Be Careful What You Say

I’ve heard more times than I can count by multiple people expressions like this:

“I just speak my mind, if they don’t like it, oh well.”

“I’ll say what I want to say, and they can just get over it.”

“If you don’t like what I said, that’s your problem.”

I want to tell people to be careful with your words, once said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten. How you make others feel about themselves with your words, says a lot about you.

Be Careful What You Say

Don’t say something permanently hurtful just because you’re temporarily upset. It only takes a few moments to hurt someone with our words, but it can take years to repair the damage. Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out; think how you would feel if they were said to you.

Don’t mix bad words with your bad mood. You’ll have many opportunities to change a mood, but no opportunity to replace the words you spoke. Speak only when you feel your words are better than your silence. You never know how long your words will stay with someone, long after you’ve forgotten them. Just because you’re free to say whatever you want doesn’t mean that you always should!

Lastly, tomorrow you’ll have to live with the things you said. Think before you speak!

At Virginia TaeKwonDo, we teach more than martial arts. We try to teach kids and adults how to be good citizens. To learn more about the classes we teach in Chesapeake, give us a call at 757-558-9869 or contact us.

Fear (Part 2)

In the previous blog, we discussed how fear is a natural human emotion in someone facing imminent danger. There are two instinctive reactions to fear: flight or fight. In this second blog on fear, we will dive deeper into our response to fear.


What is “flight adrenaline” and what does it do to us?

Flight adrenaline (norepinephrine) is a hormone that’s secreted by the adrenal gland when a human being – or virtually any animal, but specifically mammals – anticipates danger. Flight adrenaline greatly increases our awareness and alertness. 

In addition to making us considerably more alert and sensitive to our immediate surroundings, it also increases our peripheral awareness. To put it simply, it opens up our senses to detect danger. It allows – or actually forces us – to tune in to danger and/or the possibility of danger.

Flight adrenaline fine tunes our receptive and responsive abilities. It especially increases our desire and our ability to avoid danger because there is normally less risk in avoiding danger than in confronting it.

There’s an old Zen parable that best illustrates the distinction between these two reflexes:

A Zen master out for a walk with one of his students pointed out a fox chasing a rabbit.

“According to an ancient fable,” the master said, “the rabbit will get away from the fox.”

“Not so,” replied the student. “The fox is faster.”

“But the rabbit will elude him,” insisted the master.

“Why are you so certain?” asked the student.

“Because,” answered the master, “the fox is running for his dinner and the rabbit is running for his life.”

What responses does flight adrenaline cause in humans? 

Flight adrenaline (norepinephrine) signals us to be ready to run. It also enables us to run earlier and much faster than normal. That’s because, again, we are much better off to avoid danger than to confront it. In other words, it’s better to flee than to fight. Whether you believe it or not, we can actually run much faster when afraid.

What is “fight adrenaline” and how does it affect us? 

Fight adrenaline (epinephrine) is an adjacent hormone also secreted by the medulla section of the adrenal gland. Epinephrine, however, works in many ways almost entirely opposite of flight adrenaline. It decreases our peripheral senses and actually focuses, or tunnels, our perceptions and responses.

Fight adrenaline not only triggers our emergency senses but also our emergency reflexes to aid us whenever we cannot, do not or will not avoid danger. It makes us quicker and stronger, assets that we sorely need to confront and meet danger. In addition, fight adrenaline greatly increases our pain threshold anywhere from mild to superhuman, just as it can our strength. It also increases our dysfunctional override capacity: the ability to resist and even aggress after incurring physical damage. It can allow us to function despite a dislocated joint, broken bones, etc.; after the breath has been knocked out of us; or even when we have been knocked almost unconscious!

How can you best describe the differences between flight and fight adrenaline? 

Here’s the best analogy. Flight adrenaline is what rabbits have 99.99% of the time. Fight adrenaline is what grizzly bears are imbued with 99.99% of the time. Only the rarest of rabbits, in the rarest of instances, will fight. Even in the most extreme cases – when cornered and being eaten alive – rabbits will simply acquiesce into shock or continue their attempt to escape.

The grizzly rarely thinks of avoiding danger, much less running from it. Grizzlies have been filmed attacking automobiles! They normally only run to catch and/or attack a meal but very rarely to escape. When they do run to escape, it’s only from conditioned reflexes such as to run from men with dogs and rifles, but quite often, not even then.

Each human being also has a certain proportional amount of rabbit and grizzly reflexes, obviously in vastly different degrees per individual. The proportion depends completely upon a person’s inherited genetic DNA dispersal. If your natural tendency is more toward a flight response, you can train yourself to be more of a fighter. Sometimes flight is better depending on the scenario, but with martial arts training, you can learn to fight when necessary as well.

To learn more about TaeKwonDo, Jiu-Jitsu and other martial arts training that we teach in Chesapeake, give us a call at 757-558-9869 or contact us.

Fear (Part 1)

Fear is a natural human emotion that causes a person who’s facing imminent danger to have one of two completely opposite – but mutually instinctive – reactions. You either run away from the danger to totally avoid it, or you confront it head-on. This is the “Flight or Fight” reflex.

