do a burpie, kick your feet forward in a sitting position right after, and then rise from the ground to execute combatives. After like the tenth one, I was like, "You gotta be freakin' kidding me?!!! I gotta keep going??? I'm gonna pass out right  here on the floor and they're gonna have to carry me away in a stretcher. Oh GOD! I'm not wearing any clean UNDERWEAR! CRAP! Why can't I follow my own advice?!" Yes, mom's actually think of things like that. Well, seeing that I didn't bring an extra clean pair, I forced myself to keep going. Moments went by and other things happened. When working the defenses, if you're the person attacking, you're suppose to not stop until you've been put down to the floor. Do it in a room full of raging testosterone, when the adrenaline is shooting off the ceiling, and it's going to get CRAZY Chaotic! Not only did I get kicked in...ahem...that's right...THAT place--and by the way ladies-- it doesn't matter how much padding you're wearing, that kick will double you over and help you gain a new sense of respect for the pair these poor men have to carry around forever. My partner, of course, felt horrible, but in Krav Maga we have a wonderful word called, SWITCH, and I knew that soon it would be MY TURN to defend, so I didn't hold it against him. But I digress, after getting kicked you-know where, I caught my breath, sucked it up, and kept going before the next set of events. At one point, I crashed down to the floor with an audible THUD. As I was making my way up, another member of my team crashed right into me. I heard my neck go CRACK, braced my hands to turn away from the tackle, and another guy from the opposite end backed up and smashed my finger-- HARD! SERIOUSLY?!!! My chiropractor was going to have a field day with this one.

"What did you do this time?" he'll ask, arms crossed across his chest, I'm sure.
"Umm.." scratching me head, "I got tackled... and... some other dude, smashed my finger?"
"Tsk...tsk!" He'll say, head nodding disapprovingly.
"Oh, shut up and adjust me, I keep you in business!" I'll spew.

With the exception that the medication dehydrated me and cramped my foot so badly I had to stretch it out, I knew that if I stopped, I would lose momentum and eventually give up. Besides, my whole team kept cheering for everyone to keep going, and I couldn't have been prouder to be amongst them, nor could I let them down. I knew what my mind was telling me, but I had to find the heart to pull me through it. I remembered to take it a step at a time, fall back on the technique (thanks for that Charles), and somehow, I was able to keep going. Memories of some of the hardships over the past three years flooded me, and I remembered how much of this test closely resembled my life. I couldn't let it beat me. Giving in now would mean giving up on this journey, and I didn't come this far, learning from the defeat of my injuries and unexpected circumstances to raise a white flag.

There are going to be moments like you feel you just simply can't take or handle any more CRAP! You're tired. You're worn. AND you just-can't-go- any further. That's life, isn't? We never quite seem prepared for the tragedies of it, and it usually happens when you are at a point of disadvantage or at your lowest. I've been there, still don't think I'm done, but I have to keep moving, even if I'm on my hands and knees, clawing my way up at a turtle's pace-- that's okay--I cannot let LIFE knock me out. It's what I appreciate about Krav Maga so much. You are taught to deal with stress by facing it head on, and aside from wanting to help people, I feel that it has also helped me in more ways than I expected. It's given me a resilience and strength I didn't know I had.

You're probably wondering when this woman is going to stop rambling long enough to tell us if she passed or not...well.. the answer to that is an emphatic YES!!! I did it! I am now an official Krav Maga Level 1 Instructor.

Proud to have been a part of this TEAM! Clowing around before we left.
Left to right: Anthony, Trae, Meghan, Me, Josh, Jason, Ricky

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fighting from the Ground Up

I’m of the mindset that if I can talk my way out of a fight, then I’ve already won because no one had to worry about incurring any injuries or going home wounded. In a perfect world this is the way all fights would end for me—remember that I said, in a perfect world, of course.
Charles Garza warming me up with mitt work

In the real world, however, not all fights end amicably, and if you manage to get involved in one by mere happenstance, there are no rules and most don’t come with a bell that let’s each party know it’s time to go to each corner where you can take a swig of water, spit it out, all while getting your shoulders rubbed. You won’t have a trainer there barking commands for you to stick and move, and there won’t be a bell there to let you know it’s time to get back in the fight again.

