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Be Inspired My Friend! Bruce Lee Remix

I’ve been in a lot of fights.  I’m not talking professional career here.  I’m talking elementary school.

There were multiple reasons but mainly it was because I really stood out.  I was a white kid living in black neighborhoods.  I changed schools quite a bit too so I was constantly the “new kid”.  Not to mention I was a skinny, geeky looking dude who was a physical threat to no one.  That might not seem like a bad thing but the places where I spent my early childhood were pretty violent, even my school teachers would hit you.  Not being tough looking sucked.

One of the things that I learned early on was that if someone said something, even a little bit derogatory about you, you basically had to punch them in the head.  Even if you thought that maybe they could kick your ass.  If you didn’t get physical, it never stopped.  Fighting kind of did solve everything for me.

If I had to fight then I had to become a better fighter.  There weren’t any gyms or martial arts schools for me to go to and there wasn’t any youtube.com either.  The school library was my only option.  The school libraries where I lived sucked.  I would always go to the sports section and look for karate books.  If there were any available they were usually crappy looking, hand drawn, black and white illustrations.

Then one day, I came across a book on the making of Enter the Dragon, a film by martial arts legend Bruce Lee.  Not only were there pictures of Bruce Lee actually kicking and punching but they were in full color.  I could actually learn something from this book, I said to myself.

The more I flipped through the book, the more I wanted to be Bruce Lee.  A skinny dude like Bruce Lee could kick a lot of ass and I was inspired.  There were many times where I imagined I was him, practicing his footwork and style in my bedroom.

I looked at that book over and over until I wore it out.  I practiced constantly and even awarded myself an imaginary green belt!  The way I figured it was that I was better than a white belt but not as good as a black belt.  Green belt was the middle belt from what I could tell in my karate books.

Gettin My Bruce Lee On!
Photo taken by Zack Lynch from mmaphotography.com during one of my fights.

But all of that practice paid off and I was getting pretty good.  Except the day I threw my first kick in a fight after school.  It was a disaster.  Not only did I fall down when I kicked the kid but kicking was considered “sissy shit” where I lived.  I was picked on about that kick until I actually knocked the wind out of a kid in a fight with it.  That story may make it to my blog someday.

Anyway, my family eventually moved to an area where they actually had a school that taught Bruce Lee’s martial art, Jun Fan Gung Fu – Jeet Kune Do.  It was legit too.  Sifu Kevin Seaman ran it.  He was certified to teach Lee’s art by Guro Dan Inosanto.  Guro Inosanto was not only a good friend and training partner of Bruce Lee but he was also one of Lee’s martial arts Instructors as well.  It was a dream come true.

Now there were 8 of us living in a house at that point and you didn’t get things like martial arts lessons.  It just wasn’t financially feasible for my Mom.  It didn’t really matter to me that she couldn’t afford it, I was already hustling night crawlers on the corner, gum and candy at school, newspapers in my neighborhood, and anything else I could get my hands on for a profit.  I paid the tuition myself at 12 years old.

I eventually became a certified Instructor with direct martial arts lineage to Bruce Lee.  Bruce Lee certified Dan Inosanto who certified Kevin Seaman who certified me.  I’m currently one of Sifu Kevin’s highest ranked Instructors and oversee 4 martial arts schools across New York State ( CNY MMA ).

Finding that book all those years ago was the tiny spark of inspiration that I needed to discover that I could do anything that I put my mind, body, and soul into.  I was inspired to improve and keep moving forward despite my environment or my situation.  It’s a very valuable lesson for me.  Maybe it will be for you too.

This video below is a mix of Bruce Lee’s cinema fighting and his philosophy put to music.  It’s so good.  Check into it.

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My First Film: In The Fight Documentary Part 2 Released

My First Film: In The Fight Documentary – Episode 1 Released

In this episode of In The Fight we follow amateur boxer, Phil Parrish, as he attempts to beat the odds and win the Olympic Boxing Last Chance Qualifier Tournament in Cincinatti, OH. Will he overcome the impossible and win the tournament or is it too much too soon for this young boxer?

Written and directed by Erik Charles and Bobby Gorham, In The Fight takes you behind the scenes as people from all walks of life battle their demons, overcome obstacles, and meet personal challenges to accomplish their goals.

In the end, we learn that success is not the smoothest road to travel but what we become during the journey is what matters.

I’m really proud of how this turned out and hope that you enjoy it. Please leave us some feedback after you’ve watched it. Enjoy!

