Kung Fu Swords

Fear Punched You in the Face…Time to Shake it Off.

“Everybody has  a plan until they get punched in the face” –Mike Tyson

I love this quote. As simple as it sounds, this is the type of wisdom that comes from the cold and often unforgiving experience that life brings. The understanding of which can rarely be found in a book or a class or any type of formal training or education. It needs to be experienced through the wave of punches life throws at us.

…and here you are experiencing it.

Everyone steps out with grand intentions. Once they get bopped in the nose though, things change. Your eyes water, emotions, adrenaline, and fear amp up. Your mind suddenly is clouded. Suddenly your will and intentions go up against the conflicting will and intention of an opponent, and things aren’t going as you hoped.

Fear is a big part of this reaction, but this reaction is also a perfect metaphor for fear.

The significant shift to watch out for here is the shift from being proactive to reactive.

When we start out with an inspired plan, we are motivated, dreaming, and enthusiastic. Then life hits back a little. Suddenly a little fear is thrown into the mix, and it’s quite like getting punched in the nose.

Some people take this as a sign to give up on whatever you were dreaming about. The wiser know that this is the universe testing us to see if we’re sincere, if we really want it, or if we’ll compromise instead.

When this fear sets in, if we don’t take steps to mitigate it we stay in a reactive mindset.

When we’re in a reactive mindset we cannot create. We are not inspired; we simply respond to whatever is being pounded against our five senses from our outside world.

When we are proactive, motivated, inspired, and feeling connected to something outside of ourselves we feel energized and we don’t want to stop.  When we get into a rhythm with it we sometimes notice that solutions come in almost magically, and strange coincidences occur aligned with what we want and what we are trying to accomplish. That is, until fear punches us in the nose. Then we’re just dancing to the five senses again, and they always take the lead.

In Praying Mantis Kung Fu I teach my students to Strike First. No, not as in throw punches at whoever you want because you think they are bad or that they deserve it; Strike First in life. Strike first means being proactive. I teach that being proactive is moving from an inspired place with yourself, and creating the reality you want. Reactive is just moving according to outside influence; your five senses collect input and then respond accordingly, no different from an advanced automaton .

In sparring, as in life, being proactive sounds ideal, and you might come out of the corner thinking proactively, and understanding the concept; don’t simply play defence and let your opponent set the timing, distance, and rhythm; be proactive and make them follow your lead. All that intention might quickly shift after that first punch in the face we receive though.

In our current world, we all got punched in the face with fear. Most of us shifted from proactive to reactive. We started merely reacting to the bombardment of the five senses and letting that conduct our lives, instead of striking first and moving from a place of inspiration, motivation, and love.

It’s time to shuffle back, shake it off, and break that pattern

to be continued…

Sifu Atalick
Master Instructor
Holistic Kung Fu Online
Niagara Kung Fu Academy

Sifu Atalick has owned and operated the Niagara Kung Fu Academy since 2005 and has been teaching Holistic Kung Fu for 20 years. Holistic Kung Fu as taught at NKFA helps kids and adults build self-discipline, confidence, and focus, helping them to achieve higher levels of success and fulfilment academically and in their careers. He is the author of “Be Like Tea: The Art of Holistic Kung Fu

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Getting Back To Kickin’

As we get back to our old routine, like late 2019 era, there’s a couple of approaches we should be weary of beforehand. I thought I’d write this quickly because it’s a pressing issue. I didn’t want too much time to pass before I address it.

We’re bound to make one of these two mistakes if we’re not careful.

The first being assuming everything is exactly as it was. The truth is, it’s not. You very likely do not have the same body you had a year and a half ago. You might be the same weight, so you think you’re fine. This doesn’t mean your stamina is the same, your flexibility is the same, your balance is the same. Don’t rush into the exact same type of activity you remember yourself doing pre-demic .

