Tag: awareness

Be Aware, or Beware!

Last week I was honored to deliver my information packed, educational, motivational and interactive signature speech “Be Aware, or Beware” to the members of Rising Tide Business Network. I have decided to share a brief synopsis of the presentation as well as one key life lesson or take home point which was emphasized under each topic that was covered. Keep in mind, this is simply a sneak preview.

 BE AWARE…..OR BEWARE
I. Introduction:

My personal story, as well as first martial arts class and how my journey into the strange new world of men and martial arts began.

Life lesson and key point: I was stronger than I thought I was, and so are you. I firmly believe that there is an incredible amount of strength and power in each and every one of us, just waiting to be discovered.

II. Evade, Deflect, and Redirect

The first thing a brand new martial arts student learns is how to get out of the way of an  attack….evade. It’s the secret of the ninja disappearing act. All of the negative angst and energy goes right past you and back into your attacker. It’s beautiful to witness.

Life lesson and key point: Life is full of hits, and in a variety of different forms including physical, verbal, emotional,   and psychological. How we respond to them is imperative to our ability to survive, and thrive.

Evasion is just the first part of the secret. The entire secret is to evade, deflect, and redirect. This ninja secret is a valuable life skill and tool to keep you from getting drawn into pointless conflicts with family, colleagues, strangers, spouses, “friends,” etc.

*However, the second and third part of the secret does NOT apply to physical threats! Your number one goal is to get out of the way and run to safety.

III. Awareness and Attention

A distracted person is an easy target. And an easy target is exactly what perpetrators are looking for. The good news is that we can train our awareness and attention by making simple changes to our routine.

Life lesson and key point: It’s easy to develop new neural pathways which will develop a keen sense of awareness by making simple changes in our routine. When you continue to practice awareness, all of your senses will become more sensitive, which leads us to the next topic.

IV. Intention and Intuition.

Intention is a course of action that a person intends to complete. Perpetrators have an agenda, and they are committed to completing their chosen course of action. It’s actually possible to be able to read someone’s intention, which is another reason why practicing your awareness is so important. Conversely, it is possible for someone to read your intention as well. If you are committed to keeping yourself safe and do not present yourself as an easy target, a perpetrator can sense that as well, making you less attractive as a target.

Intuition is an immediate understanding of a situation without conscious thought. It is a sense of “knowing.” Intuition is rarely (if ever), wrong.

Life lesson and key point: The ability to read someone’s intention is not that difficult when you practice it, and you can train your intuition just as you train your awareness.

V. Body Language

Our body language speaks volumes, and communicates to the world what kind of day we’re having, what kind of person we are, how we feel about ourselves, and  even whether or not we are an easy target. It’s important to present ourselves with strength, confidence, and composure while we remain grounded, balanced, and flexible.

Life lesson and key point: When you learn how to stand, walk, and move like a ninja you will be grounded, balanced, confident and less attractive as a potential target.

VI. Self-Defense Tools, aka Weapons

Self-defense products can give you a false sense of security. They can also malfunction, or be totally ineffective if you are not thoroughly trained in how to use them. More important, any weapon you carry can be taken from you and used against you.

Life lesson and key point: A high-powered military or police grade flashlight is the best self-defense tool to have, along with taking frequent self-defense classes is the best way to keep yourself safe.

As I said, this is just a brief synopsis and example of my presentation. For more information or to book my services, please feel free to contact me. Stay safe, stay strong, and stay aware!

Blinded By The Light

“Blinded by the light” made for a great song title by the Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in the early 1970s.  But, if you’ve ever had a bright light in your eyes, you know that it does literally blind you, at least temporarily. Those rods and cones that live in your retina start going absolutely bonkers trying to readjust to the sudden burst of bright light, leaving you confused and disoriented.

Which is the reason why you should always have a strong, high powered flashlight with you at all times, day and night. And, you should be holding it in your dominate hand.

I know, you probably don’t have the personal real estate available for something as frivolous as a flashlight. After all, that is where your cell phone lives, even when you’re walking around in public. But, I beg of you, as I have many times before, put your cell phone in your purse! Put it there, and leave it there.

If you are ever approached by a stranger and need a quick get-away, a high quality flashlight with a powerful beam of light is the perfect defensive weapon of choice. Even in the daylight, all you have to do is shine the light in their face, temporarily blinding them and giving you the opportunity to get away and to a safe place.

And, you have the additional advantage to get a clear view of the person’s face so you can give a detailed description to the police when you file a complaint. Which you will do, of course. Because we do need to shine the light on the bad guys so we know who they are and can put them away. Yay!

Choose a high quality flashlight with a high powered beam and settings for a strobe light and an SOS. Make sure it has a nice weight to it and fits well in your hand. It will probably feel better than your cell phone. And, it will be far more useful, especially if you ever need to blind someone with the light.

Trick-or-Treat and Ninja Tips

I love Halloween. I always have and I always will. But, the world has changed a lot since I was a kid. Maybe it’s just the ninja in me, or being a grown up that makes me more aware of the potential dangers around us, especially when we are in a festive mood and celebrating a holiday.

Here’s wishing you and your family a very fun filled and Happy Halloween, as well as a few ninja safety tips to keep in mind. I know you already know them and practice them, but just putting it out there does make me feel better.

