Self Defense Martial Arts ‘The Awakened Warrior’

The Awakened Warrior:  Living with Courage, Compassion & Discipline by Rick Fields, ed. (1994)

The warrior by definition is a fighter, a man or woman of action, who meets and resolves the challenges of life.  But the warrior is also more than a fighter.  Like the thorn on the rose. The warrior is pledged to protect whatever is lovely, vulnerable, and truly precious.  This may include the warrior’s own life, but it does not stop with self-interest.  The warrior’s care and protections extend outward in an ever-widening circle, from family, tribe, leader, nation, and now to the earth itself.

In order to meet this challenge, warriors throughout the world always have cultivated certain qualities and values:  courage and bravery in facing both life and death; discipline in training both body and mind; strategy in keeping and restoring peace, as well as in battle; knowledge of one’s own weakness and strength, as well as of the opponent’s; and loyalty to comrades, as well as to a transcendent value.

These noble ideals are part of the warrior spirit that is our evolutionary heritage.  This warrior spirit is one of the patterns of our deep psychic structure, archetypal and innate. As William James wrote, “Ancestral evolution has made us all warriors.”

This archetypal warrior energy is one of the most powerful forces of the human psyche.  When it goes astray, it can cause tremendous destruction and suffering.  But when it is properly honored, honed, and disciplined, when we know how to work with it, the warrior within can be the source of tremendous good.  Without a well-developed warrior spirit, it is difficult to accomplish anything worthwhile.

There is, in fact, an ancient tradition, a lineage of “awakened warriors” who serve rather than ravage humanity and the earth.  The awakened warrior follows the Buddha, who taught that “the person who conquers himself or herself is the greatest of conquerors.”  For this reason, as Buddhist scholar Lobsang Lhalungpa tells us, the way of the bodhisattva, an “awakened being: dedicated to helping others, is popularly called in Tibetan ‘the way of the warrior,’ since a practicing bodhisattva conquers formidable enemies—egoistic delusions and all its forces—and then seeks to liberate others enslaved by similar adversaries.

The awakened warrior is not a person who makes war, but a person who relates to herself or himself and to the world with courage in order to end war and violence.  “The key to warriorship,” says Chögyam Trungpa, “ is not being afraid of who you are. Ultimately, that is the definition of bravery:  not being afraid of yourself.”  Such bravery involves discipline and training, of course, but it also involves being kind and vulnerable, both to ourselves and to others.

The path of the awakened warrior has existed in many cultures and traditions and taken many different forms – self-defense martial arts.  Among the Sioux, for example, as elder Matthew King tells us, “The warrior only fights to protect the people.  The warrior is always the first to help and the last to eat.”  In feudal Europe, the knights vowed to protect widows and children.  In Taoist China, the great general Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War: “To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill.  To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”  And in Japan, the martial arts evolved into a spiritual training leading to, in the words of the founder of aikido, “ a life of loving protection of all beings with a spirit of reconciliation.”

Now more than ever, we need the fierce compassion of the awakened warrior to inspire and guide us in our daily lives, as well as in our social and environmental struggles.  We also need the bravery and determination of the warrior in our spiritual search.  For the struggle which informs all our other battles is to wake up to the precious life that is ours to live, to serve, to protect, and—if need be—to defend as well.

The ancient and varied lineage of the awakened warrior is very much alive today.  In fact, as is clear to us, we are in the midst of both a re-visioning and a renewal of this enduring ideal.

[Accept the challenge—I dare you!]

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Archery Lessons Dealing with Target Panic!

When ‘aiming’ take note of what your eye is focusing on. The target? Your arrow tip or pin scope? Try to teach your eye to stay focused on one thing throughout the shot – The Target!

The eye has a tendency to change what it focuses on through the course of the shot. This can confuse our brain and subconscious. The result is no clear message sent to our shooting muscles, which can turn into what is commonly called, “TARGET PANIC”!

After you lift the bow to the target and draw to anchor take a second to settle into your ‘full draw’, look at the target (no need to shoot yet). Just simply look at the target and let the string slowly slip from your fingers. Don’t try time the shoot or predict when to let it go. The beautiful thing about archery is that it is so simple, but not easy. Enjoy the process and you will learn a lot.

