Friday, September 23, 2022

Understanding Belt Tests

 It is interesting to see how Belt Testings are viewed.  As an Instructor I view them as a challenge for my students!    

Individuals assume that testings should be spread out otherwise a student is not truly learning the curriculum. 

First, that is for a Master/Instructor to decide.  The cultural aspects of respecting your Master/Instructor/Teachers from Korea are represented in Martial Arts; while students may not understand the reasons initially, that is part of their individual journeys. 

Second, this underlies the misconception that the Black Belt is the end of a journey, when in actuality, it is the beginning.  A Black Belt, in South Korea, is achieved in a year.  Colored belt testings are showcasing replication of techniques done in class.  Black Belt is understanding those techniques at a deeper level.  

Third, I believe in challenging students.  If one sets the bar low, that is what will be achieved.  If one sets the bar high, then the achievements are shocking!  It is beautiful to see students not only accepting a challenge put in front of them, but then realizing that they can set these challenges for themselves!  I have two 8 year olds & a 10 year old request to jump over a chair and did so amazingly. 

Fourth, while I may hand them a testing sheet with things that I want them to study, it is not the only thing I am looking for.  Some students have a hard time focusing-are they focused this time?  Some students have a hard time believing in their own capabilities-how about now?  Some place unnecessary barriers that stiffen their belief to excel in a test-how about now?  A test is not simply the physical elements of success, but also a mental test.

As cliché as it sounds, “with great power, comes great responsibility.”  As teachers/Instructors, students look up to us to guide them towards a better version of themselves.  Therefore, to hold them back gives a nonverbal gesture that we don’t believe in them.  As my Master Instructor likes to say- “let them surprise you.”  My responsibility to my students is to help them reach beyond their goals and aim for the stars.  Testings & Martial Arts are tools and a means toward a journey of self-realization, growth, leadership, achievement, and much more!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Self-Care: Examples and Importance

We are in a competitive society where our pace of life is go-go-go!  As we go-go-go we forget to eat, take a quick walk, or BREATHE!  Quite often we are referred to mindfulness through meditation.  Our preconceived notion of meditation is closing our eyes, emptying our minds, and focusing on our breath.  However, in my experience mindfulness and meditation do not have to be the traditional forms of execution.  Any action that allows for clarity in mind is a form of mindfulness/meditation which allows for self-care.  Here are some examples and why:

Taking a walk in the park (or anywhere, just like rhyming):

Throw on some calming classical music and enjoy nature.  Find pleasure in the little things you see: a butterfly, a beautiful flower, raindrops falling gently off leaves, etc. 

Why important?  First, being in nature is grounding.  (Look up forest therapy).  Second, if you are focusing on the beauty around you then it allows you to take your mind off daily stressors!  Third, you are working out without it feeling overwhelming!  Who wouldn’t want to see a butterfly or a small waterfall 😊

Read a book:

A real book!  Not an online book! Read a fictional book. Enjoy the smell and the idea of turning the page.  While reading imagine the story-visualize it.

Why important?  If you can visualize what you are reading, it will be hard to focus on anything else! 

Work out:

Working out!  Whether it is through a peaceful yoga session, improved flexibility through Pilates, fun with dance, strength/flexibility with martial arts, or the thrill of shooting a three pointer!  There are so many avenues to get a workout that can be your cup of tea.  Let that place be your area of tranquility where your focus is solely on punching that bag 😉

Why important: Exercise allows the release of endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin!  And when those are released, you relieve pain, stress, and become happy!


 Get a massage, a pedicure, a manicure, eat out at your favorite restaurant!

Why important:  If you aren’t healthy, then you can’t help others or help your business grow.


Turn off the phone or put on the “do not disturb.”   You don’t have to immediately respond to texts, emails, and be on call 24-7.  Set your hours and stick to them.  Say no ~ you should not do everything!

Why important:  You do not want to burn out.  Let your light shine!


Get that sleep in!  6-8 hours.  

Why important:  If you don't sleep, then how can you stay awake to get important stuff done!

What do you do to pamper yourself or put yourself first?  How are you going to implement alternative mindfulness and meditation?

Monday, October 22, 2018

My Journey to and at OSA Martial Arts


I have always desired to train in Martial Arts.  Like any kid, my fascination was initiated by watching tv shows like Sheera, He-Man, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My parents enrolled me into a Martial Arts program at a local recreation center hoping it would decrease all my energy-nope! 

