Your Tribe

So, you find yourself spending more time by yourself or with your immediate family. How’s that going? Hopefully you are healthy and safe. That said, how much are you missing people that you didn’t realize you’d miss?

This is the whole “don’t know what you have until it’s gone” thing. It does give you an opportunity for some self-examination. What is your perception? Are you “by yourself” or are you “alone”? There is a great difference in these. I hope that those of you who feel alone make the connections that you need. This school has been built as family. We all grow and support each other.

Reaching out is an interesting thing. I’ve had a couple people tell me “no one ever calls me, so why should I call them?” It’s the wrong attitude. Don’t let your pride or ego position yourself as the elite that others should come to and then feel bad when they don’t. Your family and your tribe are there for you. Talk, message, email or other to keep each other stable during this time.

I’ve had some insights over these last weeks. I knew that I gained energy from class, whether as teacher or student, which is a reason I’ve continued for all these years. It has been amazing how bad days are forgotten by the end of class. In fact, the bigger the class, the more energy gained.

I’ve been very fortunate to have developed such a strong tribe through teaching. They are people that I can count on and have complete faith in. The inner circle of the tribe always help me find solutions to problems and challenges. Make sure to call upon your family and tribe as you need!

Martial Arts and the World Today

The World is all messed up! Things have changed greatly over the past few weeks. Quite a bit has not been good. This can wreak havoc on the emotions and stability of a person’s temperament.

I’ve seen a great number of martial arts schools take to online classes and training workouts. This is a great opportunity for students and schools to remain working within their local communities. It also has created growth in the online potential as a training resource.

This, though, is a bit of a limited view of how the martial arts truly trains students. Remembering that the physical training is only 10% of a student’s training, How can we provide something beyond the physical?

Recently, a friend was lamenting about her anxiety for what is going to happen. Yes, she is a glass half empty kinda person. Major fears about health, work, family and other random ideas has had her curled up a couch fearful of almost everything.

Chatting with her, it was a dramatic response to her fears. This is where the other 90% of training appears. The principles and theories within the martial arts will help a student create strength within their world. In this instance, I mentioned the Seidokan Aikido’s version of Happo Undo (eight direction exercise).

The exercise helps a student practice doing one item at a time, then moving on to the next. Well, even further in my thought, that is to do one item as completely as possible and put it away, then move on to the next item. If you leave some of your “mind” on the previous item, then nothing within the second item will get accomplished.

Now with this in mind, I started listed some of the different items that she was stressing about. Next came questions about how far she had worked on each including if there could be more done. Step by step through each (btw, no one has just eight things going on in their lives) item helped her find where she had control. She began to see where she had control and where she had to have patience to let other get their work done before she could move forward again.

She gained some peace of mind and agreed to work on the patience. This would be an illustration of how a student develops discipline also. Students need to keep in mind that the tenets, principles, theories, and concepts presented during class are not limited to class training. They are for everyday life.

History and Tradition

Last weekend I had the fortune of attending one of the Las Vegas Golden Knights home hockey games. It was an awesome experience. The atmosphere was an energetic party with concentrated observation of the game. No scoring chance happened without roaring cheers. Our host had commented that the city was really taking to having the team and the fan base is growing. The season ticket waiting list is already in the three year range. It was cool seeing a game that I grew up around through the eyes of new fans.

It struck me last night as I caught up with the end of a Minnesota Wild home game, that the entertainment of the Golden Knights game was fun but there was something missing. The piece missing showed up during the opening titles for the Wild game. During the Golden Knights opening was a great fight between the Golden Knight and LA Kings personification. Well done entertainment that set the atmosphere.

This, though, didn’t stand against the pure pride of the young hockey player skating to center ice and planting their hockey stick with Minnesota Wild flag tied to it in the center ice face-off dot. The smile from the young player comes from the generations of Minnesota players that have come up through every level of hockey development. The roots of the “State of Hockey” run very deep. 

The depth of the hockey history can be seen in the number of Minnesota natives playing on collegiate championship teams. It is also seen in the number of conference and national championships won by Minnesota colleges, which is even more outstanding when several of these colleges are division II athletics expect for hockey. 

All of this history has built generations of pride and lineage. I wonder if this is what many Okinawan and Japanese martial artists feel as they look back to where their arts developed and evolved? I know, to me, this is a part of what I want to make sure I keep in my martial arts training.

Lease Extension

It’s official! Just got the completed lease renewal. We’ve got another there years in this location!

Now it’s that this is complete, it is time to recruit me students and welcome those returning from an absence.

We’ve got plenty of foot space and class times to allow many more students to join us. Please like, share, and comment on posts. The more that is shared, the more people will learn about us.

Help continue to build our family and place in the community.

How long?

Browne Family Promotion to Orange Belt

Family training together!

What is the average age of the students in the school that you attend? Why is that?

This has come up in conversation a few times over the past month. It gave me the recognition that I can only count less than 10 black belts and instructors who started with (or just ahead of) me that are still active.

