Groundhog Day–Again

It’s Groundhog Day. Again. It always reminds me of the movie with Bill Murray where he finds himself reliving the same day over and over again. Repeating the same day and the same patterns drives him bonkers, until he sees a way of turning the situation to his advantage.

Quite simply, he changes his patterns, and magic happens. We all get stuck in habits and patterns that aren’t serving us well, and we end up getting stuck in a rut. The good news is that we can crawl out of that rut with just a few simple changes.

Here are a few tips that sound really easy and downright silly, but trust me, they work.

1). Sleep on the “wrong” side of the bed. It might sound strange, but it can give you an entirely different perspective on bedtime. You might even sleep better.

2). Change your morning routine. Instead of turning on the (ack!) news or checking your email, turn on some music instead. Give yourself the opportunity to enjoy the morning and wake up gently, rather than jarring yourself awake with a cattle prod.

3). Use your non-dominant hand to comb your hair, wash your face, and brush your teeth. This lights up your nervous system in a gentle way and makes you more alert, aware, creative, and curious.

4). Drive a different route when you drive to and from work. This increases your cognitive awareness, makes you a safer driver since you will be playing closer attention to your surroundings, and can even improve your reaction and reflexes.

5). Learn a new skill such as dance, music, writing, knitting, learn a new language, join a book club, etc.

And at least trying something (anything) new or different is certainly better than listening to loops of Sonny and Cher singing “I Got You, Babe.” Because, in my humble opinion, nothing could be sillier than that.

 

Be Aware, or Beware!

Last week I was honored to deliver my information packed, educational, motivational and interactive signature speech “Be Aware, or Beware” to the members of Rising Tide Business Network. I have decided to share a brief synopsis of the presentation as well as one key life lesson or take home point which was emphasized under each topic that was covered. Keep in mind, this is simply a sneak preview.

 BE AWARE…..OR BEWARE
I. Introduction:

My personal story, as well as first martial arts class and how my journey into the strange new world of men and martial arts began.

Life lesson and key point: I was stronger than I thought I was, and so are you. I firmly believe that there is an incredible amount of strength and power in each and every one of us, just waiting to be discovered.

II. Evade, Deflect, and Redirect

The first thing a brand new martial arts student learns is how to get out of the way of an  attack….evade. It’s the secret of the ninja disappearing act. All of the negative angst and energy goes right past you and back into your attacker. It’s beautiful to witness.

Life lesson and key point: Life is full of hits, and in a variety of different forms including physical, verbal, emotional,   and psychological. How we respond to them is imperative to our ability to survive, and thrive.

Evasion is just the first part of the secret. The entire secret is to evade, deflect, and redirect. This ninja secret is a valuable life skill and tool to keep you from getting drawn into pointless conflicts with family, colleagues, strangers, spouses, “friends,” etc.

*However, the second and third part of the secret does NOT apply to physical threats! Your number one goal is to get out of the way and run to safety.

III. Awareness and Attention

A distracted person is an easy target. And an easy target is exactly what perpetrators are looking for. The good news is that we can train our awareness and attention by making simple changes to our routine.

Life lesson and key point: It’s easy to develop new neural pathways which will develop a keen sense of awareness by making simple changes in our routine. When you continue to practice awareness, all of your senses will become more sensitive, which leads us to the next topic.

IV. Intention and Intuition.

Intention is a course of action that a person intends to complete. Perpetrators have an agenda, and they are committed to completing their chosen course of action. It’s actually possible to be able to read someone’s intention, which is another reason why practicing your awareness is so important. Conversely, it is possible for someone to read your intention as well. If you are committed to keeping yourself safe and do not present yourself as an easy target, a perpetrator can sense that as well, making you less attractive as a target.

Intuition is an immediate understanding of a situation without conscious thought. It is a sense of “knowing.” Intuition is rarely (if ever), wrong.

Life lesson and key point: The ability to read someone’s intention is not that difficult when you practice it, and you can train your intuition just as you train your awareness.

V. Body Language

Our body language speaks volumes, and communicates to the world what kind of day we’re having, what kind of person we are, how we feel about ourselves, and  even whether or not we are an easy target. It’s important to present ourselves with strength, confidence, and composure while we remain grounded, balanced, and flexible.

