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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Cracked Pot

The Cracked Pot
Author Unknown

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots was perfectly made and never leaked. The other pot had a crack in it and by the time the water bearer reached his master's house it had leaked much of it's water and was only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you." "Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?" "I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, God will use our flaws to grace his table. In God's great economy, nothing goes to waste. Don't be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them, and you too can be the cause of beauty. Know that in our weakness we find our strength

Saturday, August 28, 2010


“True victory is self victory”
-Moreihi Ueshiba

Sometimes the biggest battles we face are not against an attacker, they are against ourselves. It is difficult to change or even just to admit we need to change something in our life. I am not talking about perfection; no one ever reaches that point. But I am talking about excellence. We can all strive for that goal and achieve it. Our excellence is probably not going to be the same as the person next door’s excellence. We are all meant for a purpose and that is with that purpose in mind we must strive toward excellence.

So how do we achieve this excellence? First we need to keep an open mind and to be able to learn from our mistakes. Remember, it’s only a mistake if you cannot learn from it, thus it should really be re-named “learning tools”.
I was reminded of this yesterday. I was privileged enough to be able to train with the Ramsey County SWAT team. They were rehearsing “live scenarios” where they simulate real life situations and drill themselves to respond the best way possible. Perfect practice makes perfect. Competence breeds confidence.
One of the new team member made a rookie mistake during one of the exercise. As the team trainer was explaining to him why things went bad and he got shot, and how he can remedy the situation in the future, the rookie kept making excuses why he reacted the way he did. I don’t think he even listened to what the instructor was telling him. He was justifying why he was right. He got shot. How right could he have been? He should have quieted down, admitted he did something that did not work well and learn a way to re-do the exercise with better end results. Now when he will be put under pressure the only thing his brain will remember is the lack of competence he has shown in the past, his lack of success in completing the task. He will hesitate and perhaps put his life or his team member’s lives on the line. Now this may be an extreme example but how many times do we put our own life on the line? Our happiness, our health?
If you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you WILL be getting the same results. It’s insane to think anything would change. If you find something in your life that is not working (notice I did not say “wrong”… because simply there are things that work and things that do not work), then you need to keep an open mind and find out why these things are not working and substitute them for things that do work.
We need to keep fighting our battles. We need to keep striving toward excellence. We need to start by winning the small daily battles we all face. Kind of like eating an elephant… one bite at the time.

We need to achieve the true victory.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Never Give up: Inspirational video

If your life is on the line, never give up, as long as you have a breath left in you...FIGHT AND NEVER GIVE UP !!!
And remember: don't just focus on the problem but focus on a solution instead. Be creative, unconventional methods are awesome. And never forget that running is a great self defense

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I was picking up my lovely daughter from her job at an outdoor mall yesterday. Walking on the sidewalk I could see in the distance 3 young kids (around 14 yo) on their bikes, terrorizing all the shoppers. They were driving straight at them, pushing them around, making them side step and scream in panic. It was easy to see they were laughing and totally enjoying themselves. They were still about 30 feet away from me. I was not buying what they were selling. I was still very relaxed and calm but I had that look on my face and a body attitude that screamed “Honey, I am not moving out of your way, you try and you will be sorry”. I never changed my path, I just kept on walking toward my objective. The first one looked at me and skidded sideways (he actually fell off his bike doing so), apologizing. The next one stopped in front of me and quickly moved to the side “Sorry mam. Let me get out of your way.” The last one went WAY out of my way and said “How are you doing today mam?”. Wise decisions on their part.
I displayed “stage presence”. Even being young and unschooled they could immediately recognized the fact that messing with me was a bad idea.
This is the kind of attitude you need to develop and display. It’ not about acting like a bad ass or like you are better than anyone else. It’s about acting like you have confidence in yourself. It’s that calmness and peacefulness that shines through not only your face but your body, your walk, every one of your movements. Now this does not mean you should walk that way toward danger thinking you are invincible.
Observe people walking around, actors on TV, see which ones have that stage presence, see which ones definitely don’t. See which ones are begging to get picked on. Same stage presence works in every area of your life as well. Who gets hired for the job? Who gets rejected for asking someone out? Stage presence can be very subtle but people can definitely feel it, see it.

