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Omega’s Guide – Women

We come to the last part of our guide, learning basic interaction with women. I left this for last on purpose; being attractive to women is primarily about demonstrating value to them and the prior advice will turn you into a (more) valuable man. (Game, or at least outer game, succeeds by mimicking the traits that demonstrate value; better to be than to mimic). If you’ve been implementing the previous parts of the guide, your value will already have increased, and you may have already noticed more success (or at least less failure) with women.

Before I begin, I’m going to be honest with you, as I’ve been rather uncomfortable about writing this part. I am mostly a failure in this area; I’m not sure if I’m even qualified to write this, but I have to, because this part is essential to any self-improvement guide for awkward males.

So, you should know that I’m not a player, a master of seduction, or any such thing. I’m not even all that successful with women. In fact, my romantic efforts have proven mostly fruitless in finding myself a wife and I haven’t been in a relationship in about four years. Everything I write here is stuff I’m still working on implementing (theory is a lot easier than practice).

What I do have is experience from being a total loser who wasn’t even in the dating game to having some success. I went from, literally, not being to speak with most women to, a couple of years later, having a couple short relationships. Now, I get occasional dates (one every few months) with moderately attractive women (6-8s). A vast improvement over the nothing I had prior.

So, the advice given here is not about game, it is not about becoming an alpha male, and it’s not about becoming king of the club. This advice will not help you find a smoking-hot 9 for a girlfriend or keep a rotating harem of 8s. I do not have the knowledge or experience to help you with that. If you’re looking for something like that try Roosh or Greene.

What this advice will help you accomplish is to go from being the loser who hasn’t had a date in three years (or ever for that matter) or is forced to date fat or unattractive girls to being a normal, socially well-adjusted man who can get the occasional date with a cute girl and, maybe, a moderately attractive girlfriend. If you’re the kind of person I’m making this guide for, that will be a large improvement over whatever you had (or more likely didn’t have) previously. Even if you’re not as total a loser as I was, some of the advice still might be useful to you.

This advice will not get into game in the sense of gimmicks, tricks, or “mind-games. It is simply about building yourself the social skills to be the kind of man a women of decent value might like to be with.

It will take a lot of work, and it will be a slow, grinding process. Don’t give up, keep trying. Simply remember how psyched you have been and will be in the future when you find yourself doing something you never thought you’d be able to do.

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Before we being, we’ll talk on the friendzone, a trap many men near the bottom of the socio-sexual hierarchy fall into.

The friendzone is a self-inflicted misery; stay out of it. If you value a woman as a friend, and only as a friend, be her friend and expect and desire nothing else. If something happens, it happens, but do not work towards it, do not look for it, do not desire it, and do not expect it.

It is highly unlikely you will get a relationship out of a friendzone friendship and it is very costly in terms of time and emotional effort. It is simply not something any reasonable person would pursue.

So don’t.

If you are friends with a women because you want a romantic relationship with her, then be forthright. Next time you see her, tell her straight, “I desire a romantic relationship with you. I can not remain friends with you because of my romantic emotions towards you.”

Maybe you’ll get a romantic relationship, maybe you won’t, but it is far better for you (and her) if you are rejected and end the “friendship”

If you don’t get the relationship, simply cut off the “friendship”. Stop spending time, resources, or emotional energy on her. You have better things to do with all three than waste it on a forlorn and pointless hope. Do not try to change her mind (you won’t); simply accept the rejection and move on.

If she asks why you cut her off, tell her the truth. You want a romantic relationship with her, not a friendship.

You can be friends with a woman, but only if the friendship is the end in itself. If the friendship is a means to a romantic relationship, it’s not a friendship; end it.

****

The next little trouble many men who are are socially maladapted fall into is that of “nice guys finish last” while jerks get the girls.

The problem with this type of thinking is twofold: “nice” and “good” are not equivalent and the underlying factor is not jerkiness/niceness but rather a combination of manliness, charisma,and desperation.

Whatever their other flaws, the jerks who get women exude masculinity, which attracts women and often charisma (of a sort); they also rarely exude desperation. “Nice guys” are generally deficient in both, as rather than assert their own purposes, they defer to other’s, particularly women’s, purposes. This is decidedly unmasculine. Nice guys often also lack charisma, it’s boring to have someone who is always nice and agreeable with you and never challenges you.  Being nice often gives of a vibe of desperation as well. As with the friendzone predicament, if you’re willing to do many nice things for a woman, she will see you as trying to “buy” her affections because you are desperate for his attention.

You want to avoid that, but that does not mean you have to become a “jerk”. Simply, try to be a man with your own purposes and make those purposes good ones.

Be a good man dedicated to good causes; don’t be a nice guy willing to defer to everyone else.

****

With that friendzone and nice guys nonsense out of the way, we’ll get to the actual meat of the issue.

The first thing you need to do is decide, “what kind of woman do I want?” and “for what purposes?” What kind of woman or women do you want to invite into your ideal life?

“I’ll take whatever I can get” is the wrong answer. It shows both that you are low value and that you are desperate for female attention, both of which are inner failings on your part which will repel women.

Women want a man of high value; what type of high value each woman will care for will depend on her particularity, but all women want a man of high value. The type of women you want to date will likely be of high enough value to be able to demand that.

Also, every women wants to feel like she was chosen because she’s “special.” If she thinks you stuck with her because she’s the only one you could get, she’ll reject you (unless she’s such low value herself that she thinks you’re the best she can get).

So, now be honest with yourself, what kind of woman do you want in your life? What kind of relationship(s) would you like to have?

Think on it a bit.

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Now that you have an idea of what you want, picture the type of man who has what you want. Look around at your friends, your church, your neighbourhood, your social group, etc. What type of men have the kind of woman you want?

Be that type of man.

Success with women starts well before you even say hi to any women.

It starts by being the type of man the type of woman you desire would desire.

This is nowhere near as easy as the little phrase makes it sound, but it’s the goal. You may never reach it, but work towards it.

I’ll repeat it, because I can not stress this enough:

To be successful with women, you should first be successful with the other areas of your life. Success is attractive to women.

There is no secret to attracting women, there is no shortcut, there is no magic technique; to attract a women simply requires

So keep on improving in all the other areas I’ve already written about.

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One last piece of theory before we get to practice.

Know your value on the dating market and act accordingly. If you are a short, ugly man, you will likely never get a “9″ (barring becoming a billionaire). On the other hand, with enough self-improvement, social skills, and value-building you might get a nice “7″.

If you spend all your time pursuing those 9s who will always reject you, but ignore that sweet little 7 with a crush on you, you will die alone.

Shoot for something attainable, but don’t settle. You want to work on finding a women on the upper edge of what you are able to obtain.

Look for a winning hand, not a perfect hand. If you hold out for a royal flush, you’ll almost surely lose, but that three of a kind will let you take the pot.

****

Theory is over, now for more practical advice.

The first thing you need to do is to talk with women. You’ll never get any romantic success if you don’t start talking with women.

Start with that girl you’ve been mooning over for the past 6 months, but have been unable to talk to (you know full well who I’m talking about). Next time you see her, go up to her, say “Hi, how’s your week been?” Then simply follow along, nod your head where appropriate, and ask questions or interject with your own stories (if you can). Let her carry most of the burden of conversation.

Your first time will probably be pathetic and you’ll probably be scared the whole time.

Good; face the fear.

Next time you see her, do the exact same thing, but a little better. The next time, do the same thing. From now on every time you see that girl, go up to her, ask her how her week (or day, or month, or whatever) has been, and try your best to talk along. (Remember your Dale Carnegie).

After a few weeks have gone by and you’ve talked with her a few times, ask her out. It’s simple: “Would you like to go for coffee (or in summer, ice cream) with me this Friday at 7?

She’ll probably say no because you didn’t interest her enough with your pathetic attempts at conversation. Accept that she’s going to reject you before you ask and don’t worry about it.

She’s rejected you: that’s great. I know it hurts, but what is far more important is that you tried, you asked her out.

Accept her answer, accept that she doesn’t like you, hurt for a few days or a week or two. Then get over it.

One woman rejected you and there are millions of cute girls out there. Go find another one.

If there is a women you moon over, who you already talk with regularly, just ask her out. A simple, “Wanna go for coffee with me Tuesday night at 6?” will do. See my advice in the friend zone section above.

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So now we’re at the point where you don’t really have any girl you particularly like, because “she” rejected you.

Good. Time to meet some women.

If you’ve been following along in the guide so far, you’ve probably been meeting lots of new people at your new social activities; I’m sure at least a few of them are pretty girls. Talk to them.

Do exactly what you did with the first girl. “Hi? How has your week been?” Nod where appropriate, ask questions about her (remember your Dale Carnegie), and talk when you can.

Your conversations with women will be awkward and painful at first. Don’t expect success right away. Simply talk as best you can. Every conversation you have will make you slightly better at it. Over time, without even really realizing it, you’ll become proficient. Just keep at it.

Talk with as many girls as you can. The more practice the better.

If you develop a particular fondness for a girl after a few conversations, simply ask her out. Same as above: “Let’s go for coffee for Sunday afternoon.”

You’ll probably get rejected a number of times before you get success. That’s fine, simply accept it and move on.

Don’t get too attached to any particular girl. If you find yourself getting attached to a girl, ask her out. From personal experience I know it is far less painful to be rejected immediately then to drag it out.

Keep talking to the girls in your social circles and keep asking out the ones you like; keep getting rejected.

As you do this, remember what you learned about body language and try (as best you can) to observe the body language of the girls you talk to. It can be a great help to pick up on her tells of whether she’s attracted to you or not.

Then, at some point one will accept your offer of a date.

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So, now you have a date. Here’s how to go about a first date.

Depending on where you and her live and your transportation systems, you can either pick her up or meet her. Either works, but if she doesn’t have a car and you do either pick her up or meet near her. She will not appreciate having to bus or walk long distances to meet you.

Arrive on time, but do not arrive more than a minute or two early (wait in the car or around the corner if you have to). Arriving early makes you seem desperate and is rather awkward for her. If you’re picking her up, get out of your car and get her; don’t just sit outside and honk.

A good general idea for first dates is gelati/ice cream in the summer or hot chocolate/coffee in the winter for a few reasons:

  • They’re cheap, this avoids the “who pays?” awkwardness. $4 coffee won’t cause you much fiscal pain and she won’t feel bad about it. Simply pay for both of you; don’t ask her, don’t consult her. Simply tell the clerk you’re paying for both of you and ignore her “objections”.  Pay in cash if possible; little will be more embarrassing than your debit not working because the bank is undergoing maintenance.
  • The atmosphere around these is relaxed, unlike dinner dates which are more formal, and ideal for talking, unlike movies.
  • Girls love ice cream; I’ve never met a girl who didn’t like ice cream (or a vegan alternative). Go for gelato if you can though. It’s enough like ice cream that everybody loves it and it won’t be off-putting, but just foreign enough that a lot of girls haven’t tried it, giving you a tiny amount of “worldly man” edge.
  • Everybody loves hot chocolate on a cold day; it just feels right. Most places that serve coffee serve hot chocolate and vice versa. Order the hot chocolate, and let her choose whatever drink she wants.

When choosing an ice cream/coffee place choose one that is either near a larger park or is in a “walkable”, attractive neighbourhood, preferably a place you’ve been around before.

Once you have your beverages, don’t sit down, instead, go for a walk through the park/ neighbourhood. This has a few advantages:

  • You’re doing something. Awkward pauses in conversation are far less awkward when you can both simply walk and admire the scenery.
  • Walking lends itself far easier and more naturally to playfulness and energy than sitting at a table or on a couch.
  • The scenery lends itself to creating conversation topics. Point out the cool looking dog, laugh at the garish colours of that odd house, remark upon that beautiful tree; whatever. There’s a lot more to talk about when walking around then when sitting down.
  • If you know the area, if lends itself well to telling stories showing you have a full life (which is attractive to women). You can talk about the great pizza you had with your friends at Luigi’s, about the soccer game you won at the field over there, about that amusing story with your friends at that pub, or whatever other experiences you’ve had.

Note: If it’s winter or a blustery day, make sure to mention to her that you plan on going for a walk either when you ask her out or when you pick her up so she can dress appropriately. The walk will not happen if she’s not dressed for it.

