by Dave Kovar
It has been my experience that you share with others what you most need to hear yourself. Today, I’m going to share with you what I call “teacher’s mindsets.” These are specific mindsets that I have made a conscious effort to adopt, especially when I’m interacting with students. Although I still have a long way to go, they have enabled me to make great strides with my students.
We all have a series of beliefs about how a classroom works and how we work within it. Unfortunately, most of us don’t consciously choose our mindsets. They come to us. We pick them up from the environment we were brought up in, the education we received and the experiences we’ve had.
Let’s imagine that in third grade, you ran a foot race with two kids from your class. Unbeknownst to you, these kids were the fastest sprinters in all of third grade. You gave it your best shot and still trailed behind them. Your perception of your...
by Frank Silverman
As we continue to work — and work our way back to normalcy — in 2021, I cannot help but reflect on how unique, tough and crazy 2020 was. The scariest part for me was the realization of how fragile our economy is and how fragile a business can be.
A business, whether a martial arts school or something else, is almost like a living being. It needs certain resources (air, food and water for us; income and patrons for a business) to survive and thrive. Without them, a business will slowly begin to “starve” and then will cease to exist.
That by itself isn’t scary. We all know this. What is scary is that something we had never heard of, something that didn’t even exist two years ago, could be the force that suddenly cuts off these resources and changes our lives forever. What is really scary is that it can happen again, without warning, at any time. And most likely, it will. Even if we don’t see another...
by Herb Borkland
Although he’s acknowledged by his peers to be a ninth-degree grandmaster, Kelly Cox prefers not to use the title. Even more rare among notable American martial artists is that online searches for either Cox or his Rendokan Dojo return nothing. This lifelong student of karate and sword fighting inherited one of the first martial arts schools in the United States and has formed his life around its tradition of severe humility and a ceaseless work ethic. He is currently writing a book that explores the boundless wisdom of original scrolls from the 1800s that he inherited from Christine and Ken Carson, who founded Rendokan in 1946.
MASuccess: Where did you grow up, and what did your dad do?
Kelly Cox: I grew up on a farm in East Texas. Dad was a farmer. We toiled in the dirt. I grew up picking vegetables, riding horses and herding cattle.
MAS: How did you first hear about karate?
Cox: I was 9 years old, and I heard about it on Steve...
by Kathy Olevsky
I’ve operated a martial arts school full time for 45 years. I may have made every mistake that can be made in this business. The reason I’m still in business, I believe, is I asked for help. I learned quickly that others before me had already found solutions. In this column, I’ll point out key mistakes I made in my career, which are common errors among school owners, both large and small, throughout our industry. And I’ll share the solutions I used to overcome them.
First, the good news: Many of us are back to teaching in our schools.
Now, the bad news: Some of us are dealing with a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, and our states are taking action to address it. I know a few martial arts school owners who could not sustain their businesses. As a result, they had to close their doors.
Basically, we all are operating on the same premise: We will open our schools if we can, and if not, we will operate virtually until in-person training is...
by Nguyen “Tom” Griggs
Hello, my friends. I hope you all are doing well and finding ways to successfully navigate these difficult times. In this column, I want to talk about three crucial decisions that leaders need to make to survive our current chaos.
I ask that you bear with me. The stories I will use involve airline crashes, and the details are not pleasant. However, all are relevant to the situation that now faces the martial arts community.
In 2015, Maria Murillo, 18, and her 1-year-old survived the crash of a small Cessna airplane in the Colombian jungles. They spent five days on the banks of a river, surviving on coconuts and collected rainwater. When they were found, rescuers were astounded to learn that despite having sustained burns and broken bones, the woman had been able to run from the burning plane while carrying her child.
Bahia Bakari, 14, was the sole survivor of a 2009 crash of an airliner that claimed the lives of 151 people. She spent...
by Karen Eden
This is a true story about too much of a good thing. When Hurricane Katrina hit with such devastation, the entire nation would have to come to New Orleans’ rescue. I was just coming out of a TV contract and teaching martial arts through The Salvation Army. I was asked if I could help TSA by acting as the division’s Public Information Officer. No problem, since I knew most of the media members on a first-name basis anyway.
When the now-homeless victims of the hurricane were bused into Denver, they literally had no possessions to bring with them. They needed everything — from basics such as shampoo and toothpaste to food and especially clothes. I made the executive decision, along with the Corps Officer of the thrift-stores division, to put out a public plea for donated clothing items.
The city of Denver generously responded, like it so often does. Seventy-two hours later, I got a call from the officer: “Karen, you got to stop with the...
by Adam Parman
As American states begin allowing businesses to reopen, many martial arts school owners are finding themselves in a strange new world filled with challenges, financial pressures, fears and, in many cases, far fewer students than they once had. This has made their lives anything but easy. Their minds are filled with self-doubt and apprehension.
As a martial artist, you know what it’s like to be pummeled in a fight — and what it takes to come back and win. But do you have the fortitude and the know-how to do the same with your business? No doubt you’ve heard about martial art schools across the country closing their doors for the last time, and you’ve vowed that even though it’s apparent that not every business will survive, you won’t be one of the victims. But that may not be enough. Chances are you also can benefit from a few pointers.
I’m based in Atlanta, Georgia, which means I live in one of the first states to...
By Terry L. Wilson
According to the dictionary, the definition of racism includes the belief that certain ethnic groups are inferior to others, which supposedly justifies discriminatory behavior. In 1985 Tommy Gilbert, an African-American police officer in Oakland, California, and a part-time kajukenbo instructor, ran up against just such an attitude as he searched for a location for a new school. He found the perfect building in an ideal spot — which is when the trouble began.
Tommy Gilbert inquired about renting the facility and came face to face with a woman whose photo could have accompanied any dictionary’s definition of the word “racism.”
“Back in 1985 and ’86, my dad was teaching in the backyard of our home,” said Damon Gilbert, Tommy Gilbert’s son. “As the classes grew, Dad started looking for a storefront to open a school. The area he was looking in was San Leandro, California. It was a very nice, diverse area.
by Nguyen “Tom” Griggs
By the time you read this, we all will have been through pandemic-related frustrations, as well as protests and possibly even riots. Although it is important to be aware of what’s going on so we can react to it, it’s crucial that we remain focused on our schools. That focus is the topic of this column. I’d like to start with a parable my dad shared with me:
Once there was a worm who decided to make the trek to a lush and densely vegetated area. Now, this worm was quite smart. It knew that perils and threats lurked everywhere. The worm knew it was slow, so it mapped out the various paths and different areas that would provide the most safety.
The worm knew that there were all manner of birds, lizards and other predators, plus random stray dogs and cats that could easily hurt it. The heat of the sun also posed a danger. But the worm was clever enough to know that moving carefully and quickly was the key to success.
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