1). Carry a sturdy and high powered flashlight. Not only will this help light your way, you can shine it in the eyes of any undesirable goblin that comes your way. This will temporarily blind them, giving you the chance to get away.

2). Leave the masks at home. No matter how adorable, scary, irresistible, and tempting they may be, they limit your visual field. They are also very distracting to the wearer, and a distracted person makes for an easy target.

3). Make sure you go through your child’s stash of candy at the end of the night of tick-or-treating. I am not suggesting that any of the homes they visit would engage in nefarious activities or hand out candy or other treats that have been tampered with, but you never know where those treats were before they entered your little goblin’s Halloween bag. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Besides, you might use it as an excuse to help yourself to a few treats as well.

Halloween is about having fun and making memories. It’s also about being safe and practicing good safety practices and establishing patterns that will teach your children well and that they can use during their entire lifetime. Boo!

Live and learn….

What a wonderful weekend I’m having! It started last night with a fantastic instructor training class at Kusa Dojo. Okay, so it was a bit difficult to get to the dojo on a gloriously beautiful spring evening, especially being Friday evening and everything. To make matters worse, I had to maneuver around all the revelers getting an early start on their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at the local pub. But it certainly was worth the effort. It’s amazing how much you can learn about how you move when you really slow things down, listen to the quality of your movement, and go back to the basics. Oh, and it also helps to have two highly skilled teachers coaching you.

I was able to find where I was making my mistakes and now have the opportunity to work on them, on my own, without judgment, but in the spirit of interest and curiosity. When I practice on my own, I can slow down my movement patterns even more so I can interrupt the habits I have developed that are holding me back. In the context of learning, slowing down and doing less helps you feel more. I could feel new synaptic connections developing in my head. You’d think I’d be exhausted after that, but I was strangely energized as I picked my way around the party goers from the pub after class. Hmmm….this sounds really familiar, like something else I know.

I didn’t think my weekend could get any better after last night. Until this morning, when I taught a two hour Feldenkrais workshop at my office. Watching my students discover new movement patterns as they moved slowly through the lessons was fascinating. And extremely rewarding. Listening to their experiences of the movement lessons was incredibly enlightening as I felt more synaptic connections making contact in myself. And I could once again appreciate the close relationship between  martial arts and The Feldenkrais Method. What fun!

So, it begs the question, both from the perspective as a student and as a teacher….am I teaching to learn or learning to teach? I think they go hand in hand, and are reversible, just like one of the principles of learning in the Feldenkrais way. Recently I was explaining the principles of Feldenkrais to a friend of mine. I explained how it was based on the science of neuroplasticity, that we are always able to learn new things during our entire lifetime. She responded by saying she was too old to learn new things, and she meant it. I felt sorry for her, because that is part of her belief system and her self image. Not only is that sad, but just think of all the fun she’s missing out on!

Anyway, it’s been a great weekend, full of wonderful experiences and discovery! And just think….it’s only Saturday afternoon. Who knows what the rest of the weekend has in store!

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP

And the journey continues….

It takes a tremendous amount of courage for a woman to walk into a testosterone infested  Dojo and begin training. It also takes an enormous amount of trust. I had neither. I was scared to death for the first two years. However, the guys were incredibly tolerant, gentle and patient with me. Most of the time I was the only woman in class, and they dutifully took turns working with me. I thought that was awfully magnanimous of them. I soon discovered that it was because I was prettier and smelled better than any of the guys, even on my worst day. They had plenty of opportunities to work with each other, and they seemed to enjoy tossing me around for a change.

Even though I was enjoying the classes, I was still incredibly intimidated. I was a good student, not because I was interested in going up through the ranks, but out of a strong sense of self preservation. In keeping with my good humor and to hide my perpetual state of terror, I hid my fear by setting some ground rules. So, I told the guys that they were permitted to kick me, punch me, throw me and pin me, but for Heaven’s sake, don’t mess up my make up. That would make me mad. After all, we all have our limits, and it’s good to set boundaries.

It’s funny to remember how my friends responded to my sudden interest in martial arts.  I had some impressive bruises during the first year, and many of them encouraged me to quit. My girlfriends just knew I would get hurt, and some had the audacity to suggest that I was too old. That did it. I was determined to stick it out for at least another year. I would quit when I was good and ready to quit, and on my own terms. Have I ever mentioned my incomparable stubbornness?

Some days I would go straight from ballet class to the Dojo. Some people thought I was nuts. Sometimes I thought I was nuts. In reality, it was good cross training. But during this incredible journey something really strange happened. My experience slowly transitioned from the physical training to something deeper. My nervous system was responding to my newly discovered patterns of moving and sensing myself in this new environment. The term is called neuroplasticity and refers to our ability to learn new things by responding to changes in our environment.

So, something inside of me changed. It was slow and subtle, but it was there. My intimidation  turned into awareness. My fear changed into confidence. My incomparable stubbornness developed into Spirit. My humor and acceptance about my gender, size and age led me to the understanding of my limitations as well as the acceptance of my possibilities. My lack of trust transformed into self compassion. And now, with each rank I achieve I experience an overwhelming sense of humility. And respect. For myself, and for my art.

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP