No styles, no systems, no rituals, no lineages, no masters, no labels, no belts, no katas, no uniforms, no dogmas;

Only the process of self actualization & personal expression of truth through functional combative movement and fitness.

On a purely physical level, we share how to individually and collectively use all of our natural tools as well as extended ones, offensively and defensively in a strategic and tactical manner and in all ranges of combat.

We're put through functional physical fitness training where we learn to push ourselves through our own perceived limitations. We also have much to offer on nutrition, health and optimum performance.

On a more cerebral level we learn about the psychology of violence, fear, stress & confrontation management skills, deescalation strategies and holistic survival tactics.

As the mind navigates the body; by challenging personal self defense dogmas and individual & core belief systems, personal growth and evolution occurs.

On a human level, we learn about the ripple effect and the moral, legal, and ethical consequences of our chosen actions while self examining our darkest emotions. We are encouraged to question everything, to learn to think for ourselves, to be more accountable and research everything we learn and to be open and responsive to life without judgment.

On a personal level, the training can make you face and slay your own demons.

Everything shared here is highly encouraged to be individually researched, to “absorb what is useful, add what is specifically of your own and disregard the rest.”

Friday, August 27, 2010

Close your bibles, friends

Life is like a rock concert: Sometimes, the music is so
good, it makes you cry tears of joy. Other times, it sucks.
No sugarcoating required, that's just how life is.

Sometimes, I hear you say: "I want to believe in God!"Sometimes, I hear you say: "But the search for my purpose is such a tiring-terryfing-wonderful journey."

Whenever I hear you saying this, I ask myself: If you don't believe, what's the point in wanting to? If you don't believe in The Man in The Sky (or any other story that was made up by humans, including the story of "It's not a story, it's been handed down to us by God"), what's the point in forcing yourself? What's the point in convincing yourself to believe in stories (stories, as opposed to facts).

Why don't you just learn some techniques that make you happier and help you deal with hardship? Why is there an obvious need to surround the psychological techniques of religion (prayer, confession, etc) with completely made-up stories? Is it the desire to become as a child again, with Big Daddy watching over you?

Is it the desire to purposely bow to a man-made construct that is said to have created everything, therefore also, logically, the Devil? Doesn't this sound twisted to you? What would you think about a father who begets many children, only to teach some of them how to be lowlife scum and lead their brothers and sisters into temptation? A father who punishes his children for engaging with beings and things he himself has created?

Let's assume for a moment that God, or any god for that matter, exists.

Does God love you? And let's remember: God is, as the preachers say, absolute Love. Since God has created everything, why has he created Evil? It's only there to make your life miserable -- and Absolute Love, God, has created it?

God is all powerful, say the preachers. If he is all powerful, why do the preachers say he can't defeat Evil at the moment? If somebody is all powerful, then they have the power TO MAKE EVIL STOP NOW. Why doesn't he do it?

These questions can only be asked by someone who believes or wants to believe.To paraphrase it: Belief or Faith drags people into a hailstorm (or hellstorm) of difficult philosophical questions. And if they manage to answer one question, there's already another one waiting for them. Philosphy doesn't help anybody because it doesn't teach techniques, approaches, methods. Philosphy is cerebral, mind-based, concept-based. But human beings don't need more concepts, they need a hands-on approach: We need to FEEL ourselves again, or maybe for the first time in our lives. Most of us have forgotten how it feels like to be ourselves, to be centered within us, to be rooted in the vast emptiness that is us, unmasked.

That's the problem of philosphy. Organized religion, to me, is nothing but a philosophy: It tells people what's good and what's bad -- but that's just an opinion. Organized religion doesn't offer techniques and methods to help people deal with pain and hardship. Organized religion simply demands: "Believe us, we know the truth!" But that doesn't fly with many people.

Jesus (and it doesn't matter if he really existed or not) said: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26)

Many people who take the bible literally are confused, even shocked, by that. But it is a known fact that Jesus spoke in similes, so why not interpret it accordingly? What Jesus most probably has meant when he said that is, in order to become like him, followers have to give up their old ways, and most decidedly so -- because it's their old ways, their beliefs, their philosophies, their desires, that keeps them from really being.