In a real fight, your life will flash before your eyes in the span of 30 seconds, during which time you might get thrown up against a concrete wall, tackled down to the floor when you’re not looking, and if you think of the worst case scenario, get knocked unconscious, or much worse.
In real life, a man this size will try to tackle a
much smaller person to the floor.
An immediate burst to buck and roll him
 will help avoid getting choked unconscious.
After completing the buck and roll,
a quick escape is the best option
with an attacker this size.
This of course, is one of my biggest concerns, that someone bigger and stronger than I will spring out of nowhere, and then what do I do? So, I took a class recently called Alpha Krav Fight from the Ground Up. I went into it with the same mindset that I needed to learn how to defend myself in a real fight. It is a real life slug fest, to say the least.
This class is a mix of students and instructors, who are placed in real life
scenarios and then are made to defend against an opponent for a span of 30 seconds, before the next drill starts again.  2nd degree Black Belt Instructor, Pete Hardy, breaks every technique down and then puts it all together when the drill starts. What I love best is the level of improvisation one must do when placed in different situations.
Getting out of a guard after he tried bringing
me down to the floor again by using the wall
to spring up and throw punches every opening
I got to make my way out. A great way to keep
someone this size on the floor as you are making
your way up is to place your fist on his
lower abdomen.
I went from being told to lay on the floor, stomach towards the floor while my assailant is coming at me. I was also asked to do everything from starting a fight in a kneeling or sitting position to facing a wall with my back away from my opponent.
Winded, tired, bruised and beaten, I was asked to keep going in spite of the level of stress I was placed under. That’s the true concept of Krav Maga, learning to survive under stressful situations, and if one can keep going even after the tiredness has set in, it’s a great indicator for survival. The one thing I love about these drills is that it really puts my life into perspective. If I can handle this level of stress in a controlled situation, life is so much easier to deal with when I'm undergoing all different levels of stress in the real world.

My first bloody nose battle scar. Thank you
Level 5 student, Charles for always pushing me
beyond what I think I can do!
~Krav Maga Mama

*If you would like to learn more about the class time and schedule please go to:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Meet my Krav Brothers

Starting back row from left to right:
Ralph Kirchner, John Cameron,
Charles Dean, Charles Garza, David Becerra, Jose Labault,
Ernesto de los Santos, John Gahan and Instructors
Jennifer Alvarez and Arnold Cano
I wrote a piece for STW Krav Maga, and for this month, I wanted to post a sneak peek at the unedited, alternate version of it before it goes to press this Friday. It's one I did on the group I started with when I first joined Krav Maga. I talk about them all the time and it's time I introduced you to my Krav brothers. They've inspired me to continue to level up in Krav Maga as they recently passed their level 4 test. I'm very proud of their accomplishment and here's their story: 

What does it take to keep going despite moments of excruciating pain and discomfort? It takes heart, and there are some people who have plenty of it. Take for instance Japan’s Shun Fujimoto. In 1976, he captivated the attention of the world in the summer Olympic Games when he landed a perfect triple somersault twist dismount from the rings, only to gain the most coveted gold medal in the men’s gymnastics competition.  The most astounding part to all this was that he achieved this near flawless landing on a broken right knee. “The pain shot through me like a knife… it brought tears to my eyes,” he declared, “but now I have the gold medal and the pain is gone.”  This willingness to pay the price is what gave him the courage in the face of excruciating pain.

I was reminded of this event recently after interviewing a few of my Krav brothers who passed their level 4 test this past February, earning a very difficult to attain blue coin in Krav Maga. I've had the privilege of getting to know quite a few of them, and one thing that I have observed is that they seem to display a very gladiatorial spirit when it comes to their training, but not for the reasons you my think.

