“This is my little girl, my life, and if you have any thoughts about hugging or kissing her, remember, I got no problem going back to prison” - Bill Engvall, Blue Collar Comedy Tour. While this is a great line to have in your back pocket when your daughter begins to date, it’s not the best strategy when it comes to protecting your children.
My wife Linda and I relocated to SWFL from central Massachusetts a year ago for semi-retirement. We had just sold the martial arts school we had run for the past 20 years where we worked with children in our community to prevent bullying with assertiveness training and to stay safe from dangerous adults by listening, to acting on intuition, and if needed, a simple action plan if physical defense was necessary. I felt negligent because when we moved to Naples, we did nothing to keep this valuable information out in the public. This is not something to be retired.
These community programs we offered were not the formal martial arts classes we offered at our school, Holden Martial Arts, rather they utilized the technology of FAST Defense (www.fastdefense.com)
, a little martial arts to keep it fun and information from Gavin de Beckers book The Gift of Fear among other resources. These easy to learn and remember techniques focus on awareness, detection, verbal de-escalation and escape skills rather than on physical self defense techniques. My passion runs deep when discussing these issues and I firmly believe that all ages can benefit from this training.
I have 30 years training in the martial arts with more than 20 years of that as a school owner and instructor. From day one of my training, my sole driving interest was in physical self defense (thank you Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris). In 2000 I met Bill Kipp and Peyton Quinn who were introducing a program called FAST (Fear Adrenaline Stress Training) that trains people, children as well as adults, to act rather than freeze when faced with danger; whether it’s a bully demanding lunch money or an adult demanding the unthinkable. There isn’t a technique in the world that will keep you safe if you are frozen with fear.
(My wife and I immediately signed up for their 4 day training in Colorado and were one of the first groups to experience and learn how to present this technology. I then went through the additional 3 day training on how to be a coach and mock assailant (a.k.a Bulletman) to be able to safely raise the intensity of the class to the participants.) For me, FAST Defense was life changing as to how I felt inside about my ability to defend myself; the fear was still there but I knew I could work with it and the adrenal dump that inevitably happened to Detect, Diffuse and defend myself if necessary. We have seen some amazing changes in the participants before the end of the class. This is a life changing course and the changes affect not only their fear of assault but how they deal with and resolve everyday stressors that we all have.)
I am reminded of a saying
A hundred years from now it will not matter
what my bank account was,
the sort of house I lived in,
or the kind of clothes I wore.
but the world may be much different
because I was important in the life of a child...
My wife and I have moved to Naples to start the next phase of our lives, but also feel the need to contribute to our new community, as we did for so many years in Wachusett county Massachusetts. Our hope and desire is to be able to connect with the business community here in SWFL and bring these programs to as many people as possible through sponsorships and marketing assistance. Although in Massachusetts many of our programs were sponsored by us here we have no other motive for presenting this information other than to get it out in the fastest, most efficient and effective way with the greatest amount of credibility possible.
My wife Linda and I recently moved to Naples and opened a martial arts school devoted to reaching Baby Boomers and provide them with the myriad of benefits attached to training in the martial arts. I also plan to provide many resources to help live a vibrant life. I am reminded of the famous Dylan Thomas quote "Do not go gentle into that good night", and although it references the end of life, I prefer to think of it as referring to our later years and how we approach life.
Outside of my family I have two passions in life- teaching and training in the martial arts and helping people to find their voice in an ever increasing violent world. Preferably before anything happens. I have taught FAST Defense for many years and have witnessed many transformations along the way. In all the courses I or my associates have taught not one participant has ever regretted or felt that the course was weak or just okay. In fact they becoming raving fans and help to pay it forward.
Several recent very tragic incidents have caused me to revisit the original model of my current school. With this in mind I have decided to add family oriented classes at Bucket List Martial Arts. Class size will be limited to 10-12 per class. The focus in class will not just be on fitness (which should be done outside of class but on learning about yourself and your preconceived limitations. The basic program focuses on the ABC’s ( Awareness,Boundaries,
Communication) of self defense and performing basic martial arts movement correctly and consistently. The beautiful thing about the ABC’s is that while taught for self defense it will transfer your confidence into many areas of life allowing you to function at a higher level in whatever you decide to do and automatically develop leadership skills We also present and practice techniques to address dealing with bullies and dangerous adults. Adults get bullied too!
