Tag: ninja

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!

Ancient Ninja Secret for Your New Year

Here we are, in the last week of January. Maybe you started the new month (and the new year), with high expectations of working out, going to the gym, or eating healthy. How’s that working out so far?

A lot of us make those New Year’s Resolutions and end up falling flat on our face. Fantastic. One more thing we can feel guilty about. But, I have a better idea. Instead of feeling guilty or giving up completely, I am going to share an ancient ninja secret with you. But, please don’t report me to the Society of Ninja Secrets. They might not like it, and might take away my hard-earned official secret ninja card.

So, here it is–keep moving! Literally, just move. Move your body in every single direction, including forward, backward, side to side, and diagonally. There are many reasons why this is important.

1). First of all, if you can move in any directions or any moment in time, it will keep you safe in an oftentimes unsafe world. When you can adapt to any unexpected change in your environment, it can even save your life.

2). Next, the simple act of moving your body improves your circulation, lymphatic flow, cognition, awareness, balance, flexibility, and cognition.  Moving your body keeps you from getting stuck, both physically, mentally, and emotionally. However, if you are stuck in any way, movement stimulates brain function, gets the creative juices flowing, and helps improve your problem-solving abilities. You can find solutions to problems that you’ve never thought of when you were sitting on the couch waiting for the spring thaw.

3). Finally, ditch the judgment and the self-doubt. Just find new and creative ways to move and explore your environment, just like you did when you were a kid. There is no right or wrong, just opportunities to learn. and that is a nifty little ninja secret that is my late January gift to you. Besides, it’s so good for your health!

Sharing ninja secrets: Shhhhhh……

As a card carrying ninja, I sure know a lot of ninja secrets. I spent many long, hard hours of training for 14 years in a smelly martial arts dojo with a lot of sweaty men to learn these secrets. I also spent a tremendous amount of time, money, and effort along the way as well. But, every minute and every penny was well worth it and well spent.

It is my heartfelt desire to share some of these secrets with you without violating the code of the Super Secret Society of Ninjas, so here are just a few simple tips that will help you stand, walk, and move like a ninja to help keep you safe every time you step out into the world.

After all, our body language communicates to the world what kind of day we’re having, and even how we feel about ourselves. And people pay attention to it more than you think they do. It makes an immediate (and lasting) first impression. So, we want to make a great impression each and every time we meet someone. Whether it is at a party, a business event, a networking group, or a stranger on the street.

Especially a stranger on the street. Because we don’t want to look like an easy target if he happens to be one of the bad guys. Here are a few simple tips:

1). Stand up straight with your head up. Yes, this means putting your cell phone away.

2). Look people in the eye, including strangers. Especially strangers! No, it’s not rude.

3). Have your hands free at all times, just in case you need them to sweep a flying object or an unwanted and uninvited hand out of the way. Yes, it does happen.

4). Stand with your knees slightly relaxed and one foot slightly in front of the other, just in case you need to make a fast exit.

5). Speaking of exits, always know where the closest exits are every single time you enter a building or enclosed area. Exits aren’t just important in airplanes.

Most of all, stand, walk, and move with confidence. Because that is the way of the ninja!

Secrets of a Middle-Aged Ninja

Secrets….we all have them. I probably have a few more than most. And many of them are secrets that I learned in my martial arts training. I’d love to share them all with you, but then you’d know too much. Besides, it might get me in deep trouble with the Secret Society of Ninjas. So, if you ever run into one of their members, please don’t let them know I have shared my secrets.

This first secret might be a little disappointing. Ninjas really aren’t fighters. We’re lovers. We love life, our families, our friends, our homes, and our communities. We want nothing more (and nothing less), than to simply live our lives in peace and harmony. Ninjas aren’t about war, or warfare. However, we are warriors. Wait a minute….doesn’t that sound contradictory?

It’s not. Because a true warrior has a heart of compassion. For life, for nature, and even for their enemies or those who wish to cause them harm. A warrior also has a playful spirit, and doesn’t take themselves too seriously, even when they are under attack, so to speak.

