CONSISTENCY IS KING

Dan Couzens Martial Arts Explored

DAN COUZENS IN YOI DACHI. MARTIAL ARTS STANCE IN FRONT OF WATERFALL. BUSHIDO BRISTOL MARTIAL ARTSBefore you begin learning martial arts it is important to consider the commitment required to get value out of the training.

At Bushido Bristol Martial Arts we recommend 1 hour training per week. This may not sound allot but because we are focused on education, in small adult only classes, you will easily gain enough information in that 1 hour class to fill a week of practice in between lessons.

Of course as you develop your skill, and decide you want to pursue higher grades as well as increased levels of ability then more time is required both in the dojo on the mat and in your practice schedule between lesson times. If you want to gain your black belt then you need to get organised and gain focus.

The key though is to take small consistent steps and get into POSITIVE CYCLES or positive routines.

TIME SPENT

I have trained in BUSHIDO now for over 15 years and there have been the naturally talented, and the grafters but what reign’s supreme is the guy who can be consistent, gradually improving their techniques and practice at sustainable levels over long periods of time. Yes there are peaks and troughs in training as our energy levels change, bodies adapt, circumstances shift, and goals evolve, but in amongst the changing tides of life there must be consistency. Combine consistency with tenacity and few things can stop you.

“A river cuts through the rock not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” anon

 

Martial Arts is an art form, it takes time to develop the skill sets required. One of the great things about Martial Arts is that it can evolve with you. You can practice martial arts all the way into later life, it may not be the high kicking full on intensity stuff of the twenty something’s, but it will have a different kind power. A power that only a lifetime of consistent dedication can give you. The body needs to move, the mind needs to be stimulated and the situation needs to be mastered. Consistency is king.

Dan Couzens

BUSHIDO BRISTOL MARTIAL ARTS

GET ORGANISED – GAIN FOCUS

Dan Couzens Martial Arts Explored, Self Development

bushido bristol martial arts sparring training. get focused get organised. dan couzensImagine if all we had to get right was our physical technique, training would be so simple. How good would we be?

My answer, not very good at all! Why? Because this is the challenge, and it’s something we need to learn to embrace and love. We have to organise our bodies, our minds and our lives in order to accomplish things.

Last Sunday was the National Grading’s which was a huge success; everybody there had prepared very well and the passion for the subject is very much alive and well. All the students from the Bristol Dojo passed, so well done to them.

Martial arts point to a way of organising your self. We all approach this differently but this is essentially the point.

So the body, with regards to combat is essentially disorganised to begin with, a beginner will usually not know their own body well enough to be able to summon the performance required to be considered an effective martial artist.

The same goes for the thinking process, in fact, the thinking process is often even more disorganised than the body; focus is about having a system in place for organising mental activity.

FOCUS & BREATH

Try this focus and breath exercise, simply read the steps and then give it a try.

STEP 1

Look up from your screen and pick point directly in front of you.

STEP 2

focus on the smallest possible point and see that point with as much clarity and detail as possible. I call this, point focus.

STEP 3

Remain looking at the same point but begin to take in all of the surroundings, use your peripheral, expand out as far as you can go; I call this peripheral focus.

STEP 4

Keep your focus on the peripheral of your vision and combine this with breath work. Breathe slowly and comfortably, try to breath down to the diaphragm, and stay in peripheral focus for 10 slow breaths.

STEP 5

Bring your focus back to the smallest possible point and take 5 more slow breaths.

Step 6

Make observations of the exercise.

Of course some will feel or sense no effects at all, for others they will feel a calming influence especially when peripheral focus is combined with breath work. You may also perceive an increase in the intensity of your focus when you go back to point focus.

You may even notice a reduction in mental activity whilst doing the exercise, of course, like any exercise the more you do it the better you’ll get at it and the more observations you’ll be able to make.

 SKILL DEVELOPMENT

The next way we can organise the body and the mind is by learning a new technique. It is very difficult to think about work, the mortgage, future plans or Brexit! whilst trying to learn martial arts…

I think this is one of the best reasons to train; Martial arts will re-focus your attention whenever you train, creating a mental gap in your week, physical fitness and it develops a skill that may be invaluable one day.

Dan Couzens

BUSHIDO BRISTOL MARTIAL ARTS

THE POSITIVE CYCLE

Dan Couzens Martial Arts Explored, Self Development

DAN COUZENS KICK - THE POSITIVITY CYCLE

EASY?

The styles of Bushido are not easy to learn. It takes time to grasp the fundamentals and longer still to execute the more advanced techniques…

Easy, means that you already have the capability to carry out the task. Hard means you are going to have to push your self or you don’t yet have the capability to carry out the task.

