The Edge Center Blog
Concepts, Ideas & Meditations of Master Vince Damiano
There are many character development programs out there and most of them are found in Martial Arts schools. Where a lot of programs claim to teach character building they promote it as an automatic byproduct of the training they offer and not a specific program. Others will buy a commercial program and plug it into their curriculum expecting it to generate results.
However- character building has to be custom tailored to the individual, through an intelligent process and then cultivated based on their needs, values and beliefs.
We first start by understanding what a student is looking for. There are some students that don't want to take the time to accelerate their development, rather they just want to grow through live and that's fine. For those that want to enhance who they are will show that. They might not say it, but their actions and attitude will tell you.
We then move towards values. What do they hold most important to themselves? What makes them who they are? When things get hard what do they default to?
Once we determine what makes someone tick, we get into their core beliefs. These are the meat and potatoes of personal character. Personal beliefs are what drives your life or holds you back. These also include weaknesses that someone may have.
I personally love building up a person's weakness because it shows the most profound results. If a person believes they have a weakness, we forge it into a weapon so powerful that no one can use it against you.
When seeking out a program for personal enhancement, whether it's for you or someone else- Make sure there's more to it than just arbitrarily saying words before and after class. Most Martial Arts schools are known for this. There is a ton of "industry constants" that make school owners think that simply teaching their art makes them life skill experts. Be sure that the instructor has a solid background in Leadership & Personal Development and has a proven track record of results.
A home invasion is one of the scariest events that can happen to you. Whether the event is a robbery or kidnapping you need to be prepared to defend yourself as if your life is in jeopardy.
Before We dive into this let's examine what could lead up to an event like this. Does your home look like no one is home? Have you set patterns when you leave? Do you have high value items and put the box on the curb for anyone to see? Having a few systems in place can also thwart a home invasion- such as outside light sensors, an alarm or a dog who barks at unknown noises and people. But just in case you don’t have all that or it fails, here is some advice.
First- You will need training: Start with Self-Defense Training. Not Martial Arts or BJJ or MMA, those are made for sports where there are rules. You need a combative art MADE for self defense. If it's too technical or complex and takes a long time to master- find a new system. As part of that training you will want to master Verbal Defense. You will need to project your voice with authority and confidence as well as knowing what to say and what not to.
Your next step in training is firearms: You will need to know how to shoot instinctively in low light conditions without causing collateral damage to anyone else in the house, destructive appliances such as a gas line and don’t forget about your neighbors, bullets go through windows walls. In your firearms training you will want to select the right firearm for the job. Forget about what your friends say you should use since firearm advice is usually based on personal preference and pick something that fits in your hand, is comfortable and has easily usable features. When choosing what type of firearms there you should have a pistol and a shotgun both with lights on them. Together this combination offers close quarters with the pistol and a shotgun will give you a higher chance of hitting a target. Contrary to one of the most given advice; DO NOT rely on the sound of simply "pumping the shotgun"- This does not scare the intruder away as told. Most of the time they aren't going to hear it and honestly, are you really going to have it in your mind to wait to see if it had the desired effect?
After you've been properly trained you need a plan. This is your Hold-Out & Escape method. Having a plan is as easy as keeping a flashlight, phone, firearm & shoes next to your bed. You will be able to get up and grab your essentials quickly and without looking for anything. Know what room in your house you can make your "Alamo" or what room you can easily escape from. This is usually a bathroom since most have windows and if you have made preparations you'll have an escape ladder to use. If you have to hold-out, make sure you have protection tools with you. If it's your firearm, great. If you don’t have a firearm have a bat or a club and even pepper spray. In a pinch you can make a defensive spray with rubbing alcohol and cayenne pepper in a spray bottle. If not any spray you have in a cabinet will distract someone enough to make an escape. Now once you’ve made your escape, where do you go? You will need a family rally point to meet at in case you get separated.
Once you have a plan- Rehearse it! Go through it with the whole family. Make sure the moment you realize your home is being invaded- CALL 911, and do this before you text someone that someone is in your house and before you take a selfie. If you cannot personally make the call specifically direct a family member to do it. Don’t say "someone call 911" if you do, no one will- you have to pick one person to do it.
You now have a decision to make. If you are not well armed you have no choice but to make an escape, and always make escape your first plan. If you are armed and well trained and ONLY if an escape is not possible you need to take action. By law you cannot just shoot or attack someone in your home. You first must identify yourself as an "armed citizen" and demand they leave, then you must give them the chance by leaving the way clear- meaning you can't stand in the doorway and say "leave" then when they can't get through shoot them, that doesn’t look good in the eyes of the law. After you’ve made yourself clear and the aggressor still makes their way towards you it's time to fear for you and your families safety. This is the time to use your training.
Having practiced, you know what hallways and rooms make a funnel. This is where the view from where you are is narrow and opens up the farther you go. if you are on the open side of the funnel- MOVE. Use your flashlight to blind the invader while giving loud, short commands. If they come at you - use your weapon to the limit of your training. Once the threat has been neutralized, always suspect there to be additional invaders. Now you need to clear your home. This is done room by room from the top down, leaving the light in the room on once its cleared. do this until finished or until police arrive, then advise them to the status of the house of either "clear" or "not clear". Take their directions from that point on.
When the whole event is over you will have to give a police report. If you had to neutralize the invader you and your family will be questioned to the nature of the attack and if you were "justified". The family has to know what to say. Basically YOU were fearful of your life and the lives of your family. You and your family all have to say just that in order to give no other option of the use of force you took.
This one article is not a definitive work on everything that could happen in a home invasion. It is simply one approach to dealing with it. The best advice to give is to seek out training and practice. The better trained you are and the more you refine your actions the better chance you will have to survive.
How discipline in the Martial Arts today is being taught wrong, and how we fix it.
Historically Martial Arts has been known for instilling discipline in its students. You will see a majority of schools using this as a sales tactic, but how is it that they are teaching discipline? Well they make it part of their mantra- they say it out loud as a part of arbitrary words they use to open training for the day. They use traditional drills to try and instill discipline in students by making them adhere to ridged stances and patterns and when they don't they are physically punished. This is known as the "break down theory"- You break a body down to build it back up. Now this is used successfully in military training due to the fact that soldiers need to conform to the same standard and there is no room for individualism. Somewhere long ago someone got Martial Arts and Martial Science confused. Science, has a strict set of rules to follow where Art is left to an individual's interpretation.
So why are schools still demanding a strict adherence to traditional techniques and forms that do not allow a student's individuality to shine through?
Besides a fear from straying from tradition or a lack of knowledge and experience I can't say. What I can say is that we teach Discipline in a new form. We start by being the living example for others to look at. I once worked with an instructor that constantly asked his students if their room was clean- however when I went to his house, it was a total mess. Very hypocritical. We don't demand from our students what we don't live and practice ourselves.
We develop responsibilities in our students. Are they in uniform? Do they have their belt and equipment? Did they do their homework before class or do they have plans to complete it afterwards? These habits build discipline because they can be put to use immediately without having to repeat them until instinct.
We give our students ownership. Make the technique theirs, not ours. Everyone have a different build, ability, mindset and values- so why should students conform to the way an instructor or tradition dictates. Ownership promotes pride, and with that one has a greater appreciation for what they are doing.
Finally is responsibility. You are accountable for your actions and if your actions are not that which are expected you are not "punished", you are "disciplined" (many schools confuse the two), and this is by understanding what has been done and learning how not to do it again. Students aren't put down or degraded in front of the class, but we make it a lesson for everyone by providing feedback and positive direction.
By creating a learning environment where discipline is shown by the example and not demanded by force, we are able to provide the best possible learning experience for our students and cultivate real, long lasting discipline.
A mass killing event is any situation where an attacker or attackers are causing casualties. This could be an active shooter, where a firearm is used as a weapon indiscriminately or a person with a bladed instrument, a planted explosion or gas device and even a vehicle running into a crowd. There is no way to predict when or where this will happen and often there is no way to identify the event until it is well underway.
