Bad News May Really Be Good News

Have you ever had something happen in your life that, at first glance, looked like a terrible misfortune but looking back you see that it was actually a valuable experience, which taught you something you needed to learn? Sometimes, events that look or feel so terrible at the moment turn out to give us a inspiration or new direction and focus.

A fable that I read many years ago sums up my point perfectly:

A farmer had a horse but one day, the horse ran away and so the farmer and his son had to plow their fields themselves. Their neighbors said, “Oh, what bad luck that your horse ran away!” But the farmer replied, “Bad luck, good luck, who knows?”

The next week, the horse returned to the farm, bringing a herd of wild horses with him. “What wonderful luck!” cried the neighbors, but the farmer responded, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?”

Then, the farmer’s son was thrown as he tried to ride one of the wild horses, and he broke his leg. “Ah, such bad luck,” sympathized the neighbors. Once again, the farmer responded, “Bad luck, good luck, who knows?”

A short time later, the ruler of the country recruited all young men to join his army for battle. The son, with his broken leg, was left at home. “What good luck that your son was not forced into battle!” celebrated the neighbors. And the farmer remarked, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?”

In my own life, as a teenager and into my early twenties, I got involved with drugs and alcohol and ended up broke, literally homeless, and in trouble with the law. I had no hopes, dreams or sense of direction in my life. I was completely lost , at a real crossroads, and in tremendous pain. I felt that there had to be something better than this. So I decided to choose something better for myself.

(Notice that I did not know what to choose, but I knew what I did not want, which was my first step.)

First thing I did was to stop drinking and drugging, get a job, and start looking for a way out, which was not easy for a 22-year old. Boy, did I feel sorry for myself. Looking back nearly 30 years later, what seemed like the end of the world was actually the beginning of a whole new life, which I might never have found had I not crashed and burned at such a young age. I am now living a life I never could have even imagined when I was 22.

Finding Opportunities within Challenges

This morning, I was talking with a dear friend who has just been diagnosed with cancer for the third time. She shared with me that both previous times she underwent diagnosis and treatment for cancer, she learned incredible lessons along the way. While she would not wish this on herself or for anyone, she can recognize the gifts her journey has brought to her.

She went on to say that after the shock of the news that the cancer had reoccurred, she had a realization. While she doesn’t know if this third episode will be ‘her time” or not, realized that, either way, she needs to address some unfinished business with two of her children. While she would ordinarily prefer to avoid this issue, she now feels she must deal with it. Through her terrible news, once again, comes the urgency and courage to face her toughest issues head on. She has decided to be honest with her children and share what she knows in her heart needs to be said.

Successful people share with me, over and over, similar stories about some perceived terrible events like a divorce or illness or loss that changed the entire course of their lives dramatically. Yet that change may also have brought them to a place that is indescribably better than they could ever have imagined. Had those supposedly terrible experiences not happened, they might not have found the resolve to make other changes happen along the way.

I am not suggesting that there are no such things as tragedies or losses. What I am saying is that loss and pain can be just one aspect of a difficult experience; positives can result from making meaningful experiences out of our challenges. For example, one mother who lost her child to a drunk driver formed Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), an organization that has saved many lives. Helen Keller used a lack of sight or hearing to teach the rest of us important lessons about living. Nelson Mandela spent half his life in prison trying to bring peace to South Africa yet emerged from his prison cell to lead his country as its first post-apartheid president.

The next time you perceive something as really bad, try and remember it could also be just another gift in disguise. It’s all in the way you look at it.

“There are no mistakes, no coincidences; all events are blessings given to us to learn from.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“Every adversity contains an equal or greater benefit.” -Napoleon Hill

Barefoot Training in the Martial Arts – No Shoes is Good News!

Most Students of the Martial Arts train barefoot when they are indoors. And, most martial art systems train 80-100% of the time between four walls and on a soft mat. So, for many, training without shoes isn’t much of a challenge.

In the Martial Science, we spend 80-100% of our time training outside. We still support the barefoot training philosophy and motivate students to do the same – even when training in the park.

Why should you go shoeless? Because wearing shoes just does not look cool with your uniform.

Okay, I do believe that shoes serve a purpose and some shoes do not look as ridiculous as a pair of over-cushioned running shoes (Tabi and Five Fingers for example).

I do however, prefer being without shoes. I love to run barefoot, hike, climb and generally just not wear shoes at all. In fact, I spend about 75% or more of my time without any shoes and prefer to stretch this into my sporting activities. I am not the only one.

* Abebe Bikila, Olympic marathoner, won the first of his consecutive gold medals without shoes.

Research barefoot running in Google and you will get a lot more hits on shoeless wonders like Abebe. For example, Michael Warburton published an online paper titled, “Barefoot Running.” Warburton points out that the extra weight of shoes is worse than a few pounds around the waist. Extra weight means more energy is spent. As part of your stride, weight on your feet must adjust to a constant increase and decrease of speed.

Research shows that two 10-ounce shoes will make you more than five percent less efficient. That is good to know – especially when you consider the micro-movements the body has to make to keep from suffering an ankle injury.

Internal, External and Spatial Awareness

Next let’s talk about proprioception and don’t worry if you haven’t heard that word before – neither has Microsoft.

Proprioception (pronounced PRO-pree-o-SEP-shÉ(TM)n), from Latin proprius, meaning “one’s own” and perception) is the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body.

Let us associate the senses with Mind, Body and Spirit and break them into three categories (only for the sake of learning this concept):

01 External (sight, taste, smell, touch, hearing and balance) – Body

02 Internal (senses that help us to perceive pain) – Mind

03 Spatial (sense that shares feedback in relation to our world) – Spirit

Proprioception is a sense that helps us to verify where the limbs of our body are located in relation to each other and space around us. It also helps determine if we are moving at the correct speed or using the correct amount of force.

In the Martial Science – we consider Spirit to represent life-spirit and interaction with the living world around us; people, nature and animals.

We get feedback from the world around us in order to adjust and improve our lives. Well, your body needs to do the same thing in order to function properly.

If you did not have proprioception and I put a blind fold over your eyes, you would just fall over. The police test proprioception to see if someone has had too much to drink. This is because you lose this sense when you have had too much alcohol. That is why they ask you to walk on a straight line without looking at your feet. Without proprioception, we must look at our feet in order to walk.

If you watch a baby move his hands around trying to grab for something, you will notice that his hand movements stutter as they begin to learn how to develop hand and eye coordination. Every time that they reach for something new, they are creating new data and feedback to build on.

The skill to spin a sword or catch a Frisbee both require that you have a very specific SENSE of the exact positions of your limbs, your muscles and joints involved. The development of this skill has to reach level 4 of the natural learning process:

1 You are unaware of your incompetence (you don’t know you don’t know)

2 You are consciously incompetent (you know you don’t know)

3 You are consciously competent (you must think as you act)

4 You are unconsciously competent (you can act without thinking)

Let us assume that you are a martial artist that would like to have natural cat like reactions. Not only that, but you want good timing, and to be able to kick with deadly accuracy.

At first, you are going to be unaware of the fact that you cannot kick properly or with precision (1). Then you see someone kick the way you would like to and begin to understand that you do not currently have the skills you desire (2). With some training, you can kick a bag or target on command (3). Finally, with years of practice, you can kick without thinking. You react naturally (4).

This sense must reach autopilot so that you can then focus on other important areas of performance, such as contemplating alternative strategies, observing your environment or punching while kicking.

A more modern way to label proprioception is to call it movement intelligence. This is of course with the belief that proprioception is focused on feedback. When the body moves, information is sent to the brain for further investigation, calculation and adjustments.

There’s more to it than meets the eye and foot coordination.

Studies researching ankle injuries suggest that our reflexes play a bigger role in staying injury free. When you wear bigger shoes, you are not going to have as much development around the core areas of your foot and ankle. Shoes alone could be the cause of many ankle sprains, knee injuries and back pain.

Here is a quiz. Pain caused by ankle sprains has to do with:

A Strength

B Endurance

C Flexibility

D Balance

The correct answer is D – balance / proprioception.

Having a strong ankle, physical endurance or flexibility will not save you from an ankle sprain if you have not also developed the neuromuscular system to react naturally. Shoes just do not help us with this development as much going barefoot does. Imagine wearing a shoe on your hands.

Going barefoot helps to improve proprioception because you can feel more of your feet, develop more muscle memory and thus increase chances of reacting naturally. The more you can FEEL the better, as this will create more signals and thus more data. In the end, that = more balance.

It all happens so fast and on such a micro level that it is not something we can consciously adjust to in the now.

Since most martial artists already train barefoot, I am suggesting that you also do the same when you are in the park training, or lounging around the house. If you want improved kicks, you need to start from the ground up. The more often you kick and train barefoot – the better.

NOTE: You must train with shoes too if you expect to know how to move in a real life situation (we do not go barefoot in the mall). Balance is key – but before you put on the iron man suit – consider training what is inside it first.

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Chiropractic Is A Good Option For Back Pain

Chiropractic is an all-natural healthcare profession dedicated to the treatment of spinal disorders that are a result of disturbance to the nervous system. Chiropractic focuses on the manipulation of the spine and treatment of the musculoskeletal system.

Most people that go to the chiropractor are those with back pain although there are many other symptoms that lead people there as well. Some of these include headaches, neck pain and numbness or pain in the extremities. Although chiropractors focus on treating musculoskeletal problems, they are not limited to these problems only. Nerve interference can result in several other problems in the body.

Chiropractors focus on reducing pain as quick as possible. But most importantly they work to restore normal function to the body which is not always characterized by pain. They seek to instruct patients in healthy living and how to account for their own health. Chiropractic is often referred to as alternative medicine. Chiropractic care works to effectively restore structure and integrity to the spine. It works to remove unwanted nerve interference in and around the spine.

Spinal manipulation otherwise known as chiropractic adjustments involve a high velocity, short lever arm thrust that is applied to abnormally positioned vertebra in the spine. The goal of this maneuver is to restore function, remove nerve interference and improve range of motion in the area. There is much research that supports the use of chiropractic for back pain. Much of this literature demonstrates that chiropractic is effective when it is included early on in the treatment program.

Therapies that are commonly used by the chiropractor are effective for healing soft tissue that is commonly associated with spinal problems. Chiropractic has shown to be effective for herniated discs that often cause back problems, neck pain and numbness or pain in the extremities.

When treating back pain, it is important to look at the long term effectiveness of the treatment. It is important to prevent the problem from becoming chronic. When an acute injury causes pain, it is important to start chiropractic early to prevent a chronic problem. The use of active care is also helpful to prevent chronicity. This may include exercises, stretching, lifestyle modification and ergonomic instruction.

Chiropractors are well trained to refer to other healthcare practitioners when necessary. Many chiropractors have a local network that they can refer to for problems out of their scope of practice. Chiropractic is often used first because it is natural and less invasive than many other procedures used to treat back pain. Chiropractic is a natural and safe method for the treatment.