Patience is a virtue. Everyone knows that, and everybody gives it lip service, but a true warrior really embodies it, and incorporates it into their daily life. Considering our fast-paced modern world, as well as the “got to have it now” attitude, patience truly is a virtue as rare as hen’s teeth.

Above all, a warrior is honest. At least, they’re supposed to be. I have met a few who proclaim honesty and demand it of others, but not of themselves. Hmm, that hardly seems fair. But, that’s when you know they are not true warriors. And those who are just smile, and walk away. No sense in engaging in a confrontation over such a silly thing. A warrior knows how to avoid confrontation at all costs.

I have a lot more secrets up my sleeve. But, I think I’ll make like a ninja and disappear for now instead. I can always share them another time.

Evade, Deflect, and Redirect: Wisdom From a Warrior Queen

Evade, deflect, and re-direct. I hear those words in my head almost every day, especially if I’m faced with a conflict. In my fourteen years of martial arts training, these words were repeatedly reinforced. You might even say they were beaten into me, so to speak.

The first thing you learn as a new student is how to evade an attack. Just get out of the way. After all, you can’t get hit and you can’t get hurt if you’re not there. It sounds simple enough, but it really isn’t. Because there are several ways you can respond to an attack.

1). You can freeze like a deer in the headlights. This is a typical response, and the outcome is never good.

2). You can fight back, which is a good strategy if you have absolutely no other choice. However, the chances of you being the victor is about fifty-fifty. It’s actually even less than that because the attacker has the element of surprise to his advantage.

3). You can get out of the way. This is a handy-dandy little trick affectionately referred to as a ninja disappearing act.

I was pretty good at evading an attack when I was a white belt. Unfortunately, my strategy was to run screaming off of the mat with my gi over my head. Not exactly the nimble reaction of an accomplished martial artist. But what can I say? I was terrified.

Eventually I overcame my terror when I saw a fist coming at my face, or a kick heading toward my solar plexus. And I learned how to move out of the way and evade an attack. And I made a fascinating discovery.

This nifty little technique can be implemented anytime you are under pressure or in the line of any attack, real or perceived. Attacks and confrontations come in a variety of different ways. They are not just physical. They can be mental, emotional, psychological, verbal, etc.

Once you learn how to use this ninja secret, you won’t get hit, and you can’t get hurt. Even better, once you step out of the way, the attacker will beat himself (or herself) up with their own negative energy. How cool is that?

Think about that the next time something is coming at you. After all, life is full of hits, both literally and figuratively. Learn to get out of the way and you’ll save yourself a world of hurt. But what if you can’t get out of the way, or what do you do once you do avoid an attack? I think I’ll save those pearls of wisdom for another day.

 

 

Sticks and Stones, and Broken Bos

Sticks and stones may break your bones. As a martial artist, I know this to be true, because I personally experienced it first hand. I once broke a bone in martial arts, but it wasn’t my own. It belonged to my partner. It’s a long story, and perhaps I’ll share it someday.

Although I love martial arts, I haven’t been training at all over the past twelve months. At least not in the traditional way, at the dojo and with partners. Between running a business, publishing a book, and keeping up with life, I’ve been pretty busy these days.

However, I have been able to keep up with my ballet training. I am fortunate to study ballet with a remarkable woman who has a strong Tai Chi background, as well as many other incredible accomplishments. The woman is amazing!

Jayne doesn’t teach a traditional ballet class. Instead, she brings everything she has to offer to her dancers, including Tai Chi. I don’t want to give away all of her secrets (or mine), but over the past two years of working with her, I could feel myself getting stronger, and more powerful. Not only in a dance-related way, but in a martial arts way as well.

I asked Jayne if that could even be possible. Her answer was “Of course it is!” She also advised me to be careful when or if I ever returned to the dojo, because I might surprise myself. I decided to put my theory to the test. The dojo was hosting a seminar based on the art of the Rokshoku Bo, which is a 6 foot long staff. In other words, it’s a great big stick. And it can be pretty scary, especially when someone swings it at your head.

