What Black Belt Attitude means when you’re 10

Black Belt Attitude.

This term is used a lot in martial arts. Especially with kids.
Let’s have a look at what it means to a 10 year old in the kids ninjutsu program at FunFit.

What Black Belt Attitude means to me

by Douglas Cameron (age 10)

  • It means not harming or using your skills against anyone unless they are a threat to you or to the society
  • It means helping people out no matter if you know them or not
  • It means to keep training and attending classes
  • It means to not boast to anyone about your black belt
  • It means to wear your black belt with pride
  • It means to wear your black belt to all ninjutsu classes
  • It means to not be too silly in class
  • It means to try to complete all tasks presented unless you can’t due to an injury
  • It means to attend all classes unless you are sick or away from Sydney

Compare this to the principles of bushido.

bushido black belt attitude

(If for some reason the image doesn’t load for you, the principles are:
Integrity, Respect, (Heroic) Courage, Honour, Compassion, Veracity (Honesty and Sincerity), (Duty and Loyalty).

Real Self Defence is Risk Management

Risk managment flow

Personal Risk Management matters

Please take a moment to reflect. What steps do we take to ensure we can enjoy a safe, happy and healthy life?
We take out insurance for car. For our home and contents. For travel. Some for death or permanent disability.

Almost all of us have learned to swim. Initially to prevent drowning and then for enjoyment. Many of us will have undertaken a first-aid course. Knowing how to treat injury and save lives is important.

On the North Shore we are very fortunate. We have access to a range of quality health practitioners who are skilled in injury diagnosis and treatment and future prevention.

These demonstrate proactive measures (planning for issues in advance – swimming, insurance and injury prevention) and reactive measures (first aid and physical therapy).

risk management chart

Sadly, there appears to be a breakdown in the prevention logic when it comes to self defence skills.

I think it’s due to a couple of factors. “Good people” (productive and social members of the community) not wanting to learn how to hurt others. This combined with an inaccurate perception of what comprises self defence training.

risk management circle

Self defence training is risk management.

It’s learning awareness and avoidance strategies to keep you out of dangerous situations.
It’s verbal tactics to de-escalate conflict.
It’s body language cues to alter the mood.
It’s understanding (but not agreeing with!) the thought process of the attacker so you are better prepared.

Physical training does make up a large part of training. This is so the practitioner has effective skill that work under pressure or if taken by surprise. However, physical is the last option. When all the other risk management skills have failed.

The scenario matters.
Adults may be at the pub. At the ATM or waiting for a taxi.
Teens may be catching public transport. Going to the movies. Hanging out in a park.
Kids may be waiting for school pickup. Walking to a friend’s house.

All these situations offer a higher degree of risk than sitting at home.

While the practice of self defence may not be compatible with every personality, ignoring the need for self defence skills will not make you safe from violence.

So, why are we averse to learning risk management skills that can PREVENT physical injury and psychological trauma?

Get in touch about self defence training now!

My love hate relationship with Crossfit


My love hate relationship with Crossfit

The motto of our gym is “Better than Yesterday”. Tied into this idea is that there’s no perfect system or perfect person – there’s always something to work on, always something that can be improved.

I first heard about Crossfit from a friend when in Japan in 2006. I remember I tried a ‘mainsite’ workout (scaled) with dumbbells and got through it – barely. At that stage I’d been doing Martial Arts regularly for about 5 years and considered myself reasonably fit for a 25 year old. I was so shot through the core that when I was getting into the shower afterwards I was unable to maintain my spine position and had to lie down. I felt like if I’d stayed standing I would have done myself some potentially serious damage.


That experience taught me a valuable lesson. Scaling is good but is second choice after progression. (Also, learn what you’re getting yourself into and don’t push too hard at first!)

I did my Certificates III and IV in Fitness in 2008 and got my Crossfit Coach’s Certificate in 2009. Looking back I recognise how important the ‘mainstream’ skill set has been in terms of my understanding of simple anatomy and physiology. The Crossfit Certification has been instrumental in my growth as a Strength & Conditioning coach and the application of functional movements to the prescription of exercises to my clients.