And while I encourage everybody to make the journey to Black Belt I realize that this isn’t possible for a wide range of reasons. So, the program is designed to in a very short period of time give you the skills need to attain the confidence and conviction to defend yourself and your loved ones without necessarily resorting to violence. Awareness, boundary setting skills along with verbal de-escalation are the foundation of our program. In order to provide our students with the confidence to remain calm in the eye of the storm, simple physical movements will be taught and practiced. This class will start in mid August with very limited enrollment with a 1x per week commitment for 8 weeks. For those that desire more advanced training is available after completion of the basic class.
The dynamics of bullying are very complex. It’s not as simple as one person harassing another. Was it verbal/electronic (teasing, insults), physical, exclusion, gossip? Was it intentional? Is there proof/witnesses? Was the bullied actually the bully? Are there others involved? Who was the target and why were they chosen? What, if any, circumstances led up to it? How often did it happen? How did the parents react (of both bully and the target?) Most importantly, how do we prevent it in the first place?
How can we expect the single solution of report, investigate and punish to be effective? A chronic bully is quite used to punishment and it clearly has not been effective. What’s missing are critical factors in reducing the incidences
of bullying; empowering the target, educating the bully, and understanding the power of peer pressure, both positive and negative.
Recognition, Understanding, Tools.
Recognition. Was the bullying intentional? Let’s face it, we’ve all mistakenly said something at one time or another that has hurt or angered another - friend, family, co-worker acquaintance or stranger; bullying is not limited to children and teens although they do get the most press. It could be a careless remark or response to another’s careless remark. A simple question like “that’s interesting, why would you say that?” can determine intent. If the response is yet another insult, it was intentional. If the response is confusion and/or apology, it meant no harm and they may be more considerate in the future.
Understanding why bullies bully. Whenever I do a bullying presentation at a local school or youth group, which always contains bullies and targets alike, I begin by asking the audience why they think others bully. I always get the same rote answers: they don’t feel good about themselves and they are bullied themselves. These responses come as mechanically as if they were reciting times tables (do they actually do that anymore?) These responses are absolutely correct albeit shallow. We then go a little deeper to find out why bullies may not feel good about themselves or who might be the ones bullying them. As we are exploring “why” and “who”, we have an opportunity to also point out that we all strengths and weaknesses and that we need to try harder to focus on our strengths and those of others. Discussion of the bully being bullied and who may be doing it tends to bring a little compassion and empathy.
We, as a society, have become both desensitized and over-sensitive to bullying thanks in large to today’s media. Consider what we watch for entertainment. American Idol contestants are abused and berated by celebrity judges. Survivor winners are meanest and most conniving. Even Oscar the Grouch was a popular children’s toy (oops, dating myself). And then there’s the news, especially during an election year. Personal attacks, gossip and rumors get more headlines than the issues and relevant facts.
It’s easy to blame the media, but the thing about pointing a finger at someone else is that the other three point back at you. We’ll never be able to change what the public deems newsworthy, but we can change our reaction to it with
“teachable moments”. When you’re watching American Idol, ask your child (and yourself) if they think that comment was hurtful and how they think the recipient felt. How would they feel? Grit your teeth and watch Spongebob with your kids; would they want to be friends with someone who acted like Squidward? Why do they think he acts that way?
Tools - Empowering the victim.
Confident presence - staying off the radar
Developing a confident exterior, regardless of how one feels inside can be learned. Targets are chosen based on whether or not they will give a successful outcome to the bully. A confident presence is the difference between a desirable and undesirable target.
Neutralize the bully’s power with disinterest or humor. A bully verbal attack is meant to create a reaction - hurt, anger or fear. A disinterested “whatever” with a confident exit is certainly not the bully’s intended result.
Assertive response - if a threat is either made or implied, a stronger stance must be made with eye contact and a calm, firm, assertive (not angry) voice using simple statements like “back-off!”