Fear is a subject of particular importance to martial artists, yet one that has been inadequately addressed. No matter how much martial arts you learn or how proficient you become at it, if the time comes to face a genuine life-threatening situation, you will experience the two-edged sword of fear – fight or flight – and will be forced to exercise one or the other. When a person thinks they are being threatened, typically the person’s heart pounds like a jackhammer, and one becomes short of breath, sometimes almost to the point of hyperventilation. There is nausea, often described as “butterflies,” in the stomach. Some individuals experience an inability to control their bowels. The degree of emotional and physical intensity varies with the person.

As undesirable as all these powerful symptoms may sound, they are actually indicators that the body is ready to perform at its highest level. World-class athletes and people who freeze from terror under stress both experience the same series of physiological reactions. What determines how successful the outcome will be is how rapidly the individual is able to either retain or regain control. Fear is stimulus-specific.

There are people who manifest few, if any, of the usual biochemical reactions, as cited above, to what are traditionally considered life-threatening circumstances. They are considered “fearless.” Yet what would be considered overwhelming stress varies drastically from person to person. Although considered fearless by most of the world, some Navy SEALs readily admit to being scared before every mission, gunfight, firefight or battle.

So what exactly is fear? The dictionary defines fear as “an emotion of alarm and agitation caused by the expectation and realization of danger.” However, a topic as important as fear requires a far more technical elaboration. This technical analysis is essential to your full understanding.

A medical dictionary informs us that fear is “a somatic (part of the body) disturbance or expression of anxiety (stress), neurosis (nerves) or an anxious psychotic (mental disturbance), which may stimulate hyperthyroidism, an excessive condition of glandular secretion by the thyroid. This includes an injection into our system of a hyperadrenal, another glandular secretion of hormones, chief among which, and this is important, are norepinephrine and epinephrine – “flight” and “fight” adrenaline, respectively. This common human condition is what is known as the “Flight or Fight” reflex (or Flight or Fight “Instinct” or “Response”).

In the upcoming series, we will explore the many aspects of fear in a question-and-answer format and how to train to overcome it.

To learn more about our martial arts training in Chesapeake, call 757-558-9869 or contact us.

Learning Leadership

I think team sports are great, but are they teaching leadership? Because there is no cultural emphasis on or education on leadership, some aspiring leaders in these sports lack foundation in their own character development. What is the use of seeking to be the best team without the means to become better people?

Have you ever seen a bad loser before? What about a bad winner? In our martial arts program, not only do we teach the principles of being the best person you can be, but we also teach leadership education.

When you recommend our program to others and they say, “Johnny is in baseball,” or “Susie is in volleyball,” ask them, “What kind of leadership training are they getting?” How are they being the best person they can be by playing these sports?

Most coaches of team sports focus on developing the particular skills needed for the team to win. You need an education that not only teaches you a skill but also teaches you to be someone who achieves greatness with honor and humility, who naturally earns the respect of those whom he/she serves and leads. That’s what we do. In fact, THAT’S ALL WE DO!

If you are interested in getting yourself or your child involved in a sport that builds leadership skills, give us a call at 757-558-9869 or contact us. We have martial arts classes for all ages and abilities in Chesapeake.

Telling the Truth

On my first ship, USS FORRESTAL (CV-59), I worked in Weapons Department. Being a Seaman Recruit, your duty watch is less than glamorous. For a year I got to climb down vertical ladders and check the security of the Weapons Magazines (places where we keep the ordnance). This is very important because if somebody did gain access they could do some serious damage to the ship if not sink it. You would complete your rounds and then report back to Aviation Ordnance Control Station (AOCS) to report your findings. “All Secure” was the response 99.9% of the time.

One time the AOCS First Class sent a guy down to one of the magazines to put a note on it that just said, “Roving Security – Bring this note back to AOCS.” I wasn’t on watch when this happened but working for the Gun Boss, I heard about it the next day. The sailor came back and reported “All Secure.” When asked if he was sure that he checked all the magazines, the sailor said, “Of course Petty Officer Ratliff.” At that time the AO1 took the sailor to the access trunk and they both climbed down two decks (see the picture) and looked at the note posted on the WTD (water tight door). Needless to say that sailor was in BIG trouble.

USS Forrestal Navy Ship

If this sailor had the COURAGE to tell the truth, he probably wouldn’t have gotten into so much trouble. He learned a valuable lesson that day….and so did I. Sometimes life throws you these circumstances to see if you will use your INTEGRITY to tell the truth. This says a lot about your character and HONOR, which is doing the right thing all the time, even when no one is watching.

I sometimes do this while in class. I know that someone is talking and then I ask the question, “Jeremy, were you talking?” and wait for the response. If they say, “Yes, sir,” then I just ask them to be quiet or have them do five pushups. If they say, “No, sir.” Of course I have to ask again and if the response is the same then I make an example out of them by calling them out.

It is a little embarrassing for the student to be caught in a lie in front of their fellow students, but it serves as a warning to have COURAGE and tell the truth, even when you know you might get in trouble. This student is less likely to lie to me in the future, and he has shown other students what not to do. Wise is the man who learns from his mistakes. Wisest is the man who learns from other’s mistakes.

At Virginia TaeKwonDo, we try to teach more than just martial arts. We also want to teach children (and adults) to be truthful people, full of integrity and honor. If you are interested in the classes we offer, please give us a call at 757-558-9869 or contact us.