The music and hype is not real

The music and hype is not real

Nervousness kicking in for your big day of competition?  As a promoter, my job is to hype up our upcoming event, Project Mayhem.  I want people to think that this will be the biggest and most badass event.  Posters, highlight videos, and different marketing tools will be used to build excitement in order to sell tickets.  At the event, I’ll have the production team employ music, smoke, and maybe even fire to further entertain the audience and amplify the spectacle.


That is not my job as a coach.  As a coach, I want you (the student, the developing athlete, the competitor), to see what a competition event truly is.  Take away the lights, cameras, hype, drama, music, and all the other theatrics; what you are left with are two athletes doing what they already do every training session, and that is to fight.  Everything else is just unnecessary noise and distraction.  

The promoter will try to sell to the viewer and athletes that this will be the end all be all event.  As a competitor participating in the event, you must try to look beyond all of that and see it for what it really is, two athletes fighting while accompanied by a referee, judges, and cornermen.  Simple.


I remember way back in my 4th muay thai fight when I let the lights and the intensity of the event get to me.  The event was hosted by my home club, TKO Fighting Arts and it took place at Elements Nightclub.  Big fancy spot lights directed at the ring, loud music, and an even louder hometown cheering your name - I let it all get to me.  I went out guns blazing and gassed in the 3rd round.  I was lucky enough to pull through with a victory but boy was I tired.  Moral of the story?  Embrace all the action, soak in the surroundings, and have fun with it but remember to keep everything in perspective.  Train the way you fight, fight the way you train. 

Don’t make it out to be more than it ought to be.

Two fighters, a ref, judges, and cornermen - F@&# everything else.

This post was inspired by John Danaher's insight.


Awareness and starting with small goals

Awareness and starting with small goals

Sometimes you are going along a pathway, and you keep going even if it seems like that way is no longer right for you. Sometimes you feel that you have traveled too far to turn back so you settle on the journey you are on currently. A powerful tool is the ability to assess your current position. Assessment has a high pay-off if you commit to do it and do it well; that’s because it requires a self-awareness and honesty that part of the journey towards anything is stopping to ask yourself if you are going in the right direction.  Sometimes that requires the courage to reassess and admit that the direction you are going in isn’t really what you want. 

Some questions to ask yourself about where you are going: 

  • Do you still want it? 
  • What is the result you are searching for?
  • How do you want to feel? 

While these questions seem relatively simple, they require you to look hard at how things are going. It will be surprisingly more difficult than you expect because most of us are unaware of our blind spots. If you think you don’t have one, ask a trusted friend. They are far more likely to notice negative patterns in your behaviour than you are because sometimes it is the very decisions we are making to keep us “safe” that are holding us back from reaching our dreams, or at the very least our current goals. 

Paying attention to the things you do not want to pay attention to requires a willingness to shine a light on the things in your life that trigger you the most. Lasting transformation means being an objective witness on the parts of yourself that you hide from the most. While generally the most painful, they are usually the biggest catalysts for change. 

Once you have gone through the difficult process of assessing where you are. Remember the most important thing: do not beat yourself up! We have all heard the cliched quote, “the truth will set you free.” Well, that’s an incomplete quote. The real quote is, “the truth will set you free, but it will shatter your illusions first.” Being honest with yourself is an incredibly hard and brave thing to do.  

A link to a free workbook on how to deal with triggers when they come up.

Part of making lasting change is to make small promises to yourself and keep them. Small promises are the things you know without a doubt you can do. As you keep these small promises, you build confidence and trust in yourself. It is easy to rush into things and throw ourselves into big lofty goals. Instead of making goals like I want to go to the gym, eat better, or you know throw a perfect swing kick every time (I’m so guilty! ), start small. Make one small promise to yourself daily and keep it. You will be surprised at how likely you are to commit to your bigger goals once you show yourself how you can commit to the smaller ones. 

Link to habit tracker.

Set a reminder on your phone.

Write it somewhere where you can see it.

Don’t forget to celebrate yourself when you do it.

So, what is one small promise you will be making to yourself today?




Samantha Mogulko 

When not spending time with my family, you’ll find me on the Muay Thai or Yoga mat, or with my nose in a book. While my day is spent in corporate retail, I am a certified Reiki practitioner and tarot card reader. Life is about the mind, body, and spirit and I spend time strengthening that connection.



How martial arts can help with anger

How martial arts can help with anger

It is a common story. Someone having experienced something traumatic and doesn’t know how to process the experience develops extreme behaviours. Think movies like Karate Kid, Never Back Down, or Warrior. Dealing with poverty, bullying, and loss completely overshadows their behaviour leading them to make some questionable choices. Then through a series of synchronistic events they find themselves faced with learning a martial art, and through that art they transform their pain into something beneficial. 

What does this have to do with anger? 

Let me first set the stage by stating for the record that I’m not a psychologist. And the information shared here comes from my own healing practice, working with spiritual mentors and studying human behaviour over a long period of time.

Anger. Anger gets a bad rep because if untended can be very destructive. Think war, aggression, violence. 

Yet emotions are neither bad nor good, they simply provide information. On the positive side, anger inspires action by telling you what’s not working for you. It tells you who/what is overstepping your boundaries. It asks you to take your responsibility back. It allows you to choose again. 

From an energetic perspective, anger has an upward motion; it needs to leave your body. Anger literally NEEDS movement to leave the body.