6 Ways To Coach Your Child To Better Behavior

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I’m not a perfect father.  Ha.  I know, “way to establish some credibility right out of the gates.”  But I don’t try to be perfect father because I never will be.  My goal as a father is not to be perfect but to teach my kids how to deal with life and make good decisions when I’m not around.  Life isn’t always perfect.  However, I am a parent.  I brought people into this world and I have an obligation to teach them how to do the right things and make good decisions.  You have the same responsibility to your kids.

My kids behaving properly, for now. 🙂

At CNY Mixed Martial Arts we get quite a few parents that come in and want help with their child’s behavior problem.  I hear a myriad of excuses as to why their child is misbehaving.  My son has ADHD.  My daughter has a learning disability.  The mother doesn’t help out.  The father doesn’t help out.  It goes on and on.

You may not realize this but the world doesn’t care why your child is misbehaving.  No judge is going to let little Johnny off the hook for speeding, shoplifting, (insert your own issue here), because he has ADHD.  He isn’t in trouble for having ADHD.  He’s in trouble for not managing his behavior properly.  If your children aren’t behaving the way they should be they are going to face escalating consequences as they move on in their lives.

You might be asking yourself, “why should you listen to this guy?”  You don’t necessarily have to.  As matter of fact, you should read this and determine for yourself it makes sense in your situation.  Then do what you think is best.

Before we get to any techniques though, I want you to understand something.  Your child does not want to misbehave.  You might think they get off on it but they don’t.  Negative behavior elicits negative feelings, emotions, and unhappiness.  Your child wants to be happy and so do you.  Here’s how to make that happen more often.

Let’s use an example of your child doesn’t want to pick up their room.  Because they don’t want to do this, they become verbally abusive.  The reason your child is exhibiting this behavior is because he or she thinks it will get them out of picking up their room.  It’s probably worked for them in the past either for the same chore or for having to do dishes or homework or whatever.  What your child is telling you with this type of behavior is not that they are a bad kid but that they don’t know any other way to handle this other than to be verbally abusive.  This doesn’t excuse their abusive behavior and yes, there should be consequences.

You can tell your child to stop doing something until you’re blue in the face.  You can “ground” them for weeks or months at a time, but if you don’t teach your child what to do instead of the negative, abusive behaviors you are just going to see more of those behaviors and you’re going to become more and more frustrated and exhausted.

James Lehman, MSW, an expert on child psychology and author of and excellent program called The Total Transformation, calls these “replacement behaviors.”  You can say “don’t yell at me” but that doesn’t teach them what to say or how to say the right thing.  The negative behavior that your child is displaying is successful behavior.  Like I said, it’s worked for them in the past.  Telling them not to do something that has been successful in getting them out of certain chores and/or responsibilities in the past will not work.  You have to teach them a replacement behavior that will help them deal with their responsibilities in a better way.

So what do you do?  Here’s some ideas:

1)  First of all, talk with your child after things have settled.  It won’t do you any good to have a conversation when they are being abusive or when you are angry.  It also won’t do you any good to ignore their irresponsible or abusive behavior.  It will rear it’s ugly head until your child learns a better way.

2)  Acknowledge the fact that “xyz chore” is not the absolute most fun thing to do.  It is however a responsibility that they must take care of before they go off and do whatever they feel is the most fun thing to do.  Whining, complaining, and being abusive will not be successful in your family anymore.

3) Explain that being abusive is only going to take them away from the things they want to really do.  Abusive and irresponsible behavior has consequences and your child needs to know specifically what those consequences are.

In the case of my kids being verbally abusive to anyone (and this includes texting), they lose their phone privileges until they can demonstrate respectful verbal communication for an entire week.  If they slip up during that week, it’s starts over.  The punishment will last until they demonstrate acceptable behavior for a week.  They know this and I have very few issues with them being verbally abusive.

4)  Remind them that not everything they have to do in life is going to be something that they really want to do.  That doesn’t mean we can avoid it and/or abuse others to get out of it. Reinforce the fact that being responsible and handling things properly has zero punishment.  There are no consequences for doing the right thing and doing what you’re supposed to do.

5)  Help them with replacement behaviors that are acceptable to your family.  Teach them what to do next time they fell angry, disappointed, upset, helpless, etc.  What is the behavior you would like them to exhibit in those situations?  You need to teach your child another way of handling things instead of swearing or screaming at you or others.

6)  Encourage you child when you see improvements and when they slip up and revert to their old behaviors.  What I mean is suppose your child loses his temper and says something abusive.  Instead of getting angry be the coach that you have to be here.  Say something along the lines of, “I know you can handle this situation better than you are right now.  We’ve talk about it and I’ve seen you do it.  Let’s handle this properly.”