Sadly enough, any measures to restrict access to weapons will not stop this- criminals will always find an illegal means to get their hands on whatever they can to turn into a weapon. Law enforcement generally have little effect on the situation since the average response time to an active killer scene is 14 minutes and the average timeline of the event is 15. With that said there are ways for YOU to survive or avoid this type of event.
Put the survival odds in your favor-
When you get to a closed event, avoid parking near the entrance where you will get trapped by everyone fleeing. Park you vehicle in an area that if you had to make a hasty escape you can do it without getting bottle necked in the flow.
Once in a venue, count the exits. Start with the one that would be your most likely to use and work your way up. Make sure you include windows if it make sense. Position yourself in an area near the exit but not the main exit since everyone will be going there. Be sure to rehearse in your mind getting there and what you may encounter on your way.
While there, imagine you are in a funnel. with the entrance and other avenues of attack being the spout opening 45 degrees outward. Are you positioned inside the funnel (the kill zone) or in a blind spot?
Observe and absorb what is normal in the environment you are in. Is it normal to hear shouting, loud bangs, or see mass movement. This way when something outside the norm will alert you and you will be able to act on your plan without hesitation. What is the standard of clothing? if everyone is in shorts and tees, someone walking up heavily dressed should be a point of concern. Be aware of anything being an indicator to escalating an event. Your plan should be to get out before an event even starts.
Other considerations to take is to know where you have cover. Just to clarify- Cover is what you would use to stop a bullet, knife or vehicle and protect you. If it simply hides you, you are only concealed. If you're on the street, make sure you are walking on the side against traffic where yo can see the oncoming cars. Also use parked cars as a barrier since they will stop most vehicle from ramming past. Don loiter in large groups since this makes an easy target.
Once the killing starts-
You have a split second window to act out your plan. Based on the event, environment and resources you have to act and not freeze.
Move out of the "Kill Zone". If you cannot hide- MOVE! If you stay put for too long you will get pinned down where you are, so move to an avenue of pre-planned escape or your next point of cover taking as many people with you that you can. If in the event that you don’t know where the killer is, find nearby cover until you can identify where the threat is then move accordingly.
If getting making an escape is not an option you either have to hide or fight? Getting out of the killers view should be your first option. Find a room, barricade the door and turn off the lights. This had proven very effective in a high school where a shooter was moving from room to room. a mass shooting is a very fast paced event- the shooter does not want to spend time kicking in a door and giving someone the chance to stop them. DO NOT simply get down and lie under a table or desk. This makes you a static target for a killer. In the 1999 Columbine shooting a teacher in the library told the students to get under the tables and it resulted in many of the deaths that day. Do you have to fight?
Don’t go out looking for the threat but defend your position. Use whatever you have at your disposal. Look at whatever you can throw, spray, shoot or hit with. A fire extinguisher make a great weapon to hit with or spray. A table leg makes a great bat. Don’t overlook coffee cups, staplers, boxes, backpacks, window cleaner or a handful of change- anything can be a weapon. Once you’ve started your attack- Be Violent and don’t stop until the killer is neutralized. When confronting an attacker, be swift- there may be more than one and you don't want to become a target.
Now- There are Heroes in this world that are looking for their chance to save the world. It is very important to take a "tactical pause" and consider what will happen. If you are going to help the wounded, make sure that you are not going to make yourself a target while doing it. You can't help anyone if you become a casualty. Also, do not rush in immediately after an attack. There are often secondary attacks waiting just to kill first responders and double the casualty count.
Things to do-
Things to avoid-
All beings have habits. Some habits are good, others bad and some even neutral. We look at habits as either building something or occupying us and holding us back. But what is rarely looked at is the price these bad habits cost. Now I don’t mean as in money, I mean the cost in time, resources, opportunities lost and even friendships & family.