Now that you’re out walking, what to talk about:

  • Do not talk about politics, economics, religion, or other controversial issues unless she brings it up first or you know (for certain) that she’s really interested in them. If you both share the same core religious beliefs, you can talk about that, but avoid deep theology, unless, of course, she brings it up.
  • Do not talk about your hobbies that women find boring (ex. video games, science fiction, Warhammer), unless you know she shares those interests. You can mention them if she asks what you like to do, but don’t spend any time on them. Nobody cares about your lvl 17 Orc Paladin.
  • Avoid talking about your job, unless it’s very interesting. If she asks mention it, but most of use have relatively uninteresting jobs; don’t bore her by dwelling on them.
  • Do ask questions. Ask about her about herself, her family, her hopes, her dreams, her hobbies, etc. (remember your Dale Carnegie), but avoid it being an interrogation. After you ask about her family, tell her a bit about yours or remark about . If you find yourself asking two questions in a row you’re probably doing it wrong.
  • Talk about yourself. Let her get to know you. Talk about your (interesting) hobbies, your sports, your family, your recent trip, what you read recently, your friends, etc. But make sure to include her in the conversation; if you’ve been talking for more than few minutes without her saying anything (unless it’s a long, but good story) you’re doing it wrong.
  • Talk about stuff you see or stuff going on around you.

All these conversation “rules” are solely to help you get conversation started (or restarted after an awkward pause). Once it’s started, let the conversation flow naturally. If you’ve got a good conversation going don’t ruin it by trying to hard or trying to stick to a set of rules. Simply go with the flow.

End the date at the right time. If things are going well and conversation is flowing, keep going, let the date continue, don’t cut it off when things are going well. On the other hand, if there’s a natural end point and you’re running out of things to say, end the date. (Ex: “There’s my car” or after a longer pause “I have things to do, we should head back”)

Don’t try to awkwardly prolong the date; end it a bit before it becomes awkward, and try to end it naturally.

Finally we get to parting. If you’re dropping her off, get out of the car and walk her to her door. If you met up, walk her to her car or bike. If you both walked, don’t just awkwardly walk away; make a definite part.

So how do you part?

That depends on a large number of factors such as how well the date went, your comfort level, her apparent comfort level, how much you like her, her apparent like for you, and your (and her) views regarding physical intimacy.

Whatever it is do not draw it out. Once you are at the parting point, make it short, a few sentences and a parting hug/kiss. Do not keep blathering away like an idiot; it makes things awkward.

If you don’t want to see her again, a hug or handshake, and a thanks for the date will suffice. Do not tell you’ll call her if you won’t. Thank her for the date and tell her you enjoyed meeting her.

If you do want another date, then tell her you enjoyed the date. Then either tell her when and how you’ll contact her again (something like, “I’ll call you in the next couple days) or if you know your schedule, lock down the next date (“I’d like to see you again, how about next Friday night?”).

Follow this with some physical contact, depending on how the date went and your comfort level. A few types of contact are always bad, such as a parting handshake or a side hug (the way I too often end a date). Here’s some good types of physical contact to end a date with:

  • A full kiss. This is high risk. If you go for this and get it, you can be sure the date went well, but not all girls are comfortable with it and there’s a good chance it could flame out. As well, some, such as myself, may think it is too high a physical ecalation for such an early time. Go for this if you’re both really digging each other and you’re comofrtable with it. If she turns her cheek, that’s fine; if she pushes away you’ve blown it.
  • A full hug. This is the safe move; it’s neutral and won’t win you any points but its positive, will rarely be rejected, and won’t lose you points (except among the most licentious of women). Make sure you lead and make it a confident chest to chest press with both your arms around her. Don’t lean over, don’t fumble awkwardly trying to avoid her breasts, don’t do a side hug, don’t make it awkward, and don’t be tenative about it. Commit to it fully and just go for it. Hold it for two or three seconds, but no longer.
  • A light kiss on the forehead or top of the head. This has some intimacy to it and can be positive, but it has a sort of paternalism to it, which may backfire on you.
  • Take her hand and give a light kiss the back of her hand, like an old school gentleman. This is usually positive, as it harkens back to chivalry and most women get a little giddy from that, but the traditionalness of it can occasionally backfire, especially with more feminist women.
  • A peck on the cheek. Fairly safe for a date that has gone well. It shows a bit of intimacy, but is not as forward as the full kiss. It can possibly end awkwardly depending on how conservative she is or if she’s not as in to you.

Then tell her “See you later” and part. Don’t wait around after the goodbye contact; it makes things awkward.

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Now you have a second date (or third or fourth, your first few dates should all be similarly casual and give you the chance to get to know each other).

Choose something else relaxed, fun, and inexpensive, preferably something you know she likes. In a pinch, ice cream can work again, but may look a little stale.

  • If you share a hobby, doing that together would be a great idea.
  • Minigolf is good. It’s fun and relaxed. So is bowling.
  • A hike in the woods, a stroll in a large park, or a walk at the zoo or aquarium can be a good adventure. It’s relaxing, fun, and there’s plenty of interesting stuff to see, talk about.
  • Ice skating is great for the winter; it allows a great interplay between playfulness and getting to know each other.
  • Museums, art galleries, etc. can be a good trip. Make sure to choose something she might be interested in.
  • If you have a local touristy area, checking that out can be a good idea. You can walk around, admire the sites, check out the stalls, and have some casual snacks.

All of these can also work well as first date ideas.

After the first few dates, you can try dinner and a movie or, even better, cook her a meal and watch movies at your place.

After that, you’re on your own. You should know enough about her by this point to be able to figure out how to spend time together. Let things work from there.

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Lastly, cold approaches.

This is not something you’ll be able to do right away and will always be troublesome. You’ll probably need to build up to it. I still have difficulties with it. But here’s some exercises to help you build up to it.

Start by simply looking girls in the eye and smiling (make it a confident smile), as you pass them in the streets. In fact, try to make it a habit. Do this for every girl you see for two weeks.

The next two weeks, do the same, but say hi as well. Then keep walking (unless she makes a point to start a conversation with you; in which case talk to her).

The following two weeks, do the same, but if she smiles or says hi back, ask her how her day is going.

The following two weeks, if you see a girl you think is really pretty talk to her. If the clerk at Target is cute, as her about her day. Ask the gal on the bus what she’s reading or where she’s going. Ask the girl in line with you at the coffee shop how her day has been.

If any at any time, these turn into real conversations, and it seems like she might be interested, ask for her number.

If you get it, phone her two days later and set up a date. Then go to first date protocol.

Start small, and work your way up.

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Random Tips

  • Remember your Dale Carnegie: smile. When interacting with women, be happy, be energetic, be positive. Nobody is attracted to the morose loser. (The brooding loner can be attractive if pulled off right; but if you need my help, you aren’t going to pull it off right).
  • Remember your body language. If you can’t be confident, at least look it. Also, look to women’s body language. I can not stress enough the importance of body language.
  • Take advantages of opportunities. If a girl says she really wants to go to a new restaurant, or see a new museum exhibit, or visit some place, or try some activity, she’s handing you an opening, use it. It’s a simple, “That does sound like fun, how about we go see that local play next week?” If she hands it to you, take it.
  • No movies or dinner for your first few dates. Save movies until after you’ve known each other a while, because they don’t let you to talk during them. Save dinner until you’re actually dating, as it costs a lot, is too stereotypical (and thus “boring’), and looks try-hard.
  • Don’t be desperate. Avoid phoning her more than once a day, and don’t phone her more than once between each date for your first half-dozen dates. Don’t text her twice in a row. After a date, wait a day or two before contacting her again. You can relax on these rules once you’re in a steady relationship.
  • On the other hand, don’t go too far the other way. If you wait to long, she’ll simply not respond.
  • Try to be natural. Don’t try too hard, don’t look like you’re trying to hard. Don’t try to put on a false persona. Act natural and confident.
  • Practice. Social skills are like any other skill; you need to practice.
  • Keep eye contact.

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Your goal:

Your goal for the week is to look every girl you pass in the streets in the eyes and smile at her.

Also, if you see “her” this week who you’ve been unable to talk to, ask her how her day is going.

If “she” is a friend or acquaintance you have talked to, ask her out.

Omega’s Guide – Body Language

Last week in the Omega’s Guide, we worked on personal presentation through grooming and dress. Today, we will be lookin at personal presentation through something more fundamental, yet more difficult, body language.

You’ve probably heard the little nugget that some improbably high percentage of your the meaning of your communications comes from body language and tone, while the actual words mean little. What the percentage is and whether it’s true doesn’t matter, what does matter is that body language is important.

Body language says a lot about what you and others are thinking. As an omega or lesser beta you’re probably somewhat oblivious to body language, but you need to learn. Others are reading a lot into who you are and what you’re thinking through your body language. Also, by missing social cues from others body language your making your social interactions a lot more difficult.

I can’t tell you everything there is to know about body language, so you need to pick up a book on it. I personally own the Definitive Book on Body Language; it outlines it much of basic body language in a simple manner and has good illustrations. Pick it up and read through it, then apply what your read. Watch other people and identify what their bodies are expressing based on the book. The more you do it, the easier it gets; eventually it will come naturally (most of the time).

While I can’t tell you how to read body language, I will tell you a few basic things to watch out for though in your own body language. Most of this I had (have) to consciously work on to change.

The end goal of body language is ideally is to look confident (in a socially appropriate way), relaxed, and lively in most social situations, and to be able to display appropriate body language in other situations.

The nice thing about this though, is as you learn social skills, learn a martial art, get in shape, compete, become good at things, and otherwise improve yourself, these behaviours and body language will become more natural to you. As you become more confident by being a better man, you will look more confident. As a nice bonus it flwos the other way as well, by practicing proper, confident body language you will naturally begin to feel more confident.

- As a general rule, taking up space and spreading yourself out looks confident and relaxed. Squeezing yourself together, slouching, or taking defensive postures make you look weak and/or tense. Go for the former.

- Get your hands out of your pockets. Never have both hands in your pockets (exception: if it is very cold outside and you don’t have gloves you can put your hands in your jacket pocket). It conveys disinterest, fear, and a lack of confidence. One hand casually resting in a pocket while the other is active and moving can look confident, but if you have a habit of keeping your hands in your pockets keep them both out at all times. Once you’ve broken this habit, you can try out keeping one hand in a pocket to find a resting or movement position your like.

- Move your hands. When talking use your hands to emphasize what you are talking about; don’t make it big and flashy, subtle guestures are fine. Just make your hands/arms look alive. Hands hanging limp at your side are almost as bad as hands in your pockets. Hands folded together in front or behind you are better than poskets or hanging limp, but not as good as hands moving; if you simply can’t think of anything better to do with your hands (or moving your hands would be inappropriate), fold them together in front of you and hold them there.

- Don’t fold your arms. This is not an absolute, but folding your arms makes you look defensive, skeptical, and uninviting. It is off-putting to other people. Occasionally you may want to look this way, but it should not be a default resting position.

- Eye contact is important. When talking to someone look them in the eye; if you are unable to look someone in the eye, you look a coward and a liar (whether you actually are or not is irrelevant, because you will look like it). But do not stare or give a death glare; you want to be looking at their eyes about 70% of the time. So, look into their eyes andoccasionally, look away for very short periods of time. If, for some reason, you want to appear confident, but don’t to look directly into their eyes, stare at the point just between the eyes and just above the nose (the so-called third eye). Be careful, this can unnerve someone and appear aggressive, intimidating, or judgmental.

- Related to this: avoid quick eye movements. You know those characters in cartoons who look evil/suspicious because they quickly move their eyes back and forth? Yeah, that’s what you look like when your eyes dart everywhere. If you do too many quick eye movements you’ll come across as untrustworthy. Kepp your gaze steady and when you move it, do so purposefully and in a controlled matter.

- Keep your head up. Do not look at the ground, you’ll like weak and unconfident. Keep your head up and your eyes forward. Tilt your chin ever-so-slightly into the air for a look of extra confidence; avoid tilting it too high or it will look more arrogant than confident.

- Maintain good posture. When you hunch over you look broken and defeated (not to mention it’s bad for your back). Keep your back straight, chest out, shoulders back. Watch a military movie where all the soliders are standing at parade rest; that’s how your chest, back and shoulders should look. Stand like this, sit like this, walk like this. Always maintain this posture.