Had I never encountered Crossfit I am fairly sure I wouldn’t be nearly as effective as a trainer as I feel I have become. That said, had I not had the grounding of the Cert III & IV, and just had the weekend Crossfit Coach Cert – I would be downright dangerous.

Let me be clear – I am not saying that all Crossfit coaches are dangerous. Most aren’t, some are. Some ‘mainstream’ coaches are dangerous. I’m just saying I feel I would have been a dangerous trainer without the conventional skills and experience to be my (and my client’s) seat-belt.

What does all this have to do with a love-hate relationship with Crossfit?


The concept of Crossfit is great. I think the idea of constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements is fantastic. The implementation of that idea has evolved, for me, over time (Better than Yesterday). No longer do I program 20+ minute AMRAPs where at the end of the session you feel like you need to be scooped up with a trowel. The sledgehammer has been replaced with a scalpel. Clients who have been with me for the last 5 year would readily agree that the programming has changed – and for the better. A progressive overload strength program is now the bedrock. A strength-endurance or Olympic lifting progression is alternated cyclically. Constantly varied (within a thought-out pool of purpose-driven) Metcons of no more than 10 minutes duration rounds out the ‘cardio’.

Great results for clients (with very low injury rates) have been the result.

Many a coach seems to confuse ‘constantly varied’ with ‘random’. Random workouts is an easy out for the coach as they can just check the Crossfit main site or other Crossfit gyms WOD feed for ideas to pinch or modify. This method does the coach and the clients a disservice. Copying another coach’s programming without understanding the intended progression (if there is one) or appropriate scaling (if you must use scaling) means the workout will not be optimally challenging for the client(s) or fit their needs or goals.

‘High intensity’ is not the same as ‘wiped out’. If your client doesn’t walk out feeling better than when they walked in – this is a symptom of overloading them and can be steps down the path to adrenal fatigue – or unhappy clients who get sick of ‘punishment’ (especially if it is associated with eating habits). At the end of a workout the headspace should be ‘proud of my achievement of completing a tough workout’ not ‘I’m glad I survived and kind-of dread next time already.’

‘Functional Movements’ are hard to get wrong. You do need to remember to ask yourself “functional for what?” The movement you ask the client to perform should have some link to the things they want to be able to do in their everyday life, or specific sporting event or challenge they’d like to participate in. Doing a hard workout full of functional movements is good – and better than hard non-functional movements – but there needs to be a point. There needs to be a WHY this movement is good for you and how it applied to YOU.

There is huge variety in the quality of training in the fitness industry. There is huge variety in the quality of coaching in Crossfit. My major criticism of Crossfit is that (perhaps due to the prevalence of the competition aspect, bromances or macho vibe) people do things they shouldn’t. (Clapping Fran??? – see below) Often those things are cool TO BE ABLE to do – but can and should aren’t the same thing. I don’t think this was addressed in 2006, and I still think it hasn’t been adequately addressed in 2014.

Very, very keen to hear your thoughts.

Goal Setting: Planning to Succeed – this is really Important!

Do you know how to set a goal that will help you achieve what you want?

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.”
– Rabindranath Tagore

Goal setting may be one of the most important skills you can learn.

In fitness, knowing what you want means you and your trainer can put together a plan to work towards your goals. Whether you want to lose ‘weight’, improve your strength, get leaner, improve your core strength, get more flexible/improve mobility, increase your cardiovascular or muscular endurance or have sport-specific goals has a huge impact on the programming – exercise selection, timing, rest, sets, reps and loads.

In martial arts, knowing whether your true interest lies in MMA, fitness, kata (patterns), tournaments or street-realistic self defence can have a huge impact on the style you choose or the emphasis you want to put on different aspects of your training.

Start the process by choosing 1-3 targets. Limiting the number means you won’t get discouraged if you have lots of things you’d like to improve. Map them out – making sure they are SMART:


This means the goal is clear and unambiguous; without vagaries and platitudes. To make goals specific they must say exactly what is expected and why is it important.

A specific goal will usually answer five “W” questions:
What: What do I want to accomplish?
Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
Who: Who is involved?
Where: Identify a location.
Which: Identify requirements and constraints.