If something is easy then it does not require you to adapt and change, it does not require you to put in effort or summon any willpower. If something is hard then it is the exact opposite, the challenge is where the magic happens.

“Nothing worthwhile is ever easy” anon

 

I have often said to the instructors at Bushido Bristol that the reason we train is because we want to change, but remember, the last thing we want to do is change!

We want the reward but seldom find the strength of will to put in the effort. The people who are on the path of self-growth and who are driven to achieve something that they feel is important, know the reward of self-growth far out ways the effort.

It is common to want to achieve something and have dreams to aspire to, what is uncommon is to actually do it. Someone who exhibits the necessary behavior and works daily towards whatever their goals are is rare. It is also what I love about real martial arts training. We encourage this every week, to make a decision to achieve and then put a process into practice to get there; small incremental patient steps.

CYCLES

If you are watching and observing you will see that there are recurring cycles in life, you can see them everywhere. Sometimes, unfortunately we can see when someone has fallen into a vicious cycle where each decision thought and action leads them to greater levels of distress, unhappiness, ill health and suffering.

What we need to work out is the positive cycle, where every decision, thought and action leads to greater success, harmony, positivity and vitality. Of course with each new day comes new challenges and this upward cycle is precariously difficult to maintain, that’s the challenge and is what makes it worthwhile.

The challenge itself will give feedback as to how you are doing. If you have the awareness and the courage to except what the challenge is telling you, then you are half way towards solving the puzzle. This is how we gain knowledge of ourselves, no one else can do it for you, and without challenge you will never find out what you are about.

Martial arts are about continually improving ones ability. You need have a vision to pursue, a drive to get there, a want to learn, the discipline to practice, the courage to perform, the openness for feedback, the ability to adapt, and the tenacity to repeat.

It can help to have teachers and mentors who you find inspiring and motivating, someone who can give you a nudge when you hit a plateau, and point you in the right direction when you’re not sure of the next step. The path of martial arts is well worn; the path toward developing talent is well worn. You maybe taking your first steps, if this is the case, having someone around you who has been there and done it can be incredibly helpful, especially if your goals are the same.

So go and find the teacher and the style or non-style that works for you. Dive in and give it your best shot. If you apply yourself, stay open to the feedback of the challenge and summon the will to go on, you will be amazed at what you will discover and achieve.

Dan Couzens

BUSHIDO BRISTOL MARTIAL ARTS

FEARLESS (PART 3) THE UNIFICATION OF SPIRIT

Dan Couzens Martial Arts Explored, Self Development

bushido bristol, dan couzens in zai zen at cliff edge, martial arts bristol

UNIFICATION OF SPIRIT – FOCUS

‘They’ say that someone who grasps their subject well is able to narrow down their complex and in-depth understanding into simple terms.

When it comes to the unification of spirit, the subject is life, and the goal is to find a way to pull all the disparate aspects together so we cease to have multiple drivers pulling in different directions, and in turn become far more effective at engaging with our life.

Martial arts can be used as a clear feedback system to gain focus or unification of spirit. In the beginning there are movements that will challenge your co-ordination, fitness, spatial awareness and overall control of the body.

MULTIPLE LEVELS

You can approach the techniques of martial arts on multiple levels; for instance the first stance you learn in Bushido is about, stabilisation, solid physical foundation and strengthening the muscles of the legs and core. It is also about application to combative scenarios and dealing with different attacker body types, i.e. big guy, small guy etc.

The stance is also about developing inner body awareness. It is common for students to want to look at where they are placing their feet rather than feeling where their feet are placed.

When you start to feel the stance from the inside out, you can then begin adding upper body techniques. Now you are gaining a control of the body that enables you to express power and speed you didn’t know you had.

The body and the mind are not separate parts they are one, and all they need is a way to be unified, when the body and mind are unified the human being is a force of nature.

Dan Couzens

BUSHIDO BRISTOL 

FEARLESS (PART 2)

Dan Couzens Martial Arts Explored, Self Development

DAN COUZENS BUSHIDO BRISTOL MARTIAL ARTS

BLACK HOLES

Fear has a habit of going undetected. Fear is like black holes in the night sky; you can’t see one directly but you can see its effect. This is the first step in uncovering and then dissolving fear.

Like black holes, fear swallows up anything that gets close to its event horizon, dreams and aspirations can vanish without trace if your not careful. Even confidence can vanish when fear is present.

The difference between fear and black holes though, is once detected; fear can be easily dealt with. Simply becoming aware of fear and its effects means you have taken significant strides in overcoming it.

