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.”