Self Defence Explored (Part 2)

Dan Couzens self defence explored

Self-defence Aikido flowing techniques taught Bushido Bristol Martial Arts by Dan Couzens

What is the best Self Defence system?

This question has been bouncing around ever since the idea of self-defence and martial arts was created. It’s a similar question to, what is the best type of music or the best type of athlete? The answer for me is, no self-defence system can claim to be the best, there is only the best fit for you.

It’s like music, for some people it’s Blues, for others it’s Jazz and then there are those who love Disco, Techno, Folk etc. What’s the best type of music? Well this is clearly a silly question, but maybe the best music is the type of music that you love; that works for you, that you enjoy and that suits the time and the particular mood you are in. So what self-defence system should you learn? Depends on who you are.

Teacher Student

Martial arts is about the teacher-student relationship. If you don’t like, agree with, or enjoy the methods of the teacher, then you are not going to get very far in that particular discipline. The methods that your teacher uses to explain the subject must work for you. We have a particular way of going about teaching the subject of martial arts, we teach with passion, energy and conviction. We teach at a pace, a tempo that leaves no space for distraction and provides the platform to gain focus.

There are levels to the lessons that you’ll notice as you advance and each time you explore a technique, we encourage the student to notice more.

The Commitment & The Challenge

The martial art or self-defence system you choose requires a level of commitment, the commitment can be relatively small to begin with, but it must be consistent. I ask that a beginner trains for 1 hour a week.

We develop capacity by meeting commitments, each lesson attended increases your knowledge, skill and fitness but it also strengthens and develops the positive habit of carving out time in your week to train. You will sense when you want to do more because you will be ready to do more.

Self-defence and Martial Arts are not easy, and in my view, they cannot be learned or grasped fully, only explored. There is no end to the journey. Martial arts is a vast subject, and the more you learn, the more you’ll come to realise what you don’t know. I think this is a quality of all worthwhile subjects; they have no end.

A Better Question?

I don’t think the question should be; what is the best self-defence system? The question should be what do I want to get out of training in martial arts? We offer martial arts as a way of self-development, holistic fitness and self-defence.

Self Defence

We teach a comprehensive approach to personal security that includes the development of alertness & awareness, considers behaviours, choices and trains effective combative ability. We are also more than just a self-defence system. Artistry and self-expression are evident through the techniques and movement practices of Bushido Bristol.

Alertness is synonymous with assertiveness and confidence, awareness is synonymous with artistry. Great artists really look, they notice, they sense, they feel, and they express. These are all important qualities in self-defence. Bushido Bristol is about balancing the artist with the warrior, the practical with the esoteric, the martial with the art.

Holistic Fitness

Holistic Fitness is about considering the whole or the bigger picture.

Here are some of the areas we explore in holistic fitness.

  • Total body awareness and coordination.
  • Integration of focus with breath and movement.
  • Ensuring we develop a balanced spectrum of fitness qualities.
  • How your way of living may affect your environment.
  • How your environment may affect your health and fitness.

Self-Development

Self-development is about taking an approach to life, that you as a human being can improve, grow and change as you go through the experiences that life will present to you. I don’t think that the human mind and personality are fixed because this doesn’t tally up with my direct experience.

Martial arts provides a feedback system,  for a student and a teacher, martial arts is a humbling subject. I have witnessed on many occasions someone’s total surprise when they are unable to complete a technique shown. Conversely, I have seen on many occasions someone’s complete surprised at their own ability and level of performance.

Both of these experiences show a lack of understanding and awareness for who they are and what they are capable of. You can have an inflated view of your own capability and a deflated view of your capability; very few people show an accurate awareness and observation of their actual capability. Does a lack of self-awareness hamper your ability in a self-defence scenario? I think the answer is yes.

The ultimate journey in life may be to know thyself, and martial arts can be approached in such a way as to make consistent discoveries about your true nature.

Dan Couzens
BUSHIDO BRISTOL

Self Defence Explored (Part 1)

Dan Couzens self defence explored

SELF DEFENCE TRAINING BUSHIDO BRISTOL MARTIAL ARTS
Self-defence is one of the three major focus points of Bushido Bristol, and as such, learning effective combative techniques are of high priority for us. That said we also take a more expansive approach to what self-defence is.

