Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Myth of Stranger Danger!

Most of the time the word stranger is as complex as a mathematical code or some scientific formula.  You may be asking yourself, what is this guy talking about it isn't that difficult to understand?  Here is my logic:  Have you ever had a conversation with a child and asked them who a stranger is?  If you have - mostly they will answer you by saying - people they do not know.  This is Step #1 in the myth of stranger danger.  A good majority of abductions come from within the circle of awareness and influence.  For example: A child see's a stranger as someone who they have never come in contact with, someone they have never seen before. 

So they do not see strangers as people they have come in contact with or who they know, even if it is on a very superficial basis.  Barriers are easily broken down by a parent telling their child to say hello to or introducing them to an old friend.  The child immediately is taught to trust their parents and rely on them to make the best judgment on their behalf.  Remember strangers come in many forms.  When I teach courses at schools, I often ask the students - "who is a stranger? The answer is commonly what I mentioned above, so to educate the students I give examples in the form of asking questions - Is your aide at school a stranger?" the kids normally reply "NO!"  I then ask how about your neighbor or school teacher - the reply is "NO!" Again.  I then ask and this can be quite confusing and is a touchy one, how about a Police officer?  They say "NO! Of course Not!"  Well in reality this is all wrong, each and every one of these people are strangers.  So how do we overcome this?

Establish Stranger Danger Rules

Rule #1.
The only person who can determine who is not a stranger is their parent. This is when we develop the approved person list.  The parents will complete this at home - with our supplied sheet "The Approved Person List."

A parent and child must establish who is within their circle of trust.  At this point I urge the parents to be very careful who they chose and to make sure they do their due diligence before making decisions.  There are many websites where you can check, pedophiles with the neighborhood or do background checks on hired help, such as nanny's or babysitters.  I have seen some horrific situations with people whom a child trusted - becoming their worst nightmare.  This is a very difficult decision and something I do not take lightly.  As a parent I am always second guessing myself.  Who do I trust?  Well, you assume first choice is family, then second close friends and possibly a neighbor whom you have established a long lasting relationship with.  We do have to make decisions and hope for the best, I know this is a hard one my advice is trust your gut.

Rule #2 - Trust you gut.
A Child must know what "Trust your gut means." It is hard to teach this skill, but one method I have used is teaching children how to understand their emotions. The first step is to ask them if they ever felt someone looking at them from across the room.  Have they ever felt it, and they turned and looked and saw the person starring or looking in their direction.  This is actually a phenomenon known to the Ninja world as "Proprio-ception."  The receptors in the body fire, giving you the feeling of uneasiness.  It is still not know why the body does this exactly, but I believe it comes from the fight or flight survival skill.  Before we were an established society we were much more aware of the dangers around us, such as Protecting ourselves from animal attack or possibly enemy attack, when life was more simpler.  In any event I can go on and on about this very topic but this is one good way to teach them how to sense this and trust their gut. Plus it is fun. 

Rule #3 - Consequences.
Throughout our child's entire lives they have been taught to respect authority.  Be respectful of their elders, be polite and listen when told to do something by authority figures such as teachers, school aides, police officers, grandparents, martial art teachers, etc.  There is a fine line drawn between compliance and danger. How does a child know when to be respectful and comply and when not to?  I believe this is also up to the parent to establish.  The parent has to be specific and teach their child will be "NO" consequences when they refuse to do something, because they were practicing the trust their gut philosophy.

For example: The Janitor at school (no offense in any way to Janitors) says, hey - Kiara come with me, you need to do me a favor and come into this room with me.  A child has to be able to NOT obey and say NO, knowing their will not be any consequences.  They need to know their parents have their back and will not be angry, if they feel it is not a normal situation.  Even if it leads to them getting in trouble and being a false alarm.  You see, most children do things, that lead to bad things, because they are led into dangerous situations due to mixed emotions and poor choices.  I want my daughter to do what she feels is right and I will deal with her and make the necessary judgment as to whether it was unfounded or not.  No official, teacher, principal or authority figure has the right to override me.  Remember a child has to know there is somewhere safe to go to, when all else doesn't make sense.  This goes for physical self - defense as well.

Rule #4 - "Code Word Protection."
Many children make mistakes during the decision making process.  The sad reality is predators/strangers, are older, wiser and good at what they do.  They will do whatever it takes in the form of trickery, bribery and illusion in order to get at your child.  For safety purposes and to relieve your child of decision making and to rid them of the pressure of making the right decision all you have to do is establish a personal "Code Word." A code word is established for only the people on the "approved person list" (we spoke about this above). If your child is in need of being picked up or taken home by someone for reasons unknown it is easy for the child to understand they are safe.  The approved list is not to be taken lightly.  If for an emergency or at the last minute you need someone to take care of your child this list should be enacted.  I don't ever recommend stirring from the list because if fact it creates doubt in the child's mind but the override is in some extreme cases the password protection can override everything else.  . 

Once the parent has established a code word, this word should not be shared with the anyone.  The next exercise is a fun drill in which you can have sit with your students who are in attendance and establish a sample code word.

Ask all of your kids to think of a cool code word. Give them examples - like using super heroes or a saying.  Then ask them if they all picked one out. Then tell them this is secret for them to keep to themselves and share with their parents only.  Have them run over to their parents and tell them.  At that point have them sit back down and listen to you some more. Normally I say "Okay you guys. I came up with the coolest code word. Mine is Batman."  I then look the kids in their eyes personally and ask what is yours?"  60% of the room will fail and give it to you.   There will be one kid who is aware and will understand and keep it to themselves but the majority will not.  The first lesson is taught.  Do not share with anyone who is not on the approved list your password. 

Rule # 5 - Heightened awareness for parents.
I continually recommend the book "The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de becker."  You may even want to purchase a few wholesale and have them on hand to sell to the parents afterwards.  This is an amazing book teaching the art of awareness and how to trust your gut.  To follow instincts while shopping, or in a dark parking lot, or after some stranger keeps appearing in the local mall, making small talk.  The goal is for parents to know the rules of safety and to establish them while in public. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Going the Extra Mile - Change your Paradigm!

            Often times we intend to do all the right things, with all the right motives and still can’t see why things are grim or don’t turn out the way we planned.  Have you ever had one of those days when nothing seems to go right? Heck…. have you ever had one of those weeks, months or years?  It seems that the black cloud follows you everywhere you go.  Amazingly enough, going the extra mile is all a part of Karma.  Doing what is right when no one else is watching is a part of Shibumi – self-perfection.  So why is it, if you do your best, life still seems to beat you up and punch you in the face?

Don’t fret, just because it seems so, doesn’t mean it is so: Yoga Teacher Swami Buaji, who passed at approximately 122 years old, once told me, that your perception, is your reality.  Remember just because you believe it to be true doesn’t necessarily mean it is.  Hundreds of years ago, people thought the world was flat.  Also, there are many depths of perception; whether you see yourself as giving 100%, others may not or you see yourself as having a bad day when in fact it may not really be.  It just takes a shift in perception and what I call a “Paradigm Shift.”  I remember when I was reading a book and I kept reading the word Paradigm. This may be hard to explain in writing but I was reading the word and pronouncing it as Para Did GIM.  When I mentioned it to my friend, they asked are you saying, and then the pronounced it Para Dine. I laughed as if they were wrong, thinking they meant something else and I repeated Para Did Gim as if I was teaching them.  They said “show me the word.”  I grabbed the book and did, they laughed and said, the word is pronounced Para Dine.  My entire Paradigm immediately shifted, what I thought was real, wasn’t at all, and I was ready to stand my ground.  My life as it was, shifted into an entirely different Paradigm.    

Do you see where I am going here?  Going the extra mile in your mind, may not necessarily be true in the real world.  The old adage you get what you pay for is not necessarily true.  I remember watching a T.V show that was researching the mentality of a consumer.  They were serving three different types of water to the restaurant clientele asking which they thought was best.  One had a beautiful label, the other had a basic label, but a beautiful bottle and the other had a spider lying in the bottom of a bottle.  This bottle was carefully designed with a very interesting logo and slogan. Most people would be sickened by the spider, but the waiter had told everyone that his was a tradition in a particular country and the spider was known to increase health and vitality due to its natural properties.

One bottle of water was $5, the other $10 and the spider water was a whopping $50 per bottle.  Do you believe, people were actually ordering the spider water?  Thank goodness at the end they revealed to the watchers that it was a rubber spider and somewhat of a gag.  But the reality is people believed the story and their paradigm had shifted.  Oh, by the way, all of the water was exactly the same and directly from the tap in the kitchen.  Perception is reality, but only your reality!  

            Do you believe that you are giving your ultimate best and living up to your potential?  If not maybe it’s high time you did.  A big factor in achieving your potential is for every potential negative thought or destructive behavior in your life, you have to nurture positive behaviors.  Those negative behaviors make your life that much more difficult.  To nurture a proper positive reality and perspective you have to start to shift your perception and attitude. 

This is not an article or blog post on how to do that, however, it can help you be on your way toward making the necessary changes and to do a great deal of reformatting and reanalyzing.  Getting the pulse on what you think is most important. Take the time and search for the truth, and retrain your mind, the truth is out there.  It will be well worth the effort.

In my book I talk about this and so much more.  I am still offering my book for FREE, well not Free entirely, but free from me. The cost of the book and shipping is only $8.95.  I am not making a profit on the book, I am just covering my costs and shipping. I just want to help the world at large.  If you are interested click here to get a copy today.     

Monday, April 17, 2017

Know your Potential and Trust in Someone!

This is a great supplement to the article that I wrote a few days ago.  I think that Potential is probably one of life's most underutilized facets.  I was away this weekend at Mohonk Mountain Lodge.  Throughout the weekend, I witnessed so many talented people, from the tap dancer, to the four piece band that played music, as we danced the night away, to the lady who walked up and sang an old Jazz song with the Jazz band, to a couple that danced to the Jazz band as they played with skills that would be award winning on dancing with the stars. 

Check out this video - I released a few years back. 


Please tell me your thoughts as well as ask me any questions you have.

I love the feedback.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Potential – every ones secret identity……….

In the past I have been fortunate to witness things that I consider to be quite amazing.  Along with two partners I am the host of the largest tournament circuit in all of N.Y. State.  It is called NY  Even though I am honored and I think that it is ultimately cool, it’s not what I do, but what I am able to observe, that makes my life so special.  Within this tournament competitors from as young as 4 year olds on up to 65 compete.  I get to sit at the head table and observe the entire event and see the magic happen.  

That is not really what I am so excited about.  There are large amounts of competitors that are at the top of their game, amazingly talented individuals who have worked super hard to get there.  About two days before the tournament I ran, one of the competitors whom I know, emailed me, asking if they could get their money back.  The young man had explained to me, how a few days prior he just tested for his 3rd degree black belt and how his body was extremely sore. He went on to explain how he had been so focused on this test that he hadn’t prepared for this event.  Being that he is not my direct student, but a student of one of my best friends, I thought I better be careful how I handle this.  I told this young man he should do it and that there were no refunds. The young man humbly accepted the fact that their where no refunds and said, “I will just go and help others.” 

I replied and said, No!  You need to compete.  He explained to me again, how he wasn’t ready and didn’t want to do it.  I replied with a tough luck, you’re doing it attitude. I explained how I thought no matter how he did, it didn’t matter. Whether he won or lost, was not the lesson, it was how he went out there and did it. He accepted and competed that day.  This young man was unsure, but I pushed him to compete.  This young man ended up winning the Black Belt division in Self Defense, as well as going on to win Grand Champion for his entire Youth Black Belt in that category.  He, his teacher, his parents and other fellow students where proud of him and he was proud of himself, thanking me for pushing him.  

At times no matter what the craft, Acting, Martial Arts, Dance, Sports, Work or just everyday life, we all have to realize there is unlimited and untapped potential within all of us.  At times human natures leads us astray and tells us to settle, or believe we are not capable, but we have to defend ourselves from the very thought that leads us down this path.  Because mediocrity, is about denying what is possible giving you a false reality and belief on what you are actually capable of.  You have to believe you can do it and believe within all of us lies a Super Hero of sorts.  

“A lot of young actors have the idea that, “I’ve got to do this right.  There’s a right way to do this.”  But there’s no right or wrong. There’s only good and bad.  And “bad” usually happens when you’re trying too hard to do it right. There’s a very broad spectrum of things that can inhibit you. The most important thing for actors – and not just actors, but everybody – is to feel loose enough to create what you want to create, and be free to try anything. To have choices!” 
– Robert DeNiro

I see the potential in people, when they do not see it in themselves.  I sometimes have to push people to the point, where they feel uncomfortable, when they do not really like me. I have a parent in my school with a young daughter.  I see unbelievable potential in her and I tell him this.  He agrees with me, like any proud dad would, yet fights me on many counts to push his daughter.  He tells me “I chose my battles and this isn’t one of them.”  At times it is hard to push a young child, when the parent is totally resistant.  Sadly, I can’t force people to be amazing.  However, I know if they just let me guide them they will reach heights unimaginable.   No matter what you do, remember, you have unlimited potential and you can do anything you chose.  Push yourself or find someone you trust to help you push the envelope with in you.  Discover the Ninja in You!

Monday, April 3, 2017

"Sometimes people just don't know when to listen."

So my last post, created quite a stir. Many posts, many shares and many comments from high ranking instructors, but also from some of my students and black belts.  Honestly, the post stemmed from a conversation that I had, however, when I wrote the post it was not my intention to have so many people commenting and sharing their personal views because they felt connected to it. You see, all of my lessons, articles, thoughts and teachings are stemmed from small quick interactions.  In fact, I gather inspiration from everywhere, TV shows, music, books read, things I see, etc.  So the messages are not meant for specific people, just general messages to all who are willing to listen and learn.   Don't get me wrong, I am honored that those find me interesting enough to read my posts and take life lessons from them. I am also quite shocked at how many people think my posts are written about them as well.  When In fact they actually aren’t.  I received a call from a martial art school owners today, who used an article I wrote years, back to discourage a child and parent from quitting their school. This is why I post, what  I do, to possibly help others. 

On to the topic of "Shut up and Listen."  When I was growing up as a young child, I was taught the old saying "children are meant to be seen and not heard."  I actually hated this as a child and despised the feeling I got, when I was not allowed to sit at the adult or big boy table and talk with adults at their level.  This lesson helped me in my travels to Japan and being able to sit at the table with Masters, Grandmasters and people of high stature.  I remember receiving lessons that were magical and really all I had to do was "Shut up and listen."  In fact, at times when our mouth is engaged, and our minds are busy in conversation we tend to not listen enough to actually hear.  I think on my last post, much of what I said, and what was being said was lost in translation - so to speak.  I remember sitting around a table eating with my teacher from Japan, listening to him and his seniors students speak.  From that conversation, I learned how respected he was as a teacher, how his students revered him. I also took notice of other things such as protocol. How you never eat before you teacher, how you never stick your chopsticks in rice, how you mix rice into the Miso Soup, like the Samurai did before battle etc. If I was involved in conversation about me, or other things, all of those things would have gone unnoticed and been lost.  

So the "Shut up and listen," is a warriors mindset.  Almost like quieting the mind, and feelings, sensing and hearing what is going on around us.  As far as my students, I often find myself saying the same thing - 3 times,  in 3 different ways, just so they can comprehend.  Even after that and demonstrating, most people still don't see what is going on in front of them.  They need to clear their head, clear their thoughts, so they can linearly focus on the task at hand.  What is it that we can do to become better students, better people, more compassionate souls.  Quite frankly, listening more to the world at large. Let us take politics for example - if our government, listened, I mean actually listened to what the public was asking for, they would hear "truth,"  what is really ailing our world.  Yet they are so caught up in their own agenda, they sometimes can't even tell the difference from the ACTUAL words being spoken to the way they are spinning it to suit their needs. 

As a teacher I encourage my students to stop thinking and analyzing everything to make sure it best suits their mental capability at the time they hear it. Yet I urge them to shut up and Listen.  I also ask them to listen and think before acting.  I always say there is only one letter between Danger and Anger.  Sometimes if we let our emotions get the best of us, it can leave us in a very bad position.  This has happened to many people who acted on emotion who now regret it.  

I will leave you with a story.  A master carpenter was about to retire from his firm after 20 years of dedicated service.  His boss asked him if he could stay three months past his retirement date to work on a specific special project.  The boss pleaded and said it was something that he really needed. Reluctantly the worker agreed but deep down inside resented his boss.  His boss said, "you are the best man I have and I am building this house for a very special person."  As the project went on, the worker did the bare minimum because he was bitter and felt taken advantage of.  His mantra was why bother this is my last job, my last house.  So every chance he got he cut corners.  The house was finally completed and it was by far the worse house, the master carpenter had ever built, because he didn't care and felt in his head taken advantage of and the entire time, acted upon emotion.  When it came time to say goodbye, the owner gathered his entire staff of employee's and asked for the worker to meet him on the job site.  The Master Carpenter was very angry at this point and didn't even want to say goodbye but obliged reluctantly. 
Upon the day of meeting at the job site the boss went into a big speech about how this Master Carpenter (the worker), was the best he ever had, he didn't think he would ever find someone like him and the owner was in debt and showed 100% gratitude for this man's dedication.  All throughout the speech this worker rolled his eyes is dismay.  At the end of the speech he called the man up, it took two tries because the man wasn't even listening at this point.  He said to the worker "I want to present you with a gift from the bottom of my heart, as he handed him the keys to the house."  The man stood there speechless, holding the keys to the worst house he had ever built, dangling from his hands.

You see not every intention in a lessons is always evident, in fact, sometimes they don’t become evident until long after you have moved on.  When we think of all the best lessons learned, most were non intentional.  Perception is not always reality, open your mind to all lessons and show giri and loyalty to the bitter end.  

If you have any thoughts or comments, please comment below. Also, if you have any questions please simple email me.