First let’s take a look into the world of the ancient gladiator. Gladiator contests originated as funeral games called munera because they were considered duties that were paid to the dead ancestors, but they eventually made its way to the public arena staged by politicians and emperors.

The gladiator ranks consisted of slaves, captured fugitives, criminals, and prisoners of war. However, by the fall of the Roman Empire, half of all gladiators joined voluntarily. These volunteers were known as the auctorati, aristocrats who had lost their wealth, while some risked their legal and social standing as well as their lives by fighting in this arena, just simply to inspire admiration and popular acclaim.

Gladiatorial training followed a strict, training regimen, whereupon they were taught to fight in a series of phases.  Once in the public arena, it was often a fight to the death, mercy or punishment dependent on the thumbs up or down of the Roman emperor.

Very similarly, and although I may be overstating and overdramatizing things a bit, cause in reality there is no fight to the death here at the center where I train, but we do have our very own modern day gladiators. These guys had to undergo a very strict regimen of constant training, 26 weeks to be exact, not to mention that they hand to withstand the various injuries they got throughout the course of this program in preparation for this exam. And of course, their passing on to the next stage was very dependent on the approval or disapproval of our very own Emperor, 2nd degree black belt, Pete Hardy, who expects nothing close to perfection from his upper level students.

It’s not the will to win that matter’s—everyone has that, it’s the will to prepare to win that matters~Paul Bear Bryant (college football coach with 323 victories,  including 6 national championships, 13 southeastern conference titles)

Just taking a simple look at the skills they must acquire and master is enough to make the average person want to cringe and take a pass. I personally think that learning and mastering those techniques would be like having your own personal Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee, Steven Segal, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and Borne Ultimatum goody bag on your side. They always seemed to know exactly how to disarm an aggressor with such perfect technique and ease.Impressive! However, learning and mastering those skills takes alot of work and effort. In the book, Complete Krav Maga by Darren Levine and John Whitman, it states, “We consider Blue Belt… to be the first advanced belt in our system. At this level, your training moves beyond basic fighting skills and self-defense—you now learn to defend against threats and attacks with weapons such as guns and sticks, and you are introduced to the principles of defenses against a knife. In addition, since a blue belt practitioner should have solid, practical experience in fighting, fighting becomes a significant factor during the Blue Belt test.” Fighting definitely played a large role in the success of this test, and it didn’t come without its share of casualties.

Never, NEver, NEVer, EVER give up~ Winston Churchill

 “I think everyone had some type of injury of one sort or another throughout the training,” remarked Level 4 Instructor Jennifer Alvarez.   One of the members, CK, got hurt when he took a stick to the forehead. Ouch!
CK and Jose Labault

“At least I know I can get hit on the head with a stick and I didn’t get fazed,” CK laughed. “My wife on the other hand, didn’t think it was so funny when I had to get stitches, though,” he said with an almost shameful grin.  “Pete said just dab it, put pressure on it and keep going. But I was more concerned about getting the floor dirty,” he continued. 

Two members messed up their ankles and one in particular took a more serious blow to his knee.

John Cameron
“I messed up my knee due to a previous injury I had in soccer when I broke my fibula in 2005 and it healed crooked,” said John Cameron. “I was practicing for the review and did a spinning slapstick when I felt a very sharp pain. I remember taking three ice baths a day to get the swelling down and it took the pain away for a little while.”

John hopped around one leg during the test (I can sympathize, for it wasn't too long ago, I was hopping around one leg myself, click here to read that story), and after he had it examined, he found he had snapped his ACL, tore his meniscus and experienced another bone crack that they had to break again because of his previous injury.