I have personally spent a lot of time working on emotional wellbeing and for so many years I thought emotional intelligence was the ability to “control” emotions. What I have learned is that control doesn’t put the energy anywhere useful. The problem is when you don’t process it, or ignore it, then they tend to control you instead. 

The scenario is that you are angry; you realize a boundary has been crossed and you want to set it right, but you have no control over the outcome of the situation. The outcome is in the hands of someone else, the deed is done, the betrayal has happened. How do you respond? For the most part I believe we hope we don’t let anger drive our response (especially when we are dealing with family, friends, or colleagues). Then where does that anger go, where do we put it?   On the mat.

Every time you step on the mat, or in that ring, you can intentionally decide to transform that energy into something beneficial. Drawing on the explosive energy in training will not only leave you feeling lighter, but it will allow you to communicate boundaries with an even head when you need to. 

Maybe you do this already. Then this level of awareness and intentionality can really bring more depth to your practice. You can literally declare that the anger and energy you release can be transformed into new, useful energy. 

While you might not have control over a situation or another person, you ALWAYS own your-self. 

Who knows, you might find that you find more strength and passion with your practice when you bring awareness to how you are feeling beforehand. 

Please remind yourself of the real message of anger: that of dis-empowerment. It’s never truly about the other. It’s about not acting (or not knowing how to act or even not being capable to act) on your actual needs and desires. 

It is no wonder then that martial arts movies really appeal to people and it is a story that resonates. There is a real sense of freedom when you not only process your emotions but learn to use them to help you achieve your goals.

“Any anger that is not coming out, flowing freely, will turn into sadism, power drive, stammering, and other means of torturing.” – Bruce Lee




Samantha Mogulko 

When not spending time with my family, you’ll find me on the Muay Thai or Yoga mat, or with my nose in a book. While my day is spent in corporate retail, I am a certified Reiki practitioner and tarot card reader. Life is about the mind, body, and spirit and I spend time strengthening that connection.



Mental toughness is just you not losing concentration

Mental toughness is just you not losing concentration

You get hit once, twice, maybe a third...! You are thinking, “My opponent sure is landing a lot on me and that last one hurt!” Mentally breaking is nothing but just the loss of concentration of the task at hand.  If you can remain in the moment and stay focused,  you will never break.  Some call this mental toughness.  I call it mental concentration. Like anything else, you can improve your concentration through practice.  

If you have been mentally broken in training or sparring, you  know the feeling I am talking about.  Don’t be so quick to label yourself as mentally weak! The trick to unwavering concentration and focus (mental toughness) is to accept and let all negative situations or feelings flow right through you as they enter your mind.  Once you bring your attention to the pain or dwell on the strikes that the opponent is landing on you, discouragement can start to show its ugly face.  Have you ever seen a fight where a fighter who has clearly lost remains  convinced that he had won immediately after the judge’s decision?  The fighter, despite losing on the  scorecards, was never emotionally and mentally affected by anything his opponent did therefore he may have “felt” like he had won.  Sometimes you win, but you feel like you have lost.  Other times you lose, but feel like you have won.  It is all mental.

In 1963 a Vietnamese Buddhist monk by the name of Thích Quang Duc burned himself alive on the streets of Saigon to make a public statement about equality.  The unbelievable part of this story is that Thích Quang Duc burned to his death while not showing any sign of pain or discomfort.  The monk was in a deep state of concentration that transcended the physical.  

Ask yourself; how can I use this knowledge to make myself mentally tougher?

“If you can’t get into the mind of your opponent, you cannot break him nor his will.” -Frank



Your mind should be just as tired as your body after training

Your mind should be just as tired as your body after training

As a youngster training muay thai, I just wanted to hit things.  I would max out on cardio every session, and often went through the motions of fighting with little thought given to the details. I also wasn’t the best sparring partner as I only had 1 gear, and that’s 100% GO.  I got to a good level in muay thai, but I could have gotten there faster. This kind of intensity in training is great for competition and fight camp, but don't forget to also prioritize skill and technique acquisition during the off season. 

When I started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at 32,  I adopted a new mindset.  One that gave a greater emphasis to learning and overall being more reflective about my training inside and outside of the dojo.  When practicing a new move,  I would tone down the intensity to 30% and really try to bring my mind to the technique and form at hand.  When rolling, I don’t just do what feels right, because what feels right at the beginning might not be what is “technically” right.  I do what is appropriate, and over time that will start to feel right.   As a result of this new mindset, I saw tremendous growth and improvement in my Brazilian jiu-jitsu game in a relatively short period of time.  

Remember, skill and technique acquisition should be an important part of your fight training.  Be analytical, be critical, and  strive to perfect your craft.  Your mind should be just as tired as your body by the day's end.


PS.  With that being side, don't use this as an excuse to avoid those intense workouts!  As a fighter, you still need a couple of those a week!


Receiving my purple belt after 3 years of training BJJ.  Renowned BJJ coach John Daenarher believes that you can reach a high level in any skill set given 5 years of deliberate practice.  Is it really "too late" to start anything if this is true?


One of my toughest BJJ opponents who bested me twice in 2 different tournaments.  I have to thank guys like him because these losses really pushed me to deepen my understanding of the art, forcing me to think more critically about my approach to training.  I want a trilogy. 

My first gold at blue belt!