ARTICLE | CHANGING YOUR WORLD | by Orjan Pettersen
It’s a world tuned upside down. Things have changed. For a long time to come.
Around all of us, there’s a new game in town. Rules are different. For business. For social contact. For how we live our lives. Some of these will go, like restrictions, lockdowns and quarantines. Others may not. On a global scale, there’s change in the air. Pandemics do this.
The Black Death was a catalyst for the Renaissance, an end to feudal society in many places, with land and labourers’ wages becoming more plentiful, changing the economics of the time.
The Spanish Flu pandemic was maybe less directly influential, due to it coinciding with a much greater societal influencer, but it’s attributed to lower educational attainments and socioeconomic impacts thereafter.
The Covid-19 pandemic is already starting to shape societies. Countries are either becoming more nationalistic and inward-looking, whilst others see greater global cooperation as an outcome. The vaccine roll-out will act as a catalyst for this divide, as nations settle on narrower or wider views of how to reach their self interests.
Work is becoming different as many discover how to work from home with newfound technologies. Governments have been forced to adapt extreme and costly economic interventionist policies and people have discovered who the true ‘key workers’ are, something not easy to forget afterwards.
Pollution levels have dropped dramatically as it’s clear what driving these and people are in many places deprived of the great outdoors realise the true value of it, and it’s yet to be seen how this will shift public opinion on how we live.
Consumption of goods has gone more local as self-isolation bites and in many communities caring for vulnerable people and health workers have become important . These trends may have a longer term bearing on how we live long after the pandemic is gone.
Many in the self defence and martial arts community have found that their world is changing, too. Will this be long-term? Teaching has moved online. Technologies and social media are suddenly as critical as everything else. New revenue streams must be invented or changed.
Self-discipline and adaptability are the key differentiator for success, for both instructors and students. The home is the new dojo, the garden has become the studio, the garage is the gym, as the practitioners find new worlds to operate in.
How are you adopting? It’s an honest question for all of us to ask. How am I actually adopting to this? Are my choices good, bad or ugly? What will my martial art or fitness world look like once this is over? Or rather, what will I look like?
What about the author? What’s my story so far? Well, from having had a very structured regime, teaching and training, I’m finding new methods to apply, new disciplines to adopt and new places to create my temporary Krav Maga life in.
Is it working for me? So far, so good - as far as good can be. I’m discovering truths, creativity and new disciplines. Let’s look at three elements evident to me.
Firstly, my physical conditioning is actually improving. Being aged 54, it’s hard enough to keep and maintain it at the best of times. The lockdown restrictions in the UK only permits me daily outdoor (away from home) exercise, for example a neighbourhood run or a walk.
I’ve chosen running as it’s most energetic. Not being a typical runner, I’m a 4:30+/km guy. Since the third lockdown began in the UK a few weeks ago, I’ve shaved 25 secs off my km times. Putting in more high intensity minutes than anytime in the last year, my Vo2 max has also improved weekly and my fitness tracker fitness age is 20 years old. (Looking at it with some Luddite scepticism, of course, but the point is there, it’s a definite improvement from where I was).
Strength training is another area where I’ve had to adapt my world. Leg training consists of a range of functional movements, from jumping from one leg to another conducting kicks and balancing on landing, to squats and lunge jumps, to sissy squats and wall sits. Not a barbell or dumbbell in sight. I don’t possess any at home. My upper body training is the same. Resistance bands are the modus operandi, accompanied by body weight exercises such as pull ups, sits up and press-ups.
My Krav Maga sessions are either conducted from our online training from the iPad streaming onto the TV in the living room, restricted as it’s after all the family communal area, or on the lawn behind the house. It’s a matter of creating a routine to work by. (See my earlier articles on this).
Does this work? It’s ok. It’s not ideal for a permanent solution. We all need our schools. I miss my usual equipment, I miss my teaching and training routine and I miss my community of brothers and sisters in Krav Maga. But it’s my newly created world for the time being. It’s a race I’ve begun, or a self defence session I’ve started, or a fight that’s now on - and ‘never surrender’ is our motto and motivational guiding light, so what’s the choice, but to go on?
Secondly, my mental strength is put to the test and holding strong. The recorded stress levels from my fitness tracker is lower than anytime in the last few years. My resting heart rate is remaining low, around 44-46 bpm. My sleep patterns are good.
What’s the secret? Adaptability and acceptance. Changing to the new world rather than fighting and moaning about it. Knowing that it’s temporary and changing what you can change is important, being at ease with the rest is critical.
Admittedly, I’m working professionally with some very motivated and dedicated people, steadfast in resolution and their discipline. They instil inspiration. The same is true of my Krav Maga community. It keeps going, adapting and looking forward. We all need role models, even when and where we try to be one. Isn’t that true?
Thirdly, about those people. Doesn’t crises divide people - and character and ethics come out for the world to see?
I’ve seen it manifest itself so strongly. From the key workers I professionally stand alongside who have opted voluntarily to work to serve vulnerable and scared people without any upfront extra incentive or reward, when they had a choice not to do anything and just go home to their families, to the Krav Maga community and my mentor and coach who has provided dozens of online sessions for our students and keep going.
Life goes on for these people, and it’s a life that’s bigger than just them, because colleagues and customers are served, when it would be easier sometimes to just look after self. Their world wasn’t the self, the ego, the small world. It was something bigger, something not just involving themselves.
Maybe that’s my changing world as we eventually exit this pandemic. Scared we may be, restricted we are, bored would be the outcome for many.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Our heads can remain strong, our bodies healthy and active - and a new and discovered reality of what good character and solid ethics can produce sets an example to follow in years to come.
All pandemics are bad, but history show they produce change. What your change will be is down to you.
Be the one that completes the race. And, in this race, finishing strongly is all you need to do to win.