This stresses the need for concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of the goal. The thought behind this is that if it is not measurable, it is not possible to know whether progress is being made toward successful completion. Measuring progress is supposed to you stay on track, reach target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs on to continued effort required to reach the ultimate goal.

A measurable goal will usually answer questions such as:
How much?
How many?
How will I know when it is accomplished?

This stresses the importance of realism and attainability. While an attainable goal may be a stretch to achieve, the goal is not extreme. That is, it is neither out of reach nor below standard performance, as these may be considered meaningless. When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and capacity to reach them.
An attainable goal will usually answer the question:
How: How can the goal be accomplished?

S.M.A.R.T goalsGoals-mistakes

This stresses the importance of choosing goals that matter. A bank manager’s goal to “Make 50 peanut butter sandwiches by 2:00pm” may be specific, measurable, attainable, and time-based, but lacks relevance. Many times you will need support to accomplish it. A goal that supports or is in alignment with other goals would be considered relevant.

A relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:
Does this seem worthwhile?
Is this the right time?
Does this match my other efforts/needs?

This emphasizes the importance of grounding goals within a time frame, giving them a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps efforts to be focussed on completion on or before the due date. This part of the SMART goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day crises that invariably arise in life. A time-bound goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency.

A time-bound goal will usually answer the question:
What can I do six months from now?
What can I do six weeks from now?
What can I do today?

Using these criteria – think hard about what you really want. Write it down. Start planning. Start achieving your goals!

Self Defence and Martial Arts – What’s the difference?

A lot of people use the terms ‘self defence’ and ‘martial arts’ interchangeably. They have some overlap but are different things and should not be confused. A martial arts school can teach self defence, or it may ‘only’ teach martial arts.

Martial arts is the practice of physical techniques. These can vary greatly in focus. Super effective street realistic maneuvers, MMA (mixed martial arts made prominent by the Ultimate Fighting Championships); sparring (fighting for points or practice at full speed); and forms (patterns of movement to cement technique or for stylistic tradition).

Self Defence training is concerned with risk assessment and measures to minimize or eliminate that risk. The risk in this case is of being attacked. Risk minimization strategies include situation awareness, understanding the motivations and tactics of the attacker, how to circumvent the attacker’s behaviour, maintain distance and boundaries, choice speech to defuse the situation, pre-contact cues – and, of course, effective technique to escape and get home safely.

Obviously, smaller targets (potential victims) who appear weaker than the attacker will be more likely to be targeted. Women, teens, kids and older adults are all at increased risk compared to a large, strong looking adult male. It is even more important that these ‘at risk’ populations are pro-active in getting the right training to keep themselves safe.

In real-life emergency situations, defending yourself is not a sport. There will be no rules, no referee and no time-frame.
The assumption must be that the attacker is faster, stronger and much more aggressive. If they didn’t feel superior, stronger and faster, they wouldn’t attack. The strategies and tactics used must match the scenario.

That’s when realistic, scenario-based training will make the difference in improving your odds of avoiding or escaping the situation and getting home safely.

For more information, or to book into a self defence session, please contact Tim


Seniors Expo 2013

The Seniors’ Safety Expo will be on soon. It’s planned for 9.30am to 12.30pm, Tuesday 19th March 2013 to be held at the Turramurra Uniting Church, Turramurra Avenue, Turramurra.

The Expo will have around 20-30 stalls, invited from the various Crime Prevention, Insurance, Security and Personal Safety industries. The emergency services are also to be invited. Leaflets will be on display for those organisations unable to have a presence. We are hoping for a secure corral area with a demo and trial of power-assisted wheelchair scooters – what fun! Presentations of around 15 – 20mins are being planned to run during the Expo. We currently have on the schedule (selection tbc):

09:00 Doors open
09:30 Official Welcome – the Hon Barry O’Farrell, Premier, NSW
09:45 Police Looking After Seniors – Kuring Gai Local Area Commander, Supt Jeff Philippi (tbc) and Carroll Howe, Chair, Kuring gai Police & Community Safety Committee
10:00 At Home; Safe & Secure – our Crime Prevention Officer, NSW Police;
10:30 House & Bush Fires; An Aussie Problem – NSW Fire & Rescue Service, Gordon (tbc)
11:00 ‘Out & About’ | Personal Safety on the Move – Tim Brown, FunFit;
11:30 ‘Don’t be a Humpty Dumpty’ | Fall Prevention – Institute of Trauma and Trauma Management (speaker tbc);
12:00 ‘Ramps n Rails’ for Seniors – Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Home Modification and Maintenance Service? (tbc)
12:30 Close

If you know someone who would be interest in attending this FREE event please share this post.

