Tag Archives: Development


I see myself as a martial arts teacher that hasn’t gone completely into the commercialized version of the industry. Teaching first, making money second. When life changed a year ago, I had to create something new. Part of that change has been to move away from security work and pursue a different management oriented route.This position resulted in me working security positions, originally, and now as a retail operations manager. I’ll admit to the job being interesting but the “if you can’t use it off the mats, you’re training wrong” martial arts perspective has made the learning curve very small.

Since I see martial art as developing problem solving, it only fits that the concepts work in retail also. What needs to get done? What is the simplest way to get it done? Both of these come into play nearly everyday. Add to that something that my Father always said: “Only touch something once”. Meaning, do everything that needs doing, then put it away. When you’ve done everything that you can do in that project, you should put it away. Don’t leave things lying around thinking, “I’ll get back to it”. This was an example from Seidokan Aikido as well. The aiki-taiso (aiki solo movements) have an exercise called “Happo undo,” the eight way exercise, that demonstrates the wide variation in life. When do you really have only one thing happening in your world at a time?

Operations work often has multiple things happening. The best way, I think, to make success happen is to take ownership of the responsibilities. That is everything from the overall plan through to the small details. Building a team that understands this and works toward the same goals is of great importance to the success of a business. If members don’t see the business as part of their legacy, they won’t help the business much. Truthfully, developing ownership starts much before becoming employed.

Ownership is often disguised as chores when you’re young. Making your bed and cleaning your room give you the chance to demonstrate your value. Ownership gives you the opportunity to gain more responsibility and opportunities. Learning this at a young age starts the path to the great success we desire. There are many additional byproducts from taking ownership. Things like discipline, confidence, problem solving skills, and goal setting are increased when you believe that it is your responsibility (you own this) to get things done well and correctly. To continue this analogy, making sure the business looks good to customers is really just a variation of making your bed so your room looks good to customers (parents & family).

In conclusion, I think that young people should look beyond their parent’s requests to see there’s more to why things are asked of them. Well, parents, you may have to help the younglings understand this point as they only hear what you say. In addition, I believe that more businesses should hire young martial artists as they already understand the real reason to work for excellence in what they do.


Begin with Respect, End with Respect

Yeh Si Yeh Jong (Begin with Respect, End with Respect) is one of the core concepts that Supreme Grand Master Byung Jick Ro, founder of Song Moo Kwan, included in his teaching. This concept can be a difficult one to present.

All too often respect is viewed as bowing and other similar behaviors. This is the unfortunate part as those have no real connection to respect. Bowing and shaking hands are social etiquette that imply respect and courtesy.

Say what you mean and mean what you say! I really try to follow this thought. Many may find me blunt or think that I’m being short with them but it comes from their expectations of what conversation means. I work at using words specifically to illustrate what I am saying. Personally, I’ve found this really helps in a teaching setting as the students “do” what is said…until the one who thinks too much comes along.

Communication is a key to respect. Making sure that information is provided in a timely manner. When words are understood, then progress and success will happen. The fun happens when levels of respect are intrinsic. I have the fortune to work with some very high quality vendors. When one vendor happens to be yudansha (a black belt)  from the same Taekwondo lineage, there’s much more “Yes, Sir.” and “Thank you, SIr.” The humor comes from needing to make adjustments or corrections to an order and chatting about the changes. When my comment is “Do what you need.” and he hears a senior giving a command…yes, there are even more “Yes, Sir” responses. Maybe even to the point that the words aren’t true. Yes, they really are!

Then, as Today’s training went, another aspect of respect was demonstrated. The WTMA Haidong Gumdo and the Pine Tree Taekwondo students joined for a day of cutting and breaking things. All blended on the floor with little effort to take turns using stations and accomplishing everything done that they wanted.

How can you teach?

I really enjoy helping people along their martial arts path. I gain energy and renewed excitement for my training. There are also many, many insights gained from hearing students comment or describe their thoughts. Even learning new, maybe improved, ways to “talk” my experiences to students.

The most innocent problem that can arise is when instructional opportunities are lost. This most often happens when a student loses their teacher. There can be many reasons to this. I searched for a place to answer my questions. It took many years, so I spent time in many different schools. Once I found answers, which truly just created more questions, I was able to be a student who could focus on learning.

This leads to another place where students struggle. I’ve heard from several students that they’d like to teach at some point, maybe even have their own school. To do this they need to start asking questions about everything from the history, curriculum, etiquette, and leadership. It will also include politics and building a good network. A main factor here is to make sure that you are within a group that “plays nice together”. This may happen within the organization/association that your current teacher is in, which is great, but it should also include teachers and schools outside your organization. Gaining insights from fellow martial artists is pretty much a requirement.