Imagine the habit of social interaction- You are out to eat with your family or a friend, you get a text, and then you spend the next 5-10 minutes texting with that person. What is the true cost of that? Did you have a gain in the relationship with your family or friend you were ALREADY engaging with? I’m sure whoever you are with is there to spend time with you and not watch you text on your phone. The resulting cost- unfavorable feelings by whomever you are with. How often do you think of others feelings before you jump into your “habit”.
Let’s take the Habit of procrastination. You put off what you don’t want to do now in the hopes to either gain pleasure or avoid pain. But now what about when your procrastination affects others? You’re in a rush and your emergency now becomes someone else’s problem that had nothing to do with whatever you were procrastinating in the first place. A great example is you put off getting up in the morning. Now you’ve missed the school bus and one of your parents has to drive you to school, making them late for work hence affecting their performance that would have been otherwise unaffected.
Now those are only two habits but you can easily look at your life and take an inventory of everything you to on a consistent basis. If you are not sure how your habits affect others- Ask. You may have to prepare to have your feelings hurt but after all, you may have been hurting others and not even realizing it.
How do we now have more consideration for the price of our habits? Simple –Discipline! You either want it or you don’t. If you care enough about other people in your life or your personal success, do what it takes to have the discipline to break these bad unproductive and destructive habits.
As anything, it takes practice. You have to take that bad habit and build an empowering habit in its place. Examine what you are currently doing in your habit and come up with as many negative costs to it as you can. Now, begin building a habit that is powerful, uplifting and has a positive effect on all around you. One you’ve taken this to daily practice you will be surprised on how your previous habit was holding you back.
Ever get a sense of belonging to a higher purpose but can't seem to find it? Or ever feel like you're held back from finding your true calling? Maybe even prevented from finding who you really are? These are all phrases and questions thrown around constantly. The problem is that not many people can point you in the right direction to find these answers. That’s part of the answer- No one can. It has to come within you. You have to create a higher demand for yourself, hold yourself to a higher standard and work every day to find the answers.
Everyone has a working understanding of the slow process of evolution. Environmental pressure creates a greater demand on a species and it evolves to fit the need. The downsides of evolution is that it takes too long and never benefits the generation that needs it and by the time its complete, it's such a commonality it goes unnoticed. We've all experienced this process in ourselves, relationships and even business, and this is called change.
"You're going to Evolve anyway, why not Change along the way"
The great thing about change is that it can happen in an instant, and that instant happens the moment you decide to change. How do you know you need to change?
What do we need to do to start the process of change? First go on a self-discovery mission. I personally like to do this while spending the weekend out in the woods, but this does not have to be a long fully emerged multi-day retreat, you can do it in an afternoon. As long as you have no distractions and interruptions you can get it done.
Here are some questions you should be asking yourself during a self discovery (this works personally or with a business).
Now, what do we do with the answers to these questions? First, search for answers in your everyday life. Go outside your comfort zone to look for meanings that you normally wouldn’t find being who you were yesterday.
If you are having a hard time, seek out a mentor to guide you. Mentors are great to point out improvements you can make to push past shortcomings. You can also involve a mastermind group (works really well in business). One person can come up with good ideas but a bunch of minds together works best.
After you have some answers, (this is not an exclusive list of questions and a mentor can help you with more that are related to you) make a life-map on how to get yourself to the person you will become. Start your map with who you are and make a point on the map of who you want to be. Be sure you don’t make an "end" of your map because you don’t want to limit future growth. Once you have a clear picture of where you're going, fill in the middle. Use your self-discovery questions as landmarks on your map. Make benchmarks and timeline of where your progress will take you, even roadblocks and obstacles you will have to avoid along the way. Knowing the challenges along the way to you making change will help you come up with a plan on how to overcome these before it happens. Having a plan ready to go allows you to attack these without having to react unpredictably.
Now that your life-map is complete you can begin the process of change. Re-visit your self-discovery questions often and make sure you have a better answer that the last time you visited them. Having discipline and an unwavering desire to make true lasting change during your life's evolution will ensure you become the person you truly want to be.
We all have moments in our lives that we can remember and recall in an instant. Sometimes the memory is pulled out for a purpose, other times they are accessed by triggers. The key is to control what comes out and when. I know- easier said than done.
This is most common in depression. What happens is multiple negative memories stack up on top of each other and the result is overwhelming. On the positive side you can control this. I know what you're thinking- "No I can't", or "It's too much", and that’s the common thought. But the truth is you're experiencing selective recall for the purpose of certainty (remember the human needs). In a world of uncertainty when it comes to emotions, one looks for certainty to put everything back in place and if you are certain you can get "down", you will go there.
How do we make the switch to select a different memory. First, you have to interrupt the pattern. This is a decision you have to make with purpose. You can interrupt the pattern in a bunch of ways. Have you ever went into a room looking for something and when you got there something got you attention, then you forgot what you went in there for in the first place? It’s the same idea, only on purpose. spend time with a pet, go for a walk, play a game, make a funny noise, dance, sing- The possibilities are only limited by how far you're willing to go. Sometimes someone can help interrupt your pattern. If they are in tune with you and care for your well being they will do something to "break you out". A hug, high five, playfulness, a joke, a cup of coffee, funny noises, and this can go on as far as you're friend is willing to go for you -and I've seen and done some pretty outrageous things to break someone's state.
Now, once you’ve been "interrupted" you have a small window to put something in its place. This is where selecting a positive, helpful memory that evokes an uplifting feeling. To make this even more effective, play music from your "inspire" playlist (if you don’t have one- that was a hint). Here are some questions to help pull out those positive memories. Now keep in mind that the most effective way to do this is to go to a time before the moment that is limiting you. As you remember these things you now have the opportunity to give them a whole new empowering meaning that serves you.
Now here's the crazy part: You have positive music playing, your thoughts are empowering, make a noise to ground you to the feeling, a shout, yell, a roar- make this your anchor and if you have enough emotion, you can use it to bring you to a place of total empowerment.
This will take practice and you will first have to make the decision that you want to make a breakthrough in your life.
Use this any time you need to empower yourself before the moment you need to be in the peak state. To know that you are in total control of the state you're in will make you unstoppable!
To put it into practice look out for the New Years Revolution at The Edge Center, we will be holding the ultimate life changing event on New Year's Eve. Imagine Leaving 2016 as one person and launching into 2017 with tools to take you to the highest level of performance possible.
With back to school right around the corner the hot topic is what to do if your child is being bullied. But often overlooked is what if your child is the bully? We can all agree that it is more beneficial to stop a problem at the source and if parents can look at their child objectively enough to see that their child may be the issue.
Now a high majority of parents believe that they are "good" parents and that their child's behavior is a reflection of their success. Not so true. Just because your child misbehaves does not mean you are a bad parent- in my 20+ years of teaching children I've seen wonderful parents who had the worse kids I've ever met and horrible parents with absolute amazing children. The real influence comes not from the parent but from where they spend their time when they are alone or with their friends.
Every parent that I've ever told that their child shows oppressive behavior is genuinely shocked. In most cases their child is a star athlete or a straight A student ore very popular. And it's just that environment that makes a child feel superior towards others and makes them want to maintain control. The key is to keep a balance of success and humility. At The Edge Center we constantly use game drills and playful dialog that keeps students humble- never letting any success go to their head. Now I'm not saying one has to put someone down when they gain something but rather share the learning experience with others who have not found the same. This method prevents the ego from growing out of control.
Before we continue on how to prevent the bully from growing, let's look at some indicators that a child will show that leads them into becoming a bully. Now this may not be your child but at least you can help a fellow parent out and identify if in their kids (you may need to sit down with a glass of wine or two first).
Now after identifying some of these characteristics how do we stop it?
At the first sign of this behavior it has to be dealt with immediately. It's like a dog who poops on the floor- You don’t wait a day or two to tell them "bad dog". First you need to sit them down and make them understand the importance of other people's feelings and emotional awareness.