When I asked him why he felt he had to go through with the test despite injuring himself during the review, he remarked with a humble tone, “I put in five months of training, and in addition to training at the gym, I put in about two hours a day at home, so I wasn’t about to back down now. I’m a huge believer in giving everything 100% or nothing at all. Sure, I‘ll have to be away for six months now, and I’ll be in a cast for about three, and it’s a bummer because this place is such a big part of my life; it’s made me a better person, taught me discipline and humility cause there will always be a person better than you, but I didn’t mind.”

That’s a sign of a person with a winning attitude. Lance Armstrong, world-known cycling competitor and cancer survivor, said it best when he said, “Pain is temporary, quitting is forever,” and John certainly seems to live by this same standard. He was willing to pay the price, practice hard, and was determined to have a whatever it takes attitude to get the job done. Way to go!

Instructor Arnold Cano with
student Ernesto de los Santos

Instructor Jennifer Alvarez with student
Ernesto de los Santos

Expert 1, Level 4 Instructors, Arnold Cano who spearheaded the program, and Jennifer Alvarez, are both extremely proud of the group’s accomplishment. “It was an honor working with these guys…” said Arnold Cano “…and to all the guys who got hurt and stuck to it, I feel proud they did so well.”  Jennifer Alvarez agreed. “These guys were receptive to instruction. They had a no- quit attitude, were thirsty to learn and they want to keep learning,” she said.

Students John Gahan and Charles Garza

Aside from the intense training regimen, and assistance from their instructors, these men supported themselves throughout. “It was physically and mentally stressful,” said Charles Garza. “The circle of life, alone, was very intense…” (Circle of life consists of fending off one combatant after another, non-stop) “… but the thing I found most amazing was the support that I got not only from the instructors, who were just simply amazing by the way, but from watching a group that came from such diverse backgrounds band together to help each other succeed. It was a moment in my life that I will capture in time forever… [and] aside from the camaraderie, I got to experience everyone’s skill.

This skill set didn’t go without notice. Second degree black belt and owner of STW, Pete Hardy, said, “I was really pleased with the proficiency and the quality of the handgun work that they did.” If anyone knows Pete Hardy, that compliment alone is golden and speaks volumes about the effort, hard work, and heart these guys put into this program.

Every man dies, but not every man truly lives ~ Mel Gibson, Braveheart

There are people who are content living peaceful, quiet lives, never leaving a mark or even a blip on the radar screen of life. They leave this earth unscathed, unchanged, and unaware that they had abilities that needed to be tapped, and if opened, it would unravel their truest potential. Then there are those who take the call to challenge themselves, explore what is deep within them to help them discover what drives them. They push themselves beyond the limits of what is comfortable, average, or tolerable to help them unleash a part of themselves they didn’t know they had burning within them. It's not easy, I know. With the mounds of responsibilities and stressors of life I have resting on my shoulders, sometimes, I want to give up, I ask myself, "What the heck am I doing volunteering to get the crap beaten out of me?!" But I see that they have this yearning, this fire that drives them and the stress that they undergo with this type of intense training prepares them to tackle the outside world with ease. These are the guys whose loyalty knows no bounds. It takes an extreme amount of perseverance and self-discipline to stick to this type of program, testing out of levels one, two, three, and then four just to get to this point. That type of level of commitment is admirable to say the least.

Contrary to the ancient gladiators of old, these modern day warriors don’t do it for the praise and the accolades. It’s intrinsic. I should know. I’ve dealt with most of them and their sense of humility astounds me. As Blue Belt student Mr. John Cameron said, [this] taught me discipline and humility cause [no matter how good you think you are] there will always be a person better than you.” David Berrocal stated that the more classes he took, the fewer problems he had from the outside world because he learned the skills of situational awareness in order to avoid them.

