By Herb Borkland
John Duncan began studying martial arts in 1963. At age 14 he began training at the legendary Texas Karate Institute under Fred Wren. Allen Steen, Jhoon Rhee’s original American black belt, tested Duncan for his first dan. Later, Duncan became an instructor, and then head instructor, at Texas Karate, from 1972 to 1974.
In 1978, Duncan moved to Oklahoma, to study philosophy and literature at the University of Oklahoma. Close to earning his Ph.D., he quit academia to join the police force. Duncan eventually became an Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics undercover agent, head of an elite firearms program, and a street-lethal combatives instructor.
In 2007, Duncan retired from law enforcement and became a full-time professor at the University of Oklahoma.
Herbert Borkland: Where did you grow up, and what did your dad do?
John Duncan: (I was) born in Pampa, Texas, and ended up at the West Texas Permian Basin because my father owned an oil well...
By MAIA Division Manager Melissa Torres
Not quite sure what you’re going to teach tonight? Tomorrow night? Next week? I don’t blame you. Teaching as much as you and your other instructors do, plus running a full-time school, training, and trying to balance a home life, can leave you mentally drained and lacking in the creative area.
Are you afraid your students are getting bored or losing interest in the day-to-day drills and techniques? Retention is a huge pain point for so many schools. We hear it all the time. Schools can get students in the door, but the main struggle is keeping them for a week, a month, a year and many years beyond that.
It’s time to break out of some of your routine teaching habits and make keeping your classes fun and interesting a top priority. If students are having fun, they will come back. If they are learning new techniques and see themselves improving, they will come back.
Bring back that first-day excitement to your mat, every...
By Eric Fleishman
What transforms a normal martial arts dojo into a life-changing hall of enlightenment? The answer is you! Your ability to connect with your students and their parents, and communicate effectively with your staff, is at the heart of what makes your establishment great.
Even more specifically, what kind of interaction are you offering (or, what kind should you be offering) to these key individuals? They need positive reinforcement of their decision to train or work with you, and they look to you to inspire them. With the right motivation, your instructors, students, parents and even vendors will follow you to the ends of the earth.
It starts with having a winning, positive attitude. How you treat those around you sets the precedent for how they will feel, and in turn, how they will treat others. So how does one create, maintain, and develop this incredibly powerful point of view?
You need to be an expert in leading by example, which means...
By Jenny Wolff
Haeng Ung Lee was a multi-faceted individual. He was a military man who loved to golf, run, and tell jokes.
He also loved martial arts.
It was his passion for this pastime that led the now-infamous Eternal Grand Master and his dear friend, Richard Reed, to establish the American Taekwondo Association (ATA) in 1969.
Since then, ATA has become a household name in the industry and remains the largest North American martial arts organization dedicated to the discipline of taekwondo. What began with a simple vision to change lives and make a difference has turned in to a global phenomenon.
This summer, ATA celebrates its 50th anniversary during its annual Worlds event. This is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the last five decades and look forward to the promising future.
How It All Began
Lee began studying martial arts as a teenager in Korea in 1954. By 1956, he was in the Korean Army, teaching...
Interview by Perry William Kelly
“Some men see things as they are and ask why.
I dream of things that never were and ask why not?”
—Robert F. Kennedy
George Mink is a little bit of Steve Austin (TV’s rebuilt Six Million Dollar Man character), some real-life Rambo and a pinch of Bruce Lee all rolled up into one.
A 7th-degree black belt in shorin-kempo karate, Mink has trained around the world for over 47 years, earned black belts in five different styles of martial arts and competed in full-contact matches.
Currently, Mink and his business partner Penny Pitassi run two schools in Illinois and have a main school in San Antonio, Texas. They also have affiliate schools in California and Colorado. They teach students of all ages, and have specialized classes for women’s self-defense and law enforcement.
In addition to running a school, Mink also spends a great deal of time pursuing his passions outside the dojo: fighting for the freedom of...
Zen Planner is the leading software suite for martial arts businesses. The company’s Annual Martial Arts Benchmark Report is the most comprehensive collection and analysis of business data in the martial arts industry.
The purpose of the report is simple: to provide valuable insights to martial arts school owners, so that they can master their businesses and transform more lives. The data from this report is backed by 465 survey respondents, and helps school owners make better business decisions — whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for decades!
How does Zen Planner determine what questions to include in its survey?
When we first launched the Benchmark Report, we formed our questions based on conversations that we had had been having with school owners for a decade. We have a good understanding of what martial arts schools are thinking about, from sales to customer support, what their pain points are, and what things...
By Eric the Trainer
Running a martial arts school can be a challenge. Forking out money for marketing to attract new students, keeping the students that you do have enrolled, and staying current with billing can be time-consuming and grueling tasks.
Under these conditions, it can be difficult to find time to stay in shape, let alone maintain a positive outlook on life. Caught up in the daily grind, too many people lose sight of the fact that positivity is the ultimate key to success. For, like a bad case of the flu, a truly positive attitude can be wildly infectious, spreading like wildfire throughout your school and even beyond.
But how do you spark this process, and where does the magic begin? It all starts with you! The easiest way to initiate positivity in your life is to make the conscious decision to see the proverbial glass as half full. There are other steps you can take to supercharge this process, such as:
1. Go to bed earlier and cherish sleep....
By Karen Eden
I’ll never forget this story that my former brother-in-law Gary shared with me. He was on his first voyage overseas in the Navy, and couldn’t wait to debark with his friends onto the shores of a Caribbean island.
It seems the island was all set up to receive the sailors, too. It had everything a lonely boy far from home would find intriguing, including rock-bottom prices on otherwise rather expensive merchandise. One in particular caught his eye.
“I couldn’t believe the deal I was getting,” my brother-in-law told us.
Posted right outside the door was a sign that read: “Stereo system on sale for $100.” Knowing that the same stereo system back in the states would cost four times that amount, he went in to check out the deal.
Evidently, it was a state-of-the-art system complete with...
By Herb Borkland
Washington insider and Texan 7th-dan Merrill “Bobby” Matthews, Ph.D., is an internationally respected public policy analyst specializing in health care, entitlements and energy issues. His pioneering martial arts roots go back to the “Blood-and-Guts” era of Grandmaster Alan Steen, the first taekwondo instructor in the Lone Star State. Matthews joined the Southwest Tae Kwon Do Association, founded in 1976 by Keith D. Yates, one of Steen’s original black belts. In 1996, it became the more inclusive American Karate and Tae Kwon Do Organization (AKATO).
Herb Borkland: Where did you grow up, and what did your dad do?
Merrill Matthews: I was born in Longview, Texas and moved to Dallas in 1963. My father was a banker.
HB: How did you discover martial arts?
MM: In 1967, I was a high school sophomore. One day, Bob Beasley came in wearing a windbreaker with the Southwest Karate Black Belt Association logo. That...
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