Most have very few adult students. That tends to be a major trend in the martial arts industry as there’s more money in kids classes. Since I started martial arts in college, I think that I’ve got a different viewpoint about who I want in class. I bet many of school owners who know me shake their heads about this…and a couple other things that I do.

Austin, 77, demonstrating Mudo (martial spirit).

The actual realization that I’ve been around for a long time is when I started having to make adaptations for some combinations within the Chung Bong hyungs that I teach. Why is this, you ask? It comes from not having only young students in class. The flying side kick and the ground kicks can be difficult for some of the students in their late 40’s and early 50’s. You have to remember that, often, it is the mileage and not the age.

I’ve had both hips replaced (15 and 13 years ago). This has made several techniques in the Chung Bong hyungs difficult. I’ve found that I can teach them as originally given to me but when doing the form completely at speed, I’ve got to adapt a couple of them. This is one of the reasons that I believe there aren’t many adult martial artists. Very few are adapting the curriculum to allow adults to perform well and not become discouraged.

The other main reason that I believe there are fewer adults training is that there is too much focus on being successful in competition. Those who are successful keep going but those who aren’t stop training. Even those who are successful tend to stop training once they don’t regularly win or place at competitions.

Students stopping for either of these reasons is sad. It is a failing of the martial arts. I’ve had the concept that the martial arts are a lifelong pursuit but when there aren’t adaptations or narrow focus, we loose many. What is the focus of your school? I’m very proud to have students in their 60’s and 70’s along with some young ones. If you ask the young ones, though, they’ll tell you that I don’t have kids in class. I only have students.

Martial Arts Training…for Two (Guest Writer: Sarah Wurdeman)

Pregnant Martial Artist
When I became pregnant in December 2018, it never occurred to me to quit martial arts. Why would I quit? I’ve been doing martial arts straight since the summer of 2013 with very few breaks. Pregnancy wasn’t about to change that!

But there were times during my pregnancy where I took breaks. In January, when I was reeling from the nausea of the first trimester and my energy was so low it was all I could do to go to work, I took a break. I wasn’t alone- the weather was bitterly cold and few of my fellow martial artists attended class. I returned in February and by March was working hard toward earning my 3rd Dan in Haidong Gumdo. My biggest concern while training was feeling short of breath. To cope, I kept my inhaler close at all times and took short rests if needed. Still, I was feeling healthy and fit, although my uniform became a bit snug! I even competed in a tournament in Brookings, SD, when I was five months pregnant.

At the beginning of May, when I was six months pregnant, I tested for and earned my 3rd Dan rank. It was one of the highlights of my life. I was very proud of how I performed. After the testing was over, I reflected that my 2nd Dan testing had been more difficult. Perhaps because of my pregnancy, I was more cognizant of taking care of myself than I had been before.

After testing, I continued to train until the summer when my husband and I both decided to take a break from martial arts because of other things going on in our lives. It was one of the busiest summers of my life.

Since having my baby, I’ve only been back to class once. Continuing to train while having a newborn in the house is far more challenging than training while pregnant! But I fully intend to return to class by the end of the year. I’d say “when life settles down” but that’s a myth adults tell ourselves. Truly, life will never settle down. If you want to accomplish something, you just have to dedicate the time to it. Discipline, perseverance, and a keen ability to juggle the demands of life will get me back on the mat soon!

Are You Working?

How hard are you working toward you goals?

Are you still interested in those goals?

Are you able to push through the “daily grind” to keep working for your goals?

Is it time to change things up? Pursue new goals?

Currently, my school doesn’t have “kid’s classes” as I know that I don’t have the temperament to teach them. This means that I have very few younglings in class. Since they’re expected to keep up in the standard curriculum, it can be tough for them to keep up. This is even harder when the youngling doesn’t truly have an interest in training. Yes, parents set goals for their younglings.

This type of instance has prompted me to present the idea to a youngling that training should be viewed in the same manner as schoolwork. They may not like the subject but they need to work for the grade. Do the work the best you can and continue to seek attention in a positive manner.

Family kicking together

Dad with 8 year old son and 6 year old daughter

Then, there are the handful on younglings that I do have. They may not recognize that they have goals (other than completing the curriculum requirements) but they attend regularly and work hard. These students are enjoying the learning.

The setting of goals is different in young adults and older. They rarely do anything without a reason. Something as simple as planning a group outing for a fun night with friends is a simple illustration of setting a goal. It also includes finding things that challenge them. Their personal growth and development has value to them. The tangent opportunity of helping them learn skills that carry over into their professional lives doesn’t hurt either.

Throughout all of this, it is completely up to the student to make certain the work gets done and done correctly. The efforts may require time outside of classes. Those not willing to make the effort do not move forward. During class, the teacher should be able to see the student’s effort toward achieving goals. Now, this is limited to their martial arts goals but, still, it is a good indicator as to their desire to accomplish things in life.

No matter where you are in life, make sure that you are showing up to train/work and put in the effort! It is all yours to do. I’ll often check with students as testing approaches. One of the questions I regularly ask is “Who’s test is this?” It is all theirs! I’ve done those tests quite a while ago and have my own to continue working toward.