I will never forget that program.  I remember being the only girl with boys-a lot were older.  I remember going to my first testing and leaving because I was scared and didn’t know what to expect.  They did bring an older girl (around 10) to help with the testing but I had never seen her before.  I was so nervous and scared, I walked out.

 I DO NOT regret that day at all.  Yes, I could have become a Black Belt sooner and started a career sooner, but everything happens for a reason.  That memory has stayed with me because it was that day which became the foundation for what I do now. 

I left Martial Arts but it never left me.  I always found myself enjoying Martial Art movies and desiring to learn.  Unfortunately, I joined martial art schools that were unethical or did not teach martial arts in its entirety. 

I read/hear about students getting touched inappropriately by other students or by Instructors.   This occurs because of how martial art schools are run.  The trust and loyalty between a Master or Instructor and his/her student is very important.  And, when do you learn the importance of this?  Throughout your training.

When a person first begins training they trust in the Instructor to help with achieving one’s goals.  For example,

·         Improving health

·         Decreasing stress

·         Improving focus

·         Self-Defense

·         Increasing confidence, discipline, and respect.

In my journey through martial arts, I have trained in multiple schools and in multiple styles.  I thought, like others, that MMA and some of the styles under that umbrella, had an approach that was more applicable to self-defense.  What I did not realize is that martial arts require tenants of respect, discipline, and courtesy to ensure safety of students and optimal growth.  I found myself never able to achieve excellence or feel comfortable in a self-defense situation.  One question that always came to my mind was why would I go to my back as a form of self-defense?  If I can’t beat the guy in class that weighs 200+ pounds, then how can I protect myself in a real situation which just technique?  I had to use force with the techniques I was learning, even though what was professed was that minimal force was needed.  I was using techniques that constantly brought up the questions:  "Would I use this is in a real situation?"  "Would I survive the situation if I used the technique?"  It is my belief that if questions like this come to my mind, then something is wrong.  What that something was, I did not know at the time.  I just knew there was better and there was more that I could learn.

 I decided to leave because I was not learning, and more importantly, I did not agree with what was being taught.  I put myself in the shoes of an Instructor-would I teach this to my students?  And, every time, my answer was no.  In addition, the atmosphere of these schools was one that was ego-driven.  While many say, “leave the ego at the door,” this is not true.  Leaving ego at the door depends on how a class is taught, and while some actions may be by accident, others are not.  When a school only teaches a move but does not teach respect or courtesy, people get hurt physically and/or emotionally.

I returned to traditional martial art schools.  I hoped to find schools where I would learn the art of the style.  I returned to be challenged and to learn self-defense.  I wanted to not just go on an Instructor Path, but a path towards Mastery.  But, even here, I came across disappointment.  I found Instructors who had stopped their own training and as a result could not teach their student beyond a certain point.  Remember, the Black Belt is a test on knowledge of everything you have learned up till that moment.  After Black Belt is when the learning begins, however, most people stop their learning after 1st or 2nd degree Black Belt.  If an Instructor stops learning, then how are they supposed to evolve their students beyond their potential?  Well, what I found were Instructors who went to Seminars and advance their curriculum from what they learned.  But, what happens when a student has additional questions?  That Instructor will not have an answer or will go online to find answers.  Other Instructors decided to bring other styles to their schools, specifically related to MMA.  This changes the atmosphere and the dynamic of the school.  This type of learning made me frustrated; I was not achieving beyond my potential let alone to my potential.  I left these schools. 

I then went the route of trying to find a Master who would teach.  I thought a Master would be able to help me learn because they have achieved a certain level themselves.  Again, frustration.  It was not that these Masters were not knowledgeable.  What frustrated me was that they changed the curriculum to meet the ways of society:  immediate satisfaction and easy.  I found that the style was “watered down” to adapt to what most students/parents wanted.  As an educator, this was agitating.  It is up to an Instructor/Teacher to change the norms and teach people to work hard and then achieve a goal.  Why was it different?  Other Masters did not want to teach me because of the styles of martial arts I had trained in (let's call it "baggage").  Again, I left.

I had nearly a 6-month hiatus.  No Master.  No Instructor.  No Training.  I thought there is no school that will do the following:

1.        Teach a curriculum in its entirety

2.        Teach me with my "baggage"

3.        Where the atmosphere is friendly and honest

4.        Where students do not get hurt.  If they do, it is not because of the lack of training/knowledge of the Instructor.

