The Hard Path

“To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities—I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not—that one endures.”

 

We have safe guards within our brains that will try and avoid, AT ALL COSTS, any feeling of discomfort or hardship. It's a basic and simple survival tactic within humans.

Seek pleasure, Avoid Pain.

But going through hardship is where true growth happens. Nietzsche in his work, The Will to Power, is essentially trying to explain what motivates us and drives us forward as humans. What this quote expresses is an  "opportunity", pure and simple.

Pain and suffering can occur in two ways, either it falls in our lap or we have the courage to pursue the difficult path of hardship.

When you hit rock bottom 1 of 2 things will happen. Either you stand up and pull yourself out, or you stay at the bottom. 

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My experience with being at the bottom was a painful but rewarding lesson. I did not have a penny to my name, severe tooth pain and had just ended a long-term relationship. It was quite funny looking back because the level of pain that I was experiencing with my tooth, in some strange way, provided the physical context of the feeling I was experiencing with all of these issues going on in my life.

In my most difficult place, I realized one thing about myself, through practicing Muay Thai,  my ability to suffer created my ability to endure. Whenever we have conversations about Martial Arts we tend to place far too much emphasis on the "Fighter", and not enough on the holistic qualities that benefit everyone. Like other arts, Martial Arts is an expression. The subject is conflict, the utility of practicing the art, is the ability to develop positive reactions to problems and conflict.

Each time I went to class and trained, I was putting my body through some very difficult experiences, but the feeling I felt once I went through was electrifying. I felt like I had conquered something at the end of each class. Over time, I built up the resolve of being a person that gets through tough times. It was the constant experience of hardship, that built within me the resolve to believe confidently in that statement.

Find A Way

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At this point in my life, I came to the realization that life sucked right now. However, I could get through this, I must find a way. Over time, I did just that, I found a way. I dug myself out of the hole of who I was.

Now having the opportunity to look back at who I was.  I am a vastly different person, almost to the point that I do not recognize that person I was at that time. It was through the struggle that forced me to be something better to get myself through that time. Albert Einstein is quoted for saying,"It will take a different person to solve the problems you will have to face tomorrow."

I completely agree with this statement. It will most certainly require a different person to solve the problems you will be faced with tomorrow. So seek out moments and experiences that will push you, test you, require you to fail, and fail often. Transformations, and acquisition of skill never come through the easy and safe road. It's only when  you challenge yourself, will you see who and what your made of. But one thing is absolutely for certain is that you  will be alright, you can endure. Choose the Hard Path.

Struggle, Grow, Improve 

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It's Okay, Your Going To Suck

When we first began the journey at Richmond Hill Muay Thai, one of the classes I was actually quite hesitant to teach was Kid's and Teenagers. I had become quite familiar and accustomed to teaching adults. Kid's and teenagers were a totally different beast to me. I was not particularly confident in my skills yet to bring value to kids and teens.

However, I am not the type of person to simply not try and tackle something because I am not familiar or good at it. Anyways the stage was set and I would have my first batch of kids and teenagers to teach the following day. I had everything prepared including a lesson plan complete and I was super excited to teach these young people.

IT WAS A DISASTER 

It was chaos, I had kids running around as if they just downed a red-bull, older kids whining and complaining. It simply felt like when I put one fire out, another 3 would be raging somewhere else. The class was only an hour, but it felt like an eternity. I could feel every painful second pass by and I hated every moment of it.

Then I had the teenagers class to teach right after the kids class. Although not as disastrous as the kids class that I had just taught, I still felt that I had missed the mark with the teenagers. I wasn't able to connect with them in any meaningful way. 

That drive home was probably one of the worst drives I've experienced after teaching. I felt defeated and demoralized. Before I arrived home I decided to stop by my instructors place and share my experiences of what my first day with kids was like. I Remember walking into the gym and saying:

Man I Suck

My instructor laughed and then gave me some advice on what I could try and do next. It was a slow process, but over the weeks, months and eventually year I got better.

Fast forward roughly a year from my first class and I had just finished my classes with my Kids and Teenagers for the Spring, and I started to receive letters of appreciation for all the work I've been putting in with the kids and teenagers:

Hi Ryan,
My name is _______,  I'm ________mother. She was participating in your kickboxing for teens during winter and spring sessions at Oak Ridges Community Centre.
I'm sending this email to thank you for all your hard work and enthusiasm. ____ has enjoyed your classes and we'll like to know if you're having teen classes in your private practice.
Please let me know!

