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Happy Holidays

Category : FC Youth News

Hey FC Parents & Kids,

It’s been a great year of training at FightClub for the youth program! I am so impressed with all the material the kids have covered and learned. Parents I am busy preparing ‘Progress Reports’ for the kids that you will be receiving before the new year. Thank you again for supporting the youth program and spreading the word about the great things we are accomplishing. A reminder that FC will be closed for the holidays from December 18th till January 3rd.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


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Teaching Mindfulness with SYSTEMA at FightClub

Category : FC Youth News

Mindfulness education has proven benefits that include; increasing optimism and happiness, decreasing bullying and aggression, increasing compassion and empathy for others and helps kids resolve conflicts.

The dictionary’s definition of mindfulness is – “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”.

Here are some exercises I use at FightClub that SYSTEMA teaches to develop mindfulness for the youth students. Feel free to test them out at home!

Breathing into the hands
Have the kids place their hands on various parts of their bodies and breath into them. They should notice how their hands’ moves rise (fill) and lower (deflate), as they inhale and exhale.

Tense & Relax Drill
While the kids are lying down (with their eyes closed or open), have them tense every (or some) muscle in their bodies. Have them hold themselves in tensed up positions for a few seconds, and then fully release and relax. This is a great, fun activity for “loosening up” the body and mind, and is a totally accessible way to get the kids to understand the art of “being present.”

Learn to Touch
Whether it’s when the kids wrestle, push each other with fist/feet, contacting the wall or falling to the ground it’s a way to teach the kids the practice of isolating their senses from one another, and tuning into distinct experiences.

Listen to the Whistle
I use a ‘Fox 40’ whistle and ask the kids to listen closely to the vibration of the sound. Tell them to remain silent and raise their hands when they no longer hear the noise it makes. Then tell them to remain silent for one minute and pay close attention to the other sounds they hear once the sound has stopped.

Feel Your Heartbeat Exercise
The kids run around the mats or jump up and down in place for one minute. Then have them sit back down and place their hands on their hearts. Tell them to close their eyes and feel their heartbeats, their breath, and see what else they notice about their bodies.

Walk and Talk
In this exercise, the kids walk around the mats and talk about what they just learned and how they felt about it.” A simple exercise that allows kids to communicate – casually and comfortably with each other.

I hope this helps,


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How To Teach Your Kids To Listen To Their All-Important Gut

Category : FC Youth News

Hey FC Parents,

As most of you know I am big proponent of pro-active self defense. The sooner you can detect danger the better! Here is a great article I was reading last week to help parents try and explain this important life skill to their kids (and maybe even learn a little for themselves).

See you at FC,

How To Teach Your Kids To Listen To Their All-Important Gut

Our intuitive feelings might, at some point in life, help save us from harm and that is one very good reason to begin to teach children about intuition. “The inner voice is wise” and “Intuition is… knowing without knowing why,” says Gavin de Becker in his book The Gift of Fear.

In a world where wisdom can seem increasingly rare, and vigilance about our surroundings is necessary, our children need encouragement to connect to that voice. Decisions in life should be made with thinking and feeling skills.

All too often regrets for decisions we’ve made are a result of ignoring that inner message. Intuition, gut reaction and inner voice are names for a natural resource each one of us possesses. Positive outcomes to gut decisions can help build a child’s confidence.

The decision-making process is an ever-evolving skill, but as the author Alfie Kohn notes,”Children learn to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.” Making good decisions involves, in part, responding to their own intuitive messages.

Consider that “there are over 100 million brain cells in our gut, as many as are in the head of a cat.” It’s certain that any cat lover will tell you their pet is “exquisitely sensitive”. Our gut brain cells are often termed the second brain. Although still early in the research, studies are proving there is a connection between this second brain and our overall well-being.

Finding that “true message” is a skill in itself because often our gut tells us something we don’t want to hear.

