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- Bullying. It's a major problem impacting our youth today. What are your thoughts on it and how can you help?

This is one of the most common reasons why a young person starts their martial arts training. Bullying is worse than it has ever been, not just in frequency, but in psychological severity. Young people today don't just get bullied at school in front of their peers, it follows them home on facebook, snapchat, and other social media. They have a hard time escaping it and, as we've all heard about in the media, some have even ended their lives because of it. This is a serious problem and these young people need help. To beat bullying, one must understand the psychology of a bully. Rest assured that a person that bullies someone does so because they are being bullied themselves. Whether it is by another peer or a family member, they feel powerless and have a psychological need to compensate for that feeling of powerlessness by flexing their force on someone else. Often times, they will seek out a person that appears weak to them, a person they feel will not resist. A person that is soft spoken, looks down when they walk, and struggles to make eye contact is a prime target. Simply put, wolves can smell a lack of confidence a mile away. However, bullying IS beatable. I speak from experience....

As a young boy, I had very poor hearing. After numerous surgeries, my ear specialist decided I needed hearing aids. Hearing aids back then were big and bulky, and they wrapped around your ear. I received them in the summer and thought they were pretty cool. I was shocked to learn my classmates did not share my affinity for them. I was made fun of, picked on, and joked about. My self confidence was shattered and I started to become withdrawn, quiet, avoided eye contact, and would only speak when spoken to. This immediately drew the attention of another young boy that made it his daily routine to push me, yell at me, spit at me, call me names, and throw things at me. It wasn't too much longer after this began that I started my training in the martial arts. I was hooked. My mother would use the term "obsessed." All I thought about was training and how I could get better, and what my teacher was going to teach me next. At first, I was still being picked on, but it honestly didn't bother me as much. I was so wrapped up in my own world of martial arts that I didn't really pay attention. I had a distraction, an escape, and it was so much more important to me than whatever nonsense others would call me. I didn't dare tell anyone about my training because I thought my hearing aids were cool and, well, look what that got me. Fast forward a few years. My hearing aids are off and I'm in junior high school. I'm a red belt now. I have a new confidence. I've accomplished some things during training and feel a sense of empowerment. I've been training for years and, frankly, I'm good. Still, nobody knows. That is until I accidentally wore a karate t-shirt to school. Immediately, my peers were asking, "You do karate?" I made very light of it and changed the subject. Finally, the inevitable happened, someone said, "Show me something." This was NOT going to become hearing aids for me. I loved it too much and had worked too hard. I gave the guy a notebook and said, "Hold this." He held it at our head height. I looked at him with a serious face and said, "Higher." He raised it up over our heads, I put my hands up to protect my chin, like I had always been taught, and spun around executing a spinning hook kick. I blasted the notebook out of his hands and it flew through the air, paper fluttering and flapping, and it slammed into the lockers. The few people that saw it shouted and yelled, "Do that again!" Suddenly, I wasn't invisible anymore. Word got around quickly and before I knew it, I was performing impromptu demonstrations for my classmates during lunch. I would kick quarters out of their fingers, kick cups off their heads, front flip off tables, and would often get requests to run up a wall and flip off of it. This continued throughout high school and I even had the pleasure of helping my sophomore English teacher (a fellow black belt) train for a taekwondo tournament she was entering (big shout-out to Mrs. Coats!). While in high school, I was selected to be on a nationally sponsored team and was one of the youngest on the team. The school paper did an article about me and my competition career. I went from being a victim of bullying to becoming kinda cool, and it all happened so quickly because I was immersed in my own world of training. This is the power the martial arts has had on my life. I suppose I owe that bully some gratitude as well. He helped create the martial artist and man I am today. I hope my story has illustrated the many benefits the martial arts can provide, and some comfort to those that have been victims of bullying. As a closing note, I was nominated Courtwarming King my senior year of high school. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the dance because I was busy winning a national tournament in Las Vegas. Take that, bullies.


- How big are your classes?

I keep the size of my classes small. There are only 10 openings per class. Openings in each class happen fairly often because youth students move on to the teen class at the age of 13, and all students move on to an advanced class at a certain point in their training. If a class is full, it is highly likely an opening will be available soon. The martial arts are not the same for everyone, and therefore, I do not teach every student the same way. We all have methods of learning that work best for us, and have different bodies that allow us to excel at different things. I pride myself in being able to optimize the curriculum taught here to the individual needs of each student. I'm able to accomplish this by knowing my students well, and keeping class sizes small.

- Are there any differences between the kids class and adult class?

In short, yes. The curriculum at this school is consistent, but the way class is conducted is quite different. The reason for this is that a 9 year old child and a 29 year old adult are training for different reasons. I know this because I have trained the martial arts as both a young boy and a grown man. I can tell you that as a child, I wanted to be a ninja. Oh yes, a full-fledged ninja, preferably a green one with a red headband, a turtle shell, and a wicked pair of sai. As an adult, I appreciate the science. I enjoy the challenge of refining and perfecting techniques, building speed and power, and enjoying the intense satisfaction of a hard strenuous training session. I am very well aware of the reasons why a child finds the martial arts "cool" and "awesome," and why an adult finds the martial arts "fascinating" and "fulfilling." If you're like many adults that have always wanted to practice the martial arts for one reason or another, but have hesitated because it was difficult to find a school that offered quality instruction for adults, please contact me. You will not regret it.

- How long, on average, does it take to earn a black belt?