But the comment that I found most inspiring came from this one brother who underwent the most significant changes throughout his journey with Krav Maga:

“I remember when I passed the level one test, I walked into my first upper level class. I thought I was so impressive having passed that challenge, and now I was going to start training with the big boys. I had to do some sparring and most of the guys in that class had had previous training in martial arts and boxing, and I had none. I was still quite a bit overweight, slower on my feet and unskilled. We started going several rounds and the guys were—just—WAILNG on me so hard and pounding on me that I began to feel a total sense of defeat,” he nodded his head with disappointment. “One moment, I got punched with a right hook so hard, I spun around and landed flat on my a$@. My mouthpiece flew across the room. I could hear the instructor yelling at me, telling me that I only had seconds to get up, and if I didn’t, he was gonna let my partner beat me on the floor. I got up and did the best I could. When it was over, and everyone else had left the room, I leaned up against the wall and slid down to the floor. I was gassed, angry and completely disappointed in myself. I felt so humiliated and defeated, and I think the beating that was harder to deal with was the one I was giving to my own state of mind. I almost gave up that day. I questioned whether I had learned anything at all, because I had just gotten the complete crap beaten out of me. If I could think back to the moment and day where I almost quit, I think that would’ve been it, but something inside me told me that if I was gonna fail at something, it wasn’t gonna be this, and now here I am. The level tests are never easy, but I think back to that day, and I’m able to press forward.”

THAT type of motivation certainly doesn’t come from a need to win the praise and admiration of a crowd of spectators, it comes from deep rooted courage and heart that allows you to do the things you fear the most, but as John Wayne would say, “You saddle up anyway.” It's a valuable lesson for me. I have to saddle up, get back up on that horse, keep riding till dusk and wait for the next day full of sunshine. Sometimes, all I get is sandstorms and annoying little tumbleweeds that iritate the crap out of me, sidetrack, and distract me. Sigh! But, yes,  I have to remember to saddle up anyways, endure whatever pain comes my way and keep going. Not an easy thing to do, but a challenge that I'm willing to undertake.

Congratulations, guys! I'm truly and sincerely proud of all of you. Your hard work and dedication paid off, and you have the scratches, bruises, broken noses, messed up ankles, ripped tendons, and bad knees to prove it. 

Peace, Love and Blessings, Always

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Whatever you do- DO- SOMETHING!

So my instructor goals have been put on hold due to several life setbacks, MEH! Such is life. Sometimes obstacles get in the way from pursuing certain goals, like in my case injuries and such, and we have to simply figure out a way around it without clamming up and throwing in the towel.

I had a foot injury back in December due to inflammation on my feet called plantar fasciitis, something I had since August. My doctor explained that it was constant inflammation on the arch brought about by wearing improper footwear with little to no arch support that caused it. I wore boxing shoes, which I love by the way, but in retrospect perhaps it may not have been a good idea to wear them everywhere I went, because the sole is completely flat. I experienced a lot of swelling throughout the months of August through December but usually shook it off, iced it, felt better and kept going, until the day of the incident, of course.

So how did it happen, you may wonder? I was kicking one of the instructors off a guard position, and by the way, when you look at this kid, you think, “light as a feather,” but one has no idea that this little bugger stings like a friggin’ bee. When I kicked him, it reminded me of the episode from Rocky IV when Ivan Drago just got pummeled by teeny tiny Rocky ( ) and he tells his trainer, “He’s not human… he’s like a piece of iron!” ( HANDS DOWN, my FAVORITE part of the movie by the way.

Well, that was this kid. I kicked him in the chest and my foot literally went— SNAP! I didn’t hear a CRACKLE and POP, so I dismissed it as probably one of my joints popping—meh—they pop all the time, so one more wasn’t gonna make a difference. Of course, I started limping, but had to suck it up, after all I wasn’t gonna let the little booger get the best of me. HA! Yes, I’m ashamed to say it, but guys aren’t the only ones with egos here. Besides, Chief Instructor Temple Vein kept yelling in his usual and lovely gruff manner, "Are you in, or are your out?!!" And what was I going to say? "Um, no, cause I have an ouchie?!”  Pfff! Puh-leeze! There’s no crying over ouchies in Krav Maga.

