Modern Martial Arts

Meditation Benefits: How Meditation Techniques Can Help Increase Martial Power Through Stress Reduction

Meditation Benefits: How Meditation Techniques Can Help Increase Martial Power Through Stress Reduction
Meditation is an integral part of many Asian systems of self-defense. As martial artists, we understand that meditation techniques can bring a sense of calm and centeredness that’s especially crucial in chaotic situations. Whether we’re talking about training, real-life combat or just everyday life, having the right state of mind in the face of adversity is something we all desire.

Like with any other skill, our ability in meditation techniques improves with practice. Those who practice meditation techniques regularly say they feel calmer, more resourceful and more prepared to handle whatever challenges they encounter. For centuries, martial arts masters have taught their students that meditation fosters an optimal state of mind and helps increase martial power. They’ve also preached meditation benefits such as improvements in overall health by bolstering stress management and even combating disease.

These meditation benefits that masters have always known are getting closer to being proven by science.


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A team of psychiatrists from Harvard Medical School is researching how meditation techniques can affect the genes and the brain activity of people who suffer from chronic stress. Through a rigorous five-year study using the latest neuroimaging and genomic technology, scientists are investigating how mind-body harmony through meditation techniques can turn on and off genes that have been linked to stress and immune function. This research into meditation benefits is exciting because it takes us deeper into the relationship between meditation and human physiology.

Other studies have reported the discovery of meditation benefits, but those findings were based on variables such as participant-reported feelings, heart rate and blood pressure. The Harvard study regarding meditation benefits is enabling us to examine on a deeper level the effects of meditation techniques on the human body. The evidence indicates that the reason we feel less stressed and healthier when we meditate is the genes that control stress and the immune system are being manipulated.

Inflammation and stress are generally bad for the body — particularly if they’re present for sustained periods. We know that stress is a natural part of life, however. As martial artists, we face it constantly in the dojo. What enables us to cope — and even thrive — is the subsequent recovery period during which the stress is removed. We desperately need time to recuperate so we can be ready and refreshed when we have to tackle another stressor. Meditation seems to control our genes in a way that helps shut down stress, thus allowing us to consciously bring about that recuperation period.

Need more evidence regarding meditation benefits? You’ve probably wondered why masters who meditate appear healthier, more vibrant and younger than others their age. Well, scientists at UCLA found that engaging in 12 minutes of yoga meditation daily for eight weeks increased the body’s supply of telomerase, which they’ve dubbed the “immortality enzyme.” Telomerase actually slows the cellular aging process.

As we live our lives, we should remember that although pharmaceuticals are necessary for the treatment of many illnesses and conditions, meditation techniques are a tried-and-true way to help us reduce stress and — when combined with proper nutrition, rest and exercise — avoid those illnesses in the first place.


About the Author:
Robert Wang, M.D., is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. He’s an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine.

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Combat Focus Shooting Expert Rob Pincus Discusses the Not-So-Picture-Perfect Reality of Self-Defense Against a Knife Attack on the Street

You’re out for a walk in the city at night and a man approaches you. Before you know it, he comes at you for a knife attack.

What do you do?

In a martial arts magazine, self-defense experts could suggest a variety of counterattacks — some from the traditional martial arts arena, some from the modern martial arts such as krav maga, and others from the reality-based self-defense world of combatives and the like.

The common element, though, would be a picture-perfect execution. “Assailants” attack when the self-defense instructor tells them to, the photographer directs the angle, and there would probably be the opportunity for a second take — not to mention the in-studio snacks and option for lunch when the shoot wraps.

But what does a not-so-picture-perfect knife-attack scenario look like? Combat Focus Shooting expert Rob Pincus talks about that in his latest video, shot exclusively for BlackBeltMag.com:

CLOSE-QUARTERS COMBAT VIDEO
Rob Pincus Discusses Self-Defense Against a Knife Attack Under Pressure in a Dynamic Situation



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Armed with a training gun, Rob Pincus reacts to the approach of his assailant calmly in an attempt to diffuse the potentially lethal situation. As the attack situation escalates, so does the volume of Rob Pincus’ voice as he urges the assailant to “Stop!” and “Stay back!” as they clash in a flurry of advances, retreats, twists and turns. Rob Pincus deflects the attacker’s knife arm outward so as to keep it extended and away from his own torso’s vital organs. This hyperextension throws the attacker slightly off-balance.

While he attempts to regain ground so as to get his knife hand back into the game, Rob Pincus sneaks his right arm under the opponent’s left shoulder and forces that left arm up and over to (a) keep the attacker’s left hand away from the firearm stowed on his belt and (b) open up the attacker’s own vital-organ section and get him into position for the most effective usage of said firearm.

It’s a loud, messy scene. The combatants are all over the place. There is no “take two.” These guys are playing for keeps, and it’s not very photo-friendly. “You can see that in a dynamic environment,” Rob Pincus explains, “it’s much harder to actually make all that look perfect.”

