Century Versys

IMOK karate

beyond minding your own business

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around why our society is so backwards on how we treat each other.  We feel free to gossip and say what we want about people’s private lives – spreading rumors and expressing our opinions about people we don’t even truly know. Oh sure, you may know who they…

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Teen dating abuse – what you need to know

Did you know that February is teen dating abuse awareness month? Did you even know that teen dating abuse is a real problem? 1/3 of teens will experience it.  It’s not always physical. Often it is more about manipulating emotions and trying to control the other person. I’ve posted this blog before, but it bears…

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Simple doesn’t mean easy

During adult class this week, I was teaching a pre-arranged fighting drill. It was only a 3-4 step drill and the students already knew the techniques. Simple right?  I give you 3 or 4 things to do and then you do them.  Yes, it was simple, but it was not easy.  You see, there’s more…

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“Always do your best”

In almost every dojo, you will find a set of rules. We call it dojo kun. Regardless of the style you practice, they are pretty similar in that they are meant to be guidelines to live by to be a good person and martial artist. These are the rules that were set forth by our…

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Technology and Domestic Abuse

Technology is a blessing and a curse to victims of domestic abuse. It can be a great tool to get help when you need it.  However, the advances in tech also make it easier for an abuser to control, harass and stalk their victims.  I sometimes hear people joking about facebook stalking other people, but…

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suggested reading

I love to read.  I don’t spend as much time doing it as I’d like or should.  I often suggest books for people to read, but it’s not often that I actually buy them to give to people. Dude! The World’s going to Punch you in the Face: Here’s How to Make it Hurt Less is…

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2017 in review

While there were things that happened in the world during 2017 that were not so great, when I look back at what we accomplished with IMOK, LLC and Shin Gi Tai Wisconsin I’d have to say it was pretty amazing!  Personally, I started off the year by receiving my 3rd Dan certificate from SRKDI. In…

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There is no box

It’s no secret that I’m proud of what I do. It makes me happy.  However, when I meet someone new and the question comes up “what do you do?” or “where do you work?”, I almost visibly cringe.  Not because I don’t want to talk about it.  Anyone that knows me knows that I absolutely…

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book review The Difference-A Mental Approach to Martial Arts

I recently purchased The Difference – A Mental Approach to Martial Arts by Jerry Figgiani with Chris R. Vaccaro.  While this book is not very large, it is absolutely packed with good information.  The book is aimed towards martial artists because it encompasses the mental aspects that we strive for such as respect for self and…

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Sometimes it’s not a merry Christmas

The holiday season is considered by most to be a happy time filled with traditions, family and friends.  There are holiday parties, family gatherings and generally an air of good cheer.  However, this can be a really hard time for those in or trying to leave a domestic abuse situation.  Partners that are trying to…

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What brings adults to the dojo?

It’s hard to believe that we are at the end of November already.  In Wisconsin, it seems a little surreal since the temperature is well above normal for this time of year. However, winter and the holidays are upon us whether mother nature agrees or not. As the year comes to a close, many of…

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Who comes to Wisconsin for a seminar?

My blogs have been a little sporadic lately, but with good reason.  No blog last week because I was busy hosting an awesome seminar with Sensei Jerry Figgiani, President and Founder of Shorin Ryu Karatedo International. (SRKDI) I was introduced to Sensei Figgiani and SRKDI by my sensei, Kyoshi Brad Wells. Sensei Figgiani holds the…

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Just a little food for thought…

In past posts, I’ve talked a lot about bullying.  Whether it be online, in the workplace, social situations or school; committed by other kids or other adults.  What we haven’t talked about is you.  Are you your own bully?  The short definition of bullying is the use of superior strength or influence to intimidate someone.…

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teaching our kids to say “no”

Looking at the title of this blog, you may be thinking “Are you kidding me?  That was my kid’s first word!” While that may be true, at some point we also start teaching them to not say no.  Don’t talk back!  Respect your elders! That’s rude, don’t talk like that!  There are times when our…

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Me too and something better

Everyone is weighing in on the “me too” phenomenon.  The participation on social media started by actress Alyssa Milano using the simple phrase “me too” for women to indicate that they have been sexually harassed or assaulted has been astounding.  The last numbers I saw were over 500,000 in the first 24 hours alone.  Sadly,…

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What are PINs and how can they help you?