- Stand still and stand strong. When standing, don’t pace, don’t shuffle from side to side, don’t swing your hips back and forth, don’t tap your feet, don’t stand with your feet together; every one of these makes you look nervous and weak. Simply spread your legs so your feet are shoulder width apart, bend your knees slightly, and stand firm. This is the power stance; this combined with good posture, will make you look like a confident man. this is how you should stand whenever your aren’t moving to a different spot. If your martial arts instructor has taught you a resting stance, use that as your basic standing position.(For an advanced stance, you can try contrapposto; google it).

- Hips forward. When standing keep your hips slightly forward. It’s almost like your thrusting your member ever so slightly forward and keeping ti there (do not overdo this; it should be subtle). If you have good posture and a strong stance, you’ll should be doing this anyway, but make sure.

- Lead with your dick. When walking you should be leading with your hips; it should look and feel like you’re being pulled forward by your member. (Again, don’t over do this; it’s subtle). Walk purposefully and walk straight, look like you are a man on a mission. But don’t rush, you are on a mission, but you are not worried or tense about it.

- Spread your legs. When sitting (and when standing) spread your legs some. Don’t be an ass about it and take up an entire couch, but do it enough so you look confident and relaxed. If you keep your knees to close together you look weak, tense, and fearful. Spread ‘em and look

- Lean back. When sitting lean back a bit, it looks confident and relaxed. How much will depend on the situation. The more you lean back, the more relaxed you look, so don’t lean back too far for your current social situation or you’ll come off looking either arrogant or unreliably clownish. Sitting straight looks professional and/or serious, so it is good in situations where you want to look that way. Never sit slouched, you’ll look weak and unconfident.

- When sitting use your hands to express your points when talking. When you are not using your hands then rest them in your lap folded together (for a more serious, professional look) or rest your arms on the armrest (for a neutral look). If you are sitting on a couch, pew, or or other multi-person seat spread your arms and rest them on the back of the seat for a very relaxed and confident look. Avoid being an ass about this; give other people room to sit without having to sit in your arms. If you want to look really relaxed fold your hands behind your head while leaning back; as a warning, in the wrong situation this can come off as arrogant or insulting.

- A confident smile or half-smirk should be your default expression for most social situations. Your expression should be inviting to others and look like you are enjoying yourself and are fun to be around, but you are not a gregarious clown whose purpose is amusing others. You are strong and confident, but inviting.

That’s a basic primer on body language and how to look relaxed and confident. Try to implement these.

Your Goal:

Your goal for the week is to remind yourself to have confident body posture. Keep body posture in mind and every time you think about it, arrange yourself to to display the most confident and relzed (but appropriate) body language you can.

Omega’s Guide – Presentation

If you’ve been following this guide, you’ve taken numerous steps to improve your inner and outer self. Now it’s time to work on your presentation.

No matter how smart, socially aware, outgoing, physically capable, or interesting you are, people will dismiss you if you look like a sloppy mess or stink. You need to present yourself well in the world to fit into social situations. We’ll concentrate on two things here: grooming and dress.

There’s all kinds of things about adopting your own style, standing out from the crowd, etc. that you could follow, but that’s not what we’re going for here. This is just to help you not look like a slob and to look decently acceptable to polite society. We’re trying to make it so normal people aren’t negatively judging you for your appearance.  As such, these are very basic tips. If you’re looking to establish your own style or for something more advanced, check out Masculine Style. He’s far more qualified to help you than I am.

Clothes/Accessories

- If you don’t understand fit, colour, matching, style, etc. get someone to help you pick out clothes. Most good men’s stores will have knowledgeable staff or get one of your female relatives/friends (not your mother) to help you shop (or a stylish male friend if you have one). Don’t try buying clothes, shoes, or other accessories by yourself until you understand what works for you.

- Dress appropriately for the occasion. A casual night at a friend’s house is different from work which is different from an office party which is different from a formal event. If you overdress, you’ll look like a try-hard or a jerk, if you underdress you’ll look lazy and sloppy. At this point, when going out try to dress to fit into the group; look at what most other people are wearing and emulate it. Later on, once you understand style more, you’ll want to get your own style to stand out, but for now, standing out will likely mean you’ll look like a misfit. Dress to fit in.

- Shop at a quality men’s shop. Avoid Walmart, Sears, Target, etc. for anything except for jeans, runners, socks, underwear, and casual t-shirts. I generally use Tip Top Tailors, but it’s a Canadian chain, so if you’re from the states you’ll have to find something else.

- Fit is the single most important aspect of dress. Make sure your clothes fit. If they’re too baggy it will just look sloppy or you’ll look like an idiot, wanne-be gangster, if they’re too tight you’ll look like a effeminate emo. Get clothes that fit comfortably and well. Ask the staff if you’re not sure if the fit is good.

- Find out what colours look good on you and try to get clothes in that colour. Get a female friend/relative to help you with this.

- Do not wear worn out clothes. If your clothes have holes or stains, stop wearing them immediately and replace them. I know you may like that particular shirt, but it’s paid its dues, let it go.

- T-shirts are fine for casual situations with friends or running errands but avoid shirts with offensive slogans, stupid or nerdy jokes, movie references, long chunks of writing, or other things that might be inappropriate or dorky. If you can find it on Snorg Tees or a similar site, avoid it. A plain, solid colour t-shirt, with a respectable, moderate logo, or one with your favourite band logo (assuming its not Cannibal Corpse) are good. Also, make sure the t-shirt is not overly baggy or overly tight (unless you’re very fit).

- Wearing polo shirts is a good step up from the t-shirt. For anything that is not hanging out with friends, wear a polo shirt, at minimum. Do not tuck your polo shirt in, you’ll look like a nerd. Wearing a button-up shirt (or button-up t-shirt) with jeans (not tucked in) is another step up for a good casual-plus look.

- For business casual, dress khakis and a button-up shirt work well. You can tuck it in or not depending on what those around you do. Wearing black dress pants and a button-up shirt, untucked, can also work well.

- For business, a button-up shirt and and black dress pants is the minimum. If everybody else is wearing a suit, make sure you’re wearing one as well.

- Wear a suit for formal.

- If you’re wearing a button-up shirt or polo shirt, undo the top button (unless wearing a tie). Buttoning the top button looks dorky.

- A good pair of well-fitting blue jeans works for most situation where you don’t have to dress up. Make sure the jeans are a solid dark blue. Acid-washed and light jeans look immature. Do not tuck shirts into your jeans.

- Shorts are for sports and the outdoors. Do not wear short indoors, it looks dorky.

- Don’t wear sweat pants or track pants except for sports in cold weather.

- Don’t wear black pants with a black shirt. You may think you look dark and edgy, but you don’t, you look depressed and it looks horrible. If you wear black pants, wear a lighter shirt, and vice versa.

- Get a nice, solid-colour, black leather belt. Wear it always.

- For shoes, a good pair of non-descript solid black runners in good shape will work for most casual situations. Once they become worn replace them immediately; don’t wear shoes with holes or that are otherwise falling apart. Also, get a pair of moderate black dress shoes for work and non-casual situations. If you are dressing up or need to go to a formal event get a pair of better dress shoes.

- Sandals are for the beach, leave them there. Don’t wear socks with sandals.

- If you need glasses, get frames that complement your face or contacts. (I highly recommend contacts; I have never regretted switching to contacts, they are so much mroe comfortable). Do not go around wearing your five-year-old bent, taped up frames or glasses that make you look dorky.

- Don’t wear a hat. Hats (other than ballcaps) require a certain panache to pull off; if you don’t have it, you’ll just look silly. (There’s a reason people make fun of nerds wearing fedoras). I know it’s tempting to attempt to look suave, but you have to be suave first. Put off the hat until you can actually pull it off.  Exception – When doing outdoor activities wearing a ball cap or, in winter, a toque, is acceptable; avoid wearing them in other situations though.

- Wear plain, solid black socks. You can not go wrong with plain black socks. Do not wear other sock colours until you have a style of your own where they work well (ie. not yet). When dressing up, wear dress socks. If your socks get holes, replace them immediately.

- Don’t wear a watch. A good, stylish watch can enhance a look; your black digital watch makes you look like a dork. Until you have a good personal style, avoid wearing a watch, it’s unnecessary (you probably have a cell phone) and it will likely look bad on you.

- Avoid jewellery, piercings, or other accessories. Occasionally, these may enhance particular looks, most of the time these look stupid. Avoid them until you have your own personal style that requires them.

Grooming

- Shower, shampoo, and soap every morning and after every time you’ve been doing physical activity that makes you sweaty (if you are going to be around people afterwards). You don’t want to look dirty or smell rancid.

- Use deodorant or antiperspirant every single day; every morning after your shower, put it on. Try something with a fairly mild, neutral scent; Regular or Irish Spring are good. Get a stick, avoid spray-on, and definitely avoid Axe. You do not want to smell bad, it will repel people, and you also don’t want them to be able to consciously smell your deodorant.

- Brush your teeth. In the mornings brush your teeth after breakfast (or after your shower if you don’t eat breakfast). You don’t want your breath to smell.

- Go to a barber (not a stylist) and get a good haircut, preferably short and masculine, but it’s up to you as long as it looks good on you. If you don’t know what a good haircut looks like, ask the barber to just cut it short however he thinks would look good (a stylist will likely not understand ‘cut it short’ and will either require you choose a hairstyle, explain more thoroughly, or screw it up). Get a haircut every three months at most; preferably every month. Do not go half a year without getting one. After the haircut, ask you sister, female cousin, or female friend for brutally honest advice (your mom probably won’t be brutal enough and don’t ask your girlfriend for approval or she’ll take it as license to meddle); if they approve and you like it keep it. Otherwise, experiment again the next time.

- Make sure you know how to comb/style your hair properly and do so every morning. A short haircut takes less work and may not even require much or any combing/styling, that’s why I recommend it.

- Shave regularly. Shave every two days at most (depending on how fast your facial hair grows). A grizzled look can be good, but again, that’s something that should wait until you understand style enough to pull it off.

- Do not grow a mustache; mustaches can look cool, if done right with the right sense of style. You are probably not doing it right, so you probably look creepy, dorky, like a hipster, or like you’re trying too hard. If you have a mustache, shave it off; once you have our own sense of style, you can grow one to match it.

- If you have a beard maintain it. Don’t just let it grow wild and uncontrollably, make sure it looks kempt. If you can’t/won’t put the effort into maintaining it, shave it off.

- Wash your hands after you piss. I’d think this would be obvious, but I see far too many men in pubcli washrooms who don’t. C’mon, really?

Essentially, wear clothes that fit and are situationally appropriate and keep yourself well-groomed. You might not look amazing, but you will look acceptable. People won’t judge you negatively for your dress and grooming and, for now, that’s a great starting place.

Your Goal:

This week your goal is to purchase all the necessary grooming equipment you don’t have and to buy yourself some decent clothes. Start grooming each morning and dressing appropriately.

Omega’s Guide – Body

You’ve started to train yourself socially and you’ve started to train your mind. Now it is time to train your body.

I shouldn’t have to explain to you why having bad eating/exercise habits is bad. You are putting your health in danger with you, you are shortening your life, and it doesn’t look good, but you know that already. You already know that being a lazy, pathetic sack is not something you should aspire to, so this is where you are going to start being healthy.

At this point I’m not going to get you to lift weights to become a ripped superman; if you want to that’s great (I’ve heard Starting Strength is a good place to begin) but it’s not necessary for the purposes here. The purpose of this guide is to simply make you a decent example of a social man, not a demigod in human form. The purpose here is to get you from either fat or super-skinny to healthy,

Myself, I was really skinny, weighing 155 lbs at 6’2″. Over my first three years of desk-work, living on my own, and martial arts (all began at about the same time) I ballooned to 210 lbs, about 15 or so muscle, the rest fat. Just before I started this blog, I started to eat primal. I lost 15 lbs in 3 week eating strictly primal, then another 15 over the next half year, being less strict. I’ve maintained myself at about 180 (I have about 5-10 lbs of fat, mostly in my gut, I could lose if I became strict again).