I built up the courage to look, just one last time.  And, it changed everything.  I was still going to look for a Master.  I found OSA Martial Arts.  I remember my first class vividly.  It was not about showing my skill-set physically.  It was about where I was mentally and where I wanted to go.  I decided to stay with OSA.  Why?

I have never met a Master who had so much conviction in his curriculum.  He has not watered down his curriculum because he believes he can empower every student to go not just to their potential but beyond it.  And, he doesn’t just believe it-he does it. 

At OSA, I learned the importance of loyalty and trust.  My trust was broken at every previous school I went to.  They promised to advance me (not by ranks) but just me and my knowledge.  I never went beyond a certain point.  At OSA, my passion for martial arts came back.  I enjoy learning.  I learn self-defense skills because of the way techniques are taught and injury is rare.  I enjoy every class and have a thirst for more.  Questions are welcomed and addressed.  There is no fear of the Instructor because a question is asked or a technique is questioned.  But, at OSA techniques are not questioned because of the efficacy behind how they are taught (see below).  My previous Masters/Instructors would out-right lie to me.  What purpose does it serve to lie?  None.  I understood the importance of loyalty for a while.  However, I wanted to be able to learn to be at a place where my loyalty would be respected, and I would receive the same back.  At OSA, I found that.  No matter what, the OSA family always sticks together. 


Being an Instructor takes a lot of patience.  It requires dedication, open mind, and constant study.  Mastery requires self-reflection, self-motivation, and patience.  When I learn from my Master it is very different from Instructors.  Why?  

·         Under the Master, you learn one technique from multiple perspectives.  With an Instructor, you learn multiple techniques from one perspective.  Self-defense does not require thousands of moves.  It should be quick and help you escape.  You can learn one move and learn many variations.  Masters understand those variations because they already see it.  Instructors are in the process of seeing it.  This is why the journey does not end at Black Belt-it Begins at Black Belt.  This is not to say Instructors are less of a teacher.  They are completely capable of teaching a curriculum.  But, an Instructor is also learning how to be a Master.

·         Under the Master, you are challenged every class.  Every class there is a feeling of “ah ha!”  Where one grows.  In an Instructor’s class, that happens over a span of time.

Beyond that, the growth to Mastery is different too.  OSA is far removed from any martial arts school I have attended, in a good way.  First, the standard of the curriculum is high, and every student is expected to know it to those standards.  At Black Belt, the knowledge and deeper understanding of the curriculum grows through teaching.  The patience to let things flow and implement positively is necessary in this process.  By Mastery, it is important to learn what challenges you mentally and physically.  This will be difficult.  But, each time you overcome it, you find out something about yourself.  You find out the negatives and how to make yourself better and the positives and how to make that an asset to your continual growth.  You learn how to self-reflect so that you can constantly be better.  You learn about how to help your students grow each day to be better martial artists and better people.   Mastery is about understanding yourself to help others in their achievements.  To be able to teach someone success mentally and physically everyday.  To constantly help someone push the barriers they put up for themselves to grow.  It is about developing wisdom through the test of time and overcoming the barriers put in front of you and/or the barriers you put up for yourself.   And, of course knowing your curriculum, but not just knowing it-you believe in it, and not because your Masters/Instructors do.  You believe in it because 

1.  You see the integrity behind the curriculum
2.  You as an Instructor believe that this is appropriate to teach your students.
3.  You have gone through the process and have seen others go through the process (nothing is a 
4.  You will not just grow as a student but also as an Instructor
5.  There will never be any limit to your growth mentally.

Do not just follow.  Know the history.  Analyze what is being taught.  Have the strength to stand up for yourself and what you believe.  Eventually you will find an organization with awesome Master(s)/Instructor(s) that are teaching you a great, solid, honest curriculum and they will be passionate about it!

I am so happy to have found my Master and my Martial Arts Family at OSA.  Remember “Live the Do.”

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Is the glass as half empty or half full?

I remember my first class with my Master very vividly.  There was no physical training (no kicks, throws, weapons, etc).  We kneeled on the mats and he asked me what my vision is for myself in Martial Arts.  What did I want?  What have I learned?  I already had training as an Instructor and was at a different point in my learning of Martial Arts and he wanted to know my personal goals.
This initial class was one of my most memorable and meaningful classes.  Why?  The knowledge I had gained as a student and as an Instructor was still validated by my Master but through this meeting I understood that I could learn a lot more and advance my knowledge to greater depths. 