This was a very proud moment for myself as an Instructor. It is literally only a couple of sentences, but the impression validated everything I had been working on improving over that year. It was a long process, and I stuck with it, and after time I became quite proficient at it. I began to see improvements over time, and those improvements were small things at a time. 

It's going to take however long it takes!

Here is the Truth, you going to suck or be weak at something you first start.But give yourself enough time to practice and eventually you will be good at something. To consider yourself an expert requires a vast amount of time and energy. Patience is the key. Be patient, it's going to take however long it will take. Do not rush the process. Just enjoy the journey to mastery.

Everyone's journey within Martial Art's and within Muay Thai more specifically, begins at the beginner phase. Everything is new. Most often there is this uneasiness about not being good at something at first, but it is something to be embraced! Your starting a new journey for yourself. Why your learning Muay Thai is for you and you alone, irregardless if your reason is to:

  • Lose Weight
  • Try Something New
  • Curiousity About Muay Thai
  • Develop Self-Confidence

You should celebrate the fact that you have simply started in your journey.

Push Past The Suck

With all journey's there is going to be apart of the process where it is not as fun as the beginning and it simply is just a grind to get through. You just have to push past it. For the year that I was practicing and learning how to teach these kids classes most often then not, I went home demoralized.

But I knew with each time I went in I was learning something, I was improving. Even though it might not be the best feeling or experience at the moment, have the resolve and know that you are learning every single time you go and practice your craft or skill. 

At the Other Side is What you Want!

Fire and Water Pt.1

If I were to describe Muay Thai as a property I would call it Fire. High Energy, explosive and very powerful. The Training which includes arduous amounts of running, skipping, difficult full body conditioning, and rounds upon rounds on the bag and with your pad holder. These are the things required to improve within the sport.

The training experience is very challenging, but the beauty within this difficult experience is personal growth. Each student of the Art is placing themselves within a difficult situation and seeing themselves overcome the challenge day in and out.

With that constant feed back of them overcoming challenges it builds confidence and competence. That's why we say in training:

The Body Leads, The Mind Follows.

The Mind is giving witness to what the body can actually do. It is truly humbling  and a privilege as an instructor to see students experience this lesson to which they can use the confidence earned inside of the gym in their lives. 

 

However, as we all know for fire to continue, it needs Oxygen as fuel.Without any oxygen the fire dies out.  The hardest part about training is figuring out how to sustain and continue our training, when we feel or motivation or "Fire" starting to burn out. Within the training sphere I often see 3 distinct ways of going about trying to continuing the Fire.

1.Try Harder!

 

When faced with a situation or feeling that they are loosing overall steam and motivation, Students and Competitors will often forcefully put more effort into their training. It is a tactic that works for a limited time only. Often times Injury and overall burn out will occur.

It is an experience I am well aware of with my own personal training. I would become extremely focused when training for fights. It was the only real thing on my mind. It would be very difficult to take my mind off of it. Everything was focused on that particular event. 

However, after the fight I would experience a huge burnout. I would need ample time off of personal training, and need some serious downtime to recharge. It is an approach that is sustainable for only a limited period of time.

2. Complacency 

After they reach a particular goal, often times what will happen is that the student will not choose another goal to pursue. This will happen for various reasons, but being too long without a goal causes complacency. This complacency will often times halt training all together, as the desire to practice and improve in such a difficult Art for, " No Reason" will turn them away.

Water and Fire

 

This is approach is probably the simplest but probably one of the most difficult things to do. It is to have balance with your approach to training. It is to be in harmony with your life. Yes there are moments that within your training, and within your life  in general, that you might have to focus on one aspect of your life a bit more than the rest.

However, the imbalance cannot be sustained indefinitely. If all you do is continuously train without stretching your body will fall apart and you will have quite a few injuries as a result. Likewise with your life, keeping focus on one aspect of your life, and neglecting the others creates friction and tension within yourself. I suggest finding and going with the Middle path and using both Fire and Water.

The middle path is harmony. If Muay Thai is Fire, it would need to have something from the opposite side to keep it in balance. It would need WATER to sustain that oxygen it needs to burn. The Fire and Water sustain each other in a harmonious loop.

The student first has to define there purpose. Second the needs some form of activity to rejuvenate themselves in order to create longevity within the Art. The focus is to create life long Martial Artist's. It is easy to have people invested in a task for a selected moment in time. It is hard to create continuous improvement indefinitely. 

What I call water , are simply practices that recharge the body and the mind. These things could be:

  • Meditation
  • Stretching
  • Walking 
  • Hobbies
  • Family 
  • Friends
  • Strength Training

None of these suggestions are out of the box and or revolutionary ideas. These are simple tools to allow the body and mind to recover from what you are putting it through in training.