Life lesson and key point: When you learn how to stand, walk, and move like a ninja you will be grounded, balanced, confident and less attractive as a potential target.

VI. Self-Defense Tools, aka Weapons

Self-defense products can give you a false sense of security. They can also malfunction, or be totally ineffective if you are not thoroughly trained in how to use them. More important, any weapon you carry can be taken from you and used against you.

Life lesson and key point: A high-powered military or police grade flashlight is the best self-defense tool to have, along with taking frequent self-defense classes is the best way to keep yourself safe.

As I said, this is just a brief synopsis and example of my presentation. For more information or to book my services, please feel free to contact me. Stay safe, stay strong, and stay aware!

Be Aware or BEWARE: Simple Self-Defense for Everyone

If you have ever been concerned about your personal safety, or worried about how you would protect yourself in an unsafe or threatening situation, this event is for you!

Rising Tide Business Networking Group is hosting group member Cheryl Ilov, aka The FemiNinja, on Thursday, October 10th from 11:30-1:00.  Cheryl will share valuable ninja secrets, tips, and tricks to help keep you safe, strong, and confident in a variety of different situations.

In this fun, informative, and interactive event, you will learn simple skills that can be applied to every aspect of your life, not just your physical safety. This will include how to:

  • Avoid being a target.
  • Train your awareness.
  • Get out of the way of an attack.
  • Stand your ground and find you voice.
  • What to do if you can’t get away.
  • Apply your new-found skills to your business, relationships, health, fitness, finances, etc. The possibilities are endless!

This will NOT include any martial arts or self-defense techniques involving physical contact with another individual. However, a few simple movement patterns will be introduced which you can play with at the event and practice at home. Or you can simply observe, learn, and take it all in. Knowledge is power, and together we can make the world a safer place!

 

BIO: Cheryl Ilov is a second-degree black belt in an ancient Japanese martial art called Ninpo Tai Jutsu, the Art of the Ninja. She began her training at the tender young age of forty-seven, and ten years later became her teacher’s first female black belt. In twenty years of teaching, no female had ever achieved such a high rank. Cheryl is also an award-winning author, speaker, and host of The FemiNinja Project podcast.

 

 

 

 

Episode 9: Ninja Body Talk

The way you stand, walk and move communicates to the world what kind of person you are, and what kind of day you’re having. People pay attention to your body language more than you think they do, and it leaves a lasting first impression. Even more important is the fact that the way you carry yourself can make you a desirable target for a potential attacker. Or not.

Perpetrators are looking for an easy target. If you stand, walk, and move like a ninja, you present yourself as a strong, confident person, and less likely to be target for an attacker. Especially if you look like someone who would fight back. Attackers are bullies, and one thing they do not want is someone who looks like they would present a challenge.

Download this episode to discover how to step out in the world with strength and confidence, and how not to be a target for the bad guys out there. And then please share these tips with your friends, loved ones, and especially your children. Together we can make the world a safer place.

Secrets of a Middle-Aged Ninja

Secrets….we all have them. I probably have a few more than most. And many of them are secrets that I learned in my martial arts training. I’d love to share them all with you, but then you’d know too much. Besides, it might get me in deep trouble with the Secret Society of Ninjas. So, if you ever run into one of their members, please don’t let them know I have shared my secrets.

This first secret might be a little disappointing. Ninjas really aren’t fighters. We’re lovers. We love life, our families, our friends, our homes, and our communities. We want nothing more (and nothing less), than to simply live our lives in peace and harmony. Ninjas aren’t about war, or warfare. However, we are warriors. Wait a minute….doesn’t that sound contradictory?

It’s not. Because a true warrior has a heart of compassion. For life, for nature, and even for their enemies or those who wish to cause them harm. A warrior also has a playful spirit, and doesn’t take themselves too seriously, even when they are under attack, so to speak.

Patience is a virtue. Everyone knows that, and everybody gives it lip service, but a true warrior really embodies it, and incorporates it into their daily life. Considering our fast-paced modern world, as well as the “got to have it now” attitude, patience truly is a virtue as rare as hen’s teeth.