We’re not trying to make perfection here, win body-building awards, or even look ripped; we’re trying to make it so you aren’t a disgusting, fat slob, or a weak, sickly looking beanpole. We’re simply trying to make you healthy.

Overall, you need to strive for an ordered relation to food and exercise.

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There are two ways to start being more healthy: the incremental way and the immersion way.

With the incremental way, you pick one small habit (such as drinking only water) and concentrate on that for a few weeks. Then when that habit is ingrained, choose another small habit (such as stopping eating potato chips) and work on that, and so on.

This is slower to do, but it is also less likely to over-tax your willpower. It has a better chance of succeeding. It’s like slowly walking into the lake, you slowly acclimate to the water over time. I’ve heard Habitforge is a useful tool for this, but haven’t used it.

The full-bore method is simply to choose a major lifestyle change and do it until it is a part of you. This is what I did for my diet. I choose the primal diet and simply did it for 3 weeks.

This is more difficult at first, but it takes a shorter time. Like a jump into a cold pool, it really sucks for while, but you get used to it faster. It also has a higher chance of failing.

If you plan the immersion method, I would highly recommend the primal diet, it worked for me. Choose what you want, but that’s what I’d recommend. Mark has even written a guide to getting started for the first 21 days.

http://primalblueprint.com/products/The-Primal-Blueprint-21%252dDay-Total-Body-Transformation.html

I’m not a professional dietician or medical expert; I’m not qualified to tell you what to do. I’m not going to tell you what kind of work-out routine, or diet routine you should have.  That is your choice, do what you think is best for you. I’m only recommending what worked for me. I will give some very basic tips though.

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Some basics tips of proper exercise:

  • Keep up with your martial art and sports they are great starts and will carry you pretty far on your own, especially if you’re at an extreme of fat or skinny. Your martial arts instructor has probably told you to do some home exercises, so do them.
  • Workout Routine – Getting a work-out routine and sticking to it is best, but most people (me included) find it hard to do so. Find something simple to start with; start with a number of push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and lunges you can do, then simply do one more each day. Do it at the same time each day; such as after work, before your morning shower, or before going to bed.
  • Weights – Lifting weights is the most efficient way to lose weight and build muscle. It is also the hardest to stick to.
  • Workout group – If you find it hard to workout alone, finding a few friends to do it with you can make it a lot easier. If you have a significant other, exercising with her can make it easier. Simply having someone else who will hold you accountable (and vice versa) makes it a lot more
  • Scheduled workouts – A scheduled and supervised workout will be more likely to get you working out than an unscheduled one. So join a workout class or a jogging group or something similar if you’re hacing trouble keeping up with your workout.
  • If you are primarily trying to lose weight or gain muscle, doing high impact, burst activities (sprinting, weights, push-ups) takes less time to get the same energy-burning effect than low-impact activities (jogging, treadmills, biking). The latter is more useful for building endurance though.
  • Do small things. A bunch of little things add up. Don’t drive short distances; if you can walk somewhere in less than 15 minutes, then do so. If you’re walking somewhere, sprint part of the way. If you’re watching TV, do a few push-ups each time commercials come on. Little things like this do more than you think when added up.

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Some basics tips for proper eating:

  • Choose a diet you can realistically stick to. If you’re diet requires too much willpower, try to find another that uses less. As the Willpower book states, Willpoweris not a major factor in dieting. Even the best diet is useless if you don’t follow it. Again, Primal is fairly simple to follow, and the 80-20 rule makes it easy to stay on track; I’d recommend it.

    http://patriactionary.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/guest-post-preserve-thy-soul-in-self-control-a-review-of-willpower/

  • Do not yo-yo diet. Whatever change you make, make them as part of a permanent life change. People who binge diet, usually gain more weight when the diet is over than if they hadn’t dieted in the first place. DO NOT GO ON A TEMPORARY DIET; DO NOT YO-YO DIET. I can not stress this enough.
  • Pop, juices, and milk are all heavy in sugar avoid them. Drink water. If you make one single change, this is the one. Drink water; don’t buy other drinks and consume them only on occasion. When you are thirsty, drink water.
  • Fast foods are an occasional treat, not an everyday meal. Definitely do not eat it 10+ times a week like I was at one point. Limit it to once a week.
  • Make real food. Kraft Dinner and hotdogs are easy, sure, but so is frying a pork chop. Stop buying food in packages, and buy food that either comes from an animal or from the ground. Real food is a lot simpler to make than you think; try it.
  • Change your snacks. Not eating snacks is unrealistic at this point, so simply eat good snacks. Stop buying potato chips and candy and buy almonds, dark chocolate (70%+), jerky, vegetables with dip, and fruit instead. (Dried fruit is okay on occasion, but is almost as bad as candy if you have to much of it).
  • Nobody ever got fat eating vegetables. If a diet you’re on has you feeling like you’re starving, the best bet is to eat more, but make it vegetables. If you make a portion of food and it doesn’t fill you, make a salad and put some vinaigrette dressing on it. It tastes better then you think.
  • Try to focus on meat and veggies. Don’t eat too many carbs.
  • If you are skinny and trying to gain weight/muscle eat a lot of meat.

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Weekly Goal:

This week your goal is to be healthier. If you’re trying the incremental route, choose one healthy habit (I’d recommend drinking only water) and start it. If you are trying the immersion method, start it (or get the book on it, then start it when the book comes).

Again, if you are trying the immersion method, I’d heavily recommend the Primal 21-day challenge.

Omega’s Guide – Mind

You should now be on your way to being a socially active person; you’ve got hobbies, sports, and martial arts and are learning social skills, but you need a bit more; you need something to talk about. Your activities give you a couple topics of conversation, but if you drone on them too long, you might wind up an insufferable bore to those who don’t share your enthusiasms.

What you need is to develop yourself intellectually. A man should develop his mind as well as his social skills and body (next week). To do this. you need to read.

You probably already read a bit, but, like most people, it’s probably mostly popular or genre fiction. There’s nothing wrong with reading popular fiction, but to become a better, more interesting person you need to intersperse it with things that are more intellectually demanding.

Here’s why you should start reading non-fiction:

  • You’ll learn more about the world around you. And knowledge is power!
  • You’ll find more things that interest you.
  • You’ll enjoy it. This seems wied, I know; I used to think non-fiction was boring too. I used to read SF and fantasy almost exclusively, but as I started reading more non-fiction, I began to enjoy non-fiction more. Nowadays, other than a few of my favourite authors I prefer non-fiction to the majority of fiction.
  • You’ll become a more well-rounded person.
  • You’ll have interesting topics of conversation for talking to others, because frankly, no one cares to talk about the latest in the Honor Harrington series.
  • If you can talk knowledgeably about interesting things, you’ll be more likely to make interesting friends.
  • Being knowledgable about (non-nerdy) things can be attractive to some kinds of women.

Make yourself a better man, start reading non-fiction.

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Some tips:

Choose a topic that interests you. Especially when you first start reading non-fiction, it can be tempting to try to read something “you should know about” or pick up one of the classics then never get more than a chapter in because it bores you stiff. Choose something that you genuinely want to learn more about. I’m not going to tell you what to read, but I will make some suggestions to help get you started. Choose something that appeals to you.

You may want to start off with popular non-fiction. Diving straight from genre fiction into the classics or other dense reading can be a harsh transition and there’s a good chance you’ll end up bored. Popular non-fiction usually reads fairly breezily and is a good transition into the realm of non-fiction.

This should be obvious, but if you can’t afford to purchase books, use a library.

Have a pencil when you read so you can highlight important points or make notes to yourself.

Check the Amazon reviews, especially the 2-4 star ones, to make sure you’re getting a good book that is what you’re hoping it is.

If you’re not sure how to go about getting the most from non-fiction reading, you could start with reading How to Read a Book. It’s rather dry, but it has some decent tips. (Skip the third section).

Really, there’s not that many tips. Simply choose a non-fiction book and start reading.

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Some reading suggestions:

The Bible – If you’re a Christian, start reading the Bible regularly. (I know, every Christian has a hard time reading regularly, I do too; but it is good to do). Read a few chapters a day. It’s good for your spiritual life and talking about what your recent Bible readings is an easy conversation topic in Christian circles. Being knowledgeable of the Bible will also help impress the right kind of Christian girl. If you’re a non-Christian, the Bible is probably the single most influential book in the Western Canon, so you should read it at some point.

Reading Lists – If there’s some topic you’d like to know more about find a reading list on the internet and use that. I’ve made both a Free Man’s Reading List and an Dark Enlightenment Reading List if those topics interest you.

Your hobbies – You’re doing your hobbies because you enjoy them, so why not read a book on doing them better, on the history of the hobby, or something else related to it?

Popular Economics – Popular economics is how I got into reading non-fiction outside of school. Economics covers a wide range of activity and the pop books do so as well, so there’s all kinds of interesting arguments and ideas. Freakonomics, the Armchair Economist, and the Undercover Economist are easy and fun introductions to the genre.

Malcom Gladwell – I’ll occasionally rag on Gladwell, but he’s popular for a reason. His books are well-written and interesting, if somewhat shallow and occasionally obvious. His easy-reading style makes for a good transition from fiction to non-fiction and his books are designed to be able pick little tidbits as conversation fodder. Blink and the Tipping Point were his better ones.

Nassim Taleb – His books are well-written, informative, and entertaining. I’d highly recommend the Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness. I’ve heard Antifragile is good as well, but haven’t read it.

Sun Tzu – The Art of War is a classic in strategy and what man isn’t interested in the strategy of war. It’s a relatively simple read and can be poetic. I’d recommend it.

Roy Baumeister – Willpower is a great book and will be useful to you in implement this guide. I’d highly recommend it.

Jack Donovan – The Way of Men is an excellent book on masculinity. If you’re trying trying to build yourself up as a man, I can not recommend it highly enough.

Isaac Asimov – Did you know the SF great wrote a Treasury of Humour? Well, he did, and it is a fun read on the theory of humour. It will provide you with a small arsenal of jokes and a look into how humour works, making for good conversation fodder.

Darrell Huff – How to Lie with Statistics is a short, fun little book on the manipulation of stats.

Rudyard Kipling – I recommend his poetry all the time, and I’ll continue to do so. You won’t regret picking up a nice collection of his poetry and flipping through it.

I’m not going to go more than that. These are just suggestions if you can’t think of anything else you want to read. They were mainly chosen for being both informative and simple to read, making them a non-agonizing way to transition into reading non-fiction. There are millions of books out there, find one that interests you.

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Your Goal:

Your goal for the week is to develop your mind byfind a non-fiction book that interests you, purchase or borrow it, and being reading it.

Omega’s Guide – Hobbies

You are gaining social skills and you’ve possibly even started going out being social. that’s great, but you need more. You need to become a man that people are actually interested in being around. You could become the most charming man in the world, but you will still be inadequate and still feel hollow if charming is all you are. You need to become a person who is actually interesting in himself.

What you need is to engage in interesting things that you enjoy and make you, you. Every man should have something they are good at, something they are better at than most other people, that exists apart from their work. You need some hobbies.

Nothing builds confidence like becoming good at something. Nothing makes you more likeable than being an interesting person and nothing makes you more interesting than doing interesting things and being good at them.

Hobbies give you something to discuss with other people, they give you a place to relax and enjoy, and they give you a reason to meet people who like the same things you do.

You need to develop a hobby, or preferably multiple hobbies. Your martial art and your sport are good starts but you should also get some others that can be done alone.

There are an infinite amount of hobbies to choose from, so you should be able to easily find some that you enjoy. I’ll give some suggestions at the end, but its really up to you to find something you enjoy.

You do want many hobbies, but do not start them all at once. Start with one hobby, then after a while add another. If you try to start to many at once, you’ll just burn out from over-stimulation. Also, if a hobby is simply not doing it for you, feel free to quit, but do not quit a hobby because it is too hard; if that is the case, simply work to get better.

Note: Video games, TV, YouTube videos, mindlessly surfing the internet, and movies don’t count as hobbies, get off your ass and do something. Nobody cares about your kill count in CoD or your level 80 Orc shaman. You can still do those things, in moderation, but they are pleasant time killers, not hobbies.

