I’m not playing “not to lose” anymore. I still want to perform to my best, to break that new record, to walk away victorious, but something very important has changed. My focus now is simply the MOMENT…I savor the moment. Every moment of every performance is something to be totally experienced and totally enjoyed. I simply seize the moment for what it is and, whenever I do that, I begin immediately to experience a sense of calm, strength, and energy that continues to amaze me…As long as what I am doing at that moment is precisely what I am doing at that moment, everything happens naturally. I don’t have to try to get psyched or try to concentrate or try to perform well. I just do. And when I’m there I have the energy to burn. If you try too hard you force it and there is a difference between trying harder and giving 100%. I’ve always been my own toughest opponent and I suppose I always will be.

If mental skills represent at least 50% of the process of playing, why do coaches and athletes spend only 5-10% of their time working on these skills?

MENTAL TOUGHNESS IS LEARNED, NOT BORN: Self-motivated and self-directed, positive but realistic, in control of emotions, calm & relaxed under fire, highly energetic and ready for action, determined, mentally alert and focused, doggedly self-confident, fully responsible.

When the final moment of truth finally arrives, the deciding factor will always be the same. It will be your INNER STRENGTH that makes the ultimate difference: you will always be your own Toughest Opponent, so focus on doing the best that you can.

Focusing on winning and losing the external contest all too frequently leads to performance paralysis martial arts has so much of this. Fears of winning and losing quickly lead to muscle tightness, excessive anxiety, and poor concentration. “Winning the contest with yourself” rarely leads to such performance problems.

Three test questions at the end of every play or practice:

  1. 1)  I gave my best effort every moment. I gave 100%.
  2. 2)  I maintained a predominantly positive, healthy and optimistic attitude.
  3. 3)  I accepted full responsibility for me today, for what I did and didn’t do (didn’t blame

    others, weather, bad equipment, cheating opponent or anything else).

  4. 4)  Winning the contest with yourself is hard work. It is truly the ultimate challenge.
  5. 5)  You must realize that you can succeed with yourself every day. This is precisely how

    you build success, the most satisfying and fulfilling of all—the conquest of self.

1) Self-discipline./self-control/self-confidence/self-realization. Once you believe in yourself

and feel good about you, the doors are opened to becoming your fullest potential.

“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”—John Wooden

AET=> Athletic Excellence Training Model

  • Mental toughness is learned, not born
  • The ultimate measure of mental toughness is consistency
  • Excepting the influence of physical factors, performance consistency is the result of

    psychological consistency.

  • The extent to which individuals or teams will perform toward an upper range of their

    talent and skill largely depends on the success they have in creating and maintaining a

    particular kind of mental climate within themselves.

  • Excepting the influence of physical factors, the level of performance of individuals or

    teams is an accurate reflection of the kind of internal climate existing within the

    performers themselves

  • An ideal internal performance climate exists for every athlete and team. This is referred

    to as the Ideal Performance State.

  • The component elements of the IPS are fundamentally the same for all athletes and across

    all sports

  • The IPS is most accurately described in terms of specific feeling states experienced by

    the individual performers

  • The most important mental skills required in competitive sport are those associated with

    creating and maintaining the IPS during play

  • Mental toughness requires a high degree of control over the IPS. The more you practice

    the better you get.

    The real test comes when the pressure is really on, when the world is against you, when everything has turned upside down. It is here that you come face to face with the limits of your mental strength.

    Your level of performance is a direct reflection of the way you feel inside…Mental toughness is the ability to create and maintain the right kind of internal feeling regardless of the circumstances. The most important thing you can do to perform to your best at the time is to create a particular feeling climate within yourself and maintain it, NO MATTER WHAT.

    Twelve distinct feeling categories for performing optimally: physically relaxed, mentally calm, low anxiety, energized, optimistic, enjoyment, effortless, automatic, alert, mentally focused, self- confident, in control.

    Nobody plays when they’re feeling the pressure: the difference is those who can or cannot eliminate the pressure. Thinking the wrong thoughts can quickly lead to pressure problems.

  • Instead of thinking “What if I don’t do well?!” or “If I don’t do it now, I’ll lose everything” choose one of these Samples:
  • “I’m just going to do the best I can and let the cards fall where they may”
  • “I’m simply going to focus on doing my job the best I know how”
  • “I’m going to have fun out there, no matter what”
  • “Pressure is something I put on myself”
  • “Even if I’m not the greatest today, it won’t be the end of the world”
  • Winning and losing is for the fans; I simply perform and feel great doing that”
  • I love tough situations; the tougher the situation the better I perform”
  • I’m going to be OK—no matter what
  • Is this a threat or a challenge?

    Start loving adversity—that is what makes you a champion! You gotta love it!

    Do you have rituals that help to get you feeling loose, confident, energized, etc.? Every good performer has rituals. Let overwhelming feelings of pressure trigger your determination, inspiration, challenge, and positiveness. Transform adversity and pressure into challenge, inspiration, opportunity—that begins in your head. Intensity is simply high energy.

    Joy, fun, love, challenge, optimism, determination, enjoyment become calm mental state, attentional control, relaxed muscles become high level performance. Negativity erodes INNER STRENGTH. I accept full responsibility for myself. I simply focus on doing the very best I can at every moment. Mistakes are feedback and a necessary part of learning anything well. I’m willing to pay the price to be successful by striving to have fun no matter what and enjoying myself as I perform. I always give my best effort, reducing negativity as it arises. If I don’t make mistakes I won’t learn. Repeat often: “I can do that” “I am getting more disciplined” “I love adversity” I’m feeling more relaxed and calm” I’m feeling inspired and stronger” “I can”

    Live without fear…Pillars of mental toughness: motivation, self-confidence, attentional focus, coping with pressure

    Successful use of mental skills: mental preparation, imagery, goal-setting, self-talk, training Relaxation Strategies: progressive relaxation, relaxation response, slow down, use breath control

    To change mindsets: “I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong or winners and losers, but rather into learners and non-learners.” Benjamin Barber

    Ben-Shjahar says we only learn mental toughness by actually experiencing failure, by living through it. As J. K. Rowling says, “tested by adversity to find our strengths and self-knowing.”

For your finest hour:

Prepare your strategies as exercises: visualization is one of the most powerful mental training strategies available to performers: it is nothing more than the systematic practice of creating and strengthening strong positive mental images. (i.e., positive image programming). A learned skill. Visualization is the connecting link between mind and body in performance. Establish a regular visualization practice routine which rehearses helpful mental and emotional responses to difficult situations that may arise during performance—no substitute for hard work but physical practice is only half the battle. Start thinking in positive pictures in as much detail as possible in colour. Work to eliminate the failure images and replace them with successful ones of you staying confident, calm, and positive as well as productive. Many short sessions of five minutes each are better than one or two long ones. Use your imagination to set long-term, intermediate, and short- term goals. Become an artist at managing negative energy.

Being mentally prepared simply means NEVER BEING SURPRISED BY ANYTHING.

  • Muscles relaxed
  • Calm & quiet
  • Low anxiety
  • High energy
  • Positive
  • Highly enjoyable
  • Effortless
  • Automatic
  • Confident
  • Alert
  • In control
  • Focused
  • Playing well visualization
  • Resilience of emotional control
  • Refuse to worry, feel winning feelings…say “Stop” if negative thought arises.
  • One Objective: to create and sustain your Ideal Performance State NO MATTER WHAT
  • Act “As If” in adversity
  • Work hard to develop and maintain the physical presence of a champion—no matter how

    you feel!

  • Choose a mantra to say over and over again in rhythm with your breathing to focus: it is

    your mental target: such as “Calm”, or “Feel no pressure” or See it” or “play”

  • STAY WITH IT—you are developing a new set and higher level of skills.
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Self Defense Martial Arts Mastery



by Greg Malszecki

A “master” is one who has the ability & power to prove supremacy or superiority, command of actions

YOU become a ‘master’ through deliberate practice (purposeful practice) over a long period with focused effort plus deep understanding of principles encoding strong mental representations into one’s trained physiology to activate the human potential to improve performance as long as they train in the right way, seek coaching feedback to identify weaknesses and strengths, model themselves upon others who have chosen to do the same work with that same intensity, apply tremendous effort to achieve certain defined decisions as goals. How much you improve is up to you. There is no point at which performance maxes out. Yet you must train in humility expecting mistakes, knowing no one is perfect.

Malcolm Gladwell was wrong about that simple fact of 10,000 hours of practice—it varies from field to field. Superior expertise requires focus to acquire comprehensive knowledge, to accomplish many different practiced skills, and to seek impeccable execution without flaws for every action consistently. How do you tell apart a master, an instructor, a senior, a rookie, or layperson? What’s your “horizon”?

Mastery in Self Defense Martial Arts is not an absolute—there are different evolutions and different levels even though so many of both which are far, far beyond “excellence.” As a person ages, they must adapt their skills and learn to change their philosophies, their abilities, their body’s capacities, and even adapt to health. But even aged masters are way above the average instructors. What’s the difference? It is more than adaptation.

The “thing” or “art” you want to master will become your entire life, so you better be sure it is something you really, truly care about—every day it demands ruthless driving effort, complete self-discipline, dedicated laser- like attention, and tons of time: low levels=12-15 years/ mid to high levels=25-30 years/ confirmed mastery 30- 70 years. You need a blueprint of how you will get there plus must learn something every day beyond excellence in your chosen field. IT’S HARD WORK. You choose! Make a decision rather than set a goal…

How to become a MASTER—breathe/move/effortless power/fun/calm/know yourself/be brave:
1) Decide upon the specific life driving you to succeed, a worthy one. Exercise your humility, mark of greatness 2) Develop a strategy to help you achieve your goal—think looooongggg term success. But question always
3) Start learning everything you can about your chosen field of expertise—follow successful models/review them 4) Be dedicated to developing skills you need to be superior: identify & practice with deep work to improve 1% 5) Set milestones to evaluate & measure your progress: How did I perform? Where can I improve? Listen…

People fail to achieve mastery not because they are not talented enough but because they aren’t disciplined enough—the potential exists in all of you, so never stop pushing higher and higher. Be honest with yourself— the key to ultimate success is acquiring as many skills as possible with power & intelligence using your human potential—it is a path all of us can follow. BUT none reach “perfect”…”Horizons” are imaginary lines. Don’t quit!


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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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