The punishment has to be severe; and I mean severe enough that that the act of bullying is unthinkable! If the bullying is online or over the phone- Take away the device. Not for a day or a week, make it a month. And don’t give in. If the bullying is being done in person- get your child to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter and have them volunteer and listen to others stories of hardship. This will give them a unique perspective that they cannot get inside their own sphere of influence.
Other behavior solving activities are limiting access to their current peers. Get the child involved in activities that teach humility, compassion, comradery . I use Martial Arts as the ultimate medium. It has most of the elements needed to teach. I also rely heavily on Wilderness Adventure. The act of getting out of their comfort zone enables them to learn un-inhibited from the distractions of the every day.
During the punishment phase (not before or after) its most important for the bully to issue a sincere apology to the victim- in person. This is done during the punishment because the newly reformed bully needs to be humbled and show the right amount of empathy otherwise it will be spiteful and with little remorse.
Our main goal here is to make all children feel important and good about themselves. By curbing less than desirable behavior we can make sure that bullying does not extend into adulthood. Make sure we build children up with talks of honor and respect. Include dialog of valuing other people's feelings and how their behavior influences others actions both good and bad. Be sure they have the right role models to look up to and they are not emulating what they see on reality TV & internet videos. Don’t let a bully make excuses for their actions. Make them take responsibility for what they have done and do everything it takes to prevent this behavior from happening again. This process won't happen overnight, it will take some time. But don’t give up, the last thing a parent wants on their mind or their child's is having someone commit suicide because of them.
I always make myself available for question. If you would like to talk more about this please don't hesitate to reach out to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Everyone has the need for connection. Whether it's friendship, family or intimate relationships- we all look for it.
Connection can be found in many forms: people, animals, prayer, working out or virtual, just to name a few. If we fail to gain connection in our desired area we look elsewhere. For example: If we are looking to connect with our family, we may forego the need for connection and look for significance or certainty (other basic human needs). But in doing this, the activity it is usually less than wholesome or empowering and often disruptive and limiting. These activities are not limited to overeating, perusing a toxic relationship to "get back", angry outbursts and becoming ill. I can go on but I don’t want to give anyone any ideas.
So, how do we achieve the connection we want? First, understand the different ways you can connect and disconnect from people. Keep in mind some ways you think you are building a connection may be destroying it. I'll give an example: You may feel you are connecting with a friend by watching a movie together although you may be texting with someone else (in an effort to connect). What you are actually doing is lowering the connection level of who you are watching the movie with by making them feel less important than your phone (they just see the phone, not the human element). Other ways to ruin the connection with another person is during a conversation with someone is to check your phone for texts or other forms other communication. So, make sure that you give your complete attention to others and limit multi-tasking- Its sometimes less productive than you think.
Body language, which counts towards 90% of communication can help or hurt your connection with other people. Do you roll your eyes, shrug your shoulders or get distracted during an interaction? If you do, stop it immediately!!!
Think of any connection you have with someone on a scale from 0-100. When you first meet someone you start off at 50 and everything you do either gives you a point or takes one away. Some activities can count as multiple points, like checking your phone -10 or a hug, +25.
Now, how do we make a lasting positive connection with people? Want to make an instant connection? Use mirroring. Without going overboard (that will make someone think you are making fun of them), mimic their behavior, tone of voice, breathing pattern & posture. To make a longer lasting connection take on the same interests. Only do this as long as they meet your personal values, otherwise you may not want to connect with them any further.
Other methods to create long lasting, meaningful connection with others is to take a sincere interest in them and their needs. It could be friends or family, if you put their needs as high of a priority as yours they will respect you more than you could imagine. If you are the type of person who always needs things to be done your way, you will limit the level of connection with that person and it will never be genuine and supportive.
Okay then, now take some time and evaluate the way you connect either consciously or unconsciously with others. Assess whether you are making positive or negative connections and what you can do to make changes. If you apply positive forms of connection you will see almost immediate results in those you surround yourself with