Action Plan - should an attack be physical, the target should have a plan of action and parental support. Schools often have a Zero Tolerance policy for physical altercations, regardless of who started it. Targets need to know that they have the support of their parents should they have to face disciplinary measures from the school. Keep in mind that a physical response should only go as far as to stop the attack. If you choose to enroll your child in a martial arts program, speak with the lead instructor first to make sure your physical defense philosophies are congruent.
Linda Grimm was a children’s Martial Arts and Assertiveness Training instructor in Holden, Massachusetts for 19 years before moving to Naples. She has presented “Bully Solutions” and “Stranger Awareness” to elementary schools, both public and private, in Holden and surrounding towns with positive results. She was also featured on Fox News Boston, and WHDH TV Boston for her bully prevention program.
Linda’s husband, Harry, owns Bucket List Martial Arts, a martial arts studio newly opened in Naples exclusively for baby boomers as a semi-retirement project. Although Bucket List Martial Arts does not offer classes for children, Linda would like to share her knowledge and experience in teaching children in her new community the skills they need to be assertive and confident when dealing with bullying behaviors.
This is Short Form 3 performed by Brett Hawley, one of my students from Holden MA
I am on Linkedin and am a member of several differant martial arts groups. This is where I ran across a gentleman by the name of Dominador Tomate who has a blog entitled http://www.babyboomersensei.com
. We have alot of the same ideas about this aging thing. Although I believe that our age bracket still feels too young to be counted in with the 80 year olds when it comes to martial arts and I think he is starting to embrace the idea.. I have trained in Tai Chi and enjoyed it but found it moved too slow for me and didn't address what I wanted out of my martial arts training at this time. I do plan on returning to Tai Chi and picture myself teaching early morning on the beach as I set off into the sunset.
Dominador Tomate writes well and his background is alot more classical than mine. I wasn't considered a traditional martial artist until the advent of MMA. His writings reflect alot of the benefits you can attain from training. He even says some nice things about me and Bucket List Martial Arts.
I highly recommend checking out his blog and his insights. http://www.babyboomersensei.com
P.S. And yes the school was on my "bucket list"
Profits are really nothing more than the result of providing value,nothing more , nothing less. If we want to talk about selling out, don’t we really need to ask the students of the art? Aren’t they the ones receiving the value and paying for the information? Truth be told we are in the information business, educating people is what we do. While many of the traditional methods were good for their time as we learn more about the process of learning we add to the mix we already use. It is all about the student and how we can provide a service quicker better and easier (for them and us). This requires innovation not stagnation, blindly holding onto the past. We need to provide for a better environment for the student and constantly upgrade our skills. Is it realistic to assume that you can teach an eight year old the same as a 50 year old? Different stages of development, different outlooks on life, different needs. I suppose you can call it watered down but isn’t that how all educational activities are designed? Simplified and easy with the younger ones progressing to more in-depth as we age. Martial arts has to find its way in the real world. As Tom Callos so elegantly points out, Physical self defense isn’t even on the top 10 list of killers in our world. While I
wouldn’t use this as an excuse to teach junk, I do think it points out that kicking and punching won’t get the average person very far today. Just because we teach in the old way or extremely tough classes does that make us true martial artists or just stuck in our knowledge.
I do agree that in our fast food world people are inpatient for results. doing a Kata for years where the knowledge is gained slowly is unrealistic for much of the population. they get bored way to easy. Very few people in our society take the time daily to quite their mind and reflect. There are 1000’s of distractions daily and the number grows yearly. We filter out most of the noise but rely on habits to pick up on the ones we are accustom to. How do you get some one to slow down and smell the proverbial roses? First we have to have them come back and learn to enjoy the process. I approach my students in the first year of training getting them to embrace and enjoy martial arts training. The second year is devoted to having them give more effort and integrating training into their lives. Not until the 3rd year do I begin to bring it together and have the material take on some form of usefulness. Can your learn to defend yourself in a shorter time Of course. Programs such as Bill Kipps FAST Defense can do it in under 4 hours and it works great. But martial arts is so much more than that and we need to realize this and create a model to help the general public. We profess to teach self defense but how many of us really teach the important parts of self defense. Unless you are teaching awareness and verbal de-escalation you are missing the boat. Its been proven time and time again that these two items are vastly more important then the physical skills, yet are hardly taught or practiced.
Most of the people taking martial arts today will never need it to defend themselves, so how do we make it relevant? Scare the crap out of them with ominous ads and copy? Tell them it will take years and years of concentrated study? Or provide a path where they get to know themselves better and open their minds to others in their community. teach them to be aware of the needs in their community rather than wait for the government to do it. We need to teach self reliance, and compassion (teach a man to fish) not conflict and violence (although I enjoy MMA). Not to be right or better than our neighbor but better today than we were yesterday. This I believe is what martial arts should and could stand for rather than who is selling out or my art is better than yours.
Unfortunately, in this day and age with instant communication and the typed word it is far to easy to hit the send button until we have really thought out our comments. Once out there it is for good. When people disagree with us we add insults and degradation to prove ourselves right rather than have a civil discourse and appreciate our differences even if there is no “meeting of the minds”. “Seek first to understand” seems to be lost in our society. We tend to be so wrapped up in our own lives we don’t stop to consider the impact on others or just slough it off with “Well that’s just how I am” and then get insulted if treated rudely. We all arrive and leave this life the same way, our pants go on 1 leg at a time, so where do we get this idea of superiority? To me it comes back to being too self absorbed and not enough time spent looking in the mirror and seeing if we like what looks back. We go to church on Sunday and then comes Monday where we slip right back into our SOP and then go to church again on Sunday to prove to ourselves that we are good and kind. The thing is most of us are good and kind, we just haven’t taken the time to quiet our minds and reflect on how we appear to others or get caught up in what Wayne Dyer calls memes. As an instructor my job is to pass on knowledge and help bring out the best in my students, create a relationship with them and have them enjoy the process as much as possible. The more people I can reach the more I can affect my community and help to make it a better place to live. If we all paid more attention to
ourselves and how to be and do things better rather than talking about selling
out and McDojos our “industry” would then actually grow and be respected rather
than being view as recreational for kids or an activity between sport season
with cute costumes.
Why not? Self defense is less about the physical and more about mental preparation. When was the last time you were in a physical altercation? For me, it was twice ...when I was 18....in a bar....working as a bartender.... over 35 years ago.
When was the last time you were in a verbal confrontation? Was is with a stranger, a co-worker, acquaintance or even a family member? How about the last time you felt you were being taken advantage of? This is where self-defense skills are really most valuable.
When we think of self-defense, pictures of Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and that gun toting grandma viral video. Real self-defense is the prevention of harm, both physical and emotional. Recognizing the potential for trouble and developing an assertive presence are your best defenses.
Developing an assertive presence is easy to learn; just a few simple steps involving posture, proper eye contact (and an alternative for those uncomfortable looking others in the eye) and verbal intonation. Practice in a safe, supportive environment makes an assertive response a natural reaction; having a few effective physical skills in your back pocket allows you to react to most any difficult situation with confidence.
At Bucket List Martial Arts - Naples FL, we offer 4 levels of self defense training.
7 Magic Questions - Are You Being Scammed? This is a fun, interactive one hour workshop that gives you the knowledge to detect when someone is trying to control or manipulate your behavior, your possessions or even your body. 7 Magic Questions is offered monthly at Bucket List; it’s also available off site for groups, businesses and civic organizations.
The Simple Art of Self Defense for Women is a 5 week course that meets once a week for an hour. Instruction includes how to have an assertive presence, the 7 Magic Questions (great review if you took the workshop), acting on intuition, verbal and physical boundary setting, and some basic physical defense techniques.
FAST Defense (Fun Assertive Skills Training) is a 3 hour course combines the 7 Magic Questions and the Simple Art into a single 3 hour seminar where participants get to practice their newly acquired skills on a fully padded instructor.
Kenpo Karate Instruction for Baby Boomers - This more traditional approach to self defense addresses the “art” part of martial arts; a scenic route to self-defense. Private, semi-private and group lessons are available. Please note that group classes are offered only to the 40+ generation.
Please visit BucketListMartialArts.com for dates, schedules or more information on the above programs.
There is a choice of adult martial arts training available in Naples. We specialize in teaching adult karate classes. We offer Ed Parker’s American Kenpo, a very well thought out martial arts system that teaches the physical elements of self defense. Just a note here that true self defense does not need to mean a physical response. Awareness and verbal de-escalation will deter 85-95% of all situations. Bucket List Martial Arts uniquely incorporates these important skills in the the class structure.
A great fighter once said winning is 90% attitude and 10% technique. Many Karate schools focus mainly on teaching the physical aspect of self defense with little about prevention, or the attitude. There also has been a trend to teach fighting (MMA) which is different from self defense. True self defense is about removing yourself and others from the danger as quickly as possible while using physical skills only as a last resort. Now the good thing about most any training in karate is that it helps to give you the confidence to walk away from confrontations, knowing it was your choice not to use physical skills.
To find the right Naples karate school, you have to know why you want to train. There are many facets to consider. Do you want a traditional system complete with a lot of history, are you looking for fitness first, or do you just want to benefit from the many life skills inherent in the training? Do you want to fight or go into competition, do you want to train with your children, do you want to train with people somewhat your own age, or is a mixed group what your looking for. You will find this and more in the Naples karate school market. Be sure to call around and then visit the schools and than choose based on your feeling after meeting the head instructor and talking to some of the students. Martial Arts is a wonderful journey when you combine the right instruction and atmosphere with your desired outcome.
Be sure to ask about our Self defense seminars which are available on a continuous basis at our school or at your location. These seminars are available for all ages not just the Baby Boomer!
We offer FAST Defense
periodically throughout the year. Click on the link for more information
The Simple Art of Self Defense
It all begins with an interview; an interview you want to fail. The interviewer wants something from you - control. Control of your possessions, your behavior or your body. The interviewer could be as innocent as a child who wants a cookie before dinner or a toy at the store. She could be a voice on the phone offering you a “free” vacation. He could be a panhandler you pass on the street corner. In the worse case scenario, the interviewer - whether a stranger, acquaintance, relative or spouse - wants control of your body, your life, your soul.
The interview usually begins with an insignificant encounter, “I’m hungry”, “Congratulations, you won...”, “Do you have the time?”. It continues if your response is what they are looking for. A passive or aggressive response will lead to their next question and then to a conversation. Once you engage in that conversation, they have an 90% closing ratio.
Let’s go back to the initial encounter. On the surface, to the logical mind, it seems innocent enough, but for some reason, you felt a little uneasy. Of course you don’t want to seem rude or even paranoid so you tell yourself you’re being foolish. Mind you, all of this happens in a split second. Why did you feel uneasy? Your intuition, your subconscious, detected something that wasn’t right, but unfortunately, the communication process with your conscious brain takes more than that split second. It can take up to a few weeks.
A radio sales woman, Pat, was pitching a sponsorship spot to us for our martial arts school. A young girl from our area had been abducted (Molly Bish of Warren, MA) and her father was going on air with steps to keep children safe. Since martial arts and self defense are often thought to be one and the same, it seemed like a good fit to Pat; she was good at her job and wanted to know exactly how we taught self defense.
We consider prevention to be the first and foremost in personal protection and as an example, I told her to smack her forehead like she had just forgotten something. This move is very familiar to me, as those who know me, and my lack of memory, will attest, I jokingly call it “The Linda Move” in my seminars and workshops. I proceeded to describe the situation for its: the elevator door opens and there’s a man inside that gives you the creeps. Normally, most women would fall back on their upbringing of not wanting to be rude or insulting, not know what to do, ignore their intuition, get into the elevator and pass the first interview.
I told Pat that all she would had to do was “The Linda Move”, turn around and walk away like she had forgotten something; she would then have a course of action that was compatible with her upbringing that would also extract her from a potentially dangerous situation. She thought that was kind of cool, asked a few more questions about what we offered and set an appointment to sign the paperwork for two weeks later.