“A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut,” says Emeran Mayer, professor of physiology, psychiatry and biobehavioural sciences at U.C.L.A. in a Scientific American article.

Most people have many stories where their gut reaction saved them. For parents, sharing personal stories in which gut reactions had an impact on your own life is a starting point. Your stories lend credibility to the practical application of intuition in the real world. Intuition and gut reaction can be termed an inner sensitivity to our outer world.
Like any other skill, children need to first identify a gut reaction. The best one to start with is the “butterflies in the stomach” reaction when we are nervous. This happens in all sorts of situations and is a direct response to the stomach-brain and head-brain connection. It is involuntary and even young children can relate to that feeling.

That is one of the more overt stomach-brain responses but there are others that are more subtle. It is all about training yourself to listen. You need to take a momentary pause when faced with a situation and purposely ask yourself “how does this feel?” The lesson is beneficial to children because what you are really teaching them is to take a moment before proceeding.

Focusing on the question and response will usually yield an answer. However, don’t look for the answer you want, instead accept the answer those feelings give you. Finding that “true message” is a skill in itself because often our gut tells us something we don’t want to hear.

Our gut isn’t always tuned to the happy channel. We can get messages that disturb us, surprise us, anger us or confuse us. All those emotions need to be covered with your child as they develop attention to their intuition.

Then your child will inevitably ask: “Why did your gut fail you when the situation turned out badly?” In many instances that is because we weren’t listening or we ignored the feeling because we believed that everything would turn out OK. How many times in your life have you said “I knew I shouldn’t have done that”?

To avoid those situations, there are some who believe we should just respond spontaneously and find out why later. The why will present itself…

De Becker suggests that your child listening to their gut can actually help keep them safe. If children are in situations that create a “knot in their stomach,” then there’s a good chance the situation will get worse. If something doesn’t feel right or they are being coerced into a situation, then their gut is giving them the “flight” option.

Use available opportunities in the everyday to practice with your child. There’s the intuitive feeling when a phone call you make goes unanswered or the sense of destiny when meeting someone new. Query your children as well. What if that inner message is not what they want to hear? How will they respond? Talking to your child about strategies for dealing with life is always beneficial. Like any other skill, a child becomes more proficient with practice.

Listening to and reacting to their gut instincts is a skill that will grow and develop over the years and throughout your child’s life.



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Teaching Situational Awareness to Kids

Category : FC Youth News

Hey FC Parents & Kids,

Halloween is just around the corner. See some homes with Halloween decoration already. This is a great time to talk about situational awareness or as it’s more commonly known as “street safety & smarts”.


Teaching Situational Awareness to Kids

I’ve met and talked with countless soldiers and law enforcement professionals over the years and I’ve noticed that they all have the same advice to these things. BE AWARE!!

Situational awareness is being aware of your surroundings, the place you’re at, the actions of others, especially furtive actions. In a world of increasing violence and crime being aware serves many purposes:

Protection– the oblivious are a favourite victim of criminals.
Warning– you’ll see danger before it starts so you can react accordingly to save your own life and/or others.
Information– you’ll able to accurately recall vital information in the case of a crime or threat to give police.

The Unaware
Children, to the exasperation of most parents, are unaware. We teach them to be aware of vehicles before crossing the road and stranger danger, but in today’s world, we need to teach them more. This can be tricky without making them afraid of the entire world. Let me show you a few ways I do it at FightClub and maybe you can try

The Situational Awareness Game
Begin by asking your kids questions after leaving a store. Ask about people, the location of exits, displays, and what was going on in the store while you were there.

It’s important to vary the questions so they don’t know exactly what you’ll ask. You want them to become aware and not how to focus on what they think we want to hear. These are just general guidelines to give you an idea. You’ll find this activity is just as challenging for adults as for children. We are blissfully unaware of our surroundings or simply distracted much more than we realize.

These are just general guidelines to give you an idea. You’ll find this activity is just as challenging for adults as for children. We are blissfully unaware of our surroundings or simply distracted much more than we realize.

Place Awareness
-Where were the bathrooms?
-Where were the exits?
-Was there an entrance and an exit?
-Where did we park?
-Which entrance did we come in at? Left through?

Once they can answer these questions with ease and accuracy with each store, restaurant, or building you’ll know they’ve been trained to look for at their surroundings. At this point, it’s becoming natural and you can challenge them to see more than just the place.

People Awareness
-What was the cashier wearing?
-Do the employees have a uniform? If so what is it?
-What colour hair did the waitress have?
-Was the cashier wearing glasses?
-What did the look like?
-What were they wearing?
-What was the greeter’s name?

You just need to make sure their awareness is expanded not just shifting.

Thing Awareness
-What stickers were on the cashier’s name tag?
-What was displayed by the entrance?
-Describe the wallpaper in the bathroom.
-What food was on the aisle we walked down to get to the milk?
-What colour and type of car did we park next to when we got here?
-Describe your favourite picture displayed in the restaurant.
-What food did I have trouble deciding to purchase?

Eventually, you’ll be able to start really stretching your abilities and theirs. They will begin to notice the unusual and mundane around them. The ultimate goal is to become aware of where we are, where we are going, and who and what is around us. Teaching situational awareness can be lifesaving for your children. Don’t wait for the days before Halloween to do this, but rather consistently talk about it as I do at FightClub.

I really don’t like reading stories in the paper about bad things that could have been prevented with something as simple situational awareness. Please forward this to your friends and share the knowledge – remember it costs nothing for kids to try some classes at FightClub. Systema training offers so much – Help spread the word.

Yours in Learning,


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Rescue Your Kids From “Affluenza” – Teach Them Grit!

Category : FC Youth News

What I would like to discuss is a condition that I see many young athletes suffer from. These athletes – many of them, but not all of them, coming from well-to-do families – display an apathetic, indifferent attitude toward challenging situations, difficult training, tough coaches, and most any obstacle that lies in their path toward their goals.

At every obstacle, they turn back. They may have great talent and coaching, but they are missing the mental toughness that is required to be a high performer. Usually, this condition exists because the adult role models in their lives shelter them from challenges, swoop in before they can fail, and excuse entitled attitudes by blaming coaches, teachers, and other adults who are actually trying to teach their kids to be a bit tougher.

This lack of grit and mental fortitude is common, and I have written about this before. Each time, I received the same question numerous times: Can I teach kids grit? In one word, YES. In fact, it is our responsibility as parents and coaches to teach this.

Here are three simple steps you can take to in still grit, determination and self control.

1. Allow them to FAIL: In fact, encourage them to fail! Failure is a MANDATORY component of both learning and becoming mentally tough. Children who are not allowed to fail never have any obstacles to overcome, and blame things outside of themselves for their failure. Every time they encounter an obstacle, they wait to be carried over it, they wait for the problem to be solved for them.

2. Praise Them for Effort and Tenacity: if you want an athlete with sports “affluenza,” then by all means praise him for his talent, intelligence, and ability. But if you want a determined, gritty athlete, then praise tenacity.

3. Be a Model Grit for Your Athletes: This is a tough one, but remember that kids hear what we say, but remember what we do. Don’t complain about things out of your control that effected a sports outcome, or blame your boss or co-workers because you did not get the promotion. Instead, be honest about your disappointment with your kids, explain to them how while you are upset, you are going to work even harder, that this is a goal worth attaining, and soon achievement will come. Demonstrate for your kids that what you are doing is not easy, but it is worth the struggle, disappointment and perseverance required of achieving it.

Our society is coining terms like “affluenza” because too many adults do not have the courage to be role models, and to create boundaries for our children.

There is no better place than FightClub to learn GRIT.  There is no better time than now to bring you kids in for a lesson.


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