So, I finished the training, spent the whole night icing it and participated in the Warrior Dash (see video below) the following day, yes, with a limp. It wasn’t that bad, the mud was quite soothing, actually. Anyway, flash forward to several ice packs, frozen pea bags, a chiropractic adjustment, x-rays, and an MRI a week later, and I found out I had ruptured the medial tendon. No surgery required-phew! But he stuck me in a boot for a whole month, and there went my second time around at making it into the instructor program. Well, in a nutshell, and how can I put this nicely without sounding vulgar, coming across as uncouth and obscene, but that news TOtally-- BLEW!


Oh well, no sense in pining over things you can’t control, so I decided to continue training in whatever form I could and I would have to try again for the THIRD time around some other time. As with many fitness and martial arts practitioners, stopping an exercise routine is not always an option. For me, I had worked so hard to lose the weight I had in the last two-and-a-half years, that I wasn’t about to stop now. If you stop, all that hard work of getting to the level of physicality that you have attained will go down the drain and before you know it, you start spiraling down the opposite direction all over again. STW Krav Instructor, Pete Hardy, says it best, “Do SOMETHING every single day! If you stop, you will find an excuse to stop completely, and one day turns into two, two to a week, a week to a month, and before you know it, you’ve completely stopped what you were doing before.”

So I determined to do something in any modified way I could. I jumped rope with one foot, did pushups on one leg, lifted weights on a chair, and punched bags on my knees. I learned from this whole experience too. After all, life is a journey and if I don’t take the time to digest life’s lessons, I’ll miss out on the most important part of the ride. I began to see what a disabled veteran with one leg would have to go through. I questioned how I would teach and modify for a wounded warrior in a similar situation, for example. It was a good experience, overall, and although I may not have liked it at the time, I’m sure this knowledge will be useful to me some day. 
Since I couldn't add any weight on my foot
I modified for squats with wrap-around weights, by
lifting my hips up in the air, tucking my knee to my chest
and kicking out.


It’s been about eight weeks, and I finally got clearance from the Doc to start training again. YAY! I’ve developed some pretty strong arms this whole time—of course they’re not Schwarzenegger arms, but then again, why...would I want… Schwarzenegger… arms? Nonetheless, I feel stronger. Now it’s time for some total body workouts. Becoming a Krav Instructor may seem far-fetched, and if it’s meant to be, it will eventually happen. There’s a reason for this delay, but I’m enjoying part of the ride, and now even more so, because I’ll get to rejoin my brothers and sisters for some long awaited level 3 training. YES! Thank God for doing something every day, even when I didn’t feel like it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dig A Little Deeper!

"Get up from the floor! Get up off that floor! You stay-- you die!!! YOU STAY YOU DIE!!! Move, MOVE, MOOOVE!!"

I could hear my instructor yelling in my head in his husky, drill sergeant voice as I struggled to buck one of my Krav brothers off a full mount. The task seemed daunting. My hands were pinned overhead and glued to the floor; he was freakishly strong, bigger, heavier, and I couldn't stinkin' BUCK him off. Then he made it worse. He changed and used one hand to pin both my hands together as he simulated slaps to my face in a classic Three Stooges style with his other hand, and yelling, "FIGHT! Do something DAMMIT! Comon' MOOOVE! Buck me off!" (*Yes... I know... I'm using bad language, get over it, that's the way they talk and I need to stay true to their character)

Exhaustion set in, I felt winded, feeling like I had not a single bit of strength in me left, and I wanted to give up. He kept yelling, "FIGHT-- DON'T QUIT on me now, dig a little deeper and KEEP--GOING!!!