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Here’s a few considerations:

Research – Before you being a hobby, make sure to research the basics of the hobby. What kinds of resources you need to being, where to get the resources you need, where to meet others who do your hobby, etc.

Time/Accessibility – You want a hobby you can devote time to. If, for some reason, a hobby can only be done at times when you are unable to do it, don’t make it your hobby. Make sure you will actually be able to participate in your hobby. It is no use choosing paintball as your hobby if there is no paintball group in 100 miles of your home or paintball only occurs on Thursday evenings when you are busy with your sport. Choose a hobby you will actually be able to participate in.

Group/Individual – Some hobbies, such as carpentry or shooting, are more solitary activities, others, such as paintball, are more group oriented. I’d suggest getting both types of hobbies. You need something you can work on on your own, but you also want something you can do with groups of other people.

Etiquette – For hobbies that involve other people, make sure to get to know the community etiquette before hand. Most communities around hobbies have there own ways of doing things; if you ignore them, you will find it difficult to meet other people to participate in your hobbies with.

Cost – Make sure you can afford a hobby; research how much it costs to start. Taking up shooting is silly if you can’t afford ammunition.

Enjoyment – A hobby should be something you enjoy; if you don’t enjoy something, get a new hobby.

Skill/Progression – A hobby should be something you can get progressively better at over time. If it’s all luck or it’s too easy to master, it’s not a hobby. (Gambling is not a hobby). Also, work to progress in your hobby; try to become good at it.

Creation – Some hobbies lead to creation; creating something with your own hands feels manly and makes you feel good about yourself. You might want to get at least one hobby where you create something.

Manliness – Make sure at least one or two of your hobbies are traditionally masculine. You don’t want to turn into some effeminate dweeb.

Activeness – Some hobbies are more active than others. Make sure at least one of your hobbies involves going outside and/or working with your hands.

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Here are a few possible suggestions. There are far to many to list, this is just to get you  thinking.

Shooting/Hunting – Shooting is fun and lends you a bit of a dangerous edge. There is nothing quite like feeling a 12-gauge roar in your hands. Shooting can also lead into hunting. There’s nothing more manly than killing your own food. The problem with both is that they can be expensive; ammo is not cheap (unless it’s .22). It’s also relatively easy to bring someone else along on a shooting night.

Archery/Bow Hunting – Kind of like shooting, but old school. Can be expensive to start, but less upkeep over time. It can also lead to hunting as well. Can seem a little LARPy/geeky to others depending on how you go about it.

Fishing – A relaxing way to while away an afternoon with some good friends.

Geo-caching – You use GPS to find small ‘treasures’ hidden by other people and then replace them with your own ‘treasures’. It will get you active and will lead on a bunch of adventures exploring either nature or your own city. You’ll also get a collection of nick-knacks each with its own story. An excellent conversation starter for your home. It’s also easy to bring someone along to.

Home-brewing – Make your own beer or wine. You’ll get a lot of cheap alcohol and will have something to impress others with.

Paintball/Airsoft – A fun group activity where you get to shoot each other. Need I say more. They’re rather expensive (airsoft is generally cheaper) and require people and land, but if you can start, it’s fun.

Gaming – Boardgames, miniatures games, tabletop RPGs, CCG’s, wargames, etc. are probably something your average awkward individual can enjoy. They give plenty of time to chat with others and make friends. Can be expensive depending on what type of gaming you do. The miniatures and war games can also overlap with modeling. Almost always seen as geeky by others.

Writing – Write a blog, write a book, write some poetry. Why not develop your intellect by putting your thoughts into words in an organized matter?

Woodworking/Carving/Metalsmithing/Etc. – In this category are a number of personal creation hobbies shaping raw materials into something useful or aesthetic. Gerenally, these are solitary hobbies, but the nice thing about these are that you make create something tangible. Many will require certain tools to do.

Mechanics – Building, repairing, and rebuilding engines of some sort is a traditionally masculine activity. You’ll also save money on vehicle repairs.

Gardening – You grow food to eat. A solitary activity that many people find relaxing. Plus you get healthy food out of it.

Cooking – Everybody cooks, but if you become good at it, it impresses others and you get to eat some great meals.

Modeling – You probably put together model kits as a child; if you enjoyed it, you might enjoy more complicated models as an adult. This can often be done in conjunction with wargaming or can be a build up to model airplace flying. A solitary activity which creates something.

Programming – Another solitary activity, but you get to build something without having to use your hands. Good for clumsy or undextrous people. Just make sure it’s not your only hobby.

Running/Jogging/etc. – it will keep you in shape and if you join a running group, you’ll get to meet a lot of other people

Dancing – A fun physical activity in which it is very easy to meet girls. Also, knowing dancing is attractive to a fair number of women. So, try some swing, salsa, or ballroom dancing.

Collectibles – Collect something: stamps, hockey cards, coins, guns, whatever. Just make sure you’re not randomly collecting any old thing. The point of collecting is to learn about what you’re collecting. Make sure that you are gaining a vast, comprehensive knowledge of your collectibles and your collection reflects that. Throwing together a bunch of random stamps you know nothing about, does not a collection make. This can seem kind of geeky to others depending on how you do it.

Music – Pick an instrument, practice regularly, and get good at it. The piano has a classic appeal, while the saxophone has a bit of sex appeal. The harmonica is easily portable, while everybody loves guitar.

Your hobby doesn’t have to any of these; these are just suggestions of common hobbies. Find something (multiple somethings) that interests you and become good at it or knowledgeable of it. Check out wikipedia’s list of hobbies for more ideas.

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Your Goal:

Your goal this week is to research hobbies and try a hobby you’ve never tried before (no, video games don’t count).

If you are combining this week’s goal with last week’s, find a social group that’s doing your hobby and attend their next meeting.

Omega’s Guide – Social Activities

You have been learning social skills these last few weeks. You’ve read and applied a section a week of How to Win Friends and Influence People and should have spoke a couple times in your Toastmaster meetings. So, now it is time to start putting your social skills to the test. It is time to join a social club to meet new people and hopefully make some friends.

I know, talking to new people is hard and going to a group of strangers is frightening, but don’t worry, you’ve already done it. You’ve talked with strangers at Toastmasters. Presumably you’ve chatted with some folks at your martial arts classes and hopefully you’ve started playing your sport, so presumably you’ve talked to some teammates. You’ve already met many new people and have been spending time with groups of strangers; there’s no need to worry about one more group.

This time you’re going to start going to attend a social group specifically to meet people and socialize. The type of group your looking for should be based around a common interest of some sort. As usual, at the end of this post I’ll post some suggestions for finding a group. I will not suggest what type of group to look for, as there are far to many and it will depend on what you are interested in and what’s locally available.

Try to find a group that meets fairly regularly, at least once very couple weeks. E-mail them to confirm the date of their next meeting and then show up. That’s all there is to this.

I know it may be frightening, but just attend a group’s meetings. You don’t even really have to talk that much. Say hi when you arrive and introduce yourself; use what you remember from Toastmasters and How to Win Friends and Influence People. Answer anything asked of you politely and don’t panic. You don’t have to be outgoing, at least not for the first few meetings. Simply be there and try to engage when others engage with you.

If you keep attending regularly, you’ll eventually come more comfortable. As you become more comfortable, you’ll naturally start to talk more. After a few months attendance, you’ll fit in just fine. The important thing at first is to simply muster up the nerve to go once then keep showing up however awkward you might feel.

You might think the others don’t want you there, but that’s just you’re own insecurity talking. The other people are as interested in the purpose of the group as you are; if they didn’t want you there, they wouldn’t have made the club public and they would have asked you to stop coming. So, show up and keep showing up. That’s all there is to it.

Here’s a few things to consider when choosing a social club:

Purpose – Find a club whose purpose you enjoy. If you’re religious find a religiously-affiliated group. If you have a hobby, find a club for that hobby. If there’s a specific topic you like to talk about or some social cause you feel passionately about, find a social group that . If the only thing you like are anime and video games, find a club dedicated to anime or video games. It doesn’t really matter, just find a place where you can socialize with other people.

Activity Orientation – Some groups will be oriented around a specific activity, others around around socializing.  Activity-oriented groups are nice because there is always a natural subject for conversation, the activity, but sometimes, especially if the activity requires concentration or physical effort, socializing will fall by the wayside. Groups more oriented towards socializing are bit harder to fit into, but give you more opportunities to socialize. Either is good; it depends on your preference.

Organization – Some groups are more organized than others. Some groups will be official organizations with regularly sceduled activities; these are nice because they are easier to join and you can build a routine of attendence. Some groups are more casual; they may be irregular drop-ins or have meetings scheduled erraticly; the advantage of this is the there generally easier to socialize in, but they are harder to build into a routine of atetndance.

Cost – Some groups, particularly those oriented around an activity, may have membership costs or ownerships of the activity objects (for example, a wargaming group may require hundreds of dollars of miniatures). Be sure to pick a group you can afford to actively participate in.

Accessibility – Make sure you can actually get to the club regularly. Joining a club that meets on the other side of town where there’s no bus route when you don’t own a car, is not going be of much use.

Time – Make sure the group meets at a time when you can regularly attend.

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Suggestions for Finding a Group

University Club – If you go to university or college, finding a club is easy. Most universities will have their student groups set up booths in the first work of classes, so check those out. At other times of the year, check your university or student union’s website, there should be a listing of student groups somewhere. Find one that interests you and attend.

College and Career – If you’re a Christian, or even if you’re not and aren’t averse to religion, find a local church near you with a college and career group. It will generally be filled with 20-somethings and are usually inviting atmospheres. Not all churches will have them and bigger churches will be more likely to have them. In addition, generally C&C groups in larger churches will focus more on “fun” activities, allowing for more socializing, while groups from smaller churches will be more likely to focus on Bible studies and religious discussion.

Hobbies – Do you have a hobby or activity you enjoy? Board-gaming, shooting, jogging, it doesn’t matter. Any hobby or activity you enjoy that can be done with multiple people (and sometimes even solitary activities) probably has a local social group. Google it, or if there’s a local store catering to your hobby, check their bulletin board or with the owner. You should be able to find a group related to your activity. I will be writing more on hobbies next week.

Meetup.com – There might be a group that will interest you there.

Friends – Do you have some friends that share similar interests and/or are part of a social group/club? If so, join theirs if they don’t mind. If you do this, be careful to avoid sticking to your friend. Make sure you socialize with others.

Leisure Guide – As I mentioned in the sports section, most cities have a leisure guide. Check out your local guide to see if there

Google – The wonderful thing about the internet, is if you have no idea where else to find something, just google it. if you have a rough idea of the kind of club you want

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Your Goal

This week, your goal is to find a social club or group that interests you and attend the next meeting of the club.

If you are a university student or the group you’re interested in is off for the summer, you can put this goal off a couple weeks and join a club when it starts out in fall.

Next week’s post in the guide will be on hobbies; this will relate closely to this. So, you can also wait until next Sunday to read that, in which case you will have two interrelated goals for the following week.

Omega’s Guide – Sports

You should now have started to learn social skills and have attended martial arts instruction. The next step is to further meet people and get into better shape through a sport.

A lot of the reasons why you need a sport are similar to why you need a martial art: you’ll get in shape, the competition and learning new skills will give confidence, you’ll be able to meet new people, and, hey, being active in sports (especially winning) is attractive to many women.

To being with you probably want to join a recreational league; no offense, but you’re probably not cut out for competitive leagues. If you are, all the best to you, compete away. Also, rec leagues are usually less financially demanding.

Now, summer is over, and fall is coming up, so you’ll probably have to join a fall, winter, or all-year league at this time or find a casual, but regular, drop-in sport night. That’s fine, choose a sport that interests you and will be available in fall. Even if it’s not your first choice, play a season, then in spring register for a sport that’s more to your liking.

I’ll run down a few sports you can look at at the end of this.

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Where to Find a Sport

Your city should probably have a leisure guide. If you have no idea what kind of sport you’d like, find the leisure guide online and see what’s available that peaks your interest.

Some churches, especially the larger ones, have intramural sports, drop-ins, or a team in a church league. These are usually comparatively inexpensive as the churches often fund parts of it as a ministry or own their own facilities. If you go to a church check to see if they have something you can join; if you don’t go to church but live near a mega-church check out they have anything, they’d probably be thrilled to have you join.