Jesus was against any authority, a rebel who attacked hypocrites in the temple. A pretty cool dude, if you ask me. He never wanted an organization, never wanted a church. This is all stuff clerical powermongers have invented. You could and still can make decent money with organized religion, let's not forget that.

The ironic thing is that Jesus was an anti-estabishment, anti-church and anti-religion type of person. His teaching points towards a Truth that lies beyond books (even if they're called "scripture") and beyond words. It's the one-that-can't-be-named, a concept-free truth, absolute, without do's and don'ts, without any concept of good or bad. It just is.

And because it just is, there's no need to look beyond reality as it just is. Time to quit philosophy. Time to close the bible, time to stop preaching about imaginary kingdoms in the sky, time to start loving, hating, laughing, crying, helping, suffering -- time to start living, because that's the greatest gift of all.

Norbert G. Matausch
Senshido Team International Member

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

At what level of self-defense will you settle?

After being ingrained in the martial arts and self-defense industry for over 20+ years now, I’ve come across all kinds of practitioners, students and teachers alike the world over. I’ve met some incredible people through this industry and was blessed in many ways with the friends that I have made.

Speaking from the personal protection perspective as that has always been our primary directive; I have found the degrees to which people train in both fascinating and interesting based on various things factoring from beliefs to culture to environment to job etc.

Beliefs were the first things that struck me as most fascinating as the varying beliefs went from extreme paranoia to complete apathy & denial with everything in between as a reason for training or studying self-defense, or not.

I made a distinction between training and studying because although many do both, I have found that there are equally as many who only do the research or studying without putting in any physical training and vice versa leading to what I believe to be a more harm than good type of practice. All theory and no action or the other way around leaves too much room for error and leaves one open to the deer in headlights syndrome, nothing anyone would want to be in when facing a real, live threat.

Since actual factors such as environment, lifestyle and job can vary the ranges of need regarding self-defense training depending on circumstances predicated by such factors, I will be focusing on the two extreme ends of the belief spectrum here.

There are beliefs that range from always being ‘prepared’ or living in ‘code red’ if you will to ‘never worry be happy, violence only comes to those who attract it’. Both interesting perspectives, both a little right and left wing if you ask me but nonetheless, interesting.

Examining the first belief of always being prepared which usually deals with actions such as: Always carrying a weapon no matter where one goes, always keep a weapon in every room of the house, always be aware of improvised weapons, always watch everyone’s hands, train to pre-empt at first or any sign of aggression, etc. is a very safe way of living sure, but it also isn’t a healthy one. Adopting this sort of thought process, unless your ‘job’ or ‘lifestyle’ dictated it by circumstance and choice, it could lead to many personal, physical & mental health problems in the long run.

The constant activation of the adrenal stress glands through the emotion of fear and stress create a physiological imbalance in the body disrupting nearly every system in it. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process through the increase of ‘free radicals’ which can lead to various cancers. Long-term stress induced thoughts can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable and susceptible to general feelings of anxiety and depression.

Regardless to what degree of stress or fear causes one to live as such, as no one lives as such unless they fear an assault or attack at one level or another, the body doesn’t distinguish between physical and psychological threats. Add to that the daily stresses of a busy schedule, an argument with a spouse, a traffic jam when you’re late, or a mountain of bills - your body, on a physiological level, reacts just as strongly as if you were facing a life-or-death situation.

If you have a lot of responsibilities and worries and you add to that the daily chore of concern of protecting yourself from a possible assault, your emergency stress response may be “on” most of the time. The more your body’s stress system is activated, the easier it becomes to activate it and the harder it becomes to shut it off.

Also, regularly training under the intended inoculation of the adrenal stress condition phase, causing the over activation of the fight or flight branch of the nervous system (though excellent for replicating reality and a necessary part self-defense training) it can also be detrimental without enough activation of the calm, peaceful, restful and meditative state of the body & mind.

Both branches need equal stimulation if a healthy strong and balanced body and mind are to be cultivated and maintained. That way, if it ever does come down to fight or flight, your nervous system will be able to perform at its peak therefore truly enhancing your survivability rate at its maximum.

It’s important to learn how to be self aware of one’s own physiological responses to stressful thoughts. The most dangerous thing about stress-induced emotions is how easily they can creep up on you. You get used to them. It begins to feel familiar, even normal. You don’t notice how much it’s affecting you as it takes a heavy toll on one's life and then it’s generally too late.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of daily induced stresses that we actually add too through the ‘code red’ type of daily thinking:

On a Cognitive level:

Memory problems
Inability to concentrate
Poor judgment
Seeing only the darker side of life
Anxious or racing thoughts
Constant under the radar worrying

On an Emotional level:

Irritability or short temper
Agitation, inability to relax
General feelings of being overwhelmed
Sense of loneliness and isolation
Sense of being misunderstood
General sense of depression or unhappiness

On a Behavioral level:

Poor eating habits
Sleeping too much and/or too little
Isolating yourself from others
Procrastination or neglecting of responsibilities
Regularly using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs specifically to relax
Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

On a Physical level:

Regular aches and pains
Frequent diarrhea or constipation
Frequent nausea and/or dizziness
Frequent chest pain, rapid heartbeat or mild loss of breaths
Loss of sex drive
Frequent colds and/or flues

Keep in mind that these symptoms can also be caused by other psychological and medical problems or can even be the side effects of various pharmaceuticals. If you’re experiencing any or multiple of the warning signs of stress, it’s important to see a reputed health practitioner for a full evaluation as well as a good idea to re-evaluate one’s beliefs and perceptions for more congruous ones.

Thoughts can be scientifically measured in energetic frequencies. It has been proven that our very thoughts can and do manifest both emotionally and physiologically, your very thoughts can alter the molecular structure of water for better or worse when in contact with it, even through a bottle or glass. Food, even when ‘dead’ and cooked that is blessed prior to eating it has also been shown to have significant molecular change for the better making the food generally healthier overall.

Therefore the daily practice of less than positive thoughts or thoughts that inadvertently activate the stress glands do indeed lead to less than desirable results within and is completely incongruous with our very objectives of personal protection and survival.

The opposite isn’t optimal either, though it is healthier to live without a significant amount of fear or concern, depending of course on many factors, to be in complete apathy or denial and live with the belief of ‘nothing will ever happen to me’ can be worst and more detrimental than living in a state of ‘paranoia’.

I can hear some people now, “We’re not paranoid, we’re prepared!” LOL… I used to say the same thing, but then, I had the right too, I lived a certain kind of lifestyle which did indeed attract much violence, but for the average ‘civilian’ if you will, this sort of thinking is at best…. overkill & detrimental to one’s health.

Cemeteries, sexual assault centers and hospitals the world over are filled with people who said “This will never happen to me.” Therefore a healthy balance based on one’s individual or familial lifestyle becomes optimal if pure and applied self-defense is a concern, and as well, it should be for every human being out there as “chance favours the prepared mind”.

Put it this way, the training alone providing it includes some form of athletics and physical release beyond beating a bunch of padded assailants in a replication will do nothing but benefit your life in every possible area. Providing you are training with a solid and well-reputed trainer and you balance a peaceful and restful state of mind with the added stress inoculation of training or over training accumulated to the daily stresses of life.

A well-balanced training regimen with a healthy and logical state of mind and proper dietary habits actually reduces the effects of daily-induced stresses in comparison to the ‘paranoia’ mind set belief. It’s good to be prepared, but it isn’t a good thing to damage yourself worst through your very own perceptive state thinking you’re actually diminishing your probability of an attacker jumping you at the local movie rental shop or shopping mall with the James Bond approach to living.

Most ignore their emotional health until there is a significant problem. However, it is as critical to work on your emotional well-being the same way it takes time and energy to enhance your physical health. The more you work at it the healthier and stronger your emotional health will be. Those who possess a balanced emotional state usually deal with adversity with greater ease and resiliency. They remain focused, flexible, and positive in hard times.

Since we cannot entirely eliminate stress from our lives, we must insure the fact that we don’t unnecessarily add to it through our very own belief systems or methods of perceived ‘de-stressing’. We indeed can control how much it affects us.

Relaxation techniques such as Tai Chi, yoga, meditation, various forms of art, and various deep breathing exercises activate the body’s relaxation response and state of restfulness. When included in our weekly lives, these activities lead to a significant reduction in our everyday stress levels and a boost in energy levels and feelings of peace and happiness. They also increase our ability to stay calm and collected under pressure. An important factor in any self-defense situation. Remember, self-defense isn’t always or just about protecting ourselves from the bad guy, it’s more often than not, about protecting ourselves from ourselves.

Much peace,


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Here's some words of inspiration....

I decided to write this because my family had this very interesting conversation about jobs, work, and education etc...And my brother-in-law brought up an extremely good point about places such as retail stores (ones without commission) and fast food joints that do not really give their employees a deserving raise per year to having none. Most of the family tried ot explain to him that that's the way it works and the world is like that especially with these big places. But his point was not that. His point was defending the person who may actualy ENJOY his job working at a place like that and can never get to move up or a decent salary for something that particular individual works extremely hard for. Why can't it be about performance. It's all about control.

And I whole heartedly agreed with him. As a society we decided to agree that you need to have a college eudcation to be successful. Which unfortunately is true, especially in developed prospering countries. And that's how it works and it's fine. But what sucks about that is, not everyone is meant to study. And I know this from experience. There are many levels of intelligence. Not just book smarts.
You can be intelligent in the following areas:

-Scolar Intelligence (book smarts)

-Physical intelligence (good with manual work, like construction for example, or putting things together, or athletics)

- Scientifically intelligent

- Artisitically intelligent (anythng from drawing to dance, understanding rythm)
NOTE: I have always been amazed in how a perosn cna be such a great composer for example. being able to pick up a guitar or piano and just find the right notes to create a masterpiece. I had piano lessons and I was pretty good but I could never be able to figure out how to but notes together to create something new!

- even being socially or psychologically intelligent - this relates in understanding society and even emotions. And that is a good field to be smart in ;)

and there's more. And each can have their own subdivision of course. But as a society we are told if you don't know math you are dumb, or you can't read you are stupid. But you give that guy who can't read a math problem and he solves it in 2 seconds, or one guy might be a wiz in math and science but will never be able to learn to draw a cat. Some people really can't do certain things. Or it's not for them. So we push and push people to do things they don,t like to do because it's what we were conditioned to do.

And I feel for those who have these gifts and talents but can't use them because they never had the support. don't get me wrong, because I am an educated person. I have a bachelor's in Environmental Studies and a degree in Aircraft Assembly. And I am going for my certification as a Fitness Nutritionist. I like to do my own research. I am a researcher. I like finding answers. But with all that education I have on my belt, I decided to open up my own gym teaching Senshido, health and fitness, combative sports etc. Why? Because it's what I wanted to do. It was a dream I want to fulfill. And we have got to stop preventing people especially our kids from not pursuing what they really want.

Not everyone was meant to sit in class and memorize (which is what most education is about right now) a bunch of information to end up doing something they hate in life. And then people think they are dumb or even worse that they aren't working hard enough. Most of the time, they are wrong. Yes, there are lazy people who don't care but that's not the issue. I'm talking about the ones who have to try 10,20,50 times harder than most people to focus on a mere sentence. Those same people however, may be able to make the most beautiful masterpieces, or become the leading role in a broadway play. They may not make the real money for it but they will be happier in life.

How many of you hate your job that you studied 5-10 years for? Is that what you really want for your kids? to be unhappy in the end. some people are happy with their studying and their job which is great! But MANY people will not.

I have been around Senshido for over 11 years. And I have seen first hand Senshido is about evolving. Senshido evolved as a self defense system. And now is a self defense for self development. And it would be great if society would do the same. I think we need to encourage people to go for their dream. And it's true, some and many may not reach their dream but there is always a chance. It may be cheesy and to some maybe unrealistic, but we got to be positive! I've seen too many times where a kid wants to do something and they couldn't because they were simply told "No, it's a waste of time and money" or " you know that job doesn't make alot of money... "How do you know that that kid couldn't end up being the next superstar or the best comicbook artist.

In conclusion, we just have to have a little more encouragement. And if someone - if YOU have a dream go for it! You have to work hard for it though, so don't misread this blog as some magical positive thinking words (although there can be something 'magical' with positivity). It's about support, showing you love the people you say you care about by giving them the chance in fulfilling their dream. If my fiancé did not support what I was doing I don't even think I would have tried. And you know what? I'm damn happy :)

Wes Derequito
Ara Academy Owner/Head Instructor
Senshido Team Member

Saturday, August 7, 2010

We are what we eat...

Though the brother's a little over the top, passionate and, well... theatrical in his approach, what he says is critically important...

'Absorb what is useful and disregard the rest':