Ignition: Getting Started
Hold this thought clearly in your mind: I CAN DO THIS. It does not matter where you are starting from. Your age, weight, athleticism and physical ability are irrelevant. The only thing that matters is your determination, and that is ageless, weightless, and stronger than you can possibly imagine.
Every human achievement – in fact, every human talent – begins with Ignition, that powerful spark that sets off a chain of events that gets you off the sofa and into action. In this case, you're moving onto the mat. As you face challenges – and we'll cover the most frequent in just a moment ‐ remember that with every step forward you are becoming more powerful. This is how you get started.
THE FIRST STEP
Human beings are funny. They want a Reward Ratio to motivate them. They have to be challenged or excited or entertained in order to be motivated to do anything. From a purely logical standpoint, we would progress through the Fearless•Yoga material based on a descending arc from most common to least common threats and responses. Unfortunately, that's really boring.
Most threats can be avoided with simple Evasion strategies, but that involves learning about violence dynamics, types of Bad Guys, recognizing pre-incident indicators, and personal behaviors that make you a "hard target." While valuable to know, its mostly lecture and abstract understanding. There's not much to do in that section.
The exciting part about self-defense is dumping the Bad Guy on the ground and breaking pieces and parts that he considers important. Unfortunately, accidents happen if we jump straight to the really cool stuff. We don't want people to end up getting hurt unintentionally. So we're going to take a hybrid approach.
We're going to build a solid foundation that gives you practical stuff from day one, and add onto that with each and every module. Every session begins with the FLOW PHASE which builds your functional capacity like strength, flexibility, balance and coordination. These mindful, yoga-based movements also sharpen your mental focus and improve your control over your own body, breath and heart rate.
Next we move into the TACTICS PHASE where you work through a detailed explanation of techniques, then learn to apply them through "Skill Drills" and "Reflex Drills" that start simply and then become progressively more challenging. Eventually the individual techniques are chained together into "Street Simulation Drills" (StreetSim) that safely simulates an assault and allows you to flow through multiple techniques in a realistic manner. These improve your ability to recognize and respond instantly, reflexively and appropriately to a threat.
Each training session concludes with the AWARENESS PHASE where we look at the big picture and put everything that we've learned into the proper context. As you catch your breath, we underscore those vitally important safe strategies.
As you begin Fearless•Yoga training, you will likely face down every fear and doubt that your mind can dredge up. This is your Ego resisting change. Before you step onto the mat the first time, simply be aware of the most common tactics your monkey mind is going to throw at you. With some simple agreements with yourself, you can get past this stage.
IT JUST LOOKS “WRONG”
The first time they see Earth phase and the Jiu-Jitsu techniques, most people say something like, “I don’t want to roll around on the ground and have someone sit on top of me. It just looks wrong.”
Your first impression is right, it IS wrong. Especially when it happens in the real world. Especially when it’s not your trusted training partner on top of you, but some big, strong thug who wants to dominate and hurt you. It’s your worst-case scenario, and it DOES happen. This is why we train.
Your agreement with yourself is the get close, get grounded, get over it. Harsh right? That's where toughness comes it. When you declare your INTENT to not be a victim, you have to back it up and do what is necessary in training.
You may initially be put off by the close physical contact between students, but this is what gives Wing Chun and jiu-jitsu their power. By keeping close physical contact, you rob an attacker of the distance necessary to generate power to hurt you with a punch or kick. By knowing how to defend on the ground — where the most traumatic damage is often inflicted — you put your attacker at the disadvantage. Unless he is trained in wresting or jiu-jitsu, he will be completely lost on the ground while you will be in complete control.
I DON’T WANT TO LOOK STUPID
This is huge. This excuse is one of the most powerful weapons our change-resistent brain will use to keep you parked in the recliner in front of the TV. No one wants to be embarrassed, feel awkward or look stupid. How many people do you know who won't try a yoga class, dance class or new sport for this same exact reason?
There's only one way around this: be willing to look stupid. I wish I could tell you that with this approach, you will always be comfortable, happy and graceful. You won't. Feeling awkward is no fun. But being willing to look stupid — risking the emotional pain of making mistakes — is absolutely essential to success.
The way you improve any skill is to try, reach the limits of your ability, fail, and try again. You problem-solve, playfully. If you screw up, laugh it off and try again. If toddlers were afraid of falling, we'd all be crawling around on hands and knees. Mistakes are not verdicts on your self-worth; they are sign posts that help you navigate to the correct move.
I’M TOO ______ TO DO THIS
As a last resort, your monkey brain will throw a tantrum and start calling you names. You know the drill: you're too fat or too skinny, too old or too young, too flabby, too busy, or too something. If one of those hooks sinks in, your brain will start bargaining with you. Come back to this after you've lost weight, it whispers. Or maybe, wait until you're in better shape. Sound familiar?
Go re-read that first line on this page and make it your third agreement: I CAN DO THIS. Every excuse you can dig up is just that: an excuse. Start right now from where you are. This is a transformational process and it works TWO WAYS.
One, we're going to use Fuel, Flex and Form to get you into the fittest version of yourself. In other words, eat right, exercise and pay attention to your body. The Focus strategies will help you manage time and stress. We can't make you any younger, so just don't put this off. Start now, or that "I'm too old" excuse is going to be a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Two, you'll learn to adapt Fearless•Yoga to you. This is a core concept of Wing Chun and jiu-jitsu. Your arms are too short for that technique? Here's how to modify it. Your belly is in the way? Try this other variation. Problem-solve.
As a teenager, Helio Gracie couldn't climb a flight of stairs without feeling faint. He had every excuse to say, "Forget Jiu-Jitsu, I'm going to learn to play the harp." But instead of giving into the excuse, he changed and modified jiu-jitsu to work for him.
Today there are people training that have lost one or more limbs, are blind, and are adapting the techniques to work for them despite their disabilities. Your excuse is invalid.
That said, DO check with your doctor before beginning this or any other new physical activity. Being SAFE begins with being SMART. Make sure that you are "mechanically sound" and ready to train.
Next: The Six Strategies
Before we do a single Sun Salutation and before we snap on our first armlock, we need to establish a strategic context. Simply put, we need to understand the basic dynamics of violent assault and the strategies that allow us to avoid it or survive it. In Fearless•Yoga we call these the Six Key Strategies, and you'll learn all about them through a lesson we call Hiking With Bears.