Don’t get flustered when your kicks aren’t as high as they were before,

and don’t push them to that height because that’s how high you remember kicking. Your body might disagree and this disagreement will end in you being hurt.  Take your time. Your comfort zone may have shrunk back down again, don’t rush to expand it back out to where it was previously. Gentle nudges outside of it will do.

Your muscle memory might be a little hazy. If your body structure is slightly different, even subconsciously, your muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, might not support what you’re now trying to do. Take time to build back muscle memory with light repetitions of everything. Refresh those neural pathways lightly and don’t put too much impact in just  yet.

                The same is true psychologically…

You may have spent a lot of time without seeing people face to face, especially without masks on. Trying to jump straight back in to the same social activity before and after class you were used to could be stressful for you. Take your time. Small consistent increments are what made your training great in the first place. If you have had trouble with social anxiety in the past and have overcome it, don’t expect to have the same confidence you earned previously; it may take a little time to come back. Don’t be upset about this. Give yourself time and take small yet consistent actions. The good news is you will return to your previous progress much faster, but no rush is needed.

The second mistake you might find yourself making is not getting moving at all.

You will think of what you used to be capable of, realize you cannot do the same things as before, and then just not start training again altogether. The solutions is the same; small consistent action.

If you’re worried about fitness training, just make it through the warm up. If you’re worried about the warm up, just get to bowing into class. If you’re nervous about bowing into class, just step onto the mat. If you’re shy about stepping on the mat, just step through the front door.

Remember the one dish theory.

When you’re in  a rut and you’re depressed, and your kitchen is a mess and the sink is full of dishes, don’t try and contemplate the whole plan of getting yourself up, getting the house clean, organizing yourself, and getting back up to full speed again. Instead, give yourself permission to wash just one dish and then sit back down. After that if you feel like washing one or two more then go ahead.

The best Kung Fu isn’t found in the dramatic montage you do once, it’s found in the routine that starts off with only 1 minute per day, consistently, that gradually compounds.

Start with just a little momentum. Put on your Fei Yu shoes and wash a dish.


See you in class  😉


Sifu Atalick
Master Instructor
Holistic Kung Fu Online
Niagara Kung Fu Academy

Sifu Atalick has owned and operated the Niagara Kung Fu Academy since 2005 and has been teaching Holistic Kung Fu for 20 years. Holistic Kung Fu as taught at NKFA helps kids and adults build self-discipline, confidence, and focus, helping them to achieve higher levels of success and fulfilment academically and in their careers. He is the author of “Be Like Tea: The Art of Holistic Kung Fu

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strike first

STRIKE FIRST! – Getting up early and being proactive as a family

Mastering Praying Mantis Kung Fu has been one of the proudest and most important accomplishments of my life. If had to condense 2 decades of training, teaching, and self-discovery into a 20 minute conversation, I would explain the strike first principle, and then let the person on the other end of the conversation unpack it in their own way over the next 2 decades.

Here is a head start on how to use it with family

Warning – not a sob story

When I was in my late teens and early twenties I had a very interesting time living at home. My father was an alcoholic at that time. I’m not going to go into a sob story here about how rough these years were. That is not my intention. This is more of an uplifting story. I instead want to express the power of getting up early, and striking first.

As a family, my dad was leading us on a path of rebuilding after a long state of depression, financial ruin, and constant lack. My father is one of the most inspiring people in my life. During this time, while he was tied to this destructive habit, he was incredibly functional. He still managed to work hard and build back up a life of wealth that I had not experienced growing up. I attribute this in large part to his ability to wake up early. No matter how smashed he would get the night before, he was always up early, ready to tackle a new day and a new plan.

This irritated me to no end. At that time, like many young people, I was up late the night before, chatting with friends, partying, playing video games, etc. As a result, my intentions were to be up at the crack of noon at the earliest if I wasn’t in school. These plans were regularly interrupted by him pounding on my door early, “Rob, wake up! You’re wasting daylight”. For years I hated this, but years later I came to witness how a functional alcoholic could build a life of wealth despite having a massive addiction.