Stay safe out there!

Colorado Tragedy: Scenario Based Training and Functional Fitness

A brief post today – linking to a thought provoking article by an American police officer and martial artist, Rick Randolph.
Like me, Rick is interested in scenario-based personal self defence training and functional fitness and has trained with Tony Blauer.

“…responsible training in real life scenarios…mentally and physically preparing yourself and your family for a horrible situation like this, empowering them with the tools and awareness to find a solution – to get out of there safely. Mental preparation, fear management, functional fitness and principle based tactics are the keys.”


Please feel free to share your thoughts below.

Little Ninjas – Martial Arts for Kids

If you can't see the image, well played ninjas!

Our specialized Little Ninja’s Program is an age- specific curriculum that is professionally designed to teach children important life skills in a fun, exciting and enriching manner. Teach your child coordination, concentration and self-control using the excitement and fun of the Little Ninja Martial Arts skills. Teach key life lessons you would want your child to know.

Your Child Will Achieve More Than Just Learning to Kick and Punch

Little Ninja activities will keep your child physically fit and many of the group activities show children the benefits of good behavior. Best of all, your child’s class curriculum will also help them see the value of teamwork, good manners and trying their best outside the classroom.

The 8 main life skills that are taught in the Little Ninjas Program are Team-work, Balance, Focus, Self-Discipline, Memory, Self-Control, Coordination, Fitness.

Little Ninjas Reinforces Your Family Values

Many of the same concepts you are teaching your child at home will be consistently reinforced through classroom discussions in your child’s program. Topics such as good manners (which include keeping hands and feet to themselves), respect for one’s self and others, following directions the first time and more are taught!

Make Your Child Safer With Personal Development Lessons

Valuable personal development lessons have been built into the Little Ninjas curriculum. Your child will participate in discussions on: “Stranger Danger,””When to Call 000,” “Fire Safety,” “Street Safety” and more.

Little Ninjas Helps Prepare Your Child for Life

Little Ninjas will improve your child’s basic motor skills, as well as your child’s positive mental skills. These skills will help your child enter society with a confident and enthusiastic outlook. The Little Ninjas program aims to help your child become a better student in school, a better listener at home and feel more ambitious and courageous towards his/her future goals.

Your Child Will Learn to Set Goals, Build Confidence, Have a Positive Mental Attitude
Let us help enhance your child’s mental and physical development in a fun, positive and motivating way. Enroll your child today, and help prepare them for life! Class sizes are limited, call now to reserve you child’s space!

Phone 0411 411 289 or email Tim to book or have questions answered.

Tim Brown holds a 5th Dan Black Belt in Ninjutsu, is a qualified Personal Trainer and has over 10 years experience teaching Martial Arts to children. He is fully insured.

Defend Yourself Ethics

No rational personal wants to be in a violent confrontation.
That being said, ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away.

Aside from learning effective physical counter-measures, a vital aspect of responsible self defence training must include mental preparedness and an ethical perspective.

It is up to the instructor to provide an ethical framework for the practitioner to use as a launch-pad for developing their own set of values to use when faced with violence. Even if the eventual position of the practitioner is ‘anything goes’ the instructor has not been the one to make that decision.

The ethical exercise for the practitioner is not for altruistic reasons alone.
The idea is that the defender has thought deeply about the types of possible confrontation, motivations of the attacker(s) and consequences of the various responses (physical injury or death to themselves or to others, property damage, psychological repercussions and involvement of the authorities).

This way, the practitioner can have made a rational and ethical decision ahead of time as to the appropriate response for the scenario in which they find themselves. This eliminates a snap decision in the heat of the moment while under physical attack and psychological pressure which may have life-long consequences.

What is the situation? How serious is it? What am I prepared to do? What am I absolutely NOT prepared to do?