At the next appointment, Pat came in and said “Hey, I got to use your move. I was leaving work the night after we met and when the elevator door opened there was a guy in there that gave me the creeps so I did your move and went back to my office. I don’t know why he bothered me (thoughtful pause), maybe it was because I work on the top floor, it was after business hours, and when the elevator came up, he didn’t get off.” It took two weeks for her conscious mind to process the fact if the man didn’t get off the elevator at the top floor, why would be take it up there?
How do you fail an interview? Develop an assertive presence; the way you walk, look and speak. How do you know you’re being interviewed? There are 7 red flags; Gavin de Becker in his book The Gift of Fear, called them Pre-Incident Indicators (PINs) that validate your intuitive feelings. What can you do once the interview has begun? Bill Kipps’ FAST Defense (Fun Assertive Safety Training) teaches you how to maintain your personal boundaries, be a “broken record” and head towards safety. All of this will be covered in future blogs as well as in my 5 week course, The Simple Art of Self Defense. The next course begins Wednesday, March 14, 2012. Classes are offered at 11 am or 6:30 pm for 5 consecutive Wednesdays at Bucket List Martial Arts in Naples.
Opening our doors in 1992 in a 300 square foot facility (about the size of our front counter area), with the decision to contribute to our community by offering martial arts lessons with a focus on confidence building and self defense (using mental skills not physical),
Today, we have grown to an internationally known and respected academy. While that is cool, the recognition came because of what we do locally. We have trained thousands of our local residents and touched many more with local outreach programs that are provided free to our local schools and community groups.
While bullying seems to be the buzz word recently, we have been teaching our students and friends techniques to recognize and short circuit a wide range of bully type attacks for more than a decade. I don’t believe we will every stop bullying it is too ingrained in our society from the politicians, tv, the movies and people we work with. There are just too many examples for our children to learn from. But we can teach and have the kids role play ways to shed like water the comments, teasing, exclusion and threats from affecting them and to stand up for their friends when nessacery.
It is absolutely amazing to watch the students grow and expand their wings returning years later to visit and ask “Do you remember me?” and then to hear about what they are doing with their lives. Students that started with us as a child now have children of their own so we are grandparents by proxy and look forward to the next generation.
Because of movies and TV the general public has a distorted view of what martial arts is about. It wouldn’t make good TV when rather then taking out the bad guy or seek revenge we teach verbal de-escalation techniques and confidence to walk away from situations.
We divide our classes up by age group and experience so the students are taught by where they are in their development. A 7 year old has much different abilities, social and physical needs than a 12 year old. We break it down by ages 4-5, 6-7, 7-9, 10-12, 13-16 and adult.
In our adult program we teach the art of Ed Parkers American Kenpo or Parker Kenpo for short. It is very much a self defense system (just realize there is a lot more that goes into self defense) that develops better balance, coordination, range of motion, stress reduction and a host of other benefits. Socializing with like minded people encourages you to stick with the training, unlike going to the gym or cardio class. We train in the study of motion much like dance but with a much different outcome, because it is all basic motion which is limited and doesn’t change but the combinations are endless.
We don’t teach a sport version of the martial arts such as MMA but rather prefer to stay with the more tradition version of the arts. This allows the student to train for a much longer period of time as injuries are kept to a minimum. As we age the constant hard core type of training gets hard to be motivated for and we eventually will stop. But if you leave refreshed and excited about your training it stands to reason you will train for a long time.
We also are not into a hard core type of training (although that is available).
As I enter into my mid 50”s, one of my goals is to get other baby boomers involved with martial arts. We are told to keep moving our bodies and to tax the brain by learning something new. Martial arts fulfill these requirements and add a host of other benefits as well. Better balance and range of motion become much more critical as we age. Cardio and strength also improve and the mind candy of learning and remembering the moves will melt your
brain if you aren’t careful. The beauty of martial arts is it is for everyone and can be adapted to your situation. You aren’t forced into a box and told this is the only way. Arts should be able to be adapted to the individual not the
other way around.
Come join us for a free trial period and see if training in the martial arts gets into your brain and becomes a lifelong passion as it has us.
There are many opportunities for us out there to occupy our time and energy, investigate martial arts as one of them and I know you won’t be disappointed.