Beyond Anger

The world seems to be an angry place these days. Much like ego, pride and fear – Anger needs to be studied and understood in ones own terms. I have found this interesting article from Nelson Mandela that might help shed some light for everyone.

See you at FC this week,


Beyond Anger - by Nelson Mandela 

Anger is the emotion that has come to saturate our politics and culture. Philosophy can help us out of the dark vortex

There’s no emotion we ought to think harder and more clearly about than anger. Anger greets most of us every day – in our personal relationships, in the workplace, on the highway, on airline trips – and, often, in our political lives as well. Anger is both poisonous and popular. Even when people acknowledge its destructive tendencies, they still so often cling to it, seeing it as a strong emotion, connected to self-respect and manliness (or, for women, to the vindication of equality). If you react to insults and wrongs without anger you’ll be seen as spineless and downtrodden. When people wrong you, says conventional wisdom, you should use justified rage to put them in their place, exact a penalty. We could call this football politics, but we’d have to acknowledge right away that athletes, whatever their rhetoric, have to be disciplined people who know how to transcend anger in pursuit of a team goal.

If we think closely about anger, we can begin to see why it is a stupid way to run one’s life. A good place to begin is Aristotle’s definition: not perfect, but useful, and a starting point for a long Western tradition of reflection. Aristotle says that anger is a response to a significant damage to something or someone one cares about, and a damage that the angry person believes to have been wrongfully inflicted. He adds that although anger is painful, it also contains within itself a hope for payback. So: significant damage, pertaining to one’s own values or circle of cares, and wrongfulness. All this seems both true and uncontroversial. More controversial, perhaps, is his idea (in which, however, all Western philosophers who write about anger concur) that the angry person wants some type of payback, and that this is a conceptual part of what anger is. In other words, if you don’t want some type of payback, your emotion is something else (grief, perhaps ), but not really anger.

Is this really right? I think so. We should understand that the wish for payback can be a very subtle wish: the angry person doesn’t need to wish to take revenge herself. She may simply want the law to do so; or even some type of divine justice. Or, she may more subtly simply want the wrongdoer’s life to go badly in future, hoping, for example, that the second marriage of her betraying spouse turns out really badly. I think if we understand the wish in this broad way, Aristotle is right: anger does contain a sort of strike-back tendency. Contemporary psychologists who study anger empirically agree with Aristotle in seeing this double movement in it, from pain to hope.

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Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable


7 steps to acclimate yourself to extreme situations so you can excel at every level. 

- By Chris Dessi

I’ve been an entrepreneur for seven years. Midway through the fourth year, things were coming to a head. I wasn’t getting enough sleep. I wasn’t exercising, and I wasn’t keeping my mind clear with meditation. In the middle of what felt like my most stressful month of my life, my most senior employee resigned. While I was complaining about the debacle to an entrepreneur friend, he called me out: “Get comfortable with the feeling that you have right now.”

Confused, I asked, “What feeling?” He replied, “Feeling uncomfortable. Get comfortable feeling uncomfortable.” He stopped me in my tracks. He was right. We all need to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable. We’re soft!

Here are 7 ways to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, according to one of the toughest and most resilient people I know, Green Beret Jason Van Camp.

1. Start.

The first step is always the most uncomfortable. All you have to do is show up. The battle is half won if you just show up. I get it. It’s uncomfortable to start something.

If possible, make the decision to start on your own rather than have someone make that decision for you. Once you start, you are going to want to quit immediately.

Whenever you start something, it sucks. You start a diet, it sucks. You start working out, it sucks.

Remind yourself that you made a decision. You are already committed and there is no going back.

2. Don’t quit.

You’ve decided to start. You’re not seeing results. It’s difficult. You want to quit. It’s OK. Just keep pushing forward. You’re going to start thinking of a way out where you can quit and save face. Don’t do it. Don’t give yourself an out. Just don’t. Don’t give yourself any options. Either you succeed or you fail. No excuses. The point when you are just about to give up is the precise moment when the other guy gives up. At some point you are going to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” You better have an answer. What is driving you? Is it something someone said or did to you? Is it a competition? Is it a challenge? Is it something that you have to prove to yourself? Is it just pride? Whatever it is, it had better be powerful.

3. Push yourself past your comfort zone.

At some point, you are going to say to yourself, “I’ve never done this before” or “I don’t know what I’m doing.”We’ve all been there. Here’s a trick: Don’t say it out loud. Just pretend to be confident. Fake it till you make it. It’s scary, but I promise you this: When it’s over, you are going to say, “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.” Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.

4. Embrace “the suck.”

The situation is bad–deal with it. And don’t just deal with it–open your arms and welcome it as you would an old friend. You know him well. Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, he shows up. “The suck” is here to make you tougher. He’s a friend that arrived to make you better. Instead of complaining, celebrate the blessing that is the suck. If you are embracing the suck by yourself, laugh at how ridiculous the situation is. You are building your mental and physical toughness points. If you are embracing the suck with others, you’ve just made new best friends for life. Embracing the suck in a group is a powerful bonding experience.