SELF DEFENCE CIRCLES

Self-defence exists firstly as alertness/awareness, secondly as behaviours/choices, and finally as physical capability. A good way to look at this is as circles see fig 1.

SELF DEFENCE CIRCLES FIG2 BUSHIDO BRISTOL MARTIAL ARTS
In this model alertness/awareness is seen as the fundamental aspect of self-defence. The types of behaviours we exhibit, the choices we make are in part based upon our level or quality of our alertness/awareness. Our physical capabilities are directly affected by our behaviours/choices.

PHYSICAL CAPABILITY

The journey of physical learning in martial arts is fascinating.

In the beginning, the extremities tend to be where we have the greatest control. Hands and feet are where our thoughts and intent is commonly placed to succeed at the varied tasks of everyday life. Part of our job as teachers is to gradually help our students bring their focus to the center of the physical body, often referred to as the Hara.

So the middle of the body is where the movement should be stabilized and initiated, we are attempting to create a complete level of body awareness. Once we have gained more control of the body, and the technique has been grasped to a level that could be described as automatic (available to us free of thought when required), then the focus or awareness can start to expand out again, but now the awareness is not on the body it’s on the environment. Now you have the capability to the execute the technique; your next task is to develop the capability of making accurate observations of your environment. If our perception is off kilter with what is really going on and our mind is taken up with excessive thinking and concern, then we have little hope of making an accurate judgment.

BEHAVIOURS / CHOICES

I think the principles we live our lives bye, dictate our behaviours and choices. Certain behaviours and choices increase the risk to our security, and others decrease it. The idea here is, if you find yourself in a real life encounter, where your security is at risk, it is likely you have already made many choices that have lead to this scenario.

However every now and again, some situation cannot be avoided and when faced with a threatening scenario it is important to know what your intent is.

My intent is always to bring the situation to a positive conclusion; this is one of the principles I live my life by. A positive conclusion is when you have ensured that life continues to unfold harmoniously by reducing or negating altogether, the impact of a dramatic or negative incident.

We are habitual creatures, so we should work with this much-needed natural human ability. But habits can work against us if they are not flooded with alertness and awarenesses. Habits are by their nature historical, past events have created them and for this reason, habits always run the risk of becoming obsolete. Personal development is an ongoing self-reflection spiral. What was positive yesterday maybe negative tomorrow; for example, you may need to lie in on your Sunday after a busy week; carry this behaviour into Monday and it can lead to negative consequences. Our actions and choices must shift depending on the demands life is placing on us.

Automatic pilot is required for many tasks we do in life. This automatic capability is of great significance for the martial artist, we are trying to train to a level where we don’t have to think about how to execute the technique, we just do it.
Once you can do the technique, then your total alertness/awareness is no longer required for learning and is now free to expand.

ALERTNESS / AWARENESS
SELF DEFENCE CIRCLES FIG 2 BUSHIDO BRISTOL MARTIAL ARTS

Alertness/awareness doesn’t just surround behaviours and choices it is all pervasive. (See fig 2). Alertness/awareness is, in fact, filtering through the behaviours and choices and into physical capabilities. So the colours would be translucent, and the blue should be like a light that is shining through the two other circles that act like filters (see fig 3).

SELF DEFENCE CIRCLES FIG3 BUSHIDO BRISTOL MARTIAL ARTS

Alertness/awareness are where martial arts and self-defence become intensely rich subjects and experiences. Awareness is about developing a depth to your perception, and alertness is about developing a breath to your perception. Again I use common terminology, but I have defined these words for teaching purposes; alertness is outward, awareness is inward.
Clearly, your level of alertness is paramount to your security, in self-defence, alertness is about having an appropriate level of attention based on your situation, your state of alertness, for the most part, is about the absence of things rather than developing particular skill.

The first step is not to do anything that hampers it, there are many ways we can affect our level of alertness negatively. Things to consider are smartphones, earphones, how stressful our lives are, alcohol, etc. The next step is to adopt some basic observation techniques.
Let’s use the scenario of walking through a busy city center; a very basic idea is to walk with your head up, this immediately increases one’s perspective; much like in advance driving, look to the furthermost distance, the middle distance and close distance repetitively as you are walking. This technique is subtle and stress-free it’s just observation. Just putting observation on the agenda is enough to start increasing alertness. Try it next time you are in a public place and see how much more information you take on board.