In Krav Maga, bucking is an explosive movement done by
exploding the hips in an upward and forward motion to throw
your attacker off a full mount as demonstrated here by Instructor
Bridget de la Rosa and Roger Lopez.
See blog on Rape Defenses by Pete Hardy.
I felt something from the pit of my stomach begin to churn. I felt anger rising to the surface; I suppose in a way it tapped into something deeper, similar to other struggles in life that could've immobilized me, whether someone had attempted to break me physically, psychologically, emotionally, or financially, it came to the surface in that fight, so I dug a little deeper and managed to buck him off. I didn't always succeed on the first try, there were times that I was thrown around like a rag doll, pinned against a chain-linked fence, swept off the floor, choked, and at one point I couldn't even breathe from his full weight on my chest, but I wanted to keep going, keep moving, keep trying, evaluate what I was doing wrong, and get it right. Of course, I was badly bruised the following day, what am I kidding myself? This guy was big, probably could've broken me in half if he wanted, but I NEEDED to do this. I suppose this is the point in Krav Maga that they call pushing beyond exhaustion during a stressful situation, and if you manage to get past that point, it means survival on the other side.

I've written about the importance of getting up when you're down. It translated to both a literal and figurative sense. Any martial arts or self defense practitioner knows that getting up from the floor is essential for survival in a life and death situation. If you stay down there, you're stuck and you're dead meat. But getting up is not enough, you have to move and keep going. And since I draw my inspiration from Krav Maga, of course I'm going to philosophize ( that a word?) in a metaphorical sense, about how this belief system translates well to how we handle the nasty stuff that life throws our way, and in mine, trust me when I say that I've had my share.

But as Bruce Lee once said, "Things live by moving and gain strength as they go.” I've had to do alot of digging, externally and internally, assessing and evalutating the things I needed to do to grow as a person to survive. I've had to eliminate things and habits that no longer worked in my life and learn new ways that did (see an Empowering System that Transforms Lives), and most importantly, I've had to keep moving forward. The journey is not always easy, but as Lao Tzu once said, "A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step." Today is the blocks with which we build (Longfellow) and the best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time, so there's no better time to start doing so than today (Lincoln).

If you're facing challenges in your life, dig a little deeper, don't fall back on old habits that are keeping you from improving and growing as a person to overcome them. GET UP off the floor, and keep moving forward, not backwards. The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving (Holmes). Don't allow fear of failure or rejection to keep you from being the person that God intended for you to be. Eleanor Roosevelt once said that the future belonged to those who believed in the beauty of their dreams and to quote from another one of my inspiring ladies, Helen Keller believed that one could never consent to creep when they had a tendency to soar. So if you have it in you to do just that, SOAR, do the thing you fear the most, and then the death of fear is certain (Emerson). Sorry if I'm on quote overkill, but these are my favorite quotes that have inspired me through some challenging times and just HAD to share them.

Not too long ago I saw the movie Soul Surfer. It was based on a true story about a young girl who lost her arm to a shark bite when she was surfing. She rose above the odds and became a surfing champion. There was one thing that she said that really stuck to me:

"When you come back from a loss... when you beat the odds and never say never... you find a champion"~ Soul Surfer

Have you experienced loss? How did you handle that? I don't always succeed with everything I set out to do, in fact, one of my failures was that I didn't make the second cut for the self defense instructor program, but I'm not quitting. I'm doing another tortuous tryout very soon. At 40, I've come to understand that failure is a learning experience and success is a process, but of one thing that I am 100 percent certain is that I have to get up, dig a little deeper, and keep moving forward by overcoming whatever challenges come my way.

What obstacles are you facing today? Are you stuck on old habits that are not working, or are you willing to fight to dig a little deeper and keep moving forward?

(Special thanks to my Krav brothers Charles and Henry for pushing me beyond exhaustion and forcing me to dig a little deeper)

*Ralph Waldo Emerson
*Oliver Wendell Holmes
*Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
*Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Creating awareness regarding domestic abuse is something that is very dear and near to my heart. In honor of Domestic Abuse Awareness month I wanted to include a piece I did at a reading for a community outreach venue recently.