5. Be around like-minded people.

Create a support network. Talk about your experiences. The worse the experience it is to you, the better the story it is to everyone else. Soon, you will be seeking uncomfortable experiences to share with your friends. Be a good storyteller.

6. Recognize your improvements.

Track your progress. Revel in it. You are now a changed person. You know it because you see it. Build your confidence by going back to what before was uncomfortable and go through the experience again. You are seeing your progress in real time. By nature, you are going to want to push the envelope to find out your boundaries. You will find yourself saying, “I wish it would suck more.” It’s our human nature to know what we are able to overcome.

7. Rinse. Repeat.

There’s an old Russian saying, povtorenie mat ucheniya, which means “repetition is the mother of learning.” The more you perform the same activity, the more confident you become. Confidence is a tangible thing–it comes from practice and repetition.


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What is the definition of bodyweight training?

The most obvious definition of bodyweight training is ‘training with your own body weight” (without any additional loads)

This definition speaks to the desire for simplicity that attracts many of us to body weight training. However, this definition also excludes certain movements that we tend to think of as bodyweight training, noticeably pull ups and dips that both require specialized bars (or any “things” in the environment that would serve a similar purpose.

It has interesting implications if we accept that bodyweight training is “training with your own body weight” with the possibility of equipment included. With that definition classic equipment like the back extension bench, glute-ham raise and suspension straps must be included in body weight training.

Additionally, there are two techniques – self resistance and partner resistance – that would not be incorporated in bodyweight training with a definition of “training with your own body weight”

With self resistance your own strength is the source of resistance and with partner resistance a partner’s strength or weight is the source of resistance. Thus, we reach a definition of bodyweight training as

Exercises where you own or a partners weight or strength is the dominant source of resistance

Notice the word “dominant’. Bodyweight training purists might have preferred the word “only”. However, a pragmatic coach realizes that appropriate elastic bands satisfy the need to train anywhere anytime while providing a significant addition to the possible training stimulus.

Finger strength is important in many martial arts and is a great example of a muscle group that can be developed with self resistance exercises. For example with single finger finger hooks:

Hook your index fingers around each other.

Pull the fingers apart while maintaining the shape of the hook. Maintain the pull over a full inhalation (5-8 seconds)

Repeat with the long finger, ring finger and little finger and you have completed one set.

5-10 sets performed twice a week is recommended to build great finger strength.

If you have a training partner, finger hooks work great as a partner resistance exercise. Supposedly the legendary strongman, Maxick, could pull a man across a table with his fingers only.

Karsten Jensen, MSc.


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‘Evasion’ as and Art

Evasion skills are a large part of the training curriculum. Favoured over blocks, evasion techniques are efficient and keep the hands and legs free for more offensively minded work. The body is taught to move from the line of attack before or after contact is made.

Evasion is generally made up two specific distances: moving before contact or moving after contact is made. Each distance has its own unique application. Your skills, situation, and environment will dictate which one happens. Regardless, you need to understand how to evade from both distances.

Training begins with students learning how to remove themselves from the line of danger without contact. A partner simply walks towards you and you step out of the way. The objective is to move the body as a complete unit. This simple drill can progress in so many ways and here are just a few examples: by adding more partners walking towards you; rolling out of the way instead of stepping; adding a kick, punch or grab as you walk towards your partner; or beginning from the ground instead of standing. It sounds so simple but it is amazing to see how many students leave parts of themselves behind as they move, saving the body but sacrificing legs or arms. Drills progress to putting the attacker down or strikes of sorts. During the whole process students start to build great observation skills, an important part of self defense. If you look closely all the signs that someone is attempting something are all there, you just never noticed the movement.

In the same fashion students learn how to move from the ‘line of danger’ after contact is made. One partner pushes the other – upon contact the body moves away. You can use a fist, hand, foot, elbow or any array of weapons with this drill. Just wait for contact and move after you feel it. As your skills and confidence grows increase the intensity, speed or add more attackers. Learning how to defend yourself from this distance is a great skill to have in your arsenal.

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Emmanuel in Geneva

Last week-end was one of those week-ends where you know something good is about to happen but you don’t know what exactly. Well the week-end is behind us now, Emmanuel is back to Toronto after he gave us an amazing seminar here in Geneva. 

He covered so many things with such interesting perspective, a thing that I particular like about Emmanuel’s way of teaching! So where to start? He shared with us some of the latest breathing exercises from Vladimir, then we worked on lengthening and relaxing the arms for better strikes (timing and precision!). We also worked on relaxing and stretching, hands sensitivity when working with a person, did some wrestling, knife educative drills and so on….working with people. Because, yes, at the end of the days, this is exactly that: “working with people”, helping each person that walks into Systema to become a better person whatever that means at the time for each practitioner. And that, of course, encompass so many aspect of fighting sure but most important: life!

So what happened exactly over the week-end that turned this whole event into “something good”? Well, simply stated, I believe it is the people who came to work hard on themselves and learn in a very nice yet challenging environment set up by Emmanuel.

So thanks again everybody from Subrosa Systema here in Geneva and all the people that made it here like my friend Benoît for example.  We look forward to organizing the plan to have him teach again so close to us.

Vincent Hurner


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