I look at people who ask me about training or decide that they want to come in and begin learning; many come in professing how much they know and listing everything they have done which is great.  I enjoy seeing the passion behind what they have learned!  However, the willingness to listen is not there.   Remember, any journey of learning is a never-ending journey. 

“If you profess that you are a perfectionist, then are you willing to learn more?  Perfectionism implies that the knowledge provided is obsolete.  You are not able to learn more.”

I have many analogies on learning. 

Let’s take a heated argument on religion, politics, etc.  If you are so focused on your side, you are unwilling to learn/see another angle.  If you step back and listen, you might just learn something new.

Remember, Masters and Instructors have been in your shoes.  They still train and through their learning they have gained wisdom, which they are passing on to future generations.  However, these future generations must have an open mind and the patience to learn.  There is a difference between having a question on a certain topic and questioning a topic/curriculum.

The art of Martial Arts is also learned in personal study.  Think of going to school/college.  I can not advance my knowledge if I don’t study and have questions.  However, if my Professor gives me an answer and I say no that is wrong or no that doesn’t work, how would that turn out for you? 

Think of a different approach of how to ask a question when something is not understood.  Go to your Martial Arts class with a notebook, take down notes and study them, apply them, and learn.

Here is another example: Belt Testings.  I am not ready.  I have not studied.  I don’t know everything.  I won’t test.

Now relate it to school:  Would you ever tell your teacher, I can’t test or I won’t test.  You can but then you would receive an “F.”   

Then why do it in Martial Arts.  Remember Masters and Instructors are testing more than just the curriculum.  They are giving you knowledge and knowledge has many forms. 

Take this example with questioning:  You are unwell, you go to a doctor who gives you a diagnosis/treatment.  Are you going to question the doctor?  Again, you can ask questions but to question a doctor’s knowledge implies that you already know the solution so why see a doctor?

The same applies to Martial Arts.  If you are questioning a Master/Instructor then what is your purpose in “learning?”  It is implicitly conveyed that you know everything.

Learning Martial Arts can be a great form of growth.  You will develop a strong bond with your Martial Arts Family and your Master/Instructors can be a wealth of knowledge if you

  1. are open-minded
  2. are respectful
  3. have the desire to learn
  4. are patient
 We are always here to guide, teach, and empower you to see beyond your potential.  The question is are you here with a glass half empty or half full? 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The World of Martial Arts is Changing…..

The world of Martial Arts today is not the world of Martial Arts I once knew.  Obviously, as times change our passions, the state of the world, education, jobs, etc… all change.  However, there are core values, core basics, core ethics, etc, that must always be upheld.
It is important to preface this by saying that sport form of Martial Arts is not Martial Arts.  It is one aspect of Martial Arts.  In my journey of Martial Arts, I found myself moving from one Martial Arts school to another and yet another.  This was primarily for two reasons: 

1        1.       The caliber of what is taught and level of knowledge from the Instructors has declined.
2        2.     The core values intrinsic to the martial arts world is disappearing.

Now let’s look at each of these individually. 

The first one…the caliber

Instructors cannot be blamed because over time there has been a decline in how Martial Arts is taught. 

However, it is up to an Instructor to seek out the truth.  An Instructor has to understand every detail of what they are teaching in every aspect.  Are certain techniques logical in self-defense situations or not, is one example of how to process learning/teaching.  Am I teaching situational reality or reality is another example.  

With the change in time, the expectation of students has also declined.  Therefore, curricula have been watered down, to accommodate student desires-- Immediate satisfaction versus patience.  In addition there is a  rise of interest in sports.  Therefore, martial arts schools now focus on the sport aspect of the art as the core component of training and teaching versus the art. 
Another example comes when teach self-defense.  When schools focus only on situational reality set-up as a mode of practicing self-defense, the application of the art is not known to teach/explain it for real life set-ups.