Eventually, when my father chose to be sober, it was like throwing gasoline on a fire, and his growth multiplied, financially, physically, and spiritually. The lesson here is, that even with the monkey on his back, he was still successful because he chose to get up early and get moving while others were still asleep.

If I had heeded this advice in my late teens I would probably be much further ahead in my own development, physically, mentally, and financially than I am now, but like many, I had to relearn the lesson in my own time. Years later I would learn why this simple habit is so important. Dad was striking first. I will share an overview of that with you now.

In Kung Fu Terms:

In Praying Mantis Kung Fu and to a greater extent, Holistic Kung Fu in general, strike first means be proactive, take the lead, don’t react, don’t meet the opponent on their level, bring them to your level. Don’t wait for them to strike, move first and force them to react to you rather than vice-versa. This principle SHOULD NOT be interpreted as hitting people when you think they deserve it, or when they upset you. It means move proactively to redirect the tone of the confrontation. This principle should not be restricted to combat alone. Once you understand it properly you will see that it applies to all relationship. Relationships with an adversary, a partner, a group, and society. There is a difference between waiting for feedback and waiting and being reactive. Those two things should also not be confused here.

It would seem Bruce Lee understood the strike first principle (it’s worth noting he studied Praying Mantis Kung fu through the texts written by my teacher’s teacher, Wong Hon Fun) when he wrote “…attack [the opponent] on his preparation of attack”. This doesn’t have to be in the form of a punch or a kick, but it can be applied for any proactive gesture. If someone seems disgruntled, a smile and a hand shake could be an example of striking first. In an argument, offering a win-win alternative before any kind of name calling ensues is striking first. The sooner you strike first to overcome a confrontation the less likely it will explode and bring about unwanted consequences.

Dad was using the strike first principle in his relationship with society. Society often expects us to get up in the morning, brew our coffee, turn on the news, and react to the narrative that everyone else is reacting to. You are then expected to go to work being angry at the same things that everyone else is angry at.

This is an example of being reactive instead of proactive. In this case our opinions and mindset are assigned to us by the media, and our minds are filled with problems and conflicts that are not within our immediate control, leaving us powerless and unaccountable for our own actions and destiny. We are simply reacting to all the punches that life throws at us, one after another, hoping to successfully block enough shots to make it through until pay day. Dad was up and moving working toward his goals before he had a chance to let mainstream narratives tell him what to think or feel.

When you get up proactively and decide how your day will go, set your own mindset, your own plan, and your own activity, you will be striking first.

When you exercise, or meditate, or use mental rehearsal on your daily to-do list, you are setting your own tone and your own narrative for the day. You will be less likely to be reactive to the regular stresses that trigger negative emotions for most people. This is not just important for you, but as a leader for your family, you will be setting the example for the rest of your crew to do the same.

The late and great Zig Ziglar once said something along the lines of, a must for a happy and loving family is, when you put them to bed give them a kiss and tell them you love them no matter what. When you wake them up, wake them with a kiss and tell them you love them. In other words, put them to sleep with love and wake them up with love. Now at the time of writing this I don’t yet have children of my own, and if you do it might make it more difficult for you to digest this chapter, but just try your best.

After reading this idea by Zig Ziglar in his book “Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World”, I couldn’t help but implement this. Every morning I wake my wife up with a kiss and a cuddle, letting her know she means everything to me. I want this to be the first thing she knows when she gets up. For these few minutes or more I set the tone for our day, whether we’re going to be together or separate for the rest of the day.

This how you strike first with family. As a leader, you want to set the tone and the emotional direction for your crew. If you let everyone wake up on their own and ignore them until they come to you with problems, concerns, urgencies, catastrophes, then you may have fallen into a state of reactivity. You’ll be putting out fires all morning praying for the time when you are either gone to work or until they are all out of the house and leaving you alone.

