“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 Keith D. Yates
Kevin Nevels began his martial arts training as a child in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1993, but he stopped training a couple years later when his family moved to the small North Texas community of Coppell. It wasn’t until his college years at the University of North Texas that a friend got him re-interested in the martial arts. He found a school that taught the same traditional taekwondo that he had learned as a kid and, soon after, he had earned his black belt.
Nevels majored in radio, TV and film and always thought he would go into that industry after graduation. Instead, he took a job working with his father in the oil industry (it is Texas, after all). However, he continued to train and do some part-time teaching of the martial arts. He readily admits he wasn’t really happy in his oil job and, apparently, his dad noticed that fact as well.
In January 2010, Kevin was running a taekwondo demonstration with his team and his father was a...
By Michelle Hodnett
Project Dojo is a nonprofit community outreach program in Pueblo, Colorado, that works with at-risk children. Through the power of martial arts, Project Dojo seeks to inspire and motivate kids within a safe environment, while continuing to teach the traditions of martial arts. This is the story of Project Dojo co-founder Michelle Hodnett’s experiences in her martial arts journey.
Agility Rings from Century are durable and will last for years, and their use is only limited by your imagination. We use the rings to focus the students, to provide visual markers, and as a tool in multiple drills. No matter how you use them, their bright colors always draw kids’ attention and help them focus on the task at hand.
Ring on Ground Drills
Quick Feet: Place your rings in a line and have students go in and out of the rings as fast as they can. This is footwork and cardio. Several other agility drills, like hopping on one foot, two feet...
by Herb Borkland
Texas tournament legend Al Francis ranks among the top 10 fighters of the Lone Star State’s golden era of karate. A man of principles and character, Francis has put in decades as a recreation specialist in San Antonio, proving the social value of karate training for at-risk youth. His local educational TV program, which showcased the varieties of martial arts available in the city, ran for a decade. Today, he remains one of the best spokesmen for the power and discipline that the martial arts can bring to children.
MASuccess: Where did you grow up, and what did your dad do?
Al Francis: I grew up in San Antonio, Texas. Dad was the master chef at the Galveston Hills Restaurant, but I took off in a totally different direction. In high school, I wanted to be an artist.
I was about 130 pounds and couldn’t play every sport there was. I got jumped when I was younger. My mother taught me how to block. (laughs) I knew I needed to learn how to...
by Michelle Hodnett
Project Dojo is a nonprofit community outreach program in Pueblo, Colorado, that works with at-risk children. Through the power of martial arts, Project Dojo seeks to inspire and motivate kids within a safe environment, while continuing to teach the traditions of martial arts. This is an article of Project Dojo co-founder Michelle Hodnett’s experiences on holding Dojo Christmas Parties.
‘Tis the season to be jolly! Be sure to let your community know during on-the-mat announcements that you will be holding a Christmas Dojo Party. Utilize your existing community by having an instructor and volunteer parents run the pot luck, crafting stations, face painting, and selling merchandise. Another black belt or volunteer should be taking pictures of the event for Facebook. (Note: make it clear to attendees that pictures from the event will be posted online. Most people will not have any objection, but it’s something you need to...
by Dave Kovar
In the November/December 2019 issue of MASuccess, I presented the first six of my 12 rules for training: Empty your cup, focus on the present, don’t compare, warm up thoroughly, focus on one detail at a time, and visualize the application. Here, I’ll discuss the remaining six rules.
7. Embrace Fatigue
As legendary pro-football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Rarely do we perform as well when we become fatigued.
From a fitness standpoint, however, fatigue is valuable. Training to the point of fatigue helps us become better-conditioned martial artists.
Learning how to handle fatigue is also important from a self-defense standpoint. If you’re targeted by a mugger, it won’t be because you look alert and energized. Criminals are more likely to strike when you seem vulnerable, when you’re worn out from a long day at work or after a long run. The stress and the “adrenaline dump”...
By Guest Blogger Dwight Trower
At St. Louis Family Martial Arts Academy, we recently held a special class in our year-long series: “Dads and Sons - Doing Good Work.”
Why “good work?”
You might be curious why we chose the phrase for this particular program. It actually goes back to my old boxing days from the late 1980's and early 1990's. In the martial arts, it’s traditional to show respect to your training partners or instructor by bowing or saluting at the end of the workout. The local boxing gym I trained at had a similar customary ending. A typical workout lasted about an hour and a half and was broken down into multiple sessions depending on what each individual boxer was working on that day.
We always began with a simple calisthenic warmup followed by fifteen to twenty minutes of continuous shadow boxing. Next would be up to ten three-minute rounds of work. This might include any combination of heavy bag work, focus...
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...
By Dwight Trower
October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month! To shine the spotlight on the amazing members of our martial arts community with Down syndrome, and those who know them training partners, students, family and friends, MAIA is proud to feature this guest article by Dwight Trower, Director of Instruction at St. Louis Family Martial Arts Academy.
In my many years as a martial artist and school owner, I have had the fortune of being able to instruct many students with Down Syndrome, as well as others on the autism spectrum and with various mental and physical disabilities. Given the inclusive nature of martial arts (no one sits on the bench!) I know that many of my fellow school owners have also had this experience. However, in 2010, thanks to Deidre Pujols and the Pujols Family Foundation, I was given the opportunity to do even more.
With help from the Foundation, I was able to create a stand-alone program and...
by Dave Kovar
To be quality martial arts instructors, we must keep up with our own training. Over the decades, I’ve relied on a dozen rules that have helped me develop my skills and maintain my longevity in the dojo.
The rules started as unconscious habits, but as time went by, I became mindfully aware of them to such an extent that I solidified them into rules. Whenever I put them into practice, good things happen. I’m confident you will find them as valuable in your training.
1 Empty Your Cup
Most martial arts instructors have their students bow onto the mat before they train and bow off the mat afterward. They do this for a variety of reasons, but the one that’s most important for me is it helps me empty my cup. Bowing can remind you that the world outside ends the moment you step onto the mat.
By making this action a ritual and consciously trying to clear your head before every training...
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