Above all, a warrior is honest. At least, they’re supposed to be. I have met a few who proclaim honesty and demand it of others, but not of themselves. Hmm, that hardly seems fair. But, that’s when you know they are not true warriors. And those who are just smile, and walk away. No sense in engaging in a confrontation over such a silly thing. A warrior knows how to avoid confrontation at all costs.

I have a lot more secrets up my sleeve. But, I think I’ll make like a ninja and disappear for now instead. I can always share them another time.

Feldenkrais, Survival, and Supernovas

I love the connection between martial arts and Feldenkrais. After all, Feldenkrais is based on martial arts, the art of movement, and the art of survival. Moshe Feldenkrais believed that all human beings were intended to not just survive, but to thrive in their environment. He also wanted to return to each person their human dignity. How beautiful is that?  

To have human dignity, you must be able to protect yourself and have strong personal boundaries. As a martial artist, I understand that, and I always integrate the principles of martial arts, self-defense, and survival skills into my Feldenkrais sessons. I get so passionate about Feldenkrais and the art of survival that many of my clients wanted to explore this connection at a deeper level, with practical application for daily life. Some of them even talked about trying some martial arts classes, but were worried about getting their heads knocked off by over-enthusiastic training partners. After being on the receiving end of some of those partners myself, I could certainly understand their concerns.

But I also understand how empowering the practice of martial arts can be, and I wanted to be able to offer that sense of empowerment to my clients without having them risk their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. I was at a loss, until I finally had a head-smacking moment as a light bulb went off in my head. Why not devote a two hour long class to Feldenkrais and the art of survival?

I chose one of my favorite Feldenkrais lessons titled “The Golden Ball.” It is a deliciously gentle but powerful lesson where you imagine a golden ball placed deep in your abdomen, somewhere between your pubic bone and your belly button. As the lesson progresses, you visualize the ball moving, rolling, sliding, and gliding as you move through the movement patterns.

Before we began the lesson, we started in traditional Feldenkrais-fashion with a body scan. However, instead of lying down and sensing our contact with the floor, we walked around my office and the long hallway outside of it to notice our connection to the floor, our environment, each other, and within ourselves. “How do you feel?” I asked them. “Do you feel confident and powerful? Or do you feel timid and unsure of yourself?”

The response was rather lukewarm until I uttered those magic words, “Go to your mat, and lie on your back….” Ahhh, the rewarding sound of sighs of contentment filled the room as I began guiding them through “The Golden Ball.” Halfway through the lesson, I stopped, had my clients slowly come to standing, and walk around the room and the hallway again. Once more, I repeated my questions: “How do you feel? Do you feel confident and powerful? Or do you feel timid and unsure of yourself?” 

This time the response was a bit more introspective as well as enthusiastic. Their comments included a sense of increased awareness, feeling centered, stronger, and grounded. Interesting, to say the least. I was mind-boggled by the changes that I observed in all of the participants as the lesson had unfolded. Of course I kept my comments and my observations to myself as I had them return to their mats to prepare for the grand finale. 

When the lesson ended, as I watched my clients transition from the floor to standing, my jaw dropped in amazement. The power in each and everyone of them was electric, and I had to take a step back so their combined energy didn’t knock me over. Before I had the chance to ask my three questions, one of my clients exclaimed, “It’s like a supernova! At first I couldn’t feel the ball, and then I started to feel it a little bit. But after the break, it got bigger, brighter, and stronger–now it’s all around me! It’s a Feldenkrais supernova!”

I ended the class as I always do, with a recap of the lesson and what I lovingly refer to as the “family talk.” But before we did, we had one more walk around the room and the hallway. The light and the wisdom from those golden balls just lit up the room, and it certainly lit up my heart. Because I knew that all of those people now had a few more skills to take home with them….the skills of Feldenkrais, survival, and supernovas. Feldenkrais….turning on the power for people everywhere. You simply have to try it to believe it!

Teaching Bullies Better Manners

I detest bullies. In my humble opinion they are sniveling little cowards with no manners or sense of human decency. They pick on those they perceive as weak, vulnerable, or helpless. If only we could teach bullies better manners, I do believe that the world would be a better place. And I believe we can.

I recently taught a self-defense class for women and girls. There were several grown women as well as two petite and quiet teen-aged girls attending the class. Well, at least one of the girls were quiet. The other one was a lot more verbose and outgoing. They were sisters, and they were adorable. They were in the class accompanied by their grandmother, who thought it would be a beneficial experience for all of them. She was right about that!

