Tactically Speaking: Do you have “Excalibur Syndrome?”

This video was not created for the “Joe or Jane Civilian” audience, but the “Excalibur Syndrome” mentality is not exclusive to Law Enforcement Officers (LEO), Military, and/or other ‘Operator’ types.  Do a quick google search on ‘swords for home defense’ … Continue reading

Tactically Speaking: Simplicity “Zen”

I know this is an older video with a lot of internet exposure, but it’s definitely worth revisiting if you have seen it before – or view it for the first time for newbies.  I call this ‘Simplicity Zen‘ because … Continue reading

For my fellow Irish (whole, part, or ‘wish you were’) friends on St. Patty’s Day

I’m, admittedly, only 1/5th Irish but on St. Patty’s day in America just knowing someone Irish is enough to be part of the clan for 24 hours.

I tripped over this video of Glen Doyle and his Irish stick fighting program in Milton, Ontario.  What I really enjoyed seeing from the video was the intensity and ‘snap’ while training in a system that could be considered a ‘folk art‘ (meaning ‘home grown’ by and for the ‘people’ instead of by the institution).  Like some FMA’s (Filipino Martial Arts) and Karate styles, this looks like a ‘peasant’ art that Glen is now sharing with others.  Let me know what you think about it.

Tactically Speaking: Coping with Fear

Anna Kunnecke is a life coach, mother, voice actor and brave woman living in Tokyo, Japan.  She posted this on her FB as a declaration against her fear while living through this disaster.

I COMPLETELY concur with the way she has chosen to deal with her internal issues so that she can cope better with her external issues.  Take a gander:

As I write this, I am in Tokyo.  It’s been 48 hours since the biggest earthquake that’s ever been recorded in Japan.  Ever since the sheer terror of those five minutes in which our building shook and swayed and groaned, and I didn’t know if my daughter and I would make it out alive, I have been glued to the public lens—tv, facebook, text messages, photos—with a surreal combination of horror and paralysis.  The devastation north of us is shocking.  The normalcy of Tokyo is shocking, too, except that water, rice, and batteries are disappearing from the supermarkets.  And looming over everything is the very real chance that a nuclear reactor will melt down and release unfathomably toxic substances into the air, water, and land.

I have been afraid—terrified, really—for 48 hours.

People, I am here to say, that is long enough.

Here is where my fear got me: my head aches.  My shoulders ache.  My jaw aches, from clenching it.  My breath is short and shallow.  My heart aches at every sad photograph, and my nervous system is at the mercy of every authoritarian voice broadcasting worry.

In that condition, I am no more useful to the world, my family, or myself than a very anxious marmoset.

So here is how I am changing my frequency.  If this stuff is working for me today, it will work for you too—whether you are afraid about your finances, your future, your failing left tail light, or your embarrassing flail in yesterday’s meeting.

1.    I turned off the news.  I can receive up-to-the-minute information via text, and my heart is already with those who are suffering.  When I read information, it goes to my brain and not straight to my primal fight-or-flight response.  The music and images of TV news are geared to trigger panic and an empathic flood; I’ve decided not to let myself get triggered.

2.    I cleaned my house.  This grounded me, calmed me, and got me back into my body, which is a much more reliable navigation system than my shrieking reptile survival brain, what Martha Beck calls my ‘lizard.’  My lizard tells me that we are DOOOOMED.  My body tells me that we need to stretch, to sing, to self-soothe with quiet rhythms.  (Folding laundry works nicely.)

3.    I faced the worst-case scenario.  My partner and I came up with a plan for what we would do if the reactor begins to spew, or if there is a serious food crisis in Tokyo, or any of the other frightening scenarios that have been haunting me.  Now that I know what I will actually do if any of those events come to pass, I can dismiss them when they clamor for my attention.  And the last line of every plan is: “And if none of that works, we wing it as well as we can.”  This is actually a pretty good plan.

4.    I questioned my scary thoughts.  My underlying thought, the one that was making my heart palpitate and my fists clench, was: “We are in danger right this very second!”  I asked, “Is this true?”  And the answer is, Who the heck knows?  We could be, for sure.  But then any of us could be in danger at any minute of any day.  But what I know right now is that I am sitting in my apartment with running water, electricity, heat, and very fast internet.  My loved ones are safe.  We are getting the best information we know how to get.  So I choose to live in the blissful sense of safety that most of us inhabit when we’re not acutely aware that the sky could fall at any moment.  Believing that I am safe is no more arbitrary, at this particular moment in time, than believing that I am in danger, but it feels a lot better and it makes me more insightful, more courageous, and more wise.  It lets me think more creatively and compassionately.  And all those things, paradoxically, will work to keep me and the ones I love safe.  If I am in real physical danger, my system will flood with adrenaline and I will be able to act on the terror I’ve been feeling and suppressing these last two days.  I will run, or fight, or negotiate, or do whatever I need to do.  Until then, I choose to keep breathing deep, calming breaths (Thanks, Terry DeMeo) and asking myself, “Is that scary thought even true?”