People will see you as you see yourself.

You don’t want to be a victim, you will greatly reduce your chances by not looking and acting like one.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Red Sun - Charles Bronson vs. Toshiro Mifune

Good self defense skills from Mifune. There is a reason he does not use fists. It's very difficult to touch him with just brute strength.
Flow like water... use the other person's strength against him

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle.
-Philiphs Brooks

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


“Any person capable of angering you, becomes your master. He can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.”

Who is in control or your emotions? Yourself? Or have you given that privilege to someone else. Your emotions are the rudder of your being. It can steer you into dangerous zones or in clear waters. But you have to man the rudder yourself. Why are you giving the helm to someone else? How do they know where you even want to go? Half the time we don’t even like the people we are handing this control over to.

You have to (well you should) bathe and brush your teeth every day, you have to work out on a regular basis to stay in shape, you have to eat and drink water every day to stay alive. Same with control, this is something you need to exercise everyday and not take it for granted. If you sit by and hope it will happen all by itself, you are acting like the guy who is sitting on the couch eating potato chips and drinking beer while watching an exercise program on TV. I am pretty sure he won’t lose weight and get in shape that way.
Get off the mental couch and exercise your self control!!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010


Another run. We will always have our runs, might as well have a little fun with it and learn something in the process of getting in better shape. Twice as much for your money.
This time Kasey gave me a 20 seconds head start and I was to hide and ambush him. Then I would give him a head start and he would ambush me. OK not quite as stressful since this time no pain was involved, more of a “gotcha”, I shot (or stabbed) you and killed you. Either that or my stress level around Kasey is normally high and I am just getting used to it. It was a great insight into my skill level for me. I noticed that since the trail is convoluted and treacherous I am always looking down, spotting rocks, roots, branches and mud puddles. Seems like a smart idea to not fall and get hurt. But you know what that should be called? Prevention? Being careful? Nope, it is just a habit, and a dumb one at that. I was so busy looking down at the ground that I was not paying attention to potential bad things that could sneak up on me. Be it an attacker, an animal gone rogue or something falling from the sky…. Anything is possible but it would take me by surprise enough that all I would have left is on the spot reaction and defense. And yet I am pretty sure that my throat is getting sore from preaching “awareness” and “avoidance”. Prevention is ALWAYS better than self defense. Do you want to bet your life that your skills are the greatest? Where was my awareness? I soon learned that while running on a fairly straight of way I could look 20 feet ahead of me and still stay safe from tripping or sliding. I could see the obstacles that I was about to run over or under and avoid them. Still my peripheral vision was good enough to see things in front of me and around me. On the tighter part of the trail I could sweep my gaze in a regular pattern: right left down and up. I would be then be aware of so much more things around me. Not only the rocks and roots that could make me trip, not only the mud puddle that could make me slip but the large men trying to attack or shoot me. Granted I have been on these runs hundreds of time and outside of Kasey I have never been attacked but being aware of potential danger will prevent me from ever being taken by surprise. I was creating a new habit. A much healthier one. One that will serve me not only for self defense purpose but for life skills in general. If I can develop that good habit during a casual run how much more awareness will I gain when I am walking through a place where I truly need all the awareness I can muster. I have raised my natural level of awareness to a higher standard. Now when I need to use it, it will not have to be raised from ground zero. When you are more aware of things about to go bad (be it self defense or work or relationship) it is so much easier to prevent, fix or avoid bad things to happen when you see them coming. Waiting for damage control after you ran head first into trouble is not the smartest or easiest thing to do.
Oh and just for the record.. Kasey slipped and fell and that same stupid rock that got me last week…. heheheh

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I loved my grandpa and I enjoyed every minute of our time together for the few years I was able to spend with him.
When I was 5 yo I went to visit him with my older brother. He said something very profound I have never forgotten. Looking at my big brother and he told him: “Be where you’re at boy!”. Of course at the time I broke into giggles, “Grandpa, you are so silly. Where else is going to be”. He sat me upon his knee, laughed a good old belly laugh and said “Lise, one day you’ll get it”.

It took many years but I did “get it”. Be where you are at. Be in the moment. The day, the hour, the minute you are living in now, it will never come back again. You need to make it the best day, hour, minute. Whatever it is you are doing, focus on this one thing and do it in the best way you can possibly do it. Sounds like an easy thing to do but the opposite is what happens the most. You are busy with a task and admit it, you are really thinking about something else. “what will I do for supper”, “where am I going to go out Friday night”, “I need to say [fill in the blanks] to my husband/wife/kids”, “I can’t forget to go to the bank”… You get the idea.

Planning ahead is great and necessary. Sit down and make your plans. When you are busy going through the steps of accomplishing the said plan, focus on each step. Do it as perfectly as you are capable of doing it. Get all you can get out of that day, hour, minute. Be where you’re at!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010


Kasey and I go running out on woodsy trails, designed for hikers, runners and mountain bikers. It’s a great place to get a good workout with all their convoluted trails. Up and down, sharp curves, rocks and tree trunks for obstacles, trying to avoid the mountain bikers racing around the corners. Never a boring moment and anything but an easy run.
Last Saturday, we were getting ready to set out on the trails when he looked at me and said: “You have a 10 seconds head start then I am coming after you. If I catch you I will kill you. Go. NOW.” It’s amazing the amount of adrenaline his statement alone released. Now while Kasey is a friend and I know he would not kill me (I trust him with my life) I was very well aware that if he caught me, there WOULD be pain involved. And when I say “if” I really meant “when”. If this strapping young officer could not catch a little old women half his size, he doesn’t deserve his badge. I don’t know if you have ever seen Kasey or been on the receiving end of his attacks but let me tell you, it’s not all that pleasant. Trying to outrun a highly trained and skilled SWAT operator as him IS nothing short of stressful.

I kicked it in high gear right off the bat. The adrenaline was flowing, my heart racing. The fight and flight response was in full bloom. When your heart rate reaches above 175 bpm, your capabilities start to disintegrate.… loss of peripheral vision (tunnel vision), loss of fine motor skills, loss of cognitive function. While I knew that technically my life was not in danger (we can all survive pain or injuries), the sprinting alone increased my heart rate and brought me well above that 175bpm mark. After about 1/3 miles I was starting to slow down and I could hear his footsteps catching up with me. I started to look for a place to possibly hide … nothing. No dead branches to use as a weapon. My mind was not seeing the other things I could have used…. rocks, sand in the eyes. Soon I came around a corner and I was facing a steep incline covered with a large flat rock. Yup the typical horror/ thriller movie cliché happened… I slipped and fell. Me!!! I DESPISE those scenes where they ALL fall down, twist an ankle, trip… come on…. All you need is to run… can’t you handle it!!! But I see how easy it is to lose your fine motor skills, your balance when you are under a high stress. This is where training and specifically training with stress inoculation comes in handy.
This was a great way to add reality to training, how to turn a basic run with the potential of being boring into something exciting and most importantly a learning experience. It showed where my skills are lacking and what I need to train harder with.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Self defense or assault?

The new trend in SD is to teach people balls out SD, kill your opponent. He dared to attack me, he will be crushed. You threw him down, knocked him out, now stomp on his neck or head to make sure he doe not get back up. I got news for you, when a guy is down for the count and you stomp on his head, this is NOT SD, this is considered an aggravated assault or possibly a murder. You have just became the guy you feared. If you are not a law enforcement officer, you HAVE A DUTY TO RETREAT. This is the law. If there is a way to get away, you HAVE to take it. Running away is an awesome SD
Now this being said there are times when you cannot get away, it is physically impossible. This is when you NEED to use good SD skills. But do you need to kill the other person? Maybe, maybe not. If you learn to take control of the situation, this will give you time to realize if your attacker does need to have lethal force applied to him. Remember, the goal of ANY good self defense is to keep you unharmed, NOT to inflict punishment or to get vindicated.
Understanding the kind of violent conflict you are trapped in will determine what your response will be. Taking Rory and Marc’s class (or reading their books, see link at the bottom) will help you being able to differentiate. What they teach is very enlightening and will prove to be life saving.
Don’t be afraid to protect yourself when you need to but remember the best protection is avoidance. It’s much easier to take care of your well being when you don’t get into violent conflict. Stay away from places where violence occurs, use common sense and most of all don’t let your pride get yourself in trouble. Is it really worth getting hurt just because you perceived you were insulted? Notice I said “perceived” because when it comes down to it, it is your choice to get offended or not.


Friday, August 6, 2010

What is a fighting spirit and why do some people have it and some people lack it. I would say that fighting spirit is a desire to win to overcome, but everyone wants to win . The difference is that someone with true fighting spirit is prepared to do what it takes to achieve that goal while others have decided that the price to pay is too high. So what brings that fighting spirit out of people? Is it the goal that drives them? Is it some basic instinct, is it genetic or physical attributes, circumstances, environment? What makes a warrior? What turns on that torch that burns inside of a warrior's heart?
And by "fighting" I do not only limit this to a physical battle but a mental, emotional "fighter" is just as much a warrior. Battles can and need to be fought daily in real life.
(opinions welcome)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Can you take this quizz???

You don’t have to actually answer the questions. Just read the list straight through and you’ll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America Contest.

4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. They are not second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school…

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson: the people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money or the most awards.
They are the ones that care

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Find a good teacher

The teachers that help you the most are those who make you think the most. To be given a steak when you are hungry is great, to be taught how to hunt so you satisfy your own hunger is awesome. To be taught to keep your pantry filled so you never have to go hungry is even better.
How does this relate to SD (since this is a SD site): the teacher giving you a steak is basically providing you with a bodyguard. While it’s great and it works, what happen if you are attacked when you are by yourself? The second will teach you certain moves that have a very high percentage of success. This is great and a good step toward being self sufficient. The third will teach you principles that will serve you in any set of circumstances.
The aim of education should be to teach us how to think, rather than what to think.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” -Sun Tzu

Good preparation is the surest way to victory, in everything you do.

How do expect winning a de-escalation if you do not understand the human psyche and are yourself trapped in anger.

How do you expect to knock someone out if you have never thrown a punch or a kick

How do you expect out running an attacker if you never practice your cardio

How do expect escaping a tight hold, a grip or a bad position if you never train in the counter moves to it

How do expect getting a job if you stay in bed all day

How do you expect to eat if you don’t procure food and prepare it first.

Make a plan, decide on the appropriate steps and start walking the path. If YOU don’t make plans for your life, someone else will. And you may not like where they are taking you.

“Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?” -Sun Tzu

Monday, August 2, 2010

Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.
Chuck Norris counted to infinity—twice.
The chief export of Chuck Norris is Pain.
Chuck Norris doesn’t read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.
When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.
Chuck Norris can lead a horse to water AND make it drink.

When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down.
Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door.
Chuck Norris is his own line at the DMV.
When Chuck Norris does division, there are no remainders.
Chuck Norris can blow bubbles with beef jerky.
Chuck Norris can get Blackjack with just one card.
Chuck Norris puts the laughter in manslaughter.
Chuck Norris makes onions cry!

But since none of are Chuck Norris, I recommend that we train hard and well in a consistent manner