Many community centres will offer some kind of sports. Check your local centre to see if they offer anything of interest.

If any of your friends, co-workers, relatives, etc. play a sport, ask if you can join them and their team.

If you are going to school (college or high school), your school will probably have intramurals of some sort. These are usually cheap and easy to join.

Larger companies will sometimes have a team in a local league of some sport or another. Check with your company/union’s social committee or the work bulletin board to see if you can find something.

If all else fails or you have a particular sport that interests you, simply google for a rec league or open-door sports night near you. You’ll find one and most allow individual registrations. There’s also more general rec leagues that will offer a variety of sports.

There are lots of ways you can find a place to play sports.

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Choosing a Sport/League

Unlike martial arts, there’s not a big list of things to watch out for. It’s pretty hard to make a scam out of rec sports; you simply show up and have fun. Make sure the cost is in your budget. Make sure the league takes safety into account and has rules of good sportsmanship. Make sure the team you’re on is good folk. Other than that, there’s not much to it, but here a few considerations for your sport:

Keep in mind cost. Some sports, such as ultimate or soccer, require little much more than park space and a ball/disc, others, such as hockey, require more equipment and/or a special facility rental.

Is it co-ed? Some leagues are, some aren’t. Which you want to join will be up to you. Co-ed leagues are generally less ruthlessly competitive and will often have more rules concerning safety/sportsmanship. On the other hand, you’ll get a chance to meet some women in a co-ed league and it will likely be more casual/less intense. Which is better depends entirely on your preferences.

Is it an individual sport or a team sport? Simple enough, a team sport will give you more chance to interact and develop bonds with a small group within an us vs. them context, while  an individual sport will be lead to more loose interactions dependent more on your actions. I’d suggest a team sport, especially if you intend to try to make friends, but its up to you.

Do you have the time? Some sports demand more time than others. Since you’ll be playing rec league, it probably won’t require more than one game a week and possibly an occasional practice, but make sure you can commit to that game on that night. You don’t won’t to be the asshole whose always letting the team down.

You can choose a league or a drop-in/pick-up sport. A league will require more commitment from you; drop-in nights are more casual. Drop-in nights or pick-up games are usually not as easy to find as they are often associated with particular organizations or a group of friends rather than a rec league which is generally open to all.

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Recommended Sports

Below are some popular rec league games you can try to join:

Ultimate – Ultimate Disc has become an increasingly popular sport in recent years. It’s cheap and it’s a good workout. There’s no contact and big on sportsmanship. It’s usually co-ed and mandates gender numbers per team, so it has a comparitively high number of females playing. It can be played most of the year, outdoors in summer and fall leagues and indoors in winter. Indoor leaguse are more physically demanding and faster due to the smaller field space. It’s a good choice for a sport.

Soccer – Along with ultimate one of the two I’d recommend. It’s generally cheap, a good workout, and fun. It’s also low contact with both outdoor leagues in the summer and indoor all-year round.

Hockey – I’m Canadian, so I have to mention this. It’s played in winter, but street hockey leagues can be played in the summer. It can be one of the more intense and high contact sport and due to the need for ice and safety equipment it can be more expensive, but is it ever fun. Broomball and sponge hockey are usually a less intense and less expensive alternative.

Basketball – The classic sport; not overly expensive. Generally male and often more competitive. Teams can often be smaller than in most other team sports. A good one to try.

Football – Contact football will be expensive and there’s not many rec leagues for it due to the chances of injury. You’ll probably be able to find a touch or flag football league if you like football. It’s usually outdoors and doesn’t run in winter. It’s usually male only and can be more competitive and intense than the other sports here.

Baseball – The American classic. A summer sport of moderate expense due to the specialized field and personal equipment. The large team size and slow game pace makes it well-oriented to getting to know other people, but doesn’t provide as much physical activity. It will often be slo-pitch in rec leagues. Baseball rec leagues are rarer and will usually be mostly male; softball/slo-pitch are more common and will be higher proportion of women.

Bowling – The classic working-man’s game. It doesn’t require much of a work-out but its relaxed pace and atmosphere gives you plenty of time and opportunity to shoot the shit. It goes all year-round and is easier to join as it less tied to seasons than other sports, but it can be a bit more expensive due to lane costs. Ten-pin has heavier balls and more pins; I prefer it, but a lot prefer the smaller balls of 5-pin. If you want to join, contact a bowling centre.

Dodgeball – SWPL-types have adopted this children’s game for adults. If you enjoyed it as a kid and don’t mind SWPL-types it can be fun. It can go all year round.

Racquet Sports – Rec leagues will usually use badminton, but tennis and the rest are similar. It’s an individual sport (or teams of two), so most of the people you meet will be competitors, meaning you’ll have to try a bit harder to get to know people.

Volleyball – Not much to say on this. Do you like volleyball? Also, it generally has a higher proportion of women than other sports.

There’s a bunch of other sports, but those are some of my suggestions to look for. You’ve probably played most of them in gym class as a kid so you already know which ones you enjoy.

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Your Goal:

This week, your goal is to find a local rec league and join the fall season. Alternatively, you can find a weekly drop-in/pick-up night and join that.

Omega’s Guide – Martial Arts

You have now joined Toastmasters and bought How to Win Friends and Influence People. You  have started to practice what you have read in the latter and are on your way to learning basic social interaction skills.

Now it is time to gain confidence. You will gain confidence in your social skills as you practice, but to really gain confidence you have to have something to be confident about. So this week’s task will be to start training in a martial art.

Why should you train? A few reasons:

  1. Nothing gives you confidence like training in martial arts. Throughout my 13 years of public schooling, I was by far the most confident during the half year I was in Taekwondo.  The accomplishment of attaining a real skill, the manly vigor from hard work and training, the adrenaline of violence, and the knowledge of being able to fend for yourself should violent interaction occur combine to give you confidence like nothing else can possibly match (other than maybe enlisting). A few months of training and you will feel more confident throughout the rest of your life.
  2. You’ll meet people with a similar hobby. Those social skills you’re learning won’t mean anything if you’re not meeting people.
  3. You’re attaining a practical skill that will make you a better person. Martial arts requires and trains you in strength, discipline, and perserverance.
  4. You’ll get in shape. A martial art will require physical activity and will provide a base level of physical fitness.
  5. It will also make you more attractive to the opposite sex. Nothing attracts the femmes quite like being able to display physical dominance through an implied ability to wreak physical violence.

Those together should be more than enough of a reason to join.

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Before I go any further, I should say I am  not an expert. I have practiced a martial art for about 3-4 years and done some reading on the issue. What I am writing here is mostly my own opinion and knowledge; people with more experience and knowledge than me may disagree with some of what is written. A lot of the advice concerning martial arts, particularly when it comes to choosing a school/style, can be very controversial. My advice is meant to help guide you at the beginning, but it is not the be all and end all. Use your own common sense.

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Purpose

First, you need to know what your purpose for training is. The type of school and instruction you choose should be determined by what you want to get out of it.

If you simply want a place to get a manly workout, grow some discipline, and hang out with other people interested in the same, most martial arts will do.

But if you have a specific purpose or goal, you will have to choose the right art to accomplish your goal. If you want to sport fight, you will need to choose certain arts that focus on this aspect, such as judo. If you want to try MMA sport-fighting others will be necessary, such as MMA and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. If you want to kick ass “in the streets” (this should always be said with sarcasm/irony) you will need others, such as krav maga. If you want to learn weapons, bujinkan, fencing, or kendo will be the way to go. If you want to steep yourself in long-held martial tradition and culture, most oriental arts will be good. If you want to learn throws you’ll need a different art than if you prefer striking and you’ll need another if you wish to focus on ground-combat.

Each art has a different focus and a different style and will suit different purposes, you should choose an art that is focused on what you want. Also, choose an instructor in that art that will provide the kind of instruction you want.

If an art does not meet your purpose, choose a new one. (This is not a license to jump from art to art or instructor to instructor for no reason. If you’ve tried 3 or 4 instuctors/arts and none are “right”, you should seriously consider whether the problem might be you).

One particular aspect to remember is its effect on your life. An art that focuses on hard training, heavy competition, or full contact can lead to faster, more efficient learning and can be fun, but it can also lead to long-term injury or strain that can have negative impacts on the rest of your life. On the other hand, a holistic art can lead to positive improvements to other aspects of your life. It’s up to you and your preference what you choose, but be make sure to take this into account.

I’ll do a rundown of some of the major arts you might be interested in at the end of this post.

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Your Attitude

Before you begin, adjust your attitude. It is the single most important thing on whether you get anything from your training. Training is a commitment, you will only get from it what you give.

  • Are you prepared to attend regularly? If you are not willing/able to attend at least once a week you should just skip it.
  • Be prepared for the long haul. Learning an art takes years of difficult practice. Make sure you are committed. It will often be frustrating and you will often be tempted quit and give up. Don’t.
  • Be prepared to learn. This is simple enough, be open to instruction and have an open mind. You are there to learn, do so.
  • Check your ego at the door. Any good instructor will be correcting you; any good student you work with will offer tips for improvement. When they do, be gracious and improve. Don’t get defensive. Don’t make excuses. Don’t be offended or angry. Nod and accept instruction with gracioussness.
  • Don’t be an ass. The other students are there to learn as well. Treat them with respect; don’t pound on the new guy or act like you’re better than the guy who’s been training for a decade. Help facilitate the other students in learning.
  • Embrace the pain. Instruction will hurt. You’ll be thrown, you’ll be hit, you’ll be tired, you’ll be sore, and your joints will be bent in all kind of uncomfortable positions. Expect the pain, accept the pain, embrace the pain.
  • Relax and enjoy. Don’t be afraid, don’t be tense, don’t be mordbidly serious. This should be fun. Enjoy yourself, enjoy the company of others, and enjoy your training. Don’t go too far with this. Take your training seriously, don’t be an irritating jokester who ruins the training. Fit in with the mood of the dojo; if the dojo’s mood is either too serious or not serious enough for you to train, find one that fits better.

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Research

Before anything else, go online and find out what kind of martial art instruction is available in your proximity. Knowing you want to learn Jeet Kune Do won’t do you a lick of good if there’s nobody within 500 miles to teach you.

Choose which ones sound interesting then research. Rea search the art being taught itself, the dojo, the instructor,etc. Find out as much as you can about the ones that interest you. Joining an art can be a large investment of time, money, and effort, so know a bit before your begin.

Here’s some things to look out for in your initial research and first visit.