Although it usually takes awhile for ladies to get comfortable in a self-defense class, this group quickly got into the spirit of the class, and started to have some fun with it. However, I noticed that the quiet teenager hung back and silently watched the rest of us as we played with a few techniques and walked through several different scenarios. I thought she was just shy, so I decided to engage with her and make her feel more comfortable.

I caught her eye and made an effort to draw her into the class. I usually don’t focus on bullies or anti-bullying in women’s self defense classes, since we focus more on random attacks and “what-if” situations. But, for some reason, I said to her, “Let’s pretend that someone is picking on you at school…” Before I could finish, she shot a look at her grandmother. After a few moments of silence, her grandmother said, “That’s exactly what’s happening.”

I thought blood was going to shoot out of my eyes. Just the thought that a bully (or bullies) were picking on this adorable young girl enraged me. I wished I could go to school with her the next day, stand in front of her, and make them go through me before they could get to her. Instead, I continued teaching from a slightly different perspective, making sure that I kept this girl front and center.

Pretty soon, something remarkable happened. She began standing taller (all five feet of her), and started looking us all in the eye. She paid closer attention to what we were doing and got a lot more talkative, although not nearly as loquacious as her sister. Eventually I slid up beside her and whispered, “You’re getting it now, aren’t you?”

I wish you could have seen the look she gave me. She had a gleam in her eye and a knowing smile on her beautiful face. As a matter of fact, she actually glowed with a wisdom well beyond her years. She nodded her head and replied, “Oh, yeah. I get it.” I wanted to weep with joy. 

For the next several days I could not get this girl and the bullies out of my head. I wondered if the lessons she learned that evening had any impact on her and her situation at school. Two weeks later I finally got my answer.

Her grandmother sent me a beautiful email thanking me for teaching the class. She also wanted me to know her grand-daughter told her that one single class changed her life forever. She was no longer having problems with bullies and was enjoying going to school again. Or at least, as much as any teenager enjoys school.

I cried when I read the email. As a matter of fact, to this day I cannot tell the story without crying. It’s a little embarrassing, because as a rule I do not cry in public, although I seem to be getting pretty good at it lately. Especially when I repeat the story of the petite and precious teenager who was being picked on in school, but found her strength and confidence in one two-hour long self-defense class.

The one thing I would love to know, but probably never will, was how the whole thing went down. I would have giving anything to see how she stood her ground. I really would have loved to see how her tormenter responded. Especially since I know it was done in a non-violent manner. 

Like I said, bullies are cowards. All you have to do is look them in the eye, stand your ground, and walk tall. Even if you are only five feet tall, you look like a giant. And you get to teach them better manners, which not only changes your life, but changes theirs as well. It’s a beautiful thing, don’t you agree?

The Delicate Dojo: The stories begin….

I got a fantastic text message from one of my Delicate Dojo students a few days ago. If you’ve been following me, you already know that I am a black belt in the ancient Japanese martial art of Ninpo Tai Jutsu, and I recently began teaching self defense classes for women only. I knew that eventually I would hear stories about how the classes came in handy in a real life situation, but I didn’t expect them so soon. Here is her story.

She and her 3 children (two girls aged 7 and 9 and a son aged 5) were sitting together outside an ice cream store enjoying their treats when a strange man suddenly approached them. He came right up to them, and without a word began picking lint off of her son’s shirt. She was in a corner with her son sitting on her lap and her daughters on each side. He literally had them backed into a corner. Instead of panicking, she looked him directly in the eye. Calmly but firmly, she said, “Don’t touch him.”

Incredibly, the stranger began to argue with her, and the situation became more threatening. Without taking her eyes off of his, she said, “Give him his space.” She continued to look directly at him and kept her focus on his eyes. He immediately changed his demeanor, backed off,  then turned and walked away.

How creepy. And what a creep! My student referred to him as “deranged.” I’d have to agree with her, because I can think of no situation where it would be appropriate for a perfect stranger to approach a woman with her children and starting touching one of them. I don’t know what his intention was, but I’m guessing it wasn’t good. However, she was able to clearly communicate that she was the one in charge and in control of the situation.