Yes, your child will “slip up” and go back to their old behavior from time to time.  They may even challenge you.  Especially if abusive behavior has been going on for any length of time.  But stand your ground and you will see their behavior change for the long term and they will love you for teaching them a better way.

NOTE:  This post is not intended to be a substitute for family counseling.

Your Ultimate Creation

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Colonel Sanders is the official face of KFC, a...

Colonel Sanders is one of the most recognized celebrities in the world.

Let me ask you something, when was the last time you worked on YOURSELF?  When was the last time that you truly did something just for you?  It’s been a while hasn’t it?

Today, I’d like to challenge you to do something for yourself.  It doesn’t have to be an elaborate exercise or a grandiose vacation. Enjoy a book that has nothing to do with your career.  Sit on your porch and have a nice cup of tea (Golden Monkey, if you want a recommendation).  Get a workout in that makes you feel good about yourself.  Start that business that you’ve always wanted to start, check out Entrepreneur Magazine if you need some ideas.  It’s not too late.  You can re-create who you are into who you want to be at any time you decide to and today is the day.

Colonel Sanders started franchising Kentucky Fried Chicken, KFC, when he was 65 years old.  He received his first Social Security check in the amount of $105 and quickly realized he could not live on that meager amount each month.  He didn’t sit back and say, “life is over.”  He decided instead of retiring at 65, he would start a whole new career!  So he traveled across the country by car from restaurant to restaurant, cooking batches of chicken for restaurant owners and their employees. By the time he was 77 he was a multi-millionaire and had more than 600 KFC outlets.

Your ultimate creation is you.  Do yourself a favor… do something just for you today.  You deserve it. You’ll find it to be among the most rewarding acts you’ll ever engage in.

“The most creative act you will ever undertake is the act of creating yourself.”
Deepak Chopra, M.D., Author on mind-body medicine and spirituality.

Coaching Butterflies

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Monarch butterflies

Get those butterflies in formation!

I’ll admit it … I get butterflies in my stomach whenever my students compete.  I know what the people that I train are capable of.  I know they can do well.  I know they can win.  They show it in practice and they go out and prove it every weekend.

I still get anxious though.  It’s not because my reputation as a trainer is on the line.  It’s not because having successful competitors is good for business.  It’s because I want them to do well.  I want them to prove all the doubters wrong.  They way I know they can.  I want them to erase all the failures in their life with this one victory.  Even if it’s only erased for one night.

So what do I do about these butterflies?  Nervousness doesn’t go away.  You can’t try to block it out or forget about it.  It’s still there.  What I do, and coach my competitors to do as well, is focus that nervous energy, channel it towards a positive outcome.   That energy can be controlled and directed.

I have to perform as a coach.  I have to be aware and focused.  I have to “read” what’s going on with my competitor and make sure they are focused on the task at hand.  There’s an old saying that goes something like, “It’s ok to have butterflies in your stomach however to be effective you have to get them to fly in formation.”

My butterflies are in formation.  Time to roll!

Unlikely Hero: Randy “The Wolf” Smith To Make Bellator Debut

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This Saturday will mark another milestone in the career of CNY MMA student and coach, Randy “The Wolf” Smith.  He’ll be making his big league MMA debut against Azunna Anyanwu at Bellator 44.

The Wolf landing a big right hand. Image via sherdog.com

It’s not easy getting on the big shows and for many, that’s impressive by itself.  What’s more impressive is that just a few short years ago Smith could barely get through one round, let alone have any kind of opportunity to compete as an athlete on this level.

The Wolf is one of those students I love to talk about.  He’s an unlikely hero. The guy no “experts” think can win but does all the time.  He didn’t come to CNY MMA with any kind of crazy athletic talent.  He didn’t roll in here with any kind of wrestling or boxing or kickboxing pedigree.  On the contrary, he was weighing in at 360+ pounds and had trouble controlling his own body weight.  His reasons for success are simple … he worked hard and he stuck with it.

His obstacles have been great (drugs, alcohol, jail, obesity, and more) but what he’s developed into in overcoming those obstacles has been greater.  He’s the guy you can’t help but root for.  He’s the hard working, blue collar type that comes to CNY MMA and does the best they can do.

The training camp for The Wolf’s upcoming fight has been rigorous.  He’s in shape, well prepared, focused, and ready to win. This Saturday at Bellator 44, you’re going to see the best Wolf you’ve ever seen.  I’m proud to be his trainer and his fan.  Saturday is our day!

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