Having a good morning routine for everyone can avoid this. Keeping the news or social media off, and instead discussing goals and tasks for the day, as well as hopes and expectations can keep the whole family proactive.

If you are more spiritual family, taking time to discuss your dreams from the night before can also be a great family exercise. In her book “Living the Field”, which I also highly recommend, Lynne McTaggart explains that many native cultures believe that your own dreams do not belong to you as an individual, but are a gift from your subconscious or super-conscious mind that belong to the tribe, and should be shared… provided they’re age appropriate, obviously.

Physical exercise together may seem like a stretch, but if you can pull it off it will do wonders for everyone.

Easier said than done I know, but if you really want to learn how to masterfully apply this principle for your family in the morning I HIGHLY recommend you read 1-2-3 Magic Thomas W. Phelan. You will learn the difference between start and stop behaviour. Very simply summarized, start behavior is behaviour that you want your child to start doing, and stop behaviour is behaviour you want them to stop immediately, because it is inappropriate, undesired, or dangerous. The techniques for either are quite different, but you will discover that start behaviour is basically the strike first principle. Strike first or start behaviour is proactive, and stop behaviour is dealt with reactively. In a perfect world we would deal in only start behaviour. The world being imperfect, we must learn both, but constantly strive for more start discipline and less stop discipline.


Sifu Atalick
Master Instructor
Holistic Kung Fu Online
Niagara Kung Fu Academy

Sifu Atalick has owned and operated the Niagara Kung Fu Academy since 2005 and has been teaching Holistic Kung Fu for 20 years. Holistic Kung Fu as taught at NKFA helps kids and adults build self-discipline, confidence, and focus, helping them to achieve higher levels of success and fulfilment academically and in their careers. He is the author of “Be Like Tea: The Art of Holistic Kung Fu

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Develop Confidence by Keeping Score (part 1)

One of my most influential mentors, Grand Master Jeff Smith, always says “what gets measured gets done”. In a way, we’re all self-employed. As author and speaker Brian Tracy tells it, we’re all business owners and entrepreneurs already, even if you think you have a normal job and you’re working for someone else. You are your own boss. Your actual boss is just a customer, paying you for your service. Whether that service is value based, result based, or time based will depend on the job. Either way, you are providing that service and being compensated for it. As a self-employed person, keeping yourself accountable can be one of the most challenging things to do.

Keeping a notebook can help with this.

By writing down your ideas, tasks, goals, etc. in your notebook it also acts as an accountability tool. You can look back at past ideas or initiatives that you’ve started and check on yourself to see if you followed through with them. Once you get in this habit you can become more sophisticated with practice. You can write down what actions you’ve taken every day, week, month, or year. Without a notebook it’s easy to have a goal in mind, get distracted, get derailed, and forget about it entirely. It’s not actually a goal until it’s committed to writing. Committing goals into writing is the first step to moving toward them.

There’s more to it than that, but the very first step is to write them down.

It’s very satisfying to look back on past notes and see a goal that you wrote down, that at the time you thought was impossible, and now you’ve achieved that goal, and probably much more. If you don’t commit it to writing though, it will probably be forgotten and you will return to the menial tasks of day-to-day life.

If you’re playing soccer without keeping score, you may enjoy it, but you will have no objective feedback on how you’re doing. Keeping your goals, tasks, objectives, in your notebook is a simple way to keep score. If you didn’t catch my last post about the importance of always having a notebook, you can find it here. Most people give up on their goals because they don’t have someone keeping them accountable. Your notebook will help with this accountability. It’s no substitute for a coach or mentor keeping you in check, but it’s definitely better than nothing.

It can also help you when you need a pick-up

Years ago I was at a point where I was very upset with myself, I was stagnant in the development of growing my school. I seemed stuck at a ceiling of about 175 students and I couldn’t get to 200 students which was my goal.