It is dedicated to women who are in abusive relationships. We often find ourselves asking the question, "In spite of all the psychological and physical violence, why do they go back and choose to stay?" Regardless of the answer I think the real question should be, "How did they find the strength and the courage to leave?"

I wrote this piece in hopes of giving them that courage. My mother survived four abusive marriages and having been the oldest in the family I witnessed some of the things she experienced. Therefore, nothing brings me greater pleasure than writing to inspire women, especially those who come from abusive situations. In a way, I feel like I'm doing for them, what I was not able to do for my mother, and that brings me some sort of comfort and healing, which is one of the reasons I wrote Heart of the Jaguar (Kindle version here). Not only did I do it to create awareness about how cultural, religious and societal attitudes contribute to the abuse and mistreatment of women, but to empower them and make them aware that they can and must leave an abusive situation. Enjoy!

(*Special thanks to the muse who inspired the attitude and tone of this piece)

Whenever he tells you you’re worthless,
Don’t claim it.

Whenever he tells you you’re too scared to make it on your own,
Deny it.

If he says you can’t live without him,
Catch your breath... check your pulse…

If he leaves you penniless,
Go to school, get a job.

You CAN live without him,
You WILL live without him,
You MUST live without him.

You’re a survivor,
not a victim
You’re a survivor,
not a victim
I said you’re a SURVIVOR,

Stop waiting for Prince Charming to come along and rescue you.
Prince charming is the one who got you there in the first place.
You’re on your own.

So wipe your tears,
Lift your head up,
Square your shoulders,
And get up off that floor.
Get up...
I said GET up.
Get up DAMMIT!
Get up, GET up, GET UP!!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Get Up, GEt Up, GET UP!!!

I’m working on a drill going as hard as I can against four assailants, winded, tired and ready to give up, when I trip over my own feet and I land hard on my own keister.

Somehow, I've twisted my ankle with the fall and can't seem to get up. The instructor

makes a beeline towards me and I’m relieved to have someone assist me to my feet. He

hovers over me and in the loudest voice he can muster he yells at me and says,

            “Get Up, GEt Up, GET UP!!!”

 Aside from the point that I don’t particularly like getting yelled at,“I’m

SHOCKED!” and then I’m thinking to myself, “HOW—RUDE! How DARE he not help a lady in need.”

This was my mindset before I discovered that he really was helping me, I just didn’t know it at the time. Again, I was new to Krav Maga, and I didn’t understand the concept of, first, all the yelling, and second of all, the importance of getting right back on your feet after you’ve fallen hard on the floor. I’m not applying this merely to fighting when practicing drills, although that’s always a good idea; rather, his words have deeper meaning for me now than ever before.

So much has happened in the last six years of my life that I’m now finding myself at a crossroads. For reasons I cannot disclose, I’m going through a major change in my life. The journey is not without its difficulties, there has been a lot of pain that has come with it, and nothing brings more anxiety than venturing into the unknown. Trust me when I say that that has been my biggest challenge when I’m so use to setting goals and knowing clearly how I’m going to accomplish them. This obstacle has detoured me from writing and practicing Krav Maga as much as I'm accustomed to, but it hasn’t stopped me. I simply have to make it a bigger point to find time for it when I can, adapt to the changes and keep going. 

There was a time when I was in the midst of this crisis when I was at my lowest, literally down on the floor, feeling isolated and completely helpless, but then something magical happened. I heard the yelling,

“Get... Up... GEt Up... GET UP!!!”

I understood it all. It made sense. I got up. I did what I needed to do to survive what was I going through and kept moving forward. If you are finding yourself in that position right now, no matter what, Get Up, GEt Up, GET UP!!! Give yourself a good hard kick in the rear and do something about your situation. Don’t stay there in the pit of despair. It’s painful, I know. Give yourself time to process the pain, learn from your mistakes, make amends for them if you are able to, and if not, use it as a life lesson, but Get Up, GEt Up, GET UP!!!