FINALLY

If the quality of one’s awareness is high and their behaviours are positive, then the likelihood of ever finding themselves in a threatening situation is dramatically reduced. I will probably never need to use the physical skills I have developed over the past 15 years. But every day I use the confidence that martial arts have inspired in me, every day I benefit from the fitness that martial arts develops and every day a greater level of awareness and alertness goes with me. The real value of martial arts is how good it makes you in taking on the challenges of everyday life.

Dan Couzens

BUSHIDO BRISTOL

Fitness & Martial Arts (Part 3)

Dan Couzens Fitness & Martial Arts

Martial arts bristol - sitting posture to sunset view

Mobility

In this post on fitness & martial arts, we are looking at ideas around mobility.
I define mobility as the range of movement available to you throughout the entire body. If you are stiff or lack range around a particular joint, then you lack the ability to get into organized positions. If your initial positioning is poor or if your set up is poor then every action taken from this point is also likely to be poor. Martial arts is about your ability to get into organized, dynamic positions. As you move the position changes and mobility is one of the factors involved in controlling your body in such a way as to execute a technique well.

Martial arts requires all your joints to have a good range of motion no matter what discipline you decide to pursue. That said if you want to stay healthy and mobile then you need to work on mobility regardless.

Mobility is a huge subject. It covers multiple bodily systems, literally thousands of techniques and different cultures have a myriad of ways about going about business. I incorporate all sorts of ideas into my personal training. However, they are unique to the goals I am trying to achieve. My goals are health and the ability to perform all the techniques required for my discipline to ever increasing personal standards.

Here are my five basic approaches to mobility.

Massage

Your soft tissues can get tacked up, torn and damaged. Massage is a way to ease your tissues back to health, or back into position. Myofascial release, is when you work on the muscles and consider fascia. Fascia is a complex system of connective tissue, a thin layer of skin that covers and wraps around your muscles and runs in bands throughout your body. There is some debate on this subject, however, in practice, myofascial release works for me. Furthermore considering fascia as part of your mobility is also useful when you are trying to achieve global or all over body mobility.

Body-Prep Movement

Essentially joints need to move. Every morning I go through body-prep movements. I incorporate certain soft martial arts movements and yoga movements synchronized with controlled breathing exercises. In this practice, I take every joint through my full range of movement. I call this therapy mode. In the joints synovial fluid is released effectively acting as a lubricant for the joint. The muscles and soft tissues receive blood flow. The heart rate goes up a small amount. The lymphatic system is given a chance to do its job. The breathing gets oxygen into the body and ensures I start my day with deep, healthy nourishing breath.

Nutrition

Food wise you should be eating nutrient dense, organically produced and ideally locally sourced foods. You could also look at supplementation available for joints. I supplement with collagen protein as this is the type of protein that is good for skin and connective tissue such as ligaments and tendons. I also take Glucosamine with Chondroitin as well as a few herbal remedies such as Curcumin and Boswellia. The quality of your supplements is important; they are not all made the same. Do your research and take a look around before supplementing. Poison is in the dosage so supplementing does come with potential health risks, the amount you need of each nutrient is debatable. The efficacy of taking supplements is also questionable with bioavailability being one of the major hurdles to overcome when taking nutrients. If you are pregnant or taking any form of medication consult your doctor before taking supplements.
Muscles need good sources of protein. Such as oily fish, grass fed beef, free range organic chicken are all good foods. You could also think about getting an organic whey from grass fed cows if you are doing allot of training.

Meditation

Psychological tension can create muscular tension.
You can know this directly simply by doing a body scan meditation.
A body scan meditation is a simple practice whereby you sit still and bring your awareness to different parts of the body, scanning for areas of tension and then mentally releasing the tension from the area.

Breath meditation is another simple meditation that is helpful for releasing tension. Here is the instruction; Sit still shut your eyes and concentrate on your breath. 5-10 minutes of breath meditation daily is sufficient to gain benefits such as a greater sense of calm, more mental clarity, and better general health.

Stretching

I use a combination of stretching principles. After a workout or on an off day I will do a mix of active and passive stretching in positions like the front splits and pancakes (I cannot do full front splits or pancakes it’s just something I am working on). I always do stretching after body-prep movement as I want the muscles warm, and the joints lubricated. I do each active and passive stretch routine for a minimum of 3 mins, any less than that and research suggests that you are not effecting any real change. Dependant on how the body feels I’ll go up to 5 mins.

Before a workout or training, I’ll do body prep followed by dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is movements like leg swings and arm rotation where you will gradually increase the range of motion as you go. Martial Arts itself is a mobility program of sorts as it takes the body through many full range movements. That said it is still necessary to do the work around the techniques both to increase your performance and stay healthy.

What Now

I realize that video and pictures with demonstrations would be a far more helpful way of explaining the above concepts. I am currently working on a plan to provide the above information in this format which will be specifically catered to the Bushido Bristol Dojo although some of the approaches will no doubt help other martial artists as well. So what is the takeaway? Begin to develop a holistic approach to improving mobility fitness. Above are just some pointers to start your research if you haven’t already. Furthermore, the above pointers are by no means exhaustive; there are many more factors to consider such as looking at your habitual movement patterns, hydration, and areas where your posture could be better. Don’t worry about getting it all right straight away just start somewhere and explore what works for you.

There is one area of mobility fitness that is not debatable and that is having a pain free mobile body is a huge factor in determining the overall quality of your life.

Dan Couzens

BUSHIDO BRISTOL

Fitness & Martial Arts (Part 2)

Dan Couzens Fitness & Martial Arts

Skill Development

Martial arts is a skill. Skill and talent are fascinating counterparts. Here is my take.

Talent is when someone shows an exceptional level ability in a given discipline.

Skill is the technical requirements of the discipline. The demands of the chosen discipline can require ability on any, or all the levels of what is to be a human being. We should aim to become talented not just skillfull.

What is Talent ?

Talent is often thought of as a natural affinity, as if someone is born with the ability. While the cards you are dealt by life itself play a major part in the likely hood and ease at which you may develop talent, I feel there are factors that effect talented people and if we study them we will see that becoming talented is a possibility for all of us.

Some natural affinity is without a doubt required. But one can define natural affinity as simply, a passion for the subject, a sense that it is for you. It’s like watching a great film, you can have the feeling that it was made for you, it resonates with you.

You can begin to love a subject before you have even tried it. A child can watch the Olympics and be inspired by a particular discipline or individual athlete having never performed the task. Now the idea is implanted in the mind. Now there is the itch that demands to be scratched. Of course, when one tries the activity they may realize that it is not for them at all.

I think talent is made up of numerous factors. Here is my list;

Exposure

Perhaps there are people in the world who have greatness locked away deep inside them. Perhaps the greatest potential martial artists that ever lived never entered the dojo. They never found exposure to the thing that would breathe life into their life. Perhaps the greatest athlete, musician, leader, architect, artist alive today are doing the wrong job. A potential is only a potential. Realization of potential is the aim. So clearly we must first be exposed to the possibility to have any chance of realizing our talents.

Time, Space & Confidence

Have you ever watched a great musician and wished you had their ability, then thought about becoming a musician yourself and quickly realized even to begin requires a definite amount of time and space. You also need certain amount of confidence and self-belief to begin. If you have the self-belief then you will carve out the time and the space to make it happen.

Passion

It is important to have a resonance with the subject. The seeds of passion are different for everyone. But there must be an interest and desire. The teacher’s job in my view is to ignite passion. If one has the passion for the subject, then I think they are far more likely do all the things necessary to learn it.

Positive Vision

Developing skill for skills sake may not be enough. One must plot a positive view of the future. A goal, an event, a moment of achievement that has significance for you. Martial arts is many things to many people. You can plot any number of positive visions for yourself to enhance your training. Dream don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is just valuable information and experience that can improve both your character and your life situation.

Life Organisation

A professional athlete organizes their life in such a way as to increase the likelihood of success. It’s all about priorities, what has the most value to you. My job is to give martial arts value. Real value, a value that effects your everyday. Martial arts training can positively affect self-worth. Self-worth goes with you wherever you go. We must know what is within our ability to control and what is beyond our capacity to control. Life is a balance of acceptance and going with the flow, with the development of competence and taking responsibility.

Consistent Hard Work

There is no doubt about it, training is hard. There is no substitute for hard work. However if you have the passion, and if you have the vision you will work hard effortlessly and gain major value from your endeavors.