When individuals teach/learn a small component of martial arts, then each generation of students/instructors learn less and teach less.   This causes a decline.  Instructors that think Black Belt is the end cannot accurately teach, because a 1st degree black belt is simply the memorization of techniques learned in the last 2+ years.  To go beyond black belt is when learning to teach and understanding awareness comes.  When there is a need to learn a little bit of this and that from other styles, the need to go to seminars, the need to watch videos, etc, then one must step back and question the drive behind doing this.  What is missing in your training?  What is missing in your curricula?  Why are things missing…

A curriculum is not a bunch of techniques at different levels.  A true curriculum is handed to you.  It is a personal growth that is seen through repetition of technique that changes and evolves in each ranking.  For example, a break fall
        --  lower rank starts by sitting,

                ---- next rank you break fall squatting and continue the break fall from sitting
·            -----next rank, you break fall standing, and you continue the break fall from squatting and sitting.    

      And this process keeps going through black belt.  That is how one grows and learns the application of martial art techniques.

I can’t speculate this to be the situation with every school, but in my transitions from school to school, I have noticed this to be an issue.  I am very picky with my learning because I am an Instructor.  As an Instructor, I have a responsibility.  It is my responsibility to teach my best with a strong curriculum.  I have high standards for my students.  If I limit what I expect from my students, I am not being a good Instructor.  Students can achieve everything I desire if I, the Instructor believes in them and help them build on the basics to grow to their potential if not beyond it. 

The second thing I noticed, the core values….

All too often I receive phone calls of prospective students wanting to learn to fight or wanting to challenge me or other Instructors.  Martial Arts is not that.  I do not learn Martial Arts to learn how to beat up someone.  It is a far greater sense of being.  It is a sense of awareness.  It is a sense of inner peace and constant reflection of self-such that we can constantly grow and be confident in knowing that we can protect ourselves if needed but do not desire the necessity to proclaim it.  

We teach aspects of martial arts that can cause harm and kill if done wrong or without understanding. We cannot teach this without ensuring that students understand respect, discipline, responsibility, and integrity, etc.  The bow to Masters, Instructors, and to each other is a sign of respect.  Bowing when coming into the dojang is a sign of respect- all ego is left at the door.  It is a learning environment. 

Again, in my transition from school to school, I felt that I had to prove myself over and over versus learning.  That is not a proper training environment.  I believe in loyalty.  If I am going to dedicate my time to learn, to practice, to train, I expect my Master and/or Instructor to ensure that I am in a safe environment, and he/she will provide the instruction I need to learn and grow.  It is a two-way street.

In order for Martial Artists to grow completely, they must understand the core values such that they understand the responsibility behind the knowledge.  That too is why loyalty is important.  Masters and Instructors do not only teach the curricula.  They create an environment in which every student feels they can grow because the atmosphere is respectful, fun, and safe.

I see a martial arts school like a family.  This is a place where students look out for each other.  Where Masters and Instructors are individuals that become mentors/guides to help a student on their journey.  Masters/Instructors do not say here is your journey; we help guide you on a journey that is formed through training and is unique to you that never ends.

It is my goal to bring ethics and good curriculum back to the world of martial arts.  I want my students to understand the complete art so they can see their growth and learn the beauty of martial arts in its complete form.  I believe that they can achieve the goals that the Grand Masters expected of their students when the arts first began.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ethics of Martial Arts...Why we Keep Searching

I have been training in Martial Arts since I was 18.  Being a female in the martial arts world is not easy let alone with the mindset/atmospheres displayed in the martial arts field currently.

I was searching for a martial art school to train at for a very long time…. Why may you ask?  Because I know what I wanted in a martial arts school and more importantly, my Master/Instructor.  My rankings were not as important to me as my personal growth.

Time and time again, I was put up against the same situations.

This is what I encountered:

Students immediately go into techniques that cannot be performed initially.  Why?
  •      The strength was not built to match the needs for the technique.
  •     There is a process to learning techniques.  You must learn basics first before transitioning.  It is like building a house, you start with a base and move your way up.  If you skip any parts, the house falls apart, or in martial arts, you get hurt or can't perform the technique.

Of, course, I left.  I am here to learn, to learn beyond techniques.

  •  I am thankful to say that I have not had many injuries due to my Martial Arts training.  This is because of me personally going with sparring partners that I knew would not intentionally hurt me or did not have an ego and a sense of "I need to win attitude."  Now think of that statement….
    • Should you as a student go to class fearful of getting hurt by your partner? 
    • Should you as a student go to class thinking how you should change the way you train to ensure your safety?

Again, I left, my safety is paramount, but so is having fun and learning.

And this topic leads to the next thing I encountered.

