What an accomplishment! I've been training at Maryland Martial Arts since 2008 with one goal in mind since day one, which is student creed number four, "I intend to earn my black belt." The funny thing is that this goal never left my mind but so much has changed along the way. In the beginning I so badly wanted to be a black belt, and nothing else was on my mind. Not until I reached late gold belt or orange belt did things start to really change for me. I soon realized that helping others made me a better martial artist. It wasn't all about me anymore. Sure, I intended to earn my black belt, but I also started thinking about helping others earn their white belt and gold belt. This is when my road to constant improvement stepped into overdrive.
Around this time, I changed my diet and started to eat only healthy food that would help me get better at martial arts. When I say better at martial arts, I don't mean just punching and kicking. I mean better at living the martial arts lifestyle..Helping others, avoiding overly negative temptations, etc. And what do you know, this is student creed number one. "I intend to develop myself in a positive manner and avoid anything that would reduce my mental growth or my physical health." Well, it works. Stay positive and stay healthy for yourself, your friends, your family and the people around you that feed off of your positive vibes. This also correlates very nicely with student creed number two.. "I intend to develop self-discipline in order to bring out the best in myself and others." Through instructing, I've learned that not only what I say matters, but what I DO matters equally. People look up to me. They see me winning tournaments, blasting thru the ab-buster, challenging me to push up competitions. Everyone wants to spar me because I have great control and can spar at anyone's pace and skill level. This takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline and the ability to practice what I preach. With my personal growth and positive attitude, everyone that trains with me gets to experience this on some level and that's what is most important to me.
It's funny how goals change. I remember Sensei Jon's blog about goal setting. Should we set goals? I'm not really sure, but I do know that our goals are constantly changing. My first goal was to receive my black belt. My goals changed drastically while training, but in the end, I still reached that ultimate goal and now that I've received my black belt, everything begins for me. It was all about the journey, and now I get to pass this journey onto others.
I intend to earn my second degree black belt. When it happens, does not matter, only that it happens.
The last thing I'm going to leave you with is my best piece of advice. Giving to yourself is not selfish as long as you are helping others with your decision.
Should you practice your techniques on both sides of your body?
I have heard instructors state that you should be able to do your moves well with both sides of the body, left and right. I have heard other instructors preach that it is beneficial to focus on making one side as skilled as possible with a certain technique, with less need for balance. There are strong arguments to be made for either viewpoint, and I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer. I recommend that students practice new moves on one side only, until they feel comfortable with the move, at which time they may start learning it on the other side.
While I do not have a definitive answer to the original question, I would like to explore certain reasons why either viewpoint has merit, and in which situations one might be more practical than the other.
Ideally, we would like to be able to do a move well on both sides of the body. Realistically, however, it is much easier to become proficient on one side of the body with most techniques, at least in the beginning. Generally, I would rather be very good at doing a technique on one side than mediocre on both sides.
However, with certain techniques and positions, such as escaping side control or sweeping my partner from half guard, I try to practice both sides equally. With these moves, I may be forced to do the move on either side of the body in sparring; I generally will not be able to choose.
So here are a few questions that might help us determine which strategy might work best in a particular situation:
1.) Do I understand the move well enough on one side to attempt learning it on the other side?
2.) How much time do I have to train? Do I have lots of time to learn both sides, or should I focus on one side only?
3.) Is this a move which I could be forced to do on either side of the body, or is it a move where I can generally choose the side, regardless of what my partner does, in a sparring situation?
Keep this in mind when practicing and you could see even greater progress!
I love martial arts books and videos. They are a lot of fun to read and watch, and are readily available in book stores and on the internet. Some martial artists say things like, “You can’t learn martial arts from books,” or “Videos are no substitute for an actual school,” and I would generally agree. However, I believe that these statements are referring to cases in which the books or videos are the ONLY methods of learning being used. By themselves, books and videos are practically useless. When the viewer or reader has access to an actual dojo or training area, with dedicated training partners, the books and videos become invaluable SUPPLEMENTARY training tools.
Besides learning new techniques, I find that reading books or watching videos at home makes me more excited to get back on the mats; it helps to cultivate a real passion for the arts.
On that note, I am excited to announce a new feature to our members section of the website, the “Technique of the week.” Videos will be posted each week with useful tips to help our students keep learning even outside of the school!
Why is right now the best time to study martial arts?
There are many reasons why this is the best time to be a martial artist, or to begin training in the arts. One reason in particular really seems to stand out to me. In the past decade or two, the arts have really gone through a renaissance of sorts, taking them from an interesting form of exercise to a profound art of self-development.
I began training in the martial arts approximately 25 years ago. Since then, I have been very fortunate to study several different styles of martial arts with many great instructors. These instructors taught me wonderful things, and their teachings represented some of the best knowledge and material that was generally known at that time.
However, due to recent advances in training methods, techniques, and a deeper understanding of what actually works, I have made the majority of my progress in the last 4 years. I believe that the arts have come such a long way that one year of martial arts training now might be as valuable as 5 years of training would have been a few decades ago.
To understand why this might be, consider the recent surge in popularity of the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Here we have a sport that allows for a wide variety of techniques, with two fully resisting opponents. However we feel about such spectator sports, MMA has definitely opened our eyes to new ideas and training methods regarding self-defense.
There are some martial artists who were fortunate enough to be using these methods long before MMA became popular; for most of us, however, the growth of MMA represented an awakening that helped us identify gaps in our old training methods. Certainly, others will have had different experiences, but I feel that my own journey through the martial arts has been the norm over the past several years: a shift in training to place more emphasis on benefits to the student.