  • Does the instructor/dojo/art have a lot of negative reviews on the internet? There will always be detractors and cranks, but use your sense, are the criticisms valid? If they are valid are the aspects being criticized acceptable to you?
  • Is the dojo/instructor licensed? Some of the more established martial arts, such as Taekwondo, will have central governing bodies. If a dojo is not a member of its central body, there’s probably a reason; be wary. Membership implies a certain basic standard for instruction, but it alone is not a guarantee of quality. Note, many arts do not have a licensing body, so don’t worry about it if there isn’t one, but this also means that there is no guarantee of a base standard of training.
  • Check out the instructor’s credentials. Is he an advanced black-belt in his system (or a few systems) or if in a non-belt system, has he been training for a while with quality instructors? Does he claim an absurdly high amount of credentials? (A 30-year-old claiming to be a black-belt in 12 arts is probably not reliable).
  • Does the dojo/instructor bash other arts? A lot of people get involved in stupid dick-measuring contest over whose art or school is better. If the dojo’s site has a lot of this, it’s probably not worth the time.
  • Is the art the new invention of the instructor who mixed the best of everything? It’s probably a scam. In most cases you want to go with an art that is established.
  • Does the instructor/dojo claim secret, arcane knowledge or super techniques? Most good martial art techniques are fairly simple, mechanically speaking (simple does not mean easy). If the site goes on about their secret techniques or arcane knowledge, it’s likely BS. No, there is no such thing as an unblockable, invincible move. Every technique has a counter and every technique has a weakness.
  • Does the dojo promote a holistic approach to training? Training can encompass more than just learning how to hit somebody. Often it can also focus on other things such as proper diet, proper exercise, balance in life, proper breathing and relaxation techniques, overall body control and usage, etc. Whether you prefer simply learning to just beat people’s faces in or a more holistic approach, see if the dojo support your preference.
  • Related to this is technique versus principles. All arts and instructors will teach both techniques and principles, but on a sliding scale some arts/instructors will focus more on training techniques in response to specific situations while others will focus more on on the use of your body and the training principles behind the techniques. Leaning towards the former will help with learning self-defence faster, but the latter will help with learning it moer thoroughly. The latter is also more prone to abuse, as the results are less immediately tangible. Neither is necessarily better, but you should wathc for this to meet whatever your goals may be.
  • Be careful of dojos that seem to hooked on “cool” things such as ninjutsu, samurai, ancient warriors, special forces, etc., as often poor instructors will try to make up for it with flash. Some arts, such as bujinkan, do have a heritage of ninjutsu or samurai and some, such as krav maga, have a history of military training, so this is not absolute. Also, a little bit of advertising flair is okay. But if the primary focus of the dojo’s site is on “be a ninja in two years”, or “train like the SEALs do”, or something else “cool” like that, be wary.
  • Does the site focus on the training or the belt? The belt is a sign of the training; it is not overly important. If the instructor’s site guarantees you a black belt in two years, or focuses too much on the attainment of the belt rather than the training itself, then he has the wrong attitude. If the belt is that important to you, buy one of Ebay for a couple bucks.
  • Does the site make unrealistic guarantees? If you’re guaranteed to be a black-belt master in a year, skip it. Everybody learns at a different pace, someone guaranteeing something by a certain time period is likely just pushing you through a belt mill.
  • Does the site/instructor make unrealistic claims? No martial art will make you invincible. No art will train you how to “beat” an opponent a foot taller and 100lbs heavier in a fight. No martial art will teach you to beat a gun-wielding maniac while unarmed. There is no such thing as an unbeatable technique.
  • Contracts and introductory classes. A decent dojo will usually give you the option of watching a couple classes before joining. A good dojo will usually have an introductory deal of a few classes or a month of classes for newbies. A dojo requiring an expensive, long-term contract before letting you try or watch a few classes first is likely not a dojo you want to be a part.

If your research leads you to think the dojo might be an acceptable place to learn, move on to arranging a visit.

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Your First (Few) Visit(s)

Once you’ve decided on a dojo you want to try, set up an appointment to attend and begin your introductory classes. While there here’s a few things to watch for:

  • The instructor is by far the most important external aspect of any martial arts training. Finding a quality instructor is far more important than which art you will choose; any art will be useful if taught well, and any art will be worthless is taught poorly. Make sure you get a good instructor. Ensure he’s competent, honest, disciplined, knowledgeable about his art, and all-around a fundamentally good guy. If he strikes you as dishonest or sleazy, don’t return. If he slags on other schools a lot, don’t return. If he doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing, don’t return. If nothing else, make sure you have a good instructor, that will make up for almost any other faults, while a bad instructor will ruin any other good aspects of the training. An instructor that’s an ex-cop, ex-prison guard, or ex-army, etc. will likely have been in situations of real violence and will likely be a better teacher than someone who has not seen real violence.
  • Is the instructor respectful of his students? A good instructor will correct his students, sometimes harshly, but he will also be respectful when doing so. An instructor who disrespects or bullies his students is not one you want to follow. (Remember above, correction, even harsh, violent, and painful correction, is not bullying or disrespect).
  • Is the class carried out in safe manner? Bruises, welts, and a certain level of pain are a necessary part of training and accidents causing major damage will inevitably happen, but recklessness is not something you should tolerate. If the instructor engages in or allows reckless or dangerous actions leave and do not come back. Of particular note is the dojo’s methods of joint manipulation; holds, bars, and joint manipulations should be done and should hurt but should always be controlled. If viciously reefing on people’s joints is accepted in the dojo, you are going to seriously suffer for it in the long run.
  • Is the training lawful? This is simple, the instructor should not be teaching you to violate the law; if he is, leave. A good instructor will point out the legal implications of the actions he is teaching. He will teach you about the proper use of force. An instructor who doesn’t is not one you should be learning under. ex. If the instructor encourages you to stomp on the face of a downed opponent without mentioning the legal consequences of such an action in real life, you probably don’t want him teaching you. If an instructor encourages picking fights, don’t train with him.
  • Consider class sizes and personal time. Is the class a good size? Optimally it will be about a dozen or less; a larger class is not necessarily a deal breaker, but only if ran well. Did the instructor, or at the least one of the instructor’s high-ranked students give you some personal instruction? Don’t demand or expect the instructor to focus only on you, but he (or in a larger class, one of his subordinates) should occasionally give you some personal feedback.
  • Are the students respectful of each other? A good instructor will maintain discipline and a proper attitude among his students. If his students, especially the more advanced ones, are bullying or disrespectful the instructor and dojo are probably not worth your time.
  • Observe the high ranked students closely. These are the kind of people the instructor and his training will turn you into. Are they skilled? Are they competent? Are they in shape and disciplined? Are they respectful? If the advanced students do not display the qualities you want to eventually display as a martial artist, the dojo is probably not for you.
  • Observe the demographics of the students. The bulk of the general students (assuming you aren’t attending family classes, a ‘new students only’ class, or other demographically specialized classes) should be relatively fit men in their 20-40s. If the students, especially the more advanced ones, are mostly out-of-shape, the dojo has low standards (if some of the white belts/newbies are out of shape, that’s not that big a deal). If there are a lot of children under 16 with black belts, be wary, the training might not have particularly high standards. If there are a lot of middle-aged women, the training likely has low standards. To simplify, if the type of people in the classes loko like the type of peopel who wouldn’t hold up under solid training, you are not going to get solid training.
  • Did you enjoy it? Training is tough and often painful, but you should get some level of enjoyment/satisfaction out of it.
  • Is the training realistic? If you are training for self-defence the training should be realistic. A practical martial art should focus on disarmament, de-escalation, and withdrawal.
  • Is there contact? Any good martial arts training designed for fighting will include solid contact.  Many dojos/arts will train at half-speed for learning purposes, that’s fine, as long as the contact is still solid. Solid does not necessarily mean hard though. It’s rather difficult to explain, it’s more something you experience. but I’ll attempt. Think of it like throwing an object. If you underhand a hacky sack at someone, they’ll feel nothing, that’s soft and not solid. If you whip the hacky-sack at someone it will sting, but it won’t not them back or disrupt them; that’s hard but not solid. If you whip a fist-sized rock at someone, you’ll break their rib and knock them to the ground unconscious, that’s both hard and solid. If you lob the same rock at them underhanded, you’ll knock them back and they’ll know they’ve been hit, but without serious harm; that is solid, but not hard. The best training is the lobbed rock; when you’re hit and hitting you want the contact to be felt, to rock you back, to seriously disrupt you, but you don’t want it to be get to the point of serious injury.
  • Does the instructor teach aliveness? To teach basic techniques, the compliance of your training partner is a necessity. No technique is “unstoppable”, in fact most are, mechanically speaking, rather simple to counter if expected. In any training of basic techniques your partner is allowing you to practice on him and vice versa. For example, simply going rigid can stop many a joint lock (short of simply blowing through a joint), but will leave you open to a strike, but because you are practicing a joint lock, your partner probably won’t strike you, so your vulnerability won’t be readily apparent, but your “successful” counter will be. A good teacher should be teaching you how to actively comply with your partner so you both can learn. On the other hand, he should not be teaching you to simply go limp or to fall over for your partner; he should not encourage your to fall when your opponent taps you or to give the lock when your opponent screws it up. Aliveness is allowing your partner to use you, but still providing a level of resistance suitable to his training level/needs. A good instructor should be training his students to actively comply and actively resist.
  • Is there sparring? Any good martial arts training designed will include sparring at some point. Some will arts/dojos will reserve sparring for more advanced students because the system/instructor believes those students without the requisite training will not learn from sparring, while others will through you in right away; either way is fine, but if no one, not even the high-level students, ever spars, the training is unlikely to provide you with any useful fighting skills. Also, sparring should include solid contact. If simple touch is enough to point in sparring, the training will not be teaching you much self-defence-wise.
  • Are you sore/tired? Good training should be work and it should hurt. Not every class will focus on intense, physically tiring activity, some will focus on more technical aspects that don’t require as much physical effort, but if you’ve been going for a month and have never broken a sweat or received a bruise, the training is probably not worthwhile. Again, if you aren’t being hit hard enough to bruise at least occasionally, you are probably not receiving good training.
  • Does the dojo overuse patterns? Patterns, repetition, drills, kata, and or whatever you wish to call it will be involved in any training as you everybody needs to drill the basics, but if everybody spends the entire class running patterns against an imaginary sparring partner the training is going to be of limited use for fighting.
  • Is there a lot of spiritual mumbo-jumbo? A certain amount of talk on qi does not necessarily invalidate the usefulness of a traditional art, but if the art relies on focusing your qi to do techniques over distances or over-emphasizes qi, it might be quackery.
  • Cross-training. MMA has highlighted the problems with focusing solely on striking or, to a lesser extent, grappling. A good school for self-defence may focus on one or the other, but it should cross-train both. If the dojo you attend focuses only on striking, you may want to either reconsider the school or plan to attend a school focusing on the grappling after a few years.
  • Are the facilities maintained? A certain level of messiness is fine, some dojos train outside, and many dojos can’t afford fancy facilities but if the facilities are dangerously run down be wary.
  • Be wary of board-breaking. If any emphasis is put on learning board-breaking, you probably don’t want to return. Board-breaking is a relatively simple skill to learn that has no real benefit beyond looking cool. It’s mostly a waste of time.
  • Everything I said about belts, contracts, secret knowledge, etc. also applies to your introductory visits.

A lot of this is vague and subjective, none of it is hard and fast, so use your common sense and make sure your chosen place to train fits your goals. When choosing your art/dojo you may have to make some compromises based on the availability in your area, that’s fine, nothing is perfect, but never compromise on safety, the quality of the instructor, or the lawfulness of your art.

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The Style Wars and Real Fighting

Before I do, I should note a major controversy between traditional and MMA-influenced styles. When the UFC tournaments first started, most of the traditional striking-based schools got blown out of the water in the competition, sometimes embarrassingly so, while Royce Gracie dominated with Brazilian jui-jitsu. Since then, a vocal faction of the MMA-oriented schools have derided the traditional schools as useless (Bullshido is a favoured portmanteau). They will strongly attack the traditional arts and advise against them; they will also demand that any art must show it’s potential “in the ring” before it has any validity.

While there is a lot of BS found in many of the traditional schools and in McDojos, most traditional arts have adapted to the changes by adding grappling curriculum to rid themselves of the deficiencies highlighted by the MMA tournaments (and many of the grappling arts adopted some striking techniques). You can get good training in the traditional arts, whatever some of the style-wars extremists may argue, you just have to be careful for the things I mentioned above so you don’t end up in a scam.

Some of the traditional arts will exclude competition because their training regularly includes dangerous or unsporting techniques (eye gouges, groin attacks, etc.). That’s not a problem, insofar as the art is teaching proper technique properly. Being able to win at sport-fighting in a controlled environment is not the be-all-end-all of martial arts, it’s biggest problem being its heavy focus on ground-based grappling, something you never want to engage in in the real world, but if you never spar or train in active resistance you won’t learn anything of use in a “real” situation.

In terms of “real” fighting most martial arts will give you a leg up on untrained and inexperienced opponents of similar size and weight. No art will allow you to simply make up a huge size difference (there’s a reason MMA has different weight categories) and anybody that claims otherwise is likely untrustworthy. As well, the kinds of people who fight and brawl a lot in real life, generally labelled violent felons, will likely have more “real” experience than anybody in any kind of fighting art. No art will prepare you to “win” against these kinds of fighters.

The major hurdle in a real fight is psychological. A real fight is fast and often unexpected; its not like in the movies, or even the MMA, where people kick and punch each other over many long minutes. Fights usually start and end fairly rapidly because the aggressor wants to seriously hurt the other person and will either succeed shortly or be stopped rapidly. On that point, sheer naked aggression can often overcome any amount of training; the will and desire to inflict damage on another by itself is often usually enough to “win” a fight. Most people are unaccustomed to desiring to seriously hurt people; in any martial arts training, even the most heavy contact MMA, people are generally restraining themselves and trying not to hurt the other. Adrenaline (and drugs) can let the body withstand an amazing amount of punishment; it’s unlikely you will be able to take down someone hopped up on rage or PCP, no matter you training. The combination of surprise, fear, and aggression of a real fight will usually make most of your actual techniques and training. The biggest advantage of training should be simply learning to stay calm instead of panicking in the face of aggression.