If you aren’t interested in continuing the curriculum and passing on the knowledge that you gained during your martial arts journey, why are you teaching? This doesn’t apply to those who help teach classes and fill in to teach as part of being proper students (those without interest in having their own school). This one applies to those who actively seek out teaching roles but don’t put hours into their own training and development.

I’ve come to understand that martial arts training and teaching is a passion. It can be enhanced by business plans but if you don’t truly love it, then you’ll never achieve your goals. The recent visit to a California school brought out different layers of these points. Everyone was thirsty for the chance to improve the current material and hungered for learning more. They’ve started asking the right questions.

What is Success? (part 3)

I hope that you enjoyed What is Success, part 1 and part 2. This week examines the next two levels of the chart, which can be reviewed in part 1.


Quite often the phrase “Being comfortable in my own skin” is used when people actually recognize who they are…for themselves. Poise is where this fits. Once students understand their emotions and don’t allow those emotions to dictate behavior. The learning curve toward this emotional development is steep. Recognizing what are threats to your safety and well-being are the important ones to see but often insecurity allows you to create threats where none exist. Coach Wooden also commented that you should be focused on your character as it truly represents you, rather than be concerned about your reputation as that is what others think of you. This is not the same as confidence but contributes to it.

“Respect without fear” says it all. When you can offer to let others be themselves without judgement or disdain, you illustrate confidence. We are not always confident. Doubts from past failings or lack of knowledge can disrupt confidence. Training helps correct that as it provides a variety of situations (physical and non-physical) that you get to work through with others who are not actually trying to damage you. Your confidence grows as your training continues and discipline grows. Simple things like making sure that you have your house key, phone, wallet and school bag/briefcase with you when you leave the house develops discipline and confidence.


Yes, Coach Wooden told this to his players and won several national championships because of it, but he didn’t intend it to only be about basketball, sport competition. I think that, at least in our school, we’ve adopted “MUDO” to fit this role. I say this because Coach Wooden also had this included in his teachings.


Never accept “good enough” from your work (the things that represent you). The USA Haidong Gumdo Association Senior Chief Master Marshall Parnell is a Marine and regularly comes to train with us. He has given us two very well received ideas – “Embrace the Suck” and “Be a Champion for Humankind” – that completely fit this top thought of Coach Wooden’s chart.

This was part three of a four part series. So, until next time – Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel – tune in for more! Part four next week.

Please comment, like and share this (and my other posts) if you have found it worthwhile. You can also subscribe to get post updates via email with the form below. Thank you!

What is Success? (part 2)

I hope that you enjoyed What is Success, part 1. This week examines the next two levels of the chart, which can be reviewed in part 1.

JohnWooden-Pyramid_Of_Success2This level starts to make the process more specific and has applications in many more areas. The martial arts will always promote the self-control of a student, the alertness in personal protection situations, the initiative to further develop knowledge and understanding and the proper intentness of learning these skills. If any of these are under-developed in a martial artists, it will probably result in injury to themselves or others. That said, it is great to see the applications listed as non-physical actions that will benefit the student off the mat.


This level sees a lot of struggle in many students. They train hard but only develop physical conditioning. They work on techniques but only have application for sport. They fail at becoming martial artists as their competitive winning is viewed as something that they did without help.

Too often the mental discipline in the martial arts is thought to be meditation. Can you sit still for a period of time. But that is only a small portion of developing mental strength. This conditioning is also much more difficult to see. Learning to take a punch or a kick is visible but the mental strength to get back to work, keep trying, always moving forward is mostly invisible. Then developing morals is even deeper within the student. Knowing what should be done and whether or not to do it can be a struggle, then put it in a personal protection life threatening situation.

The skills that succeed in tournaments are not the same as those that are needed for personal protection. The development of speed and timing, that are essential to physical applications, must be studied further to understand when to change lanes while on the highway and when to accelerate or brake as you watch the traffic ahead of you. Important here is that he comments “…execute the fundamentals.” This is NOT the new, shiny, flashy toy! It is the basic requirements of the art!

The team spirit is probably the most lacking in the martial arts. Many of the commercial schools have pride in their organization and cheer for their classmates but miss the actual camaraderie and family. The part that makes students get together outside of class to help another student move or celebrate weddings. The real work of the martial arts is serving others.

This was part two of a four part series. So, until next time – Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel – tune in for more! Part three next week.

Please comment, like and share this (and my other posts) if you have found it worthwhile. You can also subscribe to get post updates via email with the form below. Thank you!

What is Success? (part 1)

The following set of posts are based upon the chart below. I hope that you find some benefit from them. Part One starts here.