Ethics and Respect in a Martial Arts School

Going to a martial arts school is now conceptualized as the following or have the following characteristics (just to name a few):
  • I want to learn how to fight
  • I challenge you to a fight
  • Ego before learning
  • Talking over Masters, Instructors, Higher Level Students
  • Changing on the mats versus in the bathroom
  • Talking during class
  • Coming late/not asking permission
  •  No structure
     These are just a few things but if this is in a school, it no longer embodies the philosophy and teachings of  Martial Arts.  Martial Arts is a never ending learning process.   It is about awareness but more importantly Martial Arts is about respect.  Respect for the Master, Instructor, and fellow students.  There should not be an ego in a learning atmosphere.  Training in Martial Arts is not learning how to fight.   Also, ethics/norms/guidelines/codes of conduct cannot have the expectation to be followed if the Master/Instructors do not embody it.  Action speaks louder than words. If those at the top don't follow their own guidelines than how can you expect those following you to follow them

`     In addition, codes of conduct, rules, guidelines cannot be put in place with an expectation of a following when it was never present before. One has already created an environment which is not to say that it can't be changed; it is simply to note that it will take a while to change what has become intrinsic in the culture of the school.  Remember, that the codes of conduct, etc, is intrinsic to the martial arts.  If the respect-the ethics are not present, then injuries happen, challenging each other, feelings of being unsafe, etc….

The real question is the Why.  Why aren't these guidelines present.  Why do we have a lack of regard.  Why?

So again, I left.  I don’t need to prove myself on the mats, I want to learn and grow, physically and mentally without worrying about being challenged or feeling the need to challenge others.

THE WHY!!!!!

Martial arts have watered down:
  • Decline of Instructors who have gone through a system to understand an art and be able to teach it.
  • No curricula or not a good one.
  • No growth beyond techniques
  • Misinterpretation of situation reality versus reality
  • Misinterpretation of what Martial Arts is and what to expect

See, Martial Arts is a never-ending study of an art.  It is about constant self-reflection and growth.  That growth is more mental than the physical (the techniques).  The aspiration to achieve a black belt is truly just the tip of the iceberg.  Think of the growth of martial arts like a baby.  See the colored belt rankings are the points where the Instructors are holding you until you are able to crawl/walk.  The Black Belts is where you begin to run and explore! The Mastery level is are where you are on your own, to learn, grow, and to face the world.  To stop at Black Belt continues a watered down Martial Arts.  A 1st Dan Instructors are teaching with little knowledge of how to expand a student’s desires of learning beyond techniques, thereby causing a loss of interest or a curriculum with tons of techniques but with no understanding to application/awareness.  Growing the mind is what the advanced learning involves.  How does it intertwine. 

Now self-defense versus sport.  Situation reality versus reality.  The following sums it up.

Sport requires guidelines.  Sport and the Art are not the same.  Sport and Self-Defense are not the same.  Yet, they are used interchangeably.  Think of this scenario:

A person can knock you out or kill you in 3 seconds.  Why would you attempt to do a butterfly kick, a triangle, a complicated wrist release, or anything that would involve a defensive motion that lasts longer than 3 seconds.  The goal should be run, and if you are in a position that you can’t run, then quick actions to help you escape.  (ie: poke the eyes, hit the groin, pull the ear, hit the ear drums, etc…)  

Remember, martial art sport should always be based on safety and mutual respect. ie sportsmanship. Just because you make a sport more violent doesn't make that sport more realistic to self-defense. Preservation of self against an attacker in life and death situation is another level of being that is not a situation one should ever be in (Master Stout).”
Sadly, techniques are situational-they are not reality.  The mindset of a person who is ready to kill or harm you is not a situation role played in most martial art classes in this day and age.  However, we misinterpret certain arts as a great way to learn self-defense.  What I ask of you is to put yourself in a situation- imagine it and apply that self-defense and see if those techniques/positions are really what you want or should do.

Again, I left, because I cannot be part of something that stipulates that you can protect yourself with these techniques…because when you envision an attack and the technique… it isn’t applicable. 


As a student I don’t just want to learn techniques.  I won’t grow mentally, spiritually, and physically and be balanced.  I want to achieve the highest possible stature in Martial Arts and I don’t need a ranking to prove it, I just need to train under a Master/Instructor who can take me there because he/she has gone through the process themselves.  I don’t want to train at a school where I am challenged all the time.   Lastly, there has to be integrity to what I learn.  Yes, I can learn technique, but I also want to grow mentally.  Yes, I can also learn technique, but it shouldn’t be conveyed as a way to protect me if it really can't.  Yes, I want to learn technique, but I also need the applications, the art behind the technique.