In terms of real life fighting, your training will provide you with a leg up, that is all. It is not a guarantee of being able to win or even hold your own. Any art worth taking that is designed towards self-defence should be training you to not panic, to disrupt your opponent (preferably using trained muscle memory), then remove yourself, rather than trying to “win”. You are simply not going to be able to reliably “defeat” much larger opponents, adrenaline-fueled aggressors, or experienced, violent criminals, not to mention the potential legal ramifications of “beating” someone in real life.

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The Arts

Here’s a small summary of a number of the more popular/more talked about arts. I’ve tried to be neutral regarding the style wars and have tried to give each each art a fair shake in both its strengths and weaknesses. Partisans of a particular art can feel free to flame me in the comments.

MMA – If you want to do MMA fighting, a specialty MMA dojo/gym is probably the best way to go. MMA places will focus mainly on sport and will often be some combination of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, kick-boxing, judo, Muay Thai, and wrestling. You will learn both striking and grappling. MMA sport-fighting will apply to real fighting quite well. You may end up concentrating a lot of effort on less “practical” ground-work (you never want to on the ground for extended periods in a “real” fight) and you will likely be trained out of certain unsporting techniques, such as attacks on the groin and eyes.

Brazilian Jui-Jitsu – This is primarily a grappling art focused on grappling your opponent to the ground to go for submission. It became very popular following its success in the MMA and is a staple of MMA fighting. A must if you plan on doing MMA-style sport-fighting. For practical self-defence, you should do some cross-training if you take this, as you do not want to be going to the ground in public for extended periods of time.

Boxing/Kick-boxing – The classic American martial sport. If you want to get into boxing sport-fighting, this is obviously a must. It’s primarily used for sport and is striking based, so cross-training into grappling is a must if you want to transfer to MMA or for self-defence purposes. Also, be careful about using this for self-defence, as there are major differences between fighting with and without gloves and boxing itself is heavy on rules.

Greco-Roman Wrestling – Another sport-fighting art which is focused mainly on bringing your opponent to the ground, it is essential for that sport. It can also, with cross-training, be a good base for MMA. The rules of wrestling are fairly strict, so it’s probably not the best for strictly self-defence purposes.

Muay Thai – A traditional Thai system focusing on striking with particular emphasis on the use of knees and elbows. It’s a full-contact art with a large emphasis on conditioning. The violence and hard training of it can lead to it being a problematic art to keep up in the long-term. It is a base of a lot of MMA striking techniques and it has its own competition system.

Krav Maga – A stripped down martial art developed for and used by the Israeli Defence Force. It completely removes any holistic aspects and is concerned with teaching someone as efficiently and rapidly as possible to enact violence for survival. It can be thought of as the assembly line martial art for those wanting to learn self-defence as quickly as possible. There is a fair amount of quackery and glorified exercise instructors teaching this art, but if you can find a good instructor it can be good for self-defence.

Karate/Taekwondo – The two big ones of the traditional striking arts; karate tends to focus more on punching, while Teakwondo focuses more on kicking. Both gained strong popularity a few decades ago, but suffered a loss of prestige in the martial arts world following the introduction of the UFC. Due to their popularity, the arts are rife with McDojos and frauds. You can get good training if you get the right instructor and in some areas these may be the only arts available, but be careful. Neither are heavily used in the MMA, but both have their own competition systems. Kyokushin Karate is a form of karate based around heavy contact and would be a solid art for self-defence purposes.

Jujutsu – A traditional Japanese art focused on grappling that has numerous schools and has morphed many times. There is are so many forms of it and it forms the base of so many other schools that I could not give an adequate summary of it. It can mean almost anything.

Judo – A traditional art derived from jujistu that is based primarily around grapples and throws. It is often used as a base art in MMA and it also has its own sporting system. It’s an excellent art to learn.

Sambo – A form of judo mixed with traditional Russian wrestling styles. It has its own sporting structure. While the sport has not had that large an impact on MMA, combat sambo is very much similar to the MMA.

Aikido – A traditional Japanese art focused on using an opponents force against them and on facing multiple attackers. It’s advantages are that it doesn’t require much strength as it is more about redirecting your opponent’s strength and its one of the few arts that concentrates on multiple opponents. It’s often criticized for its unrealistic training and it can have some heavy spiritual aspects to it that some people find off-putting. Shodokan Aikido adds a more competitive and realistic element to the art. It also has a weapons component to it that may be of interest to some.

Kung Fu – Kung Fu refers to a wide variety of Chinese martial arts with a wide variety of emphases and styles; far too many to summarize here. There is a lot of impractical showiness throughout many forms of Kung Fu, so if you are looking for fighting practicality be wary. Wuushu, in particular, is known for it’s showy performance aspects. Wing Chun is one of the most popular forms in the west and is more oriented towards real world fighting; it focuses primarily on close range striking and grappling. Kung Fu often often offers training in traditional weapons and some styles have their own sttructures of competition.

Bujinkan – A Japanese art made of a number of different traditional samurai and ninja schools. It has a very broad focus, familiarizing students a wide range. It also places a relatively strong emphasis on training with traditional weapons; if learning traditional weaponry is your goal this is the art to try.  It’s connection to ninjutsu combined with its lack of official guidelines leads to a high proportion of frauds and craziness. If you can find a good instructor, its broad focus and emphasis on disabling attackers can make it effective for self-defence.

Systema – A Russian martial art with some links to Russian special forces that focuses on body management and movement while eschewing techniques. It can refer to a few different strains of Russian martial arts and sometimes is also used to refer to combat sambo. It has a broad focus and a holistic approach grounded in the Orthodox faith. It’s special forces links and the holistic aspect of it can lead to a fair amount of fraud and quackery. You may be able to find a good teacher, but be careful. It’s history may interest Slavs and the Orthodox.

Fencing/Kendo – These are sword-fighting arts. You won’t get any self-defence value out of them, but if sword-fighting appeals to you, it can be a good way to instill some martial values and discipline and socialize with other people.

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Your Goal:

This week your goal is to find a martial art you that interests you, contact the instructor, and join the arts introductory classes.

Omega’s Guide – My Road from Omega

Welcome to part two of the Omega’s Guide to Not Being a Loser, wherein I establish my credentials for taking on such a project.

I want you to know you are not alone, to know I know how you feel, to know that I can help you, to know it is not hopeless, so I am going to tell you where I was at and where I am now, hopefully as an inspirational story, or possibly just so you can laugh.

As a child I was always the one bullied, I got beaten up regularly, and was always one of the most unpopular kids in the class. I had few friends at school, but usually made up for it with friends from church or my neighbourhood. I moved around a lot, so I would always lose my current friends, but I would usually find a friend or two. As a teenager in high school, I moved to a new city. In this new city, I spent a year with no friends; I was unable to make them. I was too afraid to talk to people to make them. I had no social activities outside of church and youth group. I was crushingly lonely during this period.

Eventually, I got myself involved with a small group of friends; there was a group of about five guys I would spend time with. Things were not bad.

Then came college and things became horrible. My group of friends all went different paths, and my friends were all busy. I would see them about once a month. I helped “lead” youth group once a week (by which I mean, I showed up, watched the group while others lead, and talked with the two or three of the more nerdy/introverted youth) and went to church on Sunday. Outside of this, I had no social activities, I had no hobbies. I went to university, went to my part-time job, then came home and played video games, read, and watched TV. I had no friends but that small group I rarely saw; I had other social activities. This was my life for three years.

From about 17 or so, there was a cute blonde girl a few years younger than me who went to my church and youth group. I had the strongest crush on her for four years. I would daydream about her incessently; I thought of her everyday. I wanted nothing more in life than to hold this girl and have her be mine. More accurately, I wanted nothing more than to have the illusionary girl I built her up to be in my head; in those four years, I can count the times I talked with her at all (even a simple hello) on one hand; I had a real conversation with her a grand total of once.  I did not know her well-enough to like her; I was madly “in love” with the idea of what I thought she was.

For four years, I would see this girl in a group once or twice a week, spend most of the time furtively glancing at her, trying not to stare, beat myself up afterwards for my cowardice in not talking to her, then mooning over her the rest of the week. I was pathetic.

To make matters worse, in retrospect, this girl might have have had some interest in me back, and I might have had a chance had I only had the base courage to talk to her. That one real conversation I did have was at a youth event at a corn maze. I followed her and her sister in, walked up beside her, and we started talking for most of the maze. During this time, she dropped a number if hints I was too socially obtuse to understand, hints like “I’m cold” to which I stupidly offered my jacket, which she rejected, and “we should ditch my sister and go off alone together” to which I retardedly answered “that doesn’t seem very nice.” (Yes, really, she honestly said that and I truly answered that).

I was that bad at reading social situations. As another example, there was another girl in my youth group who I was not attracted to. At one event, we talked; she started blathering on about how she broke up with her boyfriend because he wasn’t Christian and she needed to find a good Christian man, while I half-listened and nodded. When she was done, I went inside and did my usual, stand in the group circle and listen without saying anything. She came up beside me and started leaning against me; I thought she must have been tired. We then went for the Bible lesson; she followed me and sat beside me. She then leaned into me and rested her head on my shoulder, I thought it was kind of weird, but she must’ve been really tired, so I tolerated it. After the lesson, she asked if we could talk. I said, sure. She then told me she liked me; I was utterly surprised. She did everything short of kiss me or grab my genitals, and I was no even aware of it until she told me. I asked to think about it (I was wondering if I should just for the social practice) and planned to tell her no a few days later. In my shameful cowardice I just avoided her for two months, until I finally screwed up the courage to reject her. (I regret that, it was a jerk move).

Knowing that, you will probably believe me when I tell you I could literally not start a conversation with a woman. I could literally not talk to strangers, acquaintances, or anyone not among my small groups of friends except in the most transactional or superficial ways (“Hi, How are You, I am good?” and answering direct questions with three words answers was the extent of my social prowess), and even these limited conversations were awkward. I had no friends other than that group of 5 I rarely saw; I rarely called my friends up to do something because I was afraid to phone them and “knew” they had better things to do than hang out with me. I had no social activities outside church, where I stood in a corner by myself. I never had a date. I withdrew from my family, spending most of my time in my room by myself. Etc. I was scrawny and out of shape, at only 150 pounds at 6’2″. My life was pretty much video games, TV, and books.

I was pathetic, I was desperately lonely, I was always bored, I hated myself, and I was suicidal. I thought about suicide every day and I seriously considered it about once a month. Twice, I sat on my bed, with my pocket knife to my throat, crying, while I debated whether to push it in or not. I decided not to both times for two reasons: I didn’t want my mom to find my corpse and I was worried the Catholics might be right and suicide would damn me. Those are literally the only reasons I could come up with not to kill myself.

This went on for three years, until I turned 21. Then I decided to turn myself around. I took the Dale Carnegie course (my grandfather paid for it, as both he and my mother were worried about my social life). I started spending more time with my friends. I attended attending a Christian group on campus, where I made a larger circle of friends. I started going to social events regularly; I spent more Fridays doing things than staying home. Over time, I developed a few hobbies. I started talking to girls, I entered a relationship or two.

Now, I have a circle of close friends and few other circles of friends. I am busy most days with social activities or hobbies. I have no problem talking with strangers. I can readily and easily converse with girls. I can and do approach girls on occasion, and get the occasional date. I no longer hate myself, no longer think suicidally, am rarely bored, and while occasionally I get a little lonely, it is nowhere near the level of desperation I once had. I’m now in decent shape, having gained 30 lbs of mostly muscle (and some fat). I’ve improved my life in every way.

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As you can see, if you are stuck in a rut of friendlessness, hopelessness, desperation, loneliness, and boredom, there is hope. I was there, I know how hopeless it can seem. I know how frightening social interaction is. I now how comfortable a rut, however miserable and painful, can be and how hard it is to escape. I know how you feel, because I was you, and I want to help. I improved my life, you can to.