My student is very petite and looks like a kid herself. Maybe he figured she would be an easy target. She wasn’t. She told me that during the encounter she was as calm as could be, and admitted that she would have gone into full blown panic mode prior to taking the classes. By the way, she’s only taken two classes. So far. My petite student was able to react calmly from a position of power and strength. She also taught her children a valuable lesson. If she had responded with fear, they would have as well. The entire family would have been traumatized. She would have lost her power, and the “deranged man” may have become emboldened. Instead, she effectively defused the situation and empowered herself.

I love stories like this. I love hearing about positive outcomes. Most of all, I love hearing about women being able to find their power, strength, grace and confidence. I especially love it when the bullies lose. And that is why I started The Delicate Dojo, and began teaching women the art of self defense.

Be healthy! Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP

The Debut of The Delicate Dojo….

I began my martial arts training ten years ago under the instruction of Sensei Marc Hanson of Kusa Dojo. My goal was to take a few classes, learn a few techniques, and then move on with my life. After all, I’m kind of prissy, and I couldn’t see myself hanging out in a Dojo with a bunch of sweaty men for very long. Besides, I’m a dancer, and I certainly didn’t want anything to interfere with my ballet classes. And, I was terrified of getting hurt.

I met my Sensei three years before I started my journey into the world of martial arts. He was my acupuncturist, and for three years he tried to get me into his classes and onto the mat. For three years I refused. I finally capitulated, thinking I would take a few classes, and he would see how much I hated it. Then I could say, “I told you so,” I could quit, and he would stop nagging me.

But, something funny happened. I fell in love with training, and I fell in love with the art. However, I understand how hard it is for a woman to walk into a testosterone infested Dojo. Even though I already knew my teacher and some of his students, it was terrifying. I don’t know why I kept going to class. It may have been my love of the art, my incomparable stubbornness, or the fact that I didn’t know any better. Obviously, I was getting something out of it.

It was early in my training that I had the inspiration for The Delicate Dojo. In my imagination, this would be a place where women could learn basic self defense skills, instructed by a woman, in a fun, safe and comfortable environment. Of course, in my fantasy world, these classes would be taught by someone who had a lot of spirit, who loved teaching, and who absolutely loved helping women tap into their Warrior spirit. I had no idea that woman would be me.

The time has come. Who knew that my fantasy would become a reality, and I would be the teacher. It’s funny how things work out, once you stop resisting the inevitable and let nature take it’s course. Welcome to The Delicate Dojo, and discover that it is possible to look like a woman, act like a lady, move like a Ninja, and think like a Warrior. See you on the mat!

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP

Teach your children well

It’s so important to teach your children well so you can prepare them for the great big world out there. However, out of all the things you teach your children, the one subject that often gets overlooked is how to defend and protect themselves when you aren’t around to do it for them. I still get the shivers when I think of the following story.

Last night I watched the news with a combination of horror, admiration and even pride when I saw the disturbing video of an attempted abduction. The would be kidnapper got a huge surprise when his ten year old victim fought back, kicked and bit him while her two year old brother screamed like a banshee. My emotions ran high and I was moved to tears as I watched the video.

I was furious that she was attacked in broad daylight while she was walking down the sidewalk with her baby brother. I was relieved that she was able to protect herself. I admired her tenacity. Most of all, I was proud of her that she knew exactly what to do under such terrible circumstances. And I was proud of her little brother for screaming his head off.

How did this girl know what to do? Her father taught her. Good for him. Apparently, the girl’s father had repeatedly instructed her how to react under such circumstances, just in case. They had even role played such a terrifying scene, in the remote chance that she ever was attacked. As a result, she responded immediately and correctly. She fought like a tigress. She got away and he got arrested.

I like the ending to what could have been a tragic story and another statistic. I don’t know about you, but I would rather see more stories like this than one where another innocent life is lost. Remember, perpetrators are looking for an  easy target. If you can’t teach your children how to protect themselves, or feel ill equipped to do so, you have options. Look into a self defense program for kids, or consider enrolling them into a martial arts school to receive proper training. The point is not to scare them, but to “aware” them. Awareness is the greatest defense a child can have. 

So please, teach your children well. The life they save may be their own.

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP