Dwight Trower has dedicated his time and skill to teaching kids and adults with Down Syndrome at his Family Martial Art Academy in St. Louis, MO. These special-needs martial artists never pay for a lesson. It's a labor of love for Trower that comes back tenfold with every kick and punch thrown by his students in this unique class.
By: Terry Wilson
Dwight Trower was in a trade school learning how to be an auto mechanic and, at the time, saw it as his clear-cut future. That is, until he took his first karate class. From that moment forward, he was propelled on a path that would eventually forever change his life and the lives of untold numbers of special-needs students.
“Even as a blue belt, I was an assistant teacher,” Trower says today. “My instructor told me that I had a gift for teaching, especially working with kids.
“With a class full of students, there were usually one or two of them that were on the autism spectrum or had Down syndrome. So,...
I don’t like sporks — those odd cutlery combinations of not-quite-a-spoon and not-quite-a-fork.
These flimsy plastic utensils will neither hold liquid food or stab solid food. Evidently, sporks are an easy way to cut corners and save money. I’m convinced it was someone’s brainchild who certainly didn’t have the customer’s best interest in mind!
Believe it or not, the spork has been around since 1874. Originally, the spork was metal and larger, giving it better capabilities for both holding liquid and stabbing solids. But as the years went by, the entire spork idea just got worse and worse. Today, sporks are comprised of cheapgrade plastic, and some of them are so small they could be used to feed babies.
And I know I‘m not the only “spork-hater” out there. We martial artists fight like warriors and we expect to be able to eat like one, too. Let me just...
Three-time senior international gold medalist and Martial Arts Success Canadian Correspondent Perry Kelly is a can-ryu jiu-jitsu 5th-dan. He’s also a certified instructor in karate, muay thai, Inosanto kali and Bruce Lee’s jeet kune do and jun fan gung-fu. Kelly is also a fully trained Correctional SWAT operator and a graduate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Centre’s Defensive Tactics Instructor-Trainer program.
At the 50th Battle of Atlanta in June 2018, he took silver in the Over 60+ sparring division and received the Joe Lewis Eternal Warrior Award from Joe Corley, Jeff Smith and Bill Wallace.
Perry Kelly: I was born in Ottawa, Ontario, which is the capital of Canada. Canada’s the only country where the national sport allows fighting without being ejected. They simply give you five minutes to catch your breath before you can “drop the gloves”...
I recently got a call from a member who needed help with their school. Specifically, they wanted to get some different ideas on how they could help their school grow. After one suggestion from me, the first words out of their mouth were, “That didn’t work for me the last time I tried it.”
This response reminded me of the theme of the book “The Science of Getting Rich:” you must do things in a “Certain Way.” To explain what this means, I’ll use the analogy of baking a cake.
Suppose I’m known for making the best cakes. If you ask me to teach you how to make them, I will show you my method that I use. If you bake a cake in the “Certain Way” that I showed you, you will be successful. Remember, success leaves clues.
But, let’s say you have a different idea for your cake and want to change the method. If you change the...
Martial artists have the best questions in the world. Studio owners and senseis take those questions to a whole different level. The latest question some posed to me was about volunteers.
Volunteers are a big part of our programs. For many of us, the success of our programs hinges on volunteers stepping in and assisting in everything from teaching junior students to scrubbing bathrooms. As I started researching it, I found some information that I believe is a serious concern for our community.
If you use a volunteer model, the U.S. Department of Labor and State Revenue Departments have made it law that for-profit businesses cannot use volunteers. If you do that, you can be audited and charged back payroll tax, interest and penalties. While we’re racking the tally up, you could also be held accountable for the unpaid wages to the volunteer.
So, I started thinking, “Are...
Punches, kicks, pivots, throws, and jumps. Your students throw thousands of them over the course of training, and they’re all exciting and essential parts of a martial arts program.
But … how many times have your students been limited in class because of knee pain?
In some circumstances, have you ever had an athlete in your program miss months of training because of a serious injury such as an ACL tear?
To the “older” population here: how many of you have blamed years of practice for your current knee pain? How many of you find yourselves walking funny around the house in the morning? It’s easy to point to years of wear and tear as the cause. Make no mistake: knee injuries aren’t cool ‘battle wounds;’ they’re serious limitations on the kind of life you truly want to live.
Instead of trying to treat pain later on, I believe we should take a...
Chances are, you have had your share of students quit after they received their black belt. I know that we have. If you are looking for ways to minimize this from happening in the future, here are some ideas that you can put to work.
1) Emphasize to them that a black belt is NOT the finish line.
If you ask brand-new martial artists how long they want to train, the most common answer you’ll hear is, “Until I earn my black belt.” While this is an admiral goal for a novice, you need to gradually dispel the myth that a black belt is the finish line. Earning one’s first black belt is a huge milestone. It is a rite of passage and an achievement to celebrate. But it isn’t the end of the journey. You and your staff would be wise to adopt the attitude that martial arts is a lifelong activity for all your students. Clearly, students who are working their way toward their...
Since the beginning of time, there has been prejudice. It seems every race, creed, color, nationality, age and gender has known the feeling of being treated as second class or no class at all. It’s heartbreaking to hear stories of the past or, worse, see in real time the injustice that some still have to endure.
One can only hope that as we continue to evolve, people who have committed these injustices will see them for what they are, and those who have felt the pain of the mistreatment don’t spend their precious energies in retaliation.
The prejudice I would like to focus on here, though, is the one that occurs in most martial arts schools. I call it the “Prejudice of the Unseen.”
By explanation, allow me to use an example. Imagine one of your students breaking his hand and coming into class wearing a cast. Can you imagine an instructor asking the students to...
I‘ve been operating a martial arts school full-time for 39 years. I think I may have made every mistake that can be made in this business. The reason I’m still in business, I believe, is because I asked for help. I learned quickly that others before me had already found solutions. In this reality-based column, I’ll point out key mistakes I made in my business career, which are common errors among school owners, both large and small, throughout our industry. Then I’ll share the solutions I applied to overcome them.
November was once a time of year when we used to take a deep breath and feel relieved that it had finally come. The thought was that we had been so busy with all our new back-to-school business, we deserved slower months in November and December. There was a huge mistake in this line of thinking. Those two slow months in a row at the end of the year...
When you require the services of an attorney, there are two primary things you should take into consideration, and one thing that you absolutely should not. Unfortunately, the latter oftentimes overrides the former.
When you hire a lawyer, no matter the issue, I suggest that you look for an attorney who has, in no particular order of importance, experience and a reputation of success in handling legal matters. However, in many situations, clients choose legal talent based upon who charges the lowest hourly rate. Limiting your hiring decision solely to financial considerations can be a very costly decision. Allow me to explain.
Attorneys are market-driven professionals. The fees they charge are in direct correlation to what expenses they have and what the specific market will bear. There exists a balance, or tipping point, between the fees charged and the business generated. This...
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