This should also come as no surprise if we consider all the advances being made in other fields. Professional athletes are able to enjoy longer and more productive careers thanks to a deeper understanding of the way the body works and improved training methods. However, the advances that have been made in the martial arts recently are, I believe, even more radical.
I have no doubt that right now is the greatest time to study the martial arts!
WOW! Our first ever in-school tournament yesterday was amazing! I hope that it was as fun to participate in as it was to watch. The effort levels we saw were nothing short of stupendous, and I think it is safe to say that everyone earned their trophy several times over.
First of all, the heat made things even more challenging, and I can only imagine how much hotter it must have seemed to the competitors, who were working so hard, often while wearing their sparring gear. Despite being packed in like sardines in the smoldering heat, I didn’t hear anyone complain (other than me), as the audience was very enthusiastic and the competitors were too focused on giving their all to worry about anything else.
We had a very large turnout, filling the dojo to its capacity, so competitors had to wait while others were competing. Again, there was no complaining, only cheers and support for their fellow students who were competing.
Our adult students began with their sparring, as there were only four of them, but they provided enough effort for 20 people. With very little rest in between rounds, these four champions got things going with some very exciting and skillful sparring.
Next our youngest competitors, our Little Ninja students (4-6 year olds), demonstrated their katas and training tools. Everyone was very impressed, as it was obvious that they had worked hard in preparation for this day, and they didn’t seem to be phased by the fact that so many eyes were on them. What confidence!
Our youth students (ages 6 and up) demonstrated their katas, training tools, and sparring skills next. The skill levels of these students made me, and all in attendance, very proud, as all of the hard work that these students have put in was plain to see. It was non-stop action for over an hour as student after student got up, and wowed the audience with their techniques, as well as their courage to perform in front of a large audience.
The final event of the afternoon was the advanced sparring. This sparring division was for Black Belts and any student that had earned the Sparring Patch. This event showcased our most experienced students and they did not disappoint.
Time and time again I saw one student gain the upper hand on another. However, just when I thought the match was over, the student on the bottom, sometimes through expert technique, sometimes through a near-superhuman effort (and usually some combination of the two), would find a way to use what energy they had left to escape or reverse the position. Bear in mind that this was at the end of the day. I was exhausted by the end of the tournament, and I wasn’t even competing! The fact that these champions were able to compete at such a high level in such challenging conditions amazes me!
If there was one thing that moved me as much as the efforts of the students, it was the support and compassion of the families in attendance, and the respect of the students for one another. All day I heard shouts of encouragement from all sides, for every student, and despite the heat everyone seemed happy to be there. It was an incredible atmosphere and made me realize how fortunate I am to be able to work with such a wonderful group of people.
As tiring as the event was, I didn’t even notice how tired I was until it was over. In fact, it wasn’t until I was on the way home late in the afternoon that I realized I hadn’t eaten lunch for the day, I was having too much fun to notice! I hope everyone had a great time, and we look forward to holding another tournament later this year!
WOW! Three years have come and gone extremely quickly. As many of you may know, I started Law School about one year after Maryland Martial Arts opened its doors. It was a challenging experience, a test if you will- A test which has pushed me beyond my limits. I have been a law school graduate for a little more than 48 hours – and a part of me still cannot believe it! These past three years have been filled with sleepless nights, thousands of pages of reading, cold calling in class, and dozens of wild exams. Yet, it has also been a time of growing, a time of learning, a time of taking responsibility and a time of taking the reigns on my own future.
I am writing this blog because most of our students in the dojo are also students in kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school, college and post-graduate programs. Each and every single student is a bright, talented and special individual inside of the dojo and beyond. I personally want to congratulate each and every single one of you because by implementing a martial arts lifestyle, you are building a strong foundation to be successful in YOUR education, YOUR future, and YOUR life.
Martial Arts have made me a serious academic student. I started training the martial arts at age 11, like many of our own students, to get an edge in school- and it worked! The parallels between the dojo and the classroom are virtually seamless. Learning complex techniques and strategies in the dojo setting gave me the focus to plow through complex concepts in school. By nailing techniques I never thought I could accomplish, I gained the confidence to write lengthy papers and solve problems head on. By realizing that everyone, no matter their belt rank or age, has something to teach me, I have learned humility, which has kept my mind open to new ideas in my education. Further, it gave me the self-discipline to study hard while others might be indulging in more (at first) appealing activities. Perhaps most importantly, martial arts have taught me balance so that I can manage my time carefully to study, train, work, and have family/friend time. This is of course a non-exhaustive list! These principles have guided me from grade school all the way through law school. It does not matter whether you want to be a writer, singer, doctor, business person, chef, an engineer, a hairstylist, a martial arts instructor or even a lawyer- by being the martial artists that YOU are, you are plowing a positive path towards YOUR future. And for this I congratulate you!
I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Maryland Martial Arts family for all the support and encouragement during these three years. Good luck on finishing up your school year and best wishes for the 2012-13 school year!
The first thing I'd like to do is thank all of the students and their families who have helped to make Maryland Martial Arts the dojo that it is today. Thank You! We've received tons of compliments about the updates we've made in the latter half of 2011 to prepare for 2012, and we won't stop in 2012. We'd also like to welcome Sempai Greg and Sempai Nan to the Maryland Martial Arts team. They have been amazing in helping our students get the most out of their karate training. You can read their bio's here.
Some of the great changes we've made include: