I beg your pardon
I Never Promised You A Rose Garden.
Ok unless you’re old enough to remember the song made popular by Lynn Anderson in 1970, that intro was lost on you.
But as I was thinking about my topic for this morning, I thought about the song and the following line that says “along with the sunshine, there’s got to be a little rain sometimes”.
And that is true. Nothing is always good, always easy, or even as it should be- or at least as we think it should.
We truly were never promised a rose garden. Even Jesus told us that in this world we would have many trials and tribulations (John 16:33).
Our natural proclivity to tend towards ease, and our natural tendency to be surprised when bad things happen, both ignore the simple fact that these are just part of the process.
Trials and tribulations, tests, hard times and bad things happen to us all; some because of our own decisions and behavior and some that we have no control over.
But this isn’t bad news. It’s only news. Step one to becoming the kind of person that endures, that survives and even thrives through these times, is to recognize and realize that they come and that while we can’t always control that they come, we can always control how we react to that.
There are many of our Blackbelt Leadership Principles at play in this lesson.
For illustrative purposes I am going to teach the process, principles and key behaviors through the lens of a Krav Maga Martial Arts stress drill.
A stress drill is a training tool that we use to gauge students’ progress.
Students are put in physically and mentally stressful scenarios in which they must apply their techniques, strategic decision making and control of their emotions to defend against difficult and sometimes even insurmountable odds.
We use the drills both for their training effect and as a test to gauge the progress and readiness of the student towards their Blackbelt test and ultimately as pertains to the ability to defend themselves against real world violence should they ever need.
As is the case with so many of our training methods, though, there are hidden benefits as well.
The stress drill doesn’t prepare us only for physical violence, but also for the reality expressed earlier in this blog- that we will endure troubles, trials and tribulations and that, ultimately, how well we get through these is more an indication of our readiness than anything external to ourselves.
In our stress drills the student is elated when I or the Sensei conducting the test finally yells “stop” and the attackers that had been bringing the stress finally stop and hug the student that was undergoing the test to congratulate them on their success instead.
It is my hope that all of you can do the same when you get through whatever stress tests you endure in life, and that you experience the same amazing endorphin rush that comes from victory over things that are hard.
Here are a few final teaching points about the stress drill; remember that these mostly apply to the drill in the dojo, self defense and also to winning the more common stress tests we all endure as a part of life.
The test won’t last forever. The student in the stress drill doesn’t know when the test will end- it may be one, two or three minutes or more. Similarly, we don’t know how long seasons of trial and tribulation last either, but we do need to remember that they usually do end, and that we never lose until we quit.
Part of successfully negotiating the drill is knowing the answers (the techniques). With time in training our Krav Maga Martial Arts students get better and better at answering more and more attacks with ease through training. In the same way, it gets easier to negotiate the trials of life each time we deal with a problem we’ve successfully handled before. Similarly too, it’s even easier if you get the training from someone who already knows the answers. i.e. the Sensei can teach you how to defend against the knife attack with a rubber knife in the safety of the dojo and because you’ve practiced there again and again, and under the stress of the drill we are talking about, your chances are much better should you ever have to defend in real life. This is true in all the other trouble scenarios too. It’s good to have a mentor.
At least as important as the command of the technique is the command of our emotions. In this too we can see a very notable improvement between beginner and advanced students and this ability too is as relevant in any test scenario in our lives.
Especially in Blackbelt tests I am always inspired that part of the emerging Blackbelt’s will and ability to survive and thrive under seemingly insurmountable stress is the energy of their peers empowering them, cheering for them and prodding them on beyond the point they could have gone alone. We need these people.
The student in the stress drill doesn’t know what to expect- they’re barraged with attack by sticks, knives and gun threats as well as strikes, kicks, grabs and holds…. they can’t control what attacks will come, but only how they react to them.
The ignorant observer would wonder why one would even go through it, but the Blackbelt Leadership student knows that quitting is never an option and that glory awaits on the other side.
Prepare To Live. Empower to Lead!
Grand Master Stephen Del Castillo
Founder & Chief Master Instructor, Krav Maga Martial Arts
TampaKravMaga.com and Krav Maga Martial Arts have been empowering lives through the martial arts in the Tampa Bay area for 20 years!
Founded in 2000 by Grandmaster Stephen J. Del Castillo, a 7th degree Black Belt and Sr. Master Instructor, Krav Maga Martial Arts and Karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need – specialized for their age group – for school excellence and later success in life.
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About Grandmaster Stephen J. Del Castillo: Grandmaster Del Castillo is the founding Master Instructor of Krav Maga Martial Arts and has been empowering lives in Pasco and Hillsborough Counties since October of 2000. He is a 7th degree Blackbelt, MBA, author, mentor and success coach, a US Army Veteran and a proud father and grandfather. He is married to Ms. Barbara Del Castillo who helps him run the school. Grand Master Del Castillo began his training in the early 80’s and has high level blackbelts in Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Premier Martial Arts and Krav Maga Martial Arts as well as experience in kickboxing, Jeet Kune Do and Jiujitsu. He has high level instructor certifications from BBSI, IKMF, and KMG and has been featured in numerous Martial Arts publications and also Success magazine. He was a competitive sport karate and American Kickboxing instructor until he enlisted in the US Army where he served in the 82nd Airborne Division, where he won an Army Green to Gold scholarship and proceeded to ROTC and the University of Tampa. He was commisioned in 1992 and went on to serve in Germany with the 3rd Infantry Division and then in several other posts in the US until he left military service to pursue his dream of creating KMMA in 2000.
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