by Dave Kovar
There is a samurai maxim that states, “Do what a weed does and bloom where planted.” Have you ever seen a dandelion sprouting from a crack in the sidewalk? It’s not complaining about not having enough sun or whining about the lack of soil or not getting enough rain. It just does the best it can to bloom and grow tall. We often dismiss the dandelion as a weed, but in this case, we can learn from its example. One thing I know for certain is that our lives will improve the moment we decide to change our perspective and look at things differently.
I witnessed an excellent example of “blooming where planted” a few years back. My wife and I were crossing the Bay Bridge on our way into San Francisco for the day. The Bay Bridge probably has 18 toll booths, and it’s not uncommon to wait in line for half an hour before reaching one of them. It was a beautiful morning, and we were eager to get into the city. We weren’t quite...
by Nguyen “Tom” Griggs
As I write this, we are in the midst of a global pandemic. Every day, we’re being tested and stretched in new ways — as leaders, martial artists, school owners, instructors and role models.
Despite all the chaos and the unprecedented levels of change, there is one simple point I’d like to make: No matter how things go, we must hold to our standards. The reason is very simple.
How we act, speak and behave during the crisis says more about our character than any platitudes, student creeds or tenets ever will. In other words, the pandemic is showing who we really are through how we behave during difficult times.
I want to share a personal experience that pertains to holding to one’s standards. During my time as a martial artist, I’ve had the honor of training under several instructors in various styles. As a result, I hold several black belts. The lesson I’m about to share comes from one of my promotion...
by Karen Eden
Truth be told, there have been times throughout my life when I thought for sure that my career as I knew it was over — as if the “magic” I possessed was suddenly going to disappear and leave me high and dry.
I often talk about the years when I would leave early in the morning before my newscast with FOX News to teach martial arts in the middle of the ghetto. I had made a promise to myself to give back when I knew that I had been blessed. A few years later, the community called out to me with even greater needs. It was a calling I knew I needed to answer. I found myself going from a major market TV anchor job to feeding homeless people in the inner city. “That’s not who you are, Karen. You’re better than that!” I was told.
That was a time in my life when I wondered if I would simply disappear. Maybe this was it for me. But you know me. If I know I have to do something, then I’ll do it simply because it’s the...
by Frank Silverman, MAIA Executive Director
In February 2020, the stock market hit an all-time high of 29,348. Unemployment was at a 50-year low of 3.5 percent. And the martial arts school business seemed to be riding an infinite wave of new student signups.
Then BAM! We were knocked on our collective butts by an invisible foe that has gone on to kill thousands of people, shut down the economy around the world, drive up the U.S. unemployment rate to an estimated 20 percent and, literally, terrorize people in ways not seen in modern times.
And that wave of student signups? It disappeared. Nearly every martial arts school in America was shuttered as cities and states implemented the recommended quarantine procedures.
It served as a stark reminder that life can — and sometimes does — change on a dime.
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, I received countless email messages and voicemails from school owners:
“I don’t know what to do!”
by Karen Eden
Among Native Americans, honoring your ancestors is a long-standing practice. Every powwow, every sacred ceremony and every tribute to the creator — they all begin and end with remembering those who have come before. There’s a sharing of the knowledge and comfort that they’re up there in the great beyond, pulling for you and finding ways to guide you when you need help.
Native or not, at the very least, we all owe our ancestors a certain amount of respect. After all, it was their love and great determination to thrive that got us where we are today. I, for one, will go out of my way to make sure I remain grateful in remembering these sacrifices — all of them — from 14 different nationalities. Understanding their hardships helps me realize who I am today and what my blood has recorded within my veins.
We all must answer the question of who we are meant to be. And like in a tapestry that gets woven over the years of our...
by Karen Eden
One of my contributions to community service is that I volunteer as a hospital chaplain every week. I see about a hundred people from all walks of life during this time, and they all have something in common: Either their bodies have reached a state of disrepair or they’ve come to the point where their bodies are failing them. I find the job very rewarding. I am often the last person to hold a hand before someone takes either their next step in life or their final step in life.
But there was one particular visitation that left me pondering for days. A 91-year-old woman was hospitalized for congestive heart failure. She was old, and her heart was giving out. Yet there was something about her that struck me differently than did the other patients.
“I gotta tell you,” I said. “You have a difference presence about you — were you famous or something?”
She paused and looked back at me. “Well, yes, but that was a long time...
“What martial art do you teach?”
That’s right up there among the most common questions asked by a prospective new student or their parents. If they’ve done some research, they may already know a few things about the martial arts, but as beginners, there are so many unanswered questions and preconceived ideas. Cutting through all of that can sometimes be a challenge.
As a practicing martial artist for my entire adult life I’ve had the opportunity to study a variety of martial art disciplines, some more extensively than others. I like to tell people, “They’re the same thing, only different.” I have always believed that it’s not the specific style or the system that makes one art better for one student and not another. I think it’s more important to find an instructor and a school with a philosophy and style of teaching that is appropriate for the needs of the individual student.
by Karen Eden
I recently returned to my hometown for a visit. In between chatting with old friends, I allowed myself time to wander and explore the “memory lanes” of my childhood. Many of the places and experiences there were pleasant — others, not so much. After some internal debate, I decided to visit a place that’s been the source of nightmares since sixth grade: my old middle school.
You see, before I was a black belt six times over, before I knew how to hold my head up, before I realized that, belt or not, we all have so much inherent worth as humans, I was a victim of bullying. I was an easy target: poor, ethnic and undeniably geeky. Nowhere in my life would I ever again face such horrific experiences as I did middle school!
I realize that I’m not alone in that regard. No one, I’ve come to learn, escapes middle school unscathed. But combined with the brokenness of my home life, the ostracism and bullying from my peers those three...
George Alexander, a shorin-ryu karate pioneer and the president/founder of the International Shorin Ryu Karate Kobudo Federation, began training in judo and karate in the Marine Corps. He currently holds the rank of 10th dan hanshi, or “teacher of teachers.” Alexander has been inducted into six halls of fame, produced more than 200 instructional DVDs and published 10 books. He is a professor emeritus of East Asian history at the State University of New York and a distinguished research fellow and member of the faculty of the Institute of Martial Arts and Sciences in the United Kingdom. He teaches at the Budokan Martial Arts Honbu Dojo in Palm Coast, Florida.
MASuccess: Where did you grow up and what did your dad do?
George Alexander: I was born on Long Island and grew up in New York. Dad was in real estate there. We moved to Florida when I was 14.
MAS: When did you discover the martial arts?
Alexander: Dad was an officer in the Army Air Corps...
By Dwight Trower
I’ve been training as a martial artist for 38 years. The last 28 of those I’ve also been a school owner. Over that time, I have had the opportunity to visit and network with countless other martial arts professionals. As an industry, we’re all aware that many of our students have learning disabilities or physical limitations, and that we have to be able to adapt our programs to allow them to benefit, while maintaining the integrity of the martial arts and our chosen way of teaching.
One of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that every student is unique. Each and every one of them has their own needs and goals. I’ve seen many schools, just like my own, train and develop elite martial athletes, successful adult students, children with learning disabilities, and those with special needs all within the same program.
October is Down syndrome Awareness Month, so this is a great time for me to get to share how...
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