Intense Mental Focus

Malcolm Gladwell has popularized the idea of it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. While there is no doubt time spent is a critical factor in the development of expertise I prefer the Eddie Jones approach. I cannot find the exact quote, but I remember him saying something along the lines of “It’s not 10,000 hours that makes someone an expert it is an intense mental focus.”
This idea opens up a potential for all of us because it is not about the quantity but the quality. There are many tools at our disposal to improve our mental approach to developing skill. One’s level of attention is vital.

Patience

Yes, you need to have patience and intense mental focus. These are dual mindsets. Patience is about knowing where you are at, and accepting what your level of competency is. You can then intelligently and rationally plot the next step. In my twenties when I thought I was indestructible, I would train hard and had a definite lack of patience. I would end up injuring myself and causing unnecessary physical discomfort. Of course, this slowed my progress. Doing too much too soon is a false economy. Increase your capacity in small increments over time.

The Feedback Spiral

My first martial arts style was called Shoto Kaizen.
Kaizen is a concept which has now become widespread in manufacturing. Essentially it means continuous improvement. Bushido as a style is an exceptional feedback system. If one pays attention and treats martial as a total body and mind experience, there will always be something to notice and improve. Repetition is how one develops skill. Repetition, if approached with the kaizen mindset is not repetition, because although the activity may be the same, each time you perform the action, a small incremental improvement is made. Kaizen or a feedback spiral is about noticing and choosing the most important element to improve upon. A good teacher will have a greater efficacy when it comes to helping a student develop.

The Support Network

It is of vital importance to surround yourself with people who are sympathetic to your dreams and have a positive nature. Again I reference the Olympics, because the first thing the medal winners to do is to thank their coaches, support staff, friends, and family. The Bristol Dojo is a positive culture that welcomes new members while pushing the ability of more advanced students. The Dojo is a support network.

The Teacher

Finally, to develop talent, it is helpful to have input from someone who has already walked the path, someone who has already achieved what you are setting out to achieve. Find the teacher, the coach, the expert who has the map. They can help you on your journey; they can point you in the right direction, and perhaps they can even help you develop skills and uncover talents you didn’t even know you possessed.

Dan Couzens

BUSHIDO BRISTOL

Fitness & Martial Arts (Part 1)

Dan Couzens Fitness & Martial Arts

fitness through skill. martial arts bristol

Martial arts has always been synonymous with fitness.

Bushido Bristol does not treat martial arts as just a workout. We concentrate on education. The aim is to gain fitness while practicing and honing your martial arts skill.

The types of fitness you will develop are varied. Over time you will develop strength, endurance, speed, agility, balance, coordination and flexibility.

Bushido is a great fitness model for the following reasons. The syllabus provides clear goals which are challenging rewarding and achievable. It’s mentally stimulating because the focus is on skill. It requires all-round fitness, creating a healthy balanced body. Martial arts is an art form with expression, depth, and creativity. The techniques are progressive so you can learn them in a constructive and safe way. Martial arts are a lifelong endeavor.

There is no end to learning martial arts; you will continually find new motivations, new reasons to progress and new reasons to stay active.

Martial Arts Training

To further my advancement as a martial artist I have included multiple aspects into my training regime over the years. Here are some aspects which I consider important if you want to keep the body health whilst progressing in your martial arts training.

Skill development

You should try and keep your training as specific as possible. Practice the techniques until they become instinctive. The majority of your training should be martial arts.

“If you want to get good at martial arts, do martial arts.”

Mobility

How well does your body move? There is a whole host of ideas and techniques to ensure the body moves well. Mobility is also about injury prevention and rehabilitation. There are some techniques we must make sure we are prepared for before pushing our ability.

Weight training

There is no doubt that weight training has massive positive health benefits. I am an advocate of Kettlebell training. Stay safe and get expert instruction. Lifting weights poorly is a surefire way to get injured.

Nutrition & Hydration

You can forget about significant gains in fitness if you don’t consider what you eat. To get your head around the best way forward regarding your nutrition requires a significant investment of your time. That said if you change what you eat for the better, then you have just made one of the best moves of your life.

Rest

The body needs rest and needs assistance in recovering from exercise. Sleep is probably the most universally profound thing we all do every day. Learning ways to get better quality sleep is a good idea.

