Tag Archives: Learning


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.


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.


This is probably one of the best saying that I’ve seen for how the martial arts should be taught. Well, all education for that matter but that is for another post.

There is a lot of discussion about how to teach according to the best learning style for the student. Which may or may not be accurate. The video below – Learning Styles Don’t Exist – fits my thoughts on this, but I’m no scientist.

The key point here, to me, is the end of Franklin’s quote “…involve me and I learn.” This goes past the learning style and gets to the passion of the student. If the student sees interest and value, then being involved will amplify the amount of learning that happens. Unless that happens, no learning will occur regardless of how they learn or the teaching style used.

While I was trying to motivate a couple colored belts to step up their efforts in preparation to testing, I had one of junior black belts tell me that I could “just make them work harder.” When I asked him how I should do that, he responded with “You could have them do more drills and count faster to make them keep up.” My next question to him was “Will that really help them get better?”

That is the real trick, right? No matter what my teaching style or how prepared the lesson plan or how well the drills and other training fits the curriculum, there is still the need for the student to WANT to learn it.


Once the choice is made to put in effort and spend time actively working to learn a subject, then there are no limits to what can be accomplished. There are several examples out on YouTube that illustrate this. The key to their success is not just the practice but the commitment to learning. This becomes extremely important when you consider that the physical aspects of martial arts training (and probably all physical activity training or sport) is only 10% of the material needed to be learned. As there are only so many ways to kick and strike, it is the learning of how to use these techniques and adapt them to a variety of situations becomes vital. Seeing the applications beyond the basics is the real learning. Developing the principles (for living) and the concepts/strategies used to apply techniques provide the opportunities to use you knowledge in all areas of life for greater success in everything that you do.

I will involve you in the teachings. Are you determined to learn?

Please comment, like and share this (and my other posts) if you have found it worthwhile. Thank you!

There is no secret ingredient…just TRAIN!

I got the chance to watch Kung Fu Panda, again, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice last night. Its a nice little piece of brain candy to relax and just enjoy. However, it did get me thinking.

(Kung Fu Panda) At the end, it was discovered that the secret Dragon scroll had no writing and there was no secret ingredient in the “Secret Ingredient” noodle soup. (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) Doing magic without a ring would be reaching the ultimate level. Now I will admit to being a bit “thick” at times (afterall, I am just a male), but after many years of training in the martial arts I finally understood the concept.

360_kung_fu_panda_0604Yeah, I know that it seems pretty obvious but the concept goes deeper than “Believe in yourself”. There are almost countless stories, movies and cartoons that show the benefits of believeing in yourself. Most of them could also qualify as “Hero myths” (see Joseph Campbell writings). The Hero is given a task to accomplish and a journey to get there.

During these journeys, the Hero must learn what needs to be done and how to do it in order to be successful. He must TRAIN. This is the part that gets overlooked. You become amazed and enthralled at the skills developed to achieve the goal. The downfall is that it gives the illusion that the skills and knowledge…and power…can be attained through short intensive training.

Sadly, the time it takes to train completely is a lifetime. This means that all those who are teaching should still be training. Teaching is only another method of training (integrating intellectual & academic). Skills will become usable, some even amazing, before the end of your lifetime but the real knowledge will take the whole time.

The connection between the movies and martial arts finally made sense when I heard the voice Master Kim Jeong Woo (Haidong Gumdo). During the recent Master’s training I was able to attend, I had worked on a form and had gone to make some notes on it. Master Kim moved to the next portion of his lesson plan. I was intent on writing things down before I forgot and got called on it. As we lined up to bow out, he said “It is good to write things down but train first.”

So I leave with…are you still training?

Journey Toward Leadership

I found this series of articles and they gave me cause for thought about my leadership and capabilities. The Essentials of Leadership Part 1Part 2Part 3.

I have always tried to impress on students that the school/class is theirs, not mine. While I may have started the movement, I know it will NOT be me finishing it. With luck, it will be several generations of continued training, learning and developing. The start of my school came because I needed a place to train (Taekwondo) and no one else had this curriculum locally (Haidong Gumdo). I never thought that I was the “right” person to do it but someone had to.

There have been many schools that have come and gone due to the owner’s lack of knowledge and ego. A few months ago, I had several calls from collections agents. No, not for my school as we are completely debt free. The calls were for another school with a similar name. They had purchased a franchise, opened a big strip mall location and within two years closed. I don’t know the actual cause but would bet that it falls into the “want vs is” (see below) idea in part one.

(Excerpt from part 1) “Rather than serving the need and the community they turned the circumstances to their individual advantage. They were egotistically driven and eventually overwhelmed.”

From part 2 – “As that tension grows two camps emerge: those who are progressive and search for something new and those who are orthodox clinging to what is and has been resisting change and forward movement. This tension builds to a point when a new visionary emerges to open a new field. At that time those who put up the greatest resistance fade away.”

All the students who answer the question “Why do you do this technique like this?” with “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” I can understand some of the idea behind wanting to keep things the same. There can be history and tradition which is important to keep alive. The problem is that society changes and while the physical application of the technique remains the same, the intent behind the technique may be outdated. This is an important factor when you consider that each individual makes the art their “own”.

There have been many times over the nearly three decades where I have had no idea where my thoughts…dreams?…were going. I have only always known that I had to go forward. Even though I didn’t know how to accomplish them. Just keep training (and teaching) and the path will appear. A very recent example of this is the creation of an academic degree program. Those who have known me long enough will tell you that I have wanted to create a degree program for over 10 years. I have taught as an adjunct in two universities and tried to figure out academia. It wasn’t until responding to a craigslist.com post that the goal was met. The next step now is to figure out how to get people to earn the degree. I really don’t want to be compared to a fitness instructor!

It isn’t unusual for me to attempt things that are well over my head. I, also, have a bunch of things that I want to do yet or get further along with. Making it my “own” has even evolved in the past few months. The development of technique application has been a goal for many years. Discussions with some Shorin Ryu Karate and Kyokushin Karate people brought new ideas to my Taekwondo that are letting me take the curriculum that I was taught past the sport version. I hope that my desire to lessen what I don’t know will do the same for the students training with and teaching me.

If you want to do something, do it and collect helpers along the way. You may not want to be the leader but if you don’t start it, it will never happen. Others will work with you to acheive your goal and take it further. Since there will never be a perfect time to do something, just start now!