While this is from John Wooden, who I know about because my high school alma mater here in Minnesota has a coach with one of best careers in the nation, it is a very good illustration of what the martial arts should be teaching.

The words are different from those typically seen in martial arts classes but they represent the Tenets of Taekwondo, the credos of Song Moo Kwan, the principles of Aikido (and probably EVERY other martial art style taught). The most important factor here is that Coach Wooden presents these in terms that apply on the court or on the mat and outside of them.


The student must understand that all of the work they are doing is what created the success of those who came before them. That work will help build relationships with their teachers and peers, who are working just as hard, and the emotional benefits begin. These relationships (and emotions) provide the desire to see others grow, especially those who have helped them. The loyalty to others further develops the cooperation among the friends as they all see growing benefits. The increased benefits generates ever growing enthusiasm to continue. Well, at least this is one version of putting them together.

The true may be closer to something like Aikido’s principle of Mind-Body Unification. This talks about the four parts that need to be present in order for a person to move in a completely mindful, intentional manner. These parts are “weight underside”, “extend Ki”, “keep your One Point” and “Controlled Relaxation”. As it is discussed in Aikido, if you can find one of these concepts, then you can find them all but if you you lose one, you lose them all. This may be what happens, or is created, with Coach Wooden’s list. If you have any one of these from this level, you can create the others as you grow into the whole. I wager this will fit for each level of this chart, so I’ll only mention it here.

The next few weeks will feature posts from this chart done as a four part series. So, until next time – Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel – tune in for more! Part two next week.

Please comment, like and share this (and my other posts) if you have found it worthwhile. You can also subscribe to get post updates via email with the form below. Thank you!

From Your Heart! Passion is a must.

Mind-HandsWhen students perform their techniques, whether in drills or patterns, it is very easy to tell if they are actually trying or merely dancing around. This is one of the tricky parts within training…or any education.

I had a student tell me that the way to fix that is to make them work harder. How does that get accomplished? Make the drills longer? Count louder? Stand over them the whole time? Nope. Never going to make their training better that way. If their passion hasn’t developed yet, no external factor will change the behavior.

Does training actually fit their goals? Are they looking for physical improvement? Maybe they just want the socialization in a subject matter that interests them. The only way that a student will improve and develop skill is when they choose to. This is a deceiving point, too, though. I’ve asked students to adjust technique to make them more effective and have gotten “That’s what I’m doing!” as a response. (We won’t discuss the respect issue now) But since it makes no sense that I would waste my time asking for things to be adjusted/corrected for no reason, they still haven’t chosen to learn the technique past what they “think” it is.

Now, I’ll give credit to those putting in effort and working but poor technique can only be helped so much by strength and commitment. There is some passion there, although needing direction. I came across a saying the other day which is very accurate. It stated “If you can’t do it slow, you can’t do it right.” which fits the piece above. The idea of being able to go slow would mean that your mind is in the work as well and that will show in your hands (and legs).

I would wager that, if you are able to put your mind into the focus of the work, your heart is involved also. This changes the fear and anxiety and nervousness into enjoyment. Those feelings and emotions fade as the passion grows. The development of your passion is seen in the performance of your techniques. You start to see deeper and understand more. The desire to see others succeed rises and helps create the desire in you to work harder and learn more. It brings students together as a community…family…who supports each other off the floor as well as on. You are now building your passion.

The activities that are physical can easily illustrate how passion grows the skills and knowledge. You can find many YouTube videos of a 13 year old playing an awesome guitar piece. Another can be seen with the number of 16 and 17 year olds performing on “The Voice” talent show.

Physical talents are not all, though. Recently, our high school junior son had a classmate over. The discussion turned to the plant on the kitchen window ledge. Once he saw it, his eyes lit up and he started commenting about the leaves and their size. That lead him to the 20 plants that he has and their growth cycle including blooms and developing offshoots. This was not knowledge repeated from a book. It was the knowledge born from his passion for plants. It kind of makes sense, then, that he’s focusing on chemistry and biology among his AP & Honors classes. He stated that it would probably be his best route to get into a career field that will let him work toward a botany position.

SimonSinek-Stress_vs_PassionThese factors to improve your training are the same as those you need to develop your career, regardless of the field. If you don’t have a passion for what you are doing, how can people believe that you are knowledgeable and competent? Make sure your heart is in your training.

Understanding how to direct passions into jobs that pay the bills is an important point. If you can spend your time earning money while learning and developing your passion, then you have success and will enjoy more of your life.

White-Tiger-MA_Logo-shading-none-[Converted]Please comment, like and share this (and my other posts) if you have found it worthwhile. You can also subscribe to get post updates via email with the form below. Thank you!