By Dave Kovar
I have the extreme pleasure of working with martial arts instructors and school owners from all over the world. On any given week, I might speak over the phone to as many as 25 different school owners about their successes and their challenges.
During these calls, I believe that I’m usually able to help them out a bit. Typically, it will have something to do with their business procedures, staff-training strategies or classroom formats. I know beyond a doubt that I learn equally as much from them as they ever will from me. Most of the time, I learn from the good ideas they have implemented in their schools and, occasionally, I learn from the things they are doing wrong.
This month, I’d like to discuss with you what I am calling “The Four Minds,” and how I see them being effectively utilized (or not) by the school owners that I work with.
To my understanding, the Four Minds were practiced widely by the samurai. Although they...
By Nguyen “Tom” Griggs
In this column, I continue using an acronym that spells out BLACK BELT, using words that relate to teams and leadership. This month I’ll address “K,” which stands for knowledge.
Let’s frame knowledge as it relates to 1) yourself; 2) your team; and 3) your environment.
Knowledge of yourself: The temple of Apollo in Delphi, Greece, is famous for numerous inscriptions. One of the more famous aphorisms which emanated from this temple was “Know Thyself.” This saying is very profound in its depth and simplicity.
We are all familiar with our personalities and intellects, but we forget the importance of understanding our limits. When discussing limits, we also need to remember this applies to our physical abilities, too.
Recently, I did not run in the Houston half-marathon, even though I had participated in it the previous year. I allowed professional and personal issues to interfere with properly training....
By Terry L. Wilson
The Ultimate Challenge
Veteran ninja Hakim Isler had very little interest in becoming a celebrity when he submitted an application to the producers of the hit reality television series Naked and Afraid.
What started as a good-natured verbal sparring contest between a ninja and his Special Forces buddy evolved into one of the most exciting episodes in the history of the show. It also launched Isler onto a new career path as a TV celebrity, survival instructor, public speaker and survival-course creator.
“I contacted the show as a joke because a Special Forces friend of mine dared me to do it,” explains Isler. It was one Alpha male daring another Alpha male. So that night I went online and filled out an application form for the show.”
Predictably, the producers of Naked and Afraid jumped at the chance to have a real-life ninja who was also a Psychological Operations soldier and survival specialist on their survival series.
By Karen Eden
We were having lunch with our good friend Tommy several years ago. Tommy, a plumber by trade, is a good-hearted guy with a simple life. We began discussing how quickly technology is changing, and how we are almost forced to keep up with all the changes that take place.
“I had a really hard time learning computers, but I eventually figured it out,” he told me.
“Figured it out?” I responded, quizzically.
I wondered how someone with no prior experience could just “figure out” how to initially operate a computer.
Tommy explained: after much frustration, one weekend he simply went out and bought a used computer. He then shut the door to his workroom and tore the entire thing apart.
“If I can see how it works from the inside,” he told me, “then I can figure out how to operate it from the outside.”
I looked at Tommy and smiled from ear to ear....
By Herb Borkland
Born in Japan, Kazuo “Sonny” Onoo trained in karate and judo in school clubs before immigrating to Fairbanks, Alaska, at age 11, where he practiced goju-ryu karate. After moving to southern Minnesota, Onoo trained under full-contact Professional Karate Association (PKA) Champion Gordon Franks and goju-ryu legend Chuck Merriman. Onoo competed in Europe as a member of Merriman’s Trans-World Oil team between 1975 and 1987, and the PKA named him the best bantamweight in the world.
In the 1990s, Onoo became a professional wrestling “character.” Acting as liaison between World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), the “villain agent” Onoo negotiated the talent exchange programs which allowed numerous Japanese performers to appear with WCW.
Herb Borkland: How did you first hear about martial arts?
Sonny Onoo: As an immigrant from Japan, I was asked from day one, “Do you know...
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 “C,” which stands for community.
Originally, I considered using words like “courage” or “compassion.” But after our recent rank promotion ceremony at my school, TNT Jujitsu in Houston, I realized that community is what truly matters.
Community is essential because it is one of the key components of loyalty and retention. You can have a great facility and teach a dynamite curriculum. But if members don't feel that they are part of a community, it’s easy for them to leave. This is especially true of your instructors and staff.
However, a wonderful community can help ensure that people will stay and even follow your organization and leaders.
Here’s an example that illustrates this point. My dad’s side of the family was mostly black...
By Joshua Page
Being a Black Belt Inside and Outside the School
As instructors, we spend a great deal of time trying to develop our students into black belts. We equip them to deal with all types of dangerous situations and attacks. We arm them with kicks, punches, throws and submissions.
Even the mental side of self-defense is addressed, like how to keep calm under pressure and dealing with overwhelming odds. All this takes place while developing humility and learning the importance of constant improvement. These lessons are powerful and life-changing, and prepare our students for adversity on the practice mat and in the arena of sport.
We spend thousands of hours redefining techniques, perfecting form, and forging the absolute best martial artists we can. The results can be truly amazing. The transformation from a day-one student to a black belt is, at times, awe-inspiring.
When you see those students on the mats training and teaching, they seem to have a certain air about...
By Keith D. Yates
Can you have a successful mixed martial arts (MMA) school geared towards children? Can you come back from looking insolvency square in the face? Can you overcome years of weight gain, even having reached the point where you’re considered morbidly obese?
The answers to these questions are yes, yes, and yes, if you are the resilient David and Suzana Chacon, owners of Dominion Martial Arts Institute of Mentorship in Oswego, Illinois!
David began his martial arts training at Gen-Ki Karate in Chicago as a child. He also spent a few years in a taekwondo school, earning only a red belt because his parents divorced and he had to stop training. In his early 20s, he developed an interest in ground fighting because, like many stand-up fighters, he felt insecure about what to do if he ever found himself on the ground in a real-life street situation. So, when he was 23, he looked around for a solution and found an MMA coach.
But David says it...
By Karen Eden
Deep in the Black Forest of Colorado stand the relatively unknown Ute (pronounced, yute) prayer trees. The Ute tribe of Colorado is documented as the oldest known Native American tribe in the U.S. They once dominated the Rocky Mountains.
It seems there are certain parts of the mountains that the Ute chose to become their natural record-keeping area. these areas include “directional trees” which were manipulated to point to the most sacred parts of the forest.
Several others of these culturally modified trees are the grave markers of great warriors and the native royalty that once ruled and sacrificed for the tribe. Others are “agreement trees,” manipulated to twist together, possibly marking a treaty between two tribes, or a ceremonious wedding.
You have to understand that these trees are hundreds of years old, and they took several generations to manipulate. The medicine man/woman would teach their offspring how to...
By Dr. 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 “A” for attitude.
Your attitude, of course, is essential to successful leadership and building great teams. Attitude’s two very important components are acumen and adaptability.
First, a quick story. My 5th-grade teacher was named Mr. George Pope. He was a passionate, gregarious and caring person who always pushed us to excel. One day, we were being unruly and he decided to teach us a lesson about attitude.
The lesson was simple but exceedingly difficult. Our participation in recess was dependent upon class behavior. I remember that Mr. Pope’s discussion/lesson on attitude was on a Tuesday. Sadly, we were such a bunch of miscreants that we kept messing up each day and didn’t have recess for the remainder of the week.
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