Be like a stargazer searching in the night sky, but rather than looking out, look in. Look for the stars, which represent your innate talents and abilities but also search for the black holes.

COURAGE

It takes courage to look at ourselves truthfully, possibly even more so in the advent of the online digital identity. If we look we will inevitably find things we would prefer weren’t there. However, if you put in the effort and begin the journey of self-discovery, the reward far out ways the struggle.

Martial arts are not easy to grasp, it’s not like playing a computer game, it’s like learning a musical instrument, it’s not like watching a box set, it’s like climbing a mountain. It’s about how you want to spend your time and what sort of person you want to be. Do you want to spend your times being a spectator or do you want to get out into the world and develop talents of your own?

For me it all started in the dojo. Learn the discipline, learn that working hard has it’s own rewards; combine this with challenges that you have a deep desire to face and you will go along way to uncover what fears may lie within and maybe one day you’ll discover things about yourself that will surprise even you. Confidence is relatively easy, the pursuit of mastership and knowing yourself, that’s the hard bit.

Dan Couzens

BUSHIDO BRISTOL

FEARLESS (PART 1)

Dan Couzens Martial Arts Explored, Self Development

martial arts in bristol instructor stand on rocks

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

If we could narrow all Martial Arts down to one goal, would it be about becoming fearless?For me, this is what Martial Arts are about.

UNIFICATION OF SPIRIT

There is an old idea in Martial Arts sometimes referred to as the unification of spirit. martial arts in bristol. instructor sword cut over ocean

The idea points to the possibility of our actions, intent and thoughts working in harmony towards a common goal. It seems that we are often split between multiple motivations unsure of whether to go this way or that way… Martial arts are often about decisive action, learning from doing and then iterate our approach based upon the results.

A funny example of this; have you ever been around children who are enjoying playing so much they don’t want to go to the toilet and need to have some guidance just so they make it on time?

In some ways in adult hood not a lot has changed! Whilst we mostly have control of our bladder, it seems as though we get so involved in certain aspects of our lives that we forget or don’t listen to other important aspects of ourselves.

Martial arts are way of acknowledging and taking care of the aspects of ourselves that everyday life forgets about. It’s about carving out the time for you to work on you, develop awareness of body and mind and uncover more of your potential.

Dan Couzens

BUSHIDO BRISTOL

Martial Arts Gradings & Personal Development

Dan Couzens Self Development

BUSHIDO BRISTOL MARTIAL ARTS STUDENTS AFTER GRADINGS

It’s coming to the end of year Gradings. It’s an exciting time at the Bushido Bristol Dojo as students advance their preparations, working hard to put the finishing touches to their Kata’s & Waza’s. Even if you are not grading, you will benefit from the buzz, the atmosphere and the camaraderie that this challenge creates.
The end of year gradings represent a chance to finish the year on a high, and create a fresh start to 2017 opening up new potentiality.

7 Ways To Approach Gradings

1/ Micro Practice

Micro sessions are short periods of practice that help training become a habit. Find opportunities to practice in short bursts. Maybe a few strikes or blocks. 20 seconds and you can remind your body of movement patterns & techniques. Find time in the spaces that life naturally presents to you.

For example when making a cup of tea, in the time it takes for the kettle to boil, see how many techniques you can get through; or practice one technique with an increased level of attention to detail. If you have two cups of tea a day then you have just carved out 2 practice sessions a day. These micro sessions create a familiarity with martial arts which allows the techniques to be absorbed.

2/ Visualisation

Visualisation is in two parts for a grading. The 1st part is to visualise yourself going through the Kata’s and Waza’s. Visualize yourself performing the techniques to a high standard. This beds in the structures and increases your knowledge of technique.

The 2nd part is to visualise the grading. See yourself performing the katas instinctively as if they have become part of you. You must see a successful event where you embrace the atmosphere and indeed add to the event. This helps to keep self doubt at bay. Positive focus always.

3/ Peak Training

Six weeks before a grading is a long time if you train with intensity, up the anti significantly in this period and for six weeks try and make martial arts training one of your priorities. We cannot train at this level all the time, it’s not healthy or sustainable.

But in six weeks you can take huge step forwards in your ability using the gradings as a goal. If you begin to tap into what you are capable of, then self worth will also increase, and the buzz of achieving your grade, will stay with you as you chill out over the Christmas period.

4/ Ask Questions

As you practice and explore martial arts more deeply your knowledge will increase, and as it increases so does your need for new knowledge. Ask questions and absorb as much information from the instructors as possible. When you ask the questions you begin to take responsibility for your own progression, this creates a great foundation for achieving true martial arts ability.