 As an Instructor, I find it my responsibility to help others be aware of what they should look for in a school and what to expect, such that they don’t have to go 10 years searching to be on this beautiful journey, we call martial arts.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Watered down…. The Black Belt.

You can beat up people…

You can kick ass…

I want to learn how to fight…

I challenge you to a fight…

Does any of this sound familiar?

 Sadly, children now days are inundated with violence, whether it be through an increase of playing violent video games or seeing violent shows. 

Martial Arts is slowly being seen as a means to beat up people-or learn how to fight.  However, it is much more than that.  On another note, some think that certain styles are not beneficial to self-defense.  Let’s break this down.

Martial Arts is first and foremost about respect and integrity within the movements executed and between the individuals executing them.  When all you do is to teach how to fight, then you are creating just that: fighters with no respect- no integrity- that can potentially hurt another individual because they do not understand the respect that is required with the responsibility of their rankings.   That integrity is slowly being lost with the rise of violence in media and a lack of understanding of martial arts.

Now, in Martial A`rts, most learn the sports aspects of the art.  The art, is not taught either because the Instructor did not learn it or the sports aspect is the focus.  Now you take this scenario and teach students under one of the aforementioned situations and then the student opens up a school… the system is watered down further. 

The sport aspect of martial arts, of course, cannot be deemed as applicable in self-defense.  Why?  There are too many rules and guidelines.  In self-defense, there are no rules.  Having said this, then why is it that we cannot differentiate this concept when looking at the arts?  Because we are sadly seeing more and more of a watered down martial arts, irrespective of style.  If an Instructor only attempts to go to Black Belt and begin to teach they have only begun to understand martial arts.  On the same accord, a sports focus of martial arts only teaches to a certain.  But if we see only watered down and sports focused martial arts, then of course a person will not know that there is so much more to the art.  They do no know what more to look for. 

Martial Art Instructors begin to learn after the Black Belt.  This is when awareness of self and surroundings start to be understood; this is when understanding how styles coordinate which each other; this is when learning about themselves and how that relates to the art and how to teach.  It is a never-ending self-reflection, growth of awareness, and balance.    When one has not continued his/her learning, how can they help his/her student’s advance their learning?

This lack of growth and learning is why some styles are considered unworthy in self-defense.  For example, let’s look at forms (poomse/kata).  When first learning a form, you see it as a step by step, mundane, repetitive motion, with no understanding to its application.  An Instructor who has gone beyond the Black Belt will know and understand the explanation/application behind the block/punch/kick, etc… and can/will denote the self-defense aspects of the form.  However, when an Instructor has not gone through this process and chooses to teach, one of two things happen.
  1.  The form is taught in the same mundane manner, causing a continued lack of understanding and/or boredom for the Instructor and/or student.
  2. They are no longer taught because it is not understood, meaning that the concept of understanding the full art is gone.

Another example.  Why do we do seminars?  Because there is something empty.  We are still seeking to learn.  But, when an Instructor’s level of understanding hits a threshold and the student desires more which cannot be provided, they go seeking.  This is why having an Instructor with a solid understanding and with a solid curricula is important.

I am not downing the sport form of martial arts as it is exciting to watch and learn.  But one must note that due to the limits placed in sports-they do not define self-defense.  Nor, do they define MartAal arts.  Sports, demo teams, etc are only a small facet to the martial arts. 

Martial Arts is an internal growth that never ends.  For a student to learn it properly, requires a Master/Instructor who has learned it beyond the levels of a Black Belt.  If we continue to accept what just is, then we will lose the integrity that lies within martial arts: The Do-The Way.

You can beat up people…  I don't learn to beat up people.  I learn to be my best.

You can kick ass…  This is not why I train.  I train for my personal growth and awareness.

I want to learn how to fight…  It is not about fighting.  Yin Yang-balance

I challenge you to a fight…  Respect is foremost in Martial Arts.  Humble-integrity

The greatest challenge lies in myself.  To learn everyday.  To do better than yesterday.  To grow.  To be balanced.

Bring integrity back to what we learn.  Learn the art.  Learn The Do-The Way.