See you this Friday and I will explain more about ‘Target Panic’!


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STAND UP to Bullying at FightClub


International STAND UP to Bullying Day is a semi-annual event that takes place in both February and November. The November event coincides with Anti-Bullying Week. Those participating in the day sign and wear pink “pledge shirts” to take a public stand against bullying. The shirts signal to those being bullied that they are supported, and stands up in a non-confrontational way against bullies. The day is observed by schools, workplaces, and organizations, in at least 25 countries around the globe.

Bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. Kids who bully use their power – such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity – to control or harm others. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally and purposely excluding someone from a group. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may experience serious, lasting problems.

FightClub approaches anti-bullying head-on by using principles of redirection and straightforward assertiveness. Students are taught to manage situations without the use of violence first, learning ways to assess threats, redirect verbal assaults and mobilize the audience, which is a critical factor in empowering the bully.

In a nutshell, I want to teach your kids how to deal with a ‘bad guy’ without becoming a ‘bad guys’ themselves. I want them to find power and confidence in what it means to be good.

If you are facing these challenges with your kids please bring them by FightClub for a few youth martial art classes and see what Systema Training at FC can do for them first hand.

Very Respectfully,

emmanuel manolakakis

Owner & Head Instructor

FightClub Martial Arts & Fitness Training Centre Inc.

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Disuse Causes Stresses to Your Body


We often think of sedentary lifestyle and risk aversion as inactivity, as “doing nothing.” But your nervous system doesn’t recognize it as inaction. It registers it as a highly specific action which demands adaptation (just like overuse and misuse). Disuse stresses your body, so if you’re sitting behind a desk, on the couch or in the car all day long, you will adapt to that specific stressor. Your nervous system will make it easier to use less effort to repeat the same position for longer. You become “chair-shaped.”  

Don’t let this happen to you!

Move it or you lose it. Movement is life. Your nervous system craves complexity. Aging itself involves the loss of complexity, so as you don’t move, or as you take fewer risks, you age more rapidly. If you don’t keep moving in all the infinite ways that you were designed, those neurological pathways will become overgrown with weeds and briars, so when you eventually try to move into that underbrush, it will be slow, awkward, painful and hazardous. I often add things like the Swiss Ball into my movement practice – Just to add some unpredictability and complexity to my martial arts training.

Try it – you will quickly see the benefits! 


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Brain Exercises help Kids in Martial Arts

For years it was thought that each of us was born with a generous supply of brain cells, but that we were unable to produce additional cells or make changes in how they function. Fairly recently, neuroscientists discovered the presence of something called “neuroplasticity” which enables the brain to actually grow additional cells or modify the function of existing cells. Amazingly, cognitive exercises have been found to produce desired changes in not only how the brain works, but how it looks. What this means for parents is that you now have the ability to work with your child to help improve their focus.

“Cognitive exercises have been found to produce desired changes in not only how the brain works, but how it looks. What this means is that you have the ability to work with your child to help improve”

Here are some of my favorite exercises that can help kids improve their concentration.

1. Crossword Puzzles and Picture Puzzles: 

It sounds simple, but these are great tools for kids. Crossword puzzles actually improve attention for words and sequencing ability, while picture puzzles—in which your younger child has to look for things that are “wrong” in the picture or look for hard-to-find objects—also improve attention and concentration.

2. Memory and Concentration Games: 

Children’s games such as ‘memory’ and ‘simon says’ are great ideas for improving memory and concentration. They are quick and fun. Memory motivates the child to remember the location of picture squares and Simon helps them memorize sequences of visual and auditory stimuli. Through repeated playing, brain circuits are “exercised” and challenged, which strengthens connections and thus improves function.

As you do all of these “brain exercises,” you should work together with your child serving as his or her “coach”, this is what I do when I’m teaching the kids martial arts classes.  Provide them with encouragement and track their progress as they improve. This is a win/win solution because it also strengthens the relationship you have with your child.

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