Part 2 is on it's way. Where we go deeper into the element of Purpose and Lifestyle. Until then people...

Sawadee Kharp

Kru Ryan

 

R.I.P Muhammad Ali

Very sad day today. One of the greatest Boxing legends to ever grace the sport has passed away. Muhammad Ali will forever be remembered as the people's champ. To me he symbolized far more than simply being a phenomenal boxer. He was truly an ambassador of the people. His mission was to inspire others to greatness. In his time, he showed the world what unwavering confidence in oneself can do, and it was simply a matter of taking the first step to obtain whatever goal it is that you want to achieve in life. His story of change and empowerment has resonated for over half a century, and his message of Hope and Belief in oneself will continue to inspire future generations to come. Now I could leave you with clips of Muhammad Ali fighting, but I would like to leave you all with his recipe for life. Enjoy!

Rest In Peace Champ!

 

 

 

 

 

Body Leads, Mind Follows

The reason why this statement is bold and front and centre is for one reason alone.
Martial Art's is a doing thing. It's not a thinking thing. What this means is it's Kinetic in nature. You learn through moving, as instructors we teach through moving.

However, most things that we do in life are approached from a mindset of;

  1. Think first
  2. Act second

We Need To Think About The Thing Before We Do It. Do not misunderstand me if you believe I am saying we should always Think before you act, or even think I have a problem with thinking before acting. I whole heatedly support this statement. However, there are pitfalls to this approach for many of us at times. We infer that our "Thinking" about something is actually the way something actually is. Those that are new with training, step into the gym with a whole host of different opinions and impressions on themselves and about training in general. When it comes to Martial Arts, you are doing yourself a huge disservice to take this approach.

As an instructor I hear a lot of reasons someone will make when it comes to doing and not doing Martial Arts For Example:

  • It's only for fighters
  • It's too violent 
  • It's too hard
  • I hear it's great Cardio
  • I want to be a fighter
  • It will teach my children Discipline  
  • I'm not in shape for this. I need to get in shape first to do this.
  • classes are too long 
  • I am not an Athlete I might get Injured

The ideas and impressions we shape before actually trying in Martial Art's is numerous and vast. But they are simply ideas and impressions.

These things are not Real

Before we actually begin training we have already set limits to what we can do, and how well we will be at it. Often times, we set such low standards for ourselves that we have defeated ourselves before we have even stepped into the gym. That is why the standard is

 The body leads, the mind follows.

Before we set an idea of what it is. You must first "Do" the actual thing first and then set your impressions about it along the way.Our bodies are real tangible things and we must use them. Improvement is experienced in the body.

Do First and build your opinion along the way!
 

When the body improves, the mind has data that verifies the training's utility. So  go into  training without any presuppositions about what we can do. It might sound very cheesy but,

Free your Mind, and your body will do the rest.

There are many benefits to practicing Martial Arts such as:

  • A way to Loose Weight and get into Shape
  • A perfect stress Reliever 
  • Way to cultivate Discipline 
  • Meet people from all Walks of Life
  • Challenge Yourself 

But as I have stated in the previous paragraphs, these are merely just words. Martial Art's is a doing thing. You will not learn any of these things by me simply talking about it. Hence the Body Leads in doing, the Mind follows. Check us out and sign up for a week of Free Classes. See you soon.

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Kru Ryan

 

Opportunity

The picture that you see was of my last fight. It was a pretty tough fight, and I managed to pull of the win for that fight. I was thrilled not because I won the fight, but for simply taking this fight as an opportunity for growth.

Growth only occurs through hardship. There is no shortcuts in growing.

On the day of the fight there were a couple of miscommunication situations which created a very miserable experience on my end.

1. Had to cut 8 pounds in roughly 2-3 hours before the event. I had not planed on cutting any weight that day as I was on the weight we agreed upon earlier.

2. Was very little time to re-hydrate and eat properly. I had to refuel with what was around me. The choices were not that great.

3. Couldn't figure out if the bout was going to be with protective gear or not.

All of these things made the experience very miserable. But one thing I was not going to do was cancel my fight. Myself and my opponent had worked too hard for it to be cancelled on some miscommunication. I'm glad I did decide to compete because I learned so much about myself having gone through that experience. Here's some things I got from this experience.

1. RISK vs opportunities. 

I did not make a typograhy error with the heading. I made it that way to reflect the level of importance we place on RISKS and the low value we place on opportunities. I believe it should be the other way around. We need to start placing more importance on Opportunities then on risks. You will only grow through Opportunities. We tend to limit what we want to do in this life simply because there are risks involved. Any of these every happen to you??

  1. Stay quite in fear of the backlash you might face by your peers?
  2. Turn down a job opportunity, to keep your stable but lifeless present job.
  3. Want to get into the best shape of your life, but refuse to try because you believe you do not know enough.
  4. Wanting to try something new but don't for fear of what others might think?

It's primarily fear that prevents us from taking the many opportunities that past by our way on a consistent basis. One of the things that I love about Muay Thai and Martial Arts is that you face your fears on a consistent basis when training. You are battling the many voices in your head that says:

  1. You can't do this
  2. You look ridiculous doing this
  3. You will never lose weight
  4. You are just wasting time
  5. Why are you doing this? You're not a fighter.

The beautiful thing about Martial Arts is it is simply an expression of strength. You are expressing yourself in a strong way. Through continued effort you are creating a habit of you continually Being Strong Through Your Expression. The dis-empowering beliefs will fall at the waste side because the effort that you continually put forth contradicts your expression. That is why we say that;

Growth happens from outside in within Martial Arts.

So whats stopping you from trying out Martial Arts. Think of the opportunities you can obtain.

If your curious about life. Learn about  a practice that has been on this earth for more than a thousand years.

Learn how to build a strong body, and in the process develop a strong mind.

If you want to be more courageous. Try out Muay Thai. My job as an instructor is to teach you the technique.It's your job to express that technique. You are in the driver seat in your path of courage. Muay Thai is the vehicle you will find your strength. 

If your goal is to look good. Why not try something new for a change? Push your body to knew heights with our classes. In addition, you are with a group of people who are focused on the same thing as you. To become the strongest version of themselves.

So what opportuntities are simply passing you by? It's time to start taking more opportunities in your life!

Peace

Kru Ryan

Steps and Stages

It was late December, and I was just finishing up my last class for the year. I thought I would feel some type of feeling of relief and accomplishment. I've accomplished quite a bit this past year in all aspects of my life. I increased my work flow and clients exactly as I had pictured it when I was  writing down my goals for 2015.

  1. Fought in some pretty high level Fights
  2. Read at least one book a week 
  3. Got my finances in order
  4. Expanded my teaching resume 
  5. Learned how to teach more effective classes
  6. Replaced my old vehicle
  7. Posted every week on my blog Synergy Life Art for an entire year
  8. Got some great mentors

I hit many of the goals I had set out to do in 2015. But, after that class I felt somewhat upset and frustrated. I couldn't really explain why. I had been feeling pretty out of it for the past couple of months leading up to that day, and I couldn't pin point why? Why do I feel so dissatisfied with myself?  I sat with that question for a bit, and I came across this video of Kevin Garnet, and it finally hit me.  

I’m Loosing!!

I was doing what I set out to do for this year, but I wasn't doing what I needed to do to take myself to the next stage of my life. I was always simply just waiting by the door. I had checked out a space for a possible gym location in which I could begin Richmond Hill Muay Thai. I brought it to my Kru, and we talked about it for a bit. When I left his office I was pretty much certain that it was the wrong move to make. Not because what he had said. My Kru actually thought it was a really good idea. But for some reason I could not see it. I sat on it for a bit and asked myself,  

Why was it a Bad Option?

 

I came up with all types of reasons why, and they all sounded very valid and fair. But then I decided to ask myself the question, "Why are you making reasons not to take this opportunity?"  I held that question in my mind for a few days and really sought out to answer that question. Again I had many reasons why I was thinking that way. 

Then something in me just said,

JUST DO IT

So on Christmas Eve I decided to give myself my own Christmas present. I decided to finally put my name down on a place, and begin  Richmond Hill Muay Thai. I can honestly say it has been a very insightful and energetic experience to be in. I can't really describe it, but life really opened up. A whole new host of challenges have popped up, and I'm knocking each of them down, every single day. I finally asked for something more, and I got exactly that. 

 

Steps and Stages

Steps and Stages

Sometimes in life you are at the right stage in your life and you simply need to keep creating and completing steps in the stage you are in. Other times you simply need to change or ascend into a different stage in your life. No amount of steps will make you feel fulfilled if you need change the stage you are in in life. It also holds true with the reverse. Some times impatience makes us try and ascend to a different stage in our life, when we simply needed to make small steps in the stage we are currently in. The result of these moves is dissatisfaction and or disaster. I propose that we cultivate awareness within ourselves to know which move we need to make. But it all begins with movement. No step or stage will be reached without any movement. So join me on this movement.  Make a move!

Richmond Hill Muay Thai Feb.3rd 2016 

6pm-7:30pm

Kru Ryan

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