5/ Express Yourself

The truth is, the gradings are not really a test, if you get to the gradings you have already passed. This is because your instructor would not send you unless you are ready. So gradings are not about pass or fail, they are about how you feel you did. Hold nothing back and express yourself, enjoy the event and let rip. Gradings are about building self worth and vanquishing self doubt, I don’t send students to grade, I send students to find out what they are made of.

6/ Discipline And Etiquette

Learn the discipline and etiquette of the event. Respecting the grading environment is as important as anything else. The way you enter the room, how you warm up, how you stand, the effort you put in; these all contribute to an amazing event. Bushido is not about ticking boxes and gaining different coloured belts. It is about atmosphere, standards, ability, it is about the spirit of excellence.

Gradings are not easy, Bushido is not easy, Martial arts are not easy.; this is what makes them worthwhile. Embrace this and you’ll find a key thats opens a door to your will. Let the gradings effect your desire, and let your desire effect the gradings, this is what makes them a powerful opportunity for self growth.

7/ Gradings Are Events To Be Savoured

When you the put the effort in, you are showing that you care about your ability, about gaining the grade and about quality. When we care, we walk a fine line between positive action and mental anguish. If you care, you put things in place to succeed or to bring some kind of value to whatever it is you care about. However, if we look closely at the things we care about, we will see that we sometimes exert a kind of mental effort that has no positive effect on the outcome. This kind of mental effort can effect our sense of inner well being negatively. Worry will not make you a better martial artist, doubt will not make you a better martial artist. We must recognise when doubt and worry set in, you may even be reading this and wondering if you have what it takes? You do.

Enjoy your training, enjoy the process of learning, embrace the challenge and step up to the plate. Gradings are part of the journey, they are events to be savoured, they will become cherished memories.

Dan Couzens

BUSHIDO

How To Build A Martial Artist

Dan Couzens Martial Arts Explored, Uncategorized

bristol martial artists bushido bristol dojo

Start With The Feet

Footwork is crucial, if the feet aren’t in the right place then nothing is in the right place. The feet should be like the left hand when playing the piano, independant coordination that lends a supporting, grounded bass rhythm to the melody. If your rhythm is off, your melody doesn’t stand a chance. Footwork should become effortless and instinctual.
Your stance should always have athletic potential; if you are still, then be ready to move, adapt and react. If you are moving then you have balance, whilst being able to regain a stillness at will.

Then Train The Hands

This is where the intricacy is, the coordination of the hands will constantly be challenged as you look to build knowledge that covers all basses. The hands need to be trained through multitude of combative movement patterns and at multiple tempo’s. Eventually you’ll have an extensive knowledge base that will allow you to ad-lib.

The Back Bone

Start at the base of the spine, think of movement beginning from the very center of your body. Train so you have a stable and solid core or midline. If you train in this way your ability to control your extremities will increase; power, speed, accuracy, it can all be enhanced by centering yourself physically. Then, travel up the spine and consider it’s position., if you are hunched over at the top of your spine or overarch at it’s base, you will hemorrhage potential.

Then to the neck, if your head is too dipped you will lack perspective. Too much the other way and your throat will be too vulnerable and unstable. The cervical spine is delicate and mobile, and is both a weakness and a strength.

Broaden The Shoulders

With feet grounded and poised for action, hands coordinated, spine strong and tall and the head positioned in a way which balances vantage with protection, it’s time to broaden the shoulders. Controlling the shoulder joint is all important, it allows for the solid transfer of power from the ground when stabilised, and allows for significant gains in both speed and reach when allowed to move. Great puncher strikers are hyper aware of their shoulder positioning. The shoulder joint is one of the most mobile joints in the body, allowing for great ranges of movement.

The mechanics and coordination of the shoulder joint are often over looked by the novice practitioner. A  great deal of performance can be gained hear, ignore it and you’ll end up a long way from where you could be.

Fire Up The Will

The body is just a shell, techniques are just patterns of movement, what makes the real difference is your will. It’s like a fire that needs fuel, it burns thoughts, inspiration and vision, your will needs a goal. But the will, like a fire, can be put out with damp fuel or even worse, a torrential down poor. The martial artist must keep his body as he keeps his mind; moving, ready for action and in constant preparation for the challenges that lay ahead.

Dan Couzens

BUSHIDO

BUSHIDO BRISTOL MARTIAL ARTS – DOJO MINDSET

Dan Couzens Self Development, Uncategorized

17 IDEAS ON HOW TO APPROACH YOUR TRAINING

 

1/ REFRAIN FROM CRITICISING OTHER STUDENTS UNTIL YOU ARE BEYOND CRITICISM YOURSELF.