Rob Pincus continues: “And as we know, with any complex motor skills, when you do them at speed and under pressure, they’re going to look sloppy. … The key was keeping [the attacker’s right] arm, using an outside-90, using a forearm technique — kind of a SPEAR System technique — to keep that knife away from my body until I can get pressure and control and then slip my underhook in to a point where I can get set up to duck in.”

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Israeli Martial Arts: Krav Maga Expert Eyal Yanilov Shows You How to Disable an Opponent and Defend Yourself From the Ground

Krav maga expert Eyal Yanilov in action.Eyal Yanilov is, by far, one of the most respected krav maga practitioners in the world today. He is currently listed as “master level 3/expert level 8” in krav maga — the highest rank krav maga founder Imi Lichtenfeld ever awarded to any student. Eyal Yanilov’s official title today is chief instructor of Krav Maga Global, the organization he founded in 2010 to spread real krav maga to the world.

In the cover story for the March 2011 issue of Black Belt, Eyal Yanilov demonstrated a series of krav maga defenses against variations of the front kick. In this exclusive video, Eyal Yanilov demonstrates his “disable and defend” moves.

KRAV MAGA TECHNIQUE VIDEO
Eyal Yanilov Shows You How to Disable an Opponent and Defend Yourself From the Ground Using Krav Maga



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In the above video’s technique sequence, Eyal Yanilov is sitting on the ground when the aggressor approaches and begins his kick. “In the sitting position,” Eyal Yanilov explains, “[I will deflect] the kick when moving the body out from the area of the attack.”

The krav maga expert shifts to his left to evade the foot and simultaneously deflects the leg with his left arm. “We call it 200-percent defense,” Eyal Yanilov says. “One-hundred-percent efficiency with the hand, 100-percent efficiency with the body.”

Eyal Yanilov explains the final section of the krav maga technique: “As soon as I [can], I counterattack. The moment I [shift] my weight and there’s no weight on the legs, I [can] already function to kick with them.” Eyal Yanilov then falls onto his left side and unleashes side kicks to the man’s leg and body, which prompts him to explain, “From this position, I attack … and from this position, either I continue to attack or move away from the danger zone,” as he finishes his opponent and escapes.

Eyal Yanilov began his training in the Israeli art at age 14 under Eli Avikzar but then shifted to the legendary Imi Lichtenfeld, founder of the system. Eyal Yanilov so impressed the krav maga master that he became Imi Lichtenfeld’s assistant. His primary assignment was to commit the art’s principles and techniques to paper. The result was Krav Maga: How to Defend Yourself Against Armed Assault, co-written by Imi Lichtenfeld (as Imi Sde-Or) and Eyal Yanilov, which was published in 2001 — three years after the founder passed away.

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Combat Hapkido’s John Pellegrini on Women’s Self-Defense, MMA and Military Training

To help us learn more about traditional training in a modern world, our friend GK Zachary from AdultMartialArtist.com sat down with combat-hapkido founder John Pellegrini.

Pellegrini’s been inducted in more than 20 martial arts halls of fame and has been on the cover of 17 self-defense magazines, including our own. Why? Because he’s the perfect ambassador for the arts.

Long before Pellegrini became one of the world’s most popular self-defense instructors, he served in the elite 1st Airborne Regiment of the Italian army. Following that, he used his martial training to work in law enforcement, corporate security, investigations and executive protection.

Pellegrini now holds ninth-degree black belts in hapkido and taekwondo, and his combat-hapkido system is extremely popular with law-enforcement and military personnel. As if that weren’t enough, he is also a certified jeet kune do and aikido instructor.

If ever someone deserved the title of grandmaster, it’s Pellegrini. Enjoy.

—Jon Sattler

GK Zachary: Do traditional martial arts still have relevance for martial artists in an area increasingly dominated by MMA and reality-based martial arts systems?

John Pellegrini: Absolutely. Mixed-martial arts practitioners are wonderfully trained and highly disciplined fighters. But this training is only for a few individuals willing to dedicate themselves entirely to the sport and accept the rigors of the training, the pain and the inevitable injuries. Most people will not ever contemplate that kind of training.

By contrast, martial arts are for the other 99 percent of the population. They are not just a sport or fad. Instead, they are a philosophy of life and a discipline of combat that requires serious training and dedication but also the right martial spirit. True, some overly traditional and ritualistic martial arts will continue to lose popularity and maybe fade from the scene, but the major traditional, mainstream arts, such as jujitsu, aikido, hapkido, kempo and taekwondo will always be popular because they have so much to offer to so many people.

Zachary: What are the three most important principles an adult martial artist always needs to remember?

Pellegrini: First, self-preservation. In other words, don’t get hit. Avoidance of physical conflict is extremely important. You want to understand the range of a confrontation. If you can’t walk away from a potentially violent confrontation, you want to know how to close the gap on your opponent and take control of the situation.

Second, the speed and accuracy of a technique are more important than simply being strong. You don’t want to get involved in a slugfest with an assailant.

Third, self-control. Adult martial artists need to exercise exceptionally good judgment within society’s moral and legal framework. A measured response to any threat is essential.