Colleagues of mine had schools that were huge, 200, 300 students. They didn’t seem much smarter or better than me, so why was I sucking at this. This was affecting my confidence and my self-worth.

I took a day for self-reflection and I found myself rummaging through old notebooks I had stashed away in my basement. I found several from over the past decade and they had previous goals written in them. One said get the school to 50 students. At one time, I thought if I could just get to 50 active students at my school that would be awesome, because at the time of writing that, it seemed near impossible.

As I rummaged through my old notebooks in my somewhat melancholy state, I saw this old goal and many others and realized how far I had come. All of these goals seemed near impossible when I wrote them, and yet I accomplished all of them. Writing out the goals, and writing out the tasks and subtasks gave me objective feedback. Many people avoid objective feedback because they fear it will make them feel bad. Some people think it’s only important to feel positive and skip through life telling yourself everything is great even when it isn’t.

Being positive and being in denial is not the same thing and should not be confused

While it’s true, being objective can make you seem negative, it can also make you feel great. In this case, the objective feedback I got from looking at my past goals made me realize how much I had accomplished. Keeping this score made me feel confident again.

Keeping score is something that is less popular these days. People have kids play sports without keeping score for fear of affecting self-esteem in their kids. I would argue the exact opposite is true. In my case here, it was my self-esteem that was suffering, and looking back at the score board is what helped me. Confidence comes from the experience of genuine success. If we don’t experience genuine success, we can’t have genuine confidence, only false confidence. For genuine confidence we need objective feedback. Keeping score gives us objective feedback.

In my case, I wasn’t being objective;

I was letting negative emotions get the best of me. Keeping score is an important part of keeping on track, measuring your progress, and correcting course.

Think of a torpedo being fired from a submarine. Although it may be aimed in the general direction of the target when fired, it may not have been aimed perfectly in the right trajectory, and the target will likely move. The torpedo receives feedback on the target’s location and adjusts its fins as it travels closer to the target. It constantly gets feedback and constantly adjusts along the path until it hits the target.

You, as a goal achieving machine, like a heat seeking missile, need feedback constantly to let you know whether or not you’re still on the correct course. How you feel is important and can also act as feedback, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss the objective feedback we get from numbers.

For Parents

Your Child’s early attempts to mimic your behavior and use a notebook of their own will be cute and possibly hilarious. On the other hand, it likely won’t serve the purpose of objective feedback the way you are using it and the way I’ve described above.

One very simple way you can achieve this objective is to keep a success journal for them. I learned this from one of my mentors, Lee Milteer, who is a fantastic lady, a great teacher and speaker.

A success journal is something simple but special where you log their achievements. Spend some time thinking back to their achievements and writing them down chronologically.  It can be getting an A+ after dedicating time to practice and study, scoring their first goal, getting an award at school.

The trick to this is to put achievements, things that needed effort and that took a little risk. Do not put in things that would happen anyway, like lost their first tooth or first day at school, because those may not be achievements as much as activities that we would just default into anyway. This is more for things that had to be earned by putting in time and sacrifice.

Typically whenever your kid is feeling shy, low on confidence and doesn’t believe in themselves they are not going to want to step out of their comfort zone. This will keep them from trying anything new or taking any chances. As a result, they might be stuck in a bit of a rut. At times like that you can pull this out and show them what they’ve achieved in the past using some effort, focus, determination, and faith in themselves. This will usually get them in a more confident mindset. Very simple little tool but can be very useful. As we say in Holistic Kung Fu, little hinges swing big doors.


Sifu Atalick has owned and operated the Niagara Kung Fu Academy since 2005 and has been teaching Holistic Kung Fu for 20 years. Holistic Kung Fu as taught at NKFA helps kids and adults build self-discipline, confidence, and focus, helping them to achieve higher levels of success and fulfilment academically and in their careers. He is the author of “Be Like Tea: The Art of Holistic Kung Fu

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