However, I like playing with sticks, so I took my Rokshoku Bo and went to the dojo for the seminar. It was awesome twirling my stick and doing imaginary strikes, and it felt great to be on the mat again. We partnered up with other students to practice our strikes, which can be a bit formidable, as you can imagine. After all, one bad move could end up with a trip to the Emergency Room. That would ruin everyone’s day.

I partnered up with the only other female black belt in the school. We’re great friends, and it just happened to be her foot that I accidently broke a few years ago. Ooops. It had been a really long time since we were on the mat together, and we started going at it with great enthusiasm with a series of strikes that culminated in one final overhead strike to the top of the head. Did I mention it was scary?

She came at me with full speed and full intention. I deflected each strike with equal speed and intention. Our energy continued to escalate until she went for the final blow, the kill strike, aimed directly at the top of my head. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I felt a surge of energy come shooting up from the very core of my existence, and  I blocked the strike with ear-splitting spirit yell and every cell in my body participating.

For a split second time stood still. Then I heard a deafening crack. Suddenly I was holding two sticks instead of one. I blocked her strike with such force I literally broke my Bo in half. I was grateful that her strike didn’t land on my head. And I discovered that Jayne was right about my power. I also realized that I was going to have to buy a new Bo.

The moral of the story is that sticks and stones may break your bones, but a ballet dancer will break your Bos. Or maybe other things if you provoke her enough. It’s nice to find your power, isn’t it? I don’t know about you, but it sure makes me feel like a lady!

 

 

There’s a Warrior in All of Us

I began my journey into the world of martial arts twelve years ago at the tender young age of 47. I guess this means I am admitting how old I am, even though I know that a lady never tells her age. However, no one has ever accused me of being a lady. Actually, someone once did a long time ago, but that’s a story for another day.

Anyway, it takes a tremendous amount of courage for a woman to walk into a testosterone-infested, male-dominated dojo and give strange men permission to attack them. It also requires an enormous amount of trust. I had neither, and there are still times when I have issues with both. However, what I lack in courage and trust, I have always been able to compensate with humor and false bravado.

When I began training, there wasn’t a high ranking female student at the dojo that could show me the ropes, be my role model, and teach me how to deal with a room full of Neanderthals. Even though all of the guys were very respectful and supportive, it didn’t keep me from being terrified and feeling like I was in a room full of Fred Flintstone and his bowling buddies.

They would take turns teaching me the secrets of the art of the Ninja, and there were even days when they actually argued over who would “get” to work with me. I thought they were just trying to impress me while they taught me the basic skills of a white belt. It didn’t take long for me to recognize that even on my worst day, I looked prettier and smelled better than any of the men they were used to rolling around with on the mat. Besides, I washed my gi after every class.

Since I didn’t have an upper ranking female student to emulate, I had to fend for myself and make up the rules as I went along. I told the guys that they were permitted to grab me, punch me, kick me, sweep me, throw me, and pin me to the ground. But under no circumstances were they allowed to mess up my make-up or chip my nail polish. After all, a girl’s got to set some boundaries, and that would just make me mad. Besides, it would be uncivilized.

Eventually, they got used to having me around the dojo, and I seemed to take on a role that was a combination of mascot, little sister, wise woman and awesome sex goddess. However, I still wasn’t in it for the long haul. I figured I would take a few classes, learn a few techniques and move on with my life.

But, something funny happened along the way. I fell in love with the art and I fell in love with the training. And I really, really fell in love with the sense of strength, grace, and confidence that I developed from training. With every milestone I achieved, there was another one waiting to be accomplished. Every time I felt I had reached my limit and wanted to quit, something kept drawing me back.

Every so often I have a test of faith, even at this point in my training. I’ll hear a voice in my head saying “Quit. Just quit.” But the truth is I can’t quit, and I won’t. Because martial arts isn’t just something I do; it’s something I am. So, I tell that little voice to shut up and mind its own business. It’s not that I have anything to prove, except for a point. And that point is, there is a Warrior in all of us.

 

The Delicate Dojo: The stories begin….

I got a fantastic text message from one of my Delicate Dojo students a few days ago. If you’ve been following me, you already know that I am a black belt in the ancient Japanese martial art of Ninpo Tai Jutsu, and I recently began teaching self defense classes for women only. I knew that eventually I would hear stories about how the classes came in handy in a real life situation, but I didn’t expect them so soon. Here is her story.

She and her 3 children (two girls aged 7 and 9 and a son aged 5) were sitting together outside an ice cream store enjoying their treats when a strange man suddenly approached them. He came right up to them, and without a word began picking lint off of her son’s shirt. She was in a corner with her son sitting on her lap and her daughters on each side. He literally had them backed into a corner. Instead of panicking, she looked him directly in the eye. Calmly but firmly, she said, “Don’t touch him.”

Incredibly, the stranger began to argue with her, and the situation became more threatening. Without taking her eyes off of his, she said, “Give him his space.” She continued to look directly at him and kept her focus on his eyes. He immediately changed his demeanor, backed off,  then turned and walked away.

How creepy. And what a creep! My student referred to him as “deranged.” I’d have to agree with her, because I can think of no situation where it would be appropriate for a perfect stranger to approach a woman with her children and starting touching one of them. I don’t know what his intention was, but I’m guessing it wasn’t good. However, she was able to clearly communicate that she was the one in charge and in control of the situation.

My student is very petite and looks like a kid herself. Maybe he figured she would be an easy target. She wasn’t. She told me that during the encounter she was as calm as could be, and admitted that she would have gone into full blown panic mode prior to taking the classes. By the way, she’s only taken two classes. So far. My petite student was able to react calmly from a position of power and strength. She also taught her children a valuable lesson. If she had responded with fear, they would have as well. The entire family would have been traumatized. She would have lost her power, and the “deranged man” may have become emboldened. Instead, she effectively defused the situation and empowered herself.

I love stories like this. I love hearing about positive outcomes. Most of all, I love hearing about women being able to find their power, strength, grace and confidence. I especially love it when the bullies lose. And that is why I started The Delicate Dojo, and began teaching women the art of self defense.

Be healthy! Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP

A strictly forbidden learning experience….

My journey into the world of martial arts has been interesting, as well as educational, to say the least. I have often been the lone female in a testosterone filled environment, but I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve even learned to enjoy it, but that’s probably because I’m a natural born flirt.

However, I love training with other women, and I am fortunate to be in a school where there are several other women who train. Women seem to have a natural ability and spirit, which is something my Sensei told me during the three years that it took him to get me on the mat. I didn’t believe him then, but I certainly do now. I just wish more women would train in some form of martial art, but I know how intimidating it is to walk into a male dominated Dojo. .

Which is why I began teaching self defense classes for women only. It’s a lot less intimidating for women to enter a safe and fun environment, learn from another woman who’s been around the block a few times, and also knows her way around the mat. It’s an idea that came to me early in my training, and something that developed through the years.

During the course of my training, I became acquainted with a group of men that practice an art that is different from mine but has similar roots. I’ve been invited to their seminars and workshops and have attended several of them. Even though I was from another discipline, I was always invited, and they continue to update me on upcoming events.

Since they always keep me in their circle I sent them my information regarding my women’s self defense classes. I thought they might be interested in what I was doing, and I’m sure they know plenty of ladies who would like to learn a few things to protect themselves. I received a terse response from one of their instructors.

He told me, “Well, we don’t have any women students, and I do teach men and women.” I giggled. If they have no women in their school, how could he possibly teach them? And, if they did have women in their school, why would those women need of a basic self defense class? That’s just silly. Then I wondered why they didn’t have any women in their school.

He informed me that the lineage of our arts are different. Of course, I’ve always known that. So has he. He concluded by telling me that while he has the utmost respect for my art, he must follow directives which strictly forbid cross training between us. Yikes! I wish I had known that before I took their training seminars. If I had known I was engaging in an activity that was strictly forbidden, I would have enjoyed it more. It would have been even more fun, and I would have felt a little naughty.

I guess the flow of information is a one way street. How disappointing. Even more disappointing is the women who may have benefited from just a few classes who will now never receive this information. I understand that he was trying to protect his territory. But, he doesn’t understand is that I am trying to protect women. Or at least teach them how to protect themselves.

The ability to learn how to defend yourself should be easily and appropriately available to everyone, regardless of their age, gender, level of ability and personal belief system. We should be encouraging those who are vulnerable to find their power and strength, not holding them back because some one’s ego got in the way.  Hmmm, maybe that’s the reason there aren’t any women in their school.

    Opportunities to learn are everywhere. Each one should be supported and celebrated rather than discouraged or tossed aside. No learning opportunity should never be strictly forbidden, for anyone, but especially to those who can benefit the most.     

Sword cuts, patience, and a powerful teacher.

I bought a sword last weekend. I hadn’t planned on buying one, and I certainly hadn’t been looking for one. We have been working a lot more with sword cuts in my martial arts class, and I have a nice white oak wooden sword. It’s light weight, it’s really pretty, and it serves it’s purpose.

But last weekend my husband and I took a drive up to the mountains just to get out of town, even if it was only for a few hours. I was in the mood to go exploring, so we drove up to one of the popular mountain towns just to walk around and check out the shops.

We walked past a store front, and I said to my husband, “I have to go in here”.  He looked at me like I was crazy, but he followed me in the store anyway. It was a knife shop, exactly the type of store I would never enter. But when I walked in, I saw what had drawn me inside. Behind the counter were several swords on display. After handling a few of them, I knew which one was for me. It just felt right. And it was pretty.

I didn’t even take it out of the case for three days. Cautious and careful by nature, I waited until I was at the Dojo and Sensei could help me and teach me a few things. Handling a sword was a lot different from handling a wooden one. He did tell me that the blade was a little too sharp for training purposes and I needed to file it down. I thought he was being just a wee bit melodramatic, but I said okay. I knew I’d get around to it, eventually.

Two days later we had sword class. There were a lot of students, it was a bit chaotic, and we were moving a quickly through complicated patterns. Losing my focus for a split second, I was trying to sheath my sword in a hurry to catch up with the group and felt a sudden sharp burning pain in my wrist. Uh-oh. Sensei was right. The blade was too sharp. So much for care and caution.

That was at the beginning of class. I stopped long enough to wash the cut and put a big band aid on it. In the process of cleaning my wound I almost got stuck in the bathroom, because my sword was still in my belt at an awkward angle so my hands could be free. Thank goodness nobody witnessed that fiasco. I did have to ask one of the guys to help me with my band aid, which was demoralizing enough. If I needed help out of the bathroom, I never would have lived that down.

For the next hour and fifteen minutes, I practiced my sword cuts while the blood from my wrist saturated the band aid. I patiently listened to several of the guys giving me corrections all at the same time. I’m pretty good at taking directions, but only from two or three people at once. Any more than that and I go into sensory overload. But I smiled, bowed, nodded and thanked everyone for their help. Finally class was over. I put my sword away, took my notes and my throbbing wrist to my car, put my head on the steering wheel and burst out laughing.

I just couldn’t help myself. And I couldn’t stop laughing. The entire situation was simply too funny. The truth is, the reason why I love sword work is because the sword is a powerful teacher. It is honest; it always tells the truth and it never lies. I believe that I did not find the sword in the mountains that Saturday afternoon. The sword found me. It will continue to teach me patience, humility, honesty, integrity, truth, and humor. But I think I’m already good to go on that last one, don’t you?

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP

  • 1
  • 2