This is one of the most common questions. There isn't a specific time frame, however, I can tell you that learning the martial arts is a marathon, not a sprint. For the average person, a black belt will require 5-6 years of continuous training to earn. Please be cautious of schools promising black belts, certificates, or titles in short order. It simply does not work that way. Many talented and skilled people have remarked that "it takes years to become an overnight success." This is certainly true for the martial arts. The martial arts, like any skill set, are complicated, intricate, and difficult. Ability and competency does not come overnight. It is my duty to uphold the integrity of my teacher and the martial arts to ensure that my students are receiving quality instruction and training. I would be wasting your time, money, and energy if I didn't have standards regarding my students. A black belt will never make a martial artist, the martial artist makes the black belt. If the focus is more on acquiring ability, and less on acquiring rank, the student will progress nicely and the rank will be achieved. In anything, you will get out what you put into it.

- I'm not very athletic. Despite this, could I be good at the martial arts?

Absolutely! The martial arts entail many different types of training that refines numerous physical qualities such as strength, speed, coordination, agility, stamina, rhythm, timing, depth perception, balance, and accuracy. With consistent training, the student's level of athleticism will improve tremendously. 

- Do you offer a self defense class?

No. I offer multiple self defense seminars a year for women that are free, but I do not hold an ongoing class. Self defense is extremely straightforward. However, when it comes to effectiveness, martial arts training is far superior for self protection. If you find yourself in a situation where self protection is necessary, it will likely get ugly quickly. Thorough knowledge of fighting is your best way to ensure your safety. Simply put, self defense training is defensive and from the viewpoint of a victim. Knowledge of fighting provides insight into the methods of attack, turning the table on the attacker, and making them the victim. In chess terms, fighting knowledge allows you to see from both sides of the chess board.

- Why the martial arts? Why not team-based sports like baseball or football?

I feel honesty is the best policy. Having said that, it's very possible that baseball or football is a better fit for you or your child. The martial arts are not for everyone. Some just aren't interested in learning them and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The martial arts are not a team-based sport, but that's not to say that the members of this school aren't a team; we most certainly are. Although each student is on their own path, everyone is striving to be better. We struggle together, learn from one another, and support each other. We are all training to reach higher, and we lift each other up to get there. As for the benefits of studying the martial arts versus team-based sports, the accolades of the team are shared by the team, but in the martial arts, each victory and accomplishment are your own. The martial arts are very challenging, making the achievements that much more meaningful and special.

- What benefits does martial arts training provide other than the physical aspects?

Like anything that requires hard work and dedication, martial arts training will build character. Overcoming difficult challenges will give the student a strong sense of accomplishment, providing them an understanding of perseverance, confidence, and self-respect. Facing those challenges during training and enduring the mistakes that will inevitably be made will keep the student grounded and their ego in check. Being resolved to come to class and train will teach the student to be disciplined and value the worth of commitment. Martial arts training starts with the fundamentals, prioritizing the basics and then gradually learning deeper concepts and more advanced techniques. Later, the student will learn to prioritize the tasks of dealing with an opponent in front of them. Likewise, they will eventually face the opponent we ALL face at times called "life" and will be more equipped and better suited in dealing with those problems. Overall, it is extremely common to see an individual have more courtesy, self-esteem, respect, humility, maturity, and better grades and work performance as a direct result of their martial arts training.

- I'm as flexible as a telephone pole, do I stand a chance?

Of course! Stretching is done at the beginning of every class so improvement will be made. Flexibility and stamina have two things in common; they both require a lot of dedication, and are quickly lost if they're not maintained. There are many training methods that one can do to improve their flexibility. Flexibility takes time, but with the right training, results will be seen.

- Is training dangerous? Will I get hurt during sparring?

Ensuring the safety of my students is my main priority and number one concern. There is never a reason for any student to get injured. Training will always be done safely and under professional supervision. Every student is provided with a packet that contains the school rules that are followed during class to ensure a safe training environment. Sparring is a training method that the student will gradually be introduced to. If they are introduced to sparring prematurely, there is a risk that that student could get "punch shy." Not being confident when sparring not only makes the training method of sparring less effective, but also raises the risk of an accident occurring. Proper protection equipment will be worn at all times during any and all sparring sessions. The number 1 rule of this school is to always train smart and train safe.

- Will I learn the "crazy ninja moves" you do in those videos in the gallery?

Possibly. Those techniques are advanced and are done only for demonstration purposes. The first technique of that kind that I learned was the 540 kick and I didn't learn it until after I had earned my black belt. It would be a mistake to think that those techniques come quickly or easily. Outstanding basics and understanding of technique are required to do them. If a student has an interest in learning those techniques, it will happen much later in their training. Obtaining a strong foundation is the first priority.

- Why do you wear those traditional clothes? Wouldn't modern athletic clothing be better?

Great question! The traditional uniform of Japanese martial arts, often erroneously called a "gi," is called a dogi (doe-gi) or keikogi (kay-coe-gi). In my opinion, the keikogi has much more to do with function rather than fashion. Most schools still wear them today as a way of upholding tradition, but they are worn at this school because I have not found anything else that is better suited for martial arts training. It is loose fitting, allowing you to punch and kick freely. The seat of the pants are gusseted to increase strength in the seam to prevent tearing. Most importantly, the keikogi is lined with stitching in multiple places, giving it tremendous durability. The collar and lapel is filled with lines of stitching making it nearly impossible to rip. In short, the finest athletic shirt money can buy wouldn't last 20 minutes of shoulder throw or collar choke practice. The keikogi still stands the test of time.

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