The Future

Over the next few weeks, I will be going into more depth on the above subjects. There isn’t enough time to learn everything in the Dojo. So these posts will be intended to act as support for those wishing to take their health, fitness, and martial arts ability onto another level.

Dan Couzens
BUSHIDO BRISTOL

Martial Arts and Your Potential

Dan Couzens Martial Arts Explored

Dan Couzens Martial Arts Bristol Bushido

The World is Full of Options

We live in a world full of potentiality, and you are a human being which means it is possible for you to see and then adapt in such a way as to grab the opportunity.

Martial Arts is Full of Options.

Choosing the right one is essentially down to what potentiality you wish to pursue.

At the Bristol Bushido Dojo, we have some priorities when it comes to the pursuit of martial arts. We have a way of going about business. One of our priorities is Standards.

Standards – The actual technical and athletic ability of the martial arts practitioner is just the beginning. Standards are also about attitude.

Currently, the Olympics are well underway. There can be no doubt that an Olympian is a highly focused, highly motivated individual.

Still, at this level of competition, competitors have negatively affected, hindered and even destroyed their opportunity with moments of poor decision making before they get the chance to compete. Boozing, doping, social media rants, etc. Controversy is an ever present factor at the Olympics. Maybe this is because winning is highly important and at the highest levels, improvement is very hard to make. Every four years an opportunity presents itself for greatness, for recognition, for dizzying heights of achievement, to make a country proud, to lay your mark in the annals of Olympic history.

“What You Do Outside the Dojo, Effects What You Do Inside the Dojo”

 

We have a saying in Bushido “what you do outside the dojo effects what you do inside the dojo”. Your performance in any given discipline is affected by everything else you do. With an Olympian, this is clear to see. Physical conditioning, rest, nutrition & recovery. Visualisation, positive thinking, mental clarity, skill development and timing peak performance. These are full-time jobs they are about prioritising your life to meet your goals. When all these factors combine to produce a moment of peak performance at the right time, then it’s all worth it. Inspiring millions to go higher, faster, stronger. The next generation witnesses greatness and plots their potential future and a few, some years from now will live their dream and win gold, and so the tradition continues.

The Sensei’s Task

The higher grades job is to train to such a level they inspire. Inspiration is the best teacher of discipline there is. With inspiration comes both a feeling and a vision of a great future but more than this, it infuses the moment with a passion which increases the feeling quality of your life. The projected future provides us with a picture we want to paint. The past provides the instructions. The moment is where all the action takes place.

The instructors at the Bristol Dojo will let inspiration in from anywhere, not just martial arts. We strive to emulate learn from and apply what the greats of the world are teaching us.

With a student who is in full-time work and has many important priorities in life, we have to work out what we can do to make them the best they can be in their chosen discipline.

The 1st is by ensuring that the teachers in the Bristol Dojo are pushing their abilities. I don’t know who said this, but I like it.

“You cant give what you don’t have“.

The instructors cannot teach you anything unless they are applying it themselves and developing all the abilities necessary to be a great martial artist and a great martial arts teacher. Two very different skills. The task is without question daunting, and as I mentioned in my last post, we will fail a bit. The important thing is we are growing, and I can see week in week out that all the black belts of the Bristol Dojo are unquestionably growing and developing. I set the standards deliberately high because low standards are easy to achieve. If you want ease, then you give up your chance for greatness, you abandon your chance to express your unique talents. When you step up to the plate and achieve, your capacity for achievement increases. There is a formula. Warrior-ship is about harnessing the type of mindset which is up to the challenge of working out the formula.

Take Small Steps

Take small steps consistently.  Consistent small steps eventually add up to a long distance travelled.  I have no expectations of any of my students including the black belts. I cannot see the challenges of their lives. Only they can. From my experience, I see that people on some level already know what to do. We need inspiration and when it comes we need to let in and try not to block the direction it’s pointing. Inspiration is when you are truly listening to yourself. Listening to what you want to do with your life. The best times in life are when we feel alive. To do this, we just need to make sure we are filling our life with moments of connection.

Dan Couzens

BUSHIDO BRISTOL

Martial Arts & The Journey Inward

Dan Couzens Martial Arts Explored

Dan Couzens Martial Artist Bushido Bristol

A Step Back On The Path

The next step for martial arts is to take a step back onto the path of what it does best, which is to provide a pathway to uncover more knowledge of self, otherwise, know as self-growth.

Martial arts study and martial arts teaching have both been tools that have been vital to me in my personal growth. They are both mirrors that reflect from different directions and when aligned perfectly provide a near total picture of oneself. Two mirrors opposite each other two roles the Teacher and the Student. The reflections are feedback telling me where I need to work, what skill I must develop what aspect of egotism must dissolve if I seek to grow.

But like gardening the job is never done. In the summer when the garden is flourishing, when it is at its point of maximum yearly growth this is the point it needs the most attention. The period of maximum growth is also the period when things can get most out of control.

The difference between someone who knows they can adapt and someone who doesn’t is when they fall short of what is required by life to keep life straight, they put their hand up, pay attention and take responsibility. In the process of acknowledging flaws, taking responsibility and trying to solve the sometimes-reoccurring problems of our lives a type of awareness is developed; an awareness that clearly points to a solution. The solution though is never simple. For change to take place, for self-empowerment to be a reality. A fundamental feeling within oneself has to change; it is not enough to try and just think differently.

The only way for there to be change is to be totally honest with yourself and to be entirely clear about whom you are.

Know Thyself

Martial arts is a way to know thyself. It is for those people who on some level feel an affinity with warrior-ship, who can sense that warrior-ship is not about brutality and violence. It is an approach to life that requires strength, courage and commitment. All the while acting as an ambassador for peace and an encourager of positive human potential.

This is my approach to life. Every day I fail a bit and every day I succeed a bit but every day without fail I grow. I cannot prove it to you it is simply something I know about myself, something that no one can take away. It is a truth that is unshakable it also fundamentally one of the essential elements of life. Growth is what nature strives to do. I am growing and in this way, I feel a profound connection and appreciation for nature. Every day it shows me how. I pay attention to life for it is the greatest teacher.

Martial Arts, Self Defence & Awareness

Martial arts training for me is not just about self-defense anymore. I know I can defend myself at any given time should someone decide to attack. I am not saying I will always survive; I am not even saying I will always fight. I am simply saying I am ready.

Violence is a form of aggression. Some people love aggression because it gives the sense of living more intensely, but it is not a quality someone with a healthy mind will quickly adopt. So when someone becomes aggressive with a person who knows aggression, his or her power is immediately dissolved because it is seen for what it is. Individuals who rely on aggression to solve their problems are papering over the cracks. Cracks that if looked at would reveal an ugly truth, a truth that will humble the observer. When this humbling takes place, the viewer has two options, to feel humiliated or to become humble. If they become humble, then the cracks may start to heal, and a more solid foundation of self-worth is created.

So when I step on the mat, I am not only concerned about the practicality of technique, I am focused on the feeling of connection with the movement itself. I feel deep down into the body and simultaneously into my surroundings and as I move I seek unity of mind body and spirit. The mind in this model encompasses both thought and emotion as one of the same. As you explode into action or move gracefully into the flow, the connection can become difficult to retain. Practice is essential. Repetition of technique, as well as developing and understanding of the principles of martial arts, will create a stronger connection.

The First Step Is All In The First Step.

The first technique you learn in Bushido at the Bristol Dojo is to step backwards at a particular angle. This action immediately begins to create more awareness in the body and more awareness of the surroundings if approached and taught correctly. It does this by given the practitioner a very simple instruction. However, simplicity and ease are not necessarily the same thing.

The martial practitioner can quickly grasp the simplicity of the action, yet may find it tough to perform the technique correctly. It takes a time to develop sufficient awareness of the body to do the technique accurately even at slow speeds. When we speed the technique up to combat relative speed, then this variable creates yet more difficulty. So the challenge in martial arts is not necessarily to gain a great breath of knowledge but to develop a great depth of understanding.

Gradings

Then there is the grading. The 1st grading and black belt grading have arguably equal significance. You will make mistakes in both. In your first grading you will more than likely make a mistake, emotionally react and show your frustration on your face. But in the black belt grading, you will carry on. No external sign of error is displayed emotionally. You will fully acknowledge it without it hindering your progress.

The reaction emotionally to the mistake serves no purpose at all. It is a form of self-inflicted pain. For some reason, the mind has a habit of doing this.