 

2/ APPROACH EVERY TECHNIQUE WITH A BEGINNERS MIND. WE HAVE NEVER FULLY MASTERED ANYTHING.

 

3/ CULTIVATE YOUR OWN INNER DESIRE TO ACHIEVE. THE TEACHER CANNOT DO IT FOR YOU

 

4/ COMMUNICATE CLEARLY. DEVELOP A REPUTATION OF RELIABILITY.

 

5/ REMOVE SELF DOUBT FROM THE EQUATION.

 

6/ SKILL DEVELOPMENT IS ABOUT REPETITION

 

7/ LEARN BY DOING AND THROUGH PERPETUAL ITERATION.

 

8/ ASK YOURSELF WHAT MAKES A GREAT STUDENT?

 

9/ PRACTICE WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN TAUGHT.

 

10/ CONSIDER THE TEACHER’S PERSPECTIVE.

 

11/ ASK CONSIDERED QUESTIONS.

 

12/ CULTIVATE PATIENCE.

 

13/ AIM TO SURPASS THE STANDARDS SET.

 

14/ TRY TO SEE THE DEEPER ELEMENTS OF MARTIAL ARTS.

 

15/ BE AWARE THAT THE HUMAN BEING IS EDAPT AT THE ART OF SELF-DECEPTION AND JUSTIFICATION. 

 

16/ ONLY MAKE MISTAKES ONCE. IF YOU MAKE THEM TWICE YOU ARE STAGNATING. THREE TIMES AND YOU ARE DEVOLVING.

 

17/ HAVE COMPASSION FOR YOURSELF WHEN YOU MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE THREE TIMES! THE TRUE MISTAKE IS NOT ACKNOWLEDGING AND TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE MISTAKE, EVERYTHING ELSE CAN BE FIXED.

 

Personal Development & Martial Arts

Dan Couzens Self Development

Bushido bristol students climbing the mountain

The Way Of The Warrior

Personal development, self-growth and spiritual connection have long been a part of martial arts training. The way of the warrior has inspired the human imagination, enriched our culture and given us ideals to inspire us. True confidence is more than just a surface level outer projection, it’s a sign of a profound shift in someone’s genuine sense of self-worth.

Martial arts for me, has been about tapping into a deeper sense of self-worth, and recognising that a human being has incredible capabilities. It has been about recognising this potential and making considerable efforts in realising it.

More Than Just A Physical Technique

When we make the subject about more than just learning physical techniques, we enter a minefield because personal growth is personal. If you get feedback about your physical technique, you’ll probably accept it without too much fuss as long as the feedback or the tuition makes you better. If you get feedback about your personality and behaviour, then perhaps you’ll be more reticent in accepting it.

The truth is I can’t make you better, what I can do, is create an environment where it is easier to see and acknowledge our flaws and recognise our potential. It is you who makes the improvement, because of an innate desire to improve. If you don’t have this innate desire, then nothing will happen with regards to self growth or personal change. If you train without the desire to develop personally you’ll simply add some more information to your data base and the body will get fitter and more skilled.

However the possibility of improving our characters, our behaviours, our thoughts, our bodies, our relationships, our careers, and our lives is a very real one. Martial arts was the beginning of this journey for me; it is the continuation of the journey for others.

Bushido Definition

Here is my definition of Bushido.

Bushi = Warrior
Do = Way

Way = Spiritual path
Warrior = The process

Bushido

The way of the warrior, or to walk the path of the warrior as a way of realising your spirit.

What is Warrior-ship?

  • Courage
  • Honesty
  • Honour
  • Wisdom
  • Respect
  • Learning
  • Authenticity
  • Self-Reflection

Why is this Warrior-ship? Because it takes a type of strength to look at oneself truthfully. If we do, we are almost sure to find ugliness that will repel us. If we delve into our past, we will find pain, regret and embarrassment. If we look honestly into our future, we will see doubt and fear, this is the human condition. If we apply wisdom to this perspective we will see past events that have helped shape us and teach us. If we apply it to the future, we will see potential and opportunity, as well as perspective that can show us how precious the now is.

The way of the warrior is about cultivating discipline and gaining insight to keep making incremental improvements, to keep finding the solutions, to get back up when you get knocked down and to develop and express your unique talents and abilities. The spirit is already perfect yet unrealised, the body and the mind need training in order for us to get out of our own way and become a channel for our spirit, our passion for life.

BUSHIDO has been my way of training, it has been my way of uncovering me and now it’s my way to help others do the same.

Dan Couzens
BUSHIDO