5.    I took constructive action.  I made up a backpack full of emergency items and our important paperwork.  Maybe your constructive action is making a phone call or getting something checked out.  Maybe it’s opening the scary envelope or looking at your online balance.  You’ll feel better if you just do it, I promise.

6.    I let my body release.  Because I was with my daughter during the most frightening part of the quake (lying on the floor of our 16th-floor apartment as it pitched and creaked like a ship in a storm), I spent significant energy holding it together for her.  We talked a bit about how scared we both were, and she seemed okay, but later she had a major sobbing meltdown about something inconsequential.  Then she was perky again.  Little kids are very wise that way.  I waited until I was alone in bed that night to sob and shudder.  With each heave of my shoulders and shuddering quaking tremble, I let some of my fear and tension release.  Animals tremble and shudder to shake off trauma; we need to do it too, even when the trauma is only visible to us.

7.    I consciously flooded myself with beauty.  I listened to music that makes me want to move my body and heal the world.  For me this means Christine Kane, The Dixie Chicks, and other things too embarrassing to write here.  I also bought flowers today, a big gorgeous bouquet of them, in a flagrant act of flipping the bird at fate.  I am buoyed and nourished by their blooming faces as I make my way through my home.

8.    I grounded back into my purpose.  I had a brief panic about a class I’m teaching in a few weeks, The Queen Sweep.  http://www.annakunnecke.com/the-queen-sweep.html I wondered if clearing clutter would seem frivolous in light of global tragedy.  I questioned its ultimate value in the world and the worth of the work I do.  In other words, I freaked out.  Many people are layering their immediate fear with scary thoughts like this about their future worth and their careers.  Screw that.  In a crisis like this, I’m more glad than ever that I know exactly where to find my passport; that my papers are in order and I’ve declared a guardian for my daughter; that we all have clean underwear and clean sheets to sleep on; and that my home is an oasis of calm and beauty.   Whatever the crisis, the world needs people who are sharp, who know their stuff, and know what they can contribute.  Be ready to bring what you can  to the table.

9.    I gazed at my daughter.  She is so beautiful.  She is so alive through her fear, her joy, her rage, her desire—she doesn’t shut any of it down.  It’s all right there, messy and inconvenient at times, but gloriously awake.

10.    Most importantly, I remembered that I am the boss of my own energy.  I kept waiting for someone to make me feel better, to reassure me, to tell me what to do.  Guess what?  No one can declare dominion over my life besides me.  I have to be the leader that I was waiting for.  Chin up, deep breath, flowers on table.  Here we go.

Anna Kunnecke


Tactically Speaking: Survival

The earthquake/tsunami distaster in Japan and China was the inspiration for this post.

I found different sources that may be loaded with good info, but I wanted to share a source that has good information and is a good link for other information as well. When it comes to internet research/sources, I’m a ‘multi-tasking tool’ guy. I like things that can be used in a variety of ways – like a virtual multi-plier.

Tactically Speaking: Courage.

Undaunted Courage

Image via Wikipedia

Every situation that requires moral courage may not be a situation that calls for physical courage, but every situation that requires physical courage does require moral courage.  Decisive, quick, appropriate, and effective responses to physical danger are more likely when a student is able to make decisive moral decisions.

Tactically speaking, courage is an essential training objective – more important than physical techniques in the long term plan. Drawing from a USMC leadership definition, courage can be separated into two areas:

  1. Physical Courage:  To continue to function effectively when there is physical danger present.
  2. Moral Courage: Having the inner strength to stand up for what is right and to accept blame when something is your fault.

Physical courage development in martial arts happens through a variety of activities that can help students reduce the ‘freeze factor’ through repetition and controlled doses of physical danger in simulated attacks.  For tactical purposes, physical courage conditioning is most effective if the techniques and tactics can be directly applied to what students may really face.

Moral courage isn’t something that can be ‘train’ in a martial arts program, but is generally illustrated if instructors role model responsibility, reward honesty –  even in the face of negative consequences, and encourage positive behaviors. For civilian students, basic citizenship guidelines, local laws (especially those concerning use of force), and ‘the golden rule‘ type of values are good starting points for students to understand their rights, responsibilities, and what the ‘rules’ are if they fneed to take a stand for something.

Courage, physical and moral, tends to be contextual – people are most confident/courageous in situations where they have a lot of knowledge and skill.  When a student has a toolbox of appropriate physical techniques and tactics they will more likely have a higher level of physical courage.  More importantly, when a student understand the moral code of his society, the legal guidelines that support that code, and has explored his rights and responsibilities within the that context, his sense of judgement about whether to act, why to act, and how to act when faced with a moral dilemma will be more appropriate and effective.