A great martial artist is great because they only do what is necessary. No more no less. They are faster, more accurate, more energetic and more powerful because of the absence of self-restriction both in their training and in their execution. We train in Bushido Academy of Martial Arts to get out of our way. We train to dissolve ego and fear; we train to be more ourselves.

Eventually, you will feel as if you have received no lessons. In truth, you will have taught yourself worked it all out yourself. Bushido is simply an environment, which gives you the time, space, and the inclination to get started and it’s full of other people on the same journey. The Journey is a way, and our way is the way of the warrior.

Dan Couzens

BUSHIDO BRISTOL

7 Ways Martial Arts Develops Confidence!

Dan Couzens Martial Arts Explored

Martial Arts Weapons Training for ConfidenceA Great Month of Martial Arts

It’s been a great month. The new website is up and running and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. More improvements are coming soon.

The black belts are getting stuck-in to furthering their athletic ability, whilst learning about countering jujitsu, and take down techniques.

The Intermediates are making great strides forward, and are looking really clinical in their execution of Kata’s and Waza’s. Those advancing towards black belt are doing all the necessary things to make sure this achievement happens.

The new starters are picking up the foundational techniques well and it’s great to see some new faces.

So it’s all moving in a very positive direction.

I have always been amazed by the profound way in which martial arts develops confidence. So here are some ideas on how I think it does this.

 7 Ways Martial Arts Develops Confidence

 

1/ Overcoming fear

As soon as someone turns up for their 1st lesson in martial arts, they have already developed a little bit more confidence. How? Because, they have stepped into the unknown. New students have no idea what to expect in their first lesson. It is totally normal to feel anxious and unsure before your intro session. Simply by turning up and giving it a go, you have proved something to yourself that many haven’t.

 2/ Taking on the challenge

Martial arts are not easy, and this is what makes it great! If you are looking for ease, then you are not looking for anything that is really going to help you develop confidence.

Overcoming the challenge is key. One of the most rewarding things to experience and witness, is when a student surprises themselves with their own ability.

3/ Fitness 

Martial arts can be an incredibly well rounded fitness model. In Bushido Academy you will develop, strength, speed, power, agility, flexibility, endurance, coordination and balance. This is not to mention the mental health benefits of studying such an intellectually stimulating subject. Martial arts is the gym for the thinking man & women. I am also a fully accredited personal trainer and hold nutritional certification. So if you need a little extra help and guidance with your fitness, you’re looking in the right place.

 4/ Body awareness

One of the first things I teach is how to feel ready. When you stand ready, your mind becomes more alert, and your body gives you more feedback. This means you will learn more easily, perform better, and progress faster. Once you get this you will understand how to project a more powerful sense of whom you are.

 5/ In your corner

All the instructors are in your corner, and the dojo culture is one of encouragement. Martial arts are about building the individual. It’s great to be part of something where everyone is developing a positive outlook.

 6/ Skill development

As your skill develops in martial arts you’ll become more physically powerful, more accurate in your movements, and have greater mental focus. These abilities become a part of who you are. You will take this feeling into job interviews, business meetings, social situations, essentially, everywhere you go.

 7/ A break from the norm

We are all busy. Busy with work, relationships and plans for the future. Training for 1 hour a week, concentrating on nothing but your own personal development, can be a welcome break from the everyday occurrences of life. This short break can help create more mental clarity. Greater levels of mental clarity, can lead to greater levels of confidence.

Dan Couzens

Bushido Bristol

 

 

Welcome to Our New Website

Dan Couzens Martial Arts Explored

Dan Couzens Martial Arts Head Instructor Bushido Academy Bristol Dojo

Welcome

To our new website for Bushido Bristol. I hope you find navigating the website easy and enjoy reading about what we have to offer.

As always if you have any questions about Bushido in Bristol please contact me. In the mean time I will endeavour to keep you informed about how we approach the great subject of martial arts.

My Approach

My approach to training and teaching martial arts over the years has consistently changed and evolved.

Now, some 15 years into my training with Bushido and after 9 years of running the dojo, its time to begin a new chapter in my journey as a martial artist. My mission now is to express how I approach martial arts and what our great team of instructors has to offer in Bristol. My main aim with this blog is to begin a connection with a new generation of martial artists, that have not yet taken their first exciting and potentially life changing steps into a Bushido dojo (place of training).

Dan Couzens
Bushido Bristol