This moral angle cannot be emphasized enough. The “gladiator approach” that MMA and other fighting sports have popularized are often inconsistent with the martial arts philosophy. Consider, by contrast, the samurai of feudal Japan or the Hwarang or Sun Bi warriors of ancient Korea. Yes, they could be violent. Yes, they could kill. But they always did so within the context of a strict, indeed indispensable, code of honor.

The unrestrained violence that typifies gladiator sports is not a good role model for today’s youth. It is in part responsible for a culture of violence and as such has lost much of the spirit of the traditional martial arts.

Zachary: There have been several notable cases of sexual assault in the media lately. Is combat hapkido a good choice for women looking to learn how to defend themselves from rape and sexual assault and why?

Pellegrini: Combat hapkido is perfect for women because its self-defense techniques are easily learned and do not require great strength. They are based on science. When a 100 pound woman can confidently and routinely take down a 200 pound man using combat-hapkido techniques, you know that there is a science behind it. That’s what makes combat hapkido exceptionally effective for women’s self-defense training. Knowledge and skill, not brute force, is the key.

And it blends well with other women’s self-defense training programs such as Melissa Soalt’s Fierce & Female, RAD, PPCT’s Sexual Harassment and Anti-Rape Program, and similar programs.

Zachary: Your commitment to the U.S. military is well-known (and appreciated) in the martial arts community. Are you continuing to train military personnel here and abroad?
Pellegrini: Yes, but our policy is to talk about such training only after the fact. There are issues of security and confidentiality that require us not to disclose the sites of our future training seminars for the military and the specific units involved. But, yes, we maintain very close relationships with the military and the law-enforcement community. For example, two weeks ag,o we conducted a military combatives seminar for the German Luftwaffe (air force) at their base in Germany. Military combatives is what …

The Man Behind Bruce Lee’s Tao of Jeet Kune Do: Gilbert Johnson

On the eve of Tao of Jeet Kune Do’s release, public awareness will be awakened again to the legendary man who wrote this book: Bruce Lee.  As a child, I used to call him “Uncle Bruce.”  But there was another special human being who I regard just as warmly.  And when looking closely at the Tao, this other person was behind the scenes, as well—a devotee who used his time and energy to build the most prolific and modern book in martial arts history. This unsung hero deserves to be remembered within the chronicles of the jeet kune do world.  His name is Gilbert Johnson.

Who is Gilbert Johnson? Why is he of major significance? Let’s begin with the fact that Gilbert was specifically chosen by Linda Lee Cadwell to carefully and delicately tend to the sea of papers reflecting her late husband’s thoughts, words and insights.  The monumental task of organizing and preserving these writings by my honorary uncle would become a sacred endeavor for Gilbert, and he became co-editor of Tao of Jeet Kune Do (and The Filipino Martial Arts, a book by my father, Dan Inosanto). As an accomplished martial artist on his own terms, Gilbert was an inquisitive human being and connected very much with the teachings and principles of jeet kune do.

Before his mission with Tao of Jeet Kune Do, Gilbert was a gifted writer and independent journalist who frequently wrote for Black Belt and other publications during the 1960s and 1970s.  According to one of his family members, Gilbert experienced several life-threatening events in his lifetime, but he managed to survive.  As a freelance journalist, Gilbert also threw himself smack into the middle of the 1979 protests in Isfahan, Iran, and survived to write of his account of the Iranian Revolution. Perhaps because he served in the military, Gilbert was prepared to boldly and resiliently come face to face with the world.

Despite these experiences, Gilbert managed to have a big heart.  He wanted to help people. Gilbert tried to share his enthusiasm and friendship with others no matter how old or young.  I adored this man as a child growing up. He inspired me through the pure essence of his kindness.

By the time the 1980s rolled around, the AIDS epidemic started to spread across the United States, where the illness was labeled a “gay disease.” Sadly, Gilbert was one of the first people I knew to contract the disease via a blood transfusion, which he needed after being involved in a car accident. And because of this, he quickly understood the discrimination and prejudice he’d face. As a result, he became an activist to help spread awareness that AIDS can affect anyone, that compassion is needed, not hate.

In my film The Sensei, I tried to show how this historical attitude affected the martial arts world by featuring a gay martial arts students who had to deal with discrimination.  As a writer, director and producer, Gilbert would challenge me—mind, body and spirit—to address the prejudice that has touched the martial arts community.

As a close family friend to my father and the rest of the original jeet kune do family, Gilbert was a brilliant choice to meet the challenges of putting together the most soul-searching and significant writings of my godfather.  He tirelessly worked and employed the techniques of a researcher and detective. He studied and trained with my father and the other jeet kune do students at our family academy, which was humbly tucked away in our home’s backyard in Carson, California.

Gilbert wanted to understand and explore what Lee was saying through these precious and profound documents that were left behind.  I like to compare his work on Tao of Jeet Kune Do to a doctor helping to deliver a child into the world.

It has been 35 years since Tao of Jeet Kune Do was born into the public eye. I am glad that such writings will be exposed to a new generation and that Gilbert has a place in martial arts history for giving the world such a groundbreaking and spiritual book.…

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