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 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...
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...
By Nguyen “Tom” Griggs
For this column, I continue using acronyms to spell out the words BLACK BELT, as they relate to teams and leadership. This month, I’ll address “E,” which stands for empathy. Empathy means to relate to or understand another person’s experiences and thoughts.
In the early 2000s, I taught business courses at a local community college in Houston. One fall semester, I had a fun-loving and bright student named Jose. He was doing well in the course.
During the last five weeks of class, however, Jose disappeared. He missed the remaining exams and his group-project assignment. Jose failed the course in spectacular fashion. His final grade for the entire course was almost a 37.
On the first day of the spring semester, I saw Jose in my classroom. He had an expression on his face that can only be described as shame, mischief and utter disbelief. After class, he...
The nicest instructor in BJJ offers some insights into his teaching methods, his famous students like Keanu Reeves and Stephan “Wonderboy” Thompson, how to succeed in business and what he has in store for the MAIA SuperShow.
by Perry William Kelly
“Life in the martial arts is all about opportunities. Each student offers the instructor the chance to make a difference. His or her life will be changed if you do it right. In the process, your life will be changed as well. It is the greatest reward to make a living by changing lives.”
- excerpt from Carlos Machado’s Putting the Pieces Together: Truths You Learn AFTER You Get Your Butt Kicked!
While growing up, Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert Carlos Machado’s nickname was Soneca (Sleepy) for the naps he used to take between training sessions. It’s good that he took the chance to rest while he had it, because these days, everyone wants to roll with now-black belt and...
By Herb Borkland
Cardio kickboxing and Impact Fitness entrepreneur Steve Doss has what Enter the Dragon villain Bob Wall once called the “greatest martial arts resume ever.” Among other distinctions, Doss grew up down the street from kickboxing superstar Jim Harrison and knew pre-fame Chuck Norris. He trained with Bill Wallace at Elvis Presley’s legendary Tennessee Karate Institute and, in Corpus Christie, learned from pioneer karate champion Pat Burleson. Considered the Father of Cardio Kickboxing, today Doss’s new Impact Fitness thirty-minute workouts are a growing franchise success nationally.
Herb Borkland: Where did you grow up, and what did your father do?
Steve Doss: I grew up in Kansas City. Dad was a business man.
HB: How did you first hear about martial arts?
SD: Jim Harrison lived next door. His school was across the street from the high school I went to. He ran two floors: one for judo, the other for karate. Sparring...
By Nguyen “Tom” Griggs
In this column, I will continue using acronyms to spell out the words BLACK BELT, as they relate to teams and leadership. This month, I’ll address the second “B,” which stands for balance.
In this regard, we are discussing balancing benevolence and self–focus within your organization(s).
Benevolence is one of our tenets at TNT Jujitsu here in Houston. Our instructor, Hanshi Torey, often emphasizes the merits of being kind, but he also warns that kindness should have limits. As leaders and business owners, your profits and business development are important. Many of us, however, struggle and even lose sleep over making difficult decisions.
Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with putting your fiscal and physical health first. I remember my parents having a couple of regular customers at their liquor store who always wanted a discount or favor. My parents were quite kind about it — until the day when one of...
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