Most people have learned to acknowledge October as breast cancer awareness month.  We honor this in our dojo with pink belts, pink shirts and sometimes even pink uniforms.  However, there is another deadly problem that we also need to remember to acknowledge this month.  October is also Domestic Abuse Awareness month.  Seventy-six lives were lost…

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Something to make you feel good

Lately, the news and the general vibe has been a bit depressing.  The events around us have been horrific! Even the most positive of people seem to be a bit down.  So today, I bring you something a little brighter.  While the cause in and of itself is tragic, today, a group of kids and…

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Community and Gratitude

Today, I want to take the opportunity to brag up our dojos in our small communities.  Last weekend, we did two awesome events.  The Fort Atkinson dojo participated in the Fort Fall Fiesta. The event was a collaborative effort by the Fort Atkinson Parks and Recreation Department and The Unity project to promote greater Hispanic…

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workplace bullying part 2

Work is a big part of our lives and it should be a place where we can be productive and safe.  Sadly, that is not always the case.  It makes it tough because we can’t just up and leave if someone is bothering us.  We’re forced to interact with people not of our choosing.  We…

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workplace bullying (part 1)

Last week I reposted a blog about adult bullying.  All types of adult bullying are disturbing, but I think workplace bullying is especially difficult to deal with.  It resembles domestic abuse in that the very nature of the the relationship – business – keeps the victim close. The bully is able to keep the target…

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Adult bullies

Last fall I wrote a post on adult bullying.  I am reposting it this week, because I honestly want to do a deeper dive on this one in the coming weeks.  We so often think of bullying as something kids do.  It upsets us and we struggle to help our kids through it whether they…

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who has their back?

Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to be a presenter at Fort HealthCare’s Camp 911.  Camp 911 is a one day camp for kids filled with 1/2 hour classes.  Examples of the classes presented were bike and outdoor safety, mindfulness, CPR & first aid, yoga, a tour of the Smoke House, our police K-9…

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There’s still time

Summer is speeding by.  If you’re like me, you may feel a little stretched for time with all the summer activities.  I know many of my student’s are feeling this way as well.  They have fitness goals and they don’t want to lose what they’ve gained.  It’s a struggle to find time to get in…

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How to be a good training partner

One of the things I find difficult for people to understand is how to be a good training partner.  Whether it’s with kids or adults, there seems to be some fine lines that need to be defined.  While everyone has their own way of learning and their own training style, there a few things that…

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Women are not small men

I was at a seminar once working on a technique.  I was having some difficulty with the way it was presented due to my size and strength vs the size and strength of my training partner, so I was modifying it to work for me.  One of the higher ranking black belts informed me that…

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Setting boundaries

I gave a self-defense workshop in conjunction with PADA of Jefferson County last week.  In talking with these wonderful women, I found that most of their questions were “what do I do if…” There were different circumstances being discussed.  One woman recently had an experience tending bar at a festival that made her uncomfortable.  Another…

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Control and awareness

One of the rules of our dojos, as set forth by Kyoshi Brad Wells, is to never lose self-control or act in a violent manner.  The acting in a violent manner part is pretty self-explanatory.  However, the self-control part is somewhat up to interpretation.  Some people would say that it means to control your temper.…

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The adults of Shin Gi Tai Wisconsin

I’m very proud of all of my students.  The majority of my students are kids, but many people don’t know that we have an adult class as well.  This class is a diverse and unique group of individuals and is growing.  Some of them are probably snickering at my use of the word “adult” as…

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Scammers

More often than not, we think of self-protection as something we do to prevent people from potentially causing us physical harm.  However, there are other things we need to protect ourselves against.  We’ve all heard about phone scams of one type or another.  For example, someone supposedly from the IRS calling you and asking you…

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Emotions and self-defense

As I was preparing for a self-defense workshop with PADA, I got to thinking about the emotional side of self-defense.  It’s the part of self-defense we don’t really like to think about.  We’ll talk about safety measures and things to do to keep yourself from danger.  We’ll discuss behaviors to watch out for.  Then it…

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Are our children truly educated?

It’s graduation season and we have a whole new crop of adults going out into the world.  Whether they are going on to college, into the military or going to work full time, there are things they need to know.  Things they didn’t learn in school.  Things that are uncomfortable for some people to talk…

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Who are your 5?

Motivational speaker Jim John has said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.  While there are arguments on whether or not this is true, when it comes to bullying, I think it may have something to do with it. Whether we like it or not we are…

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Shout out

Every one of our black belt candidates has to write a paper.  Depending on their age (novice, junior or adult), the requirements differ, but they have to pick a topic and get it approved, research it and write it before their review.  Recently, one of the junior black belt candidates (juniors are age 13 -…

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Whatever happened to being kind?

This last week, I’ve seen a lot of posts about problems with bullying in our community. As always, this gets me just as upset as the parents who are dealing with it and I get to wondering all the same questions they have; why it happens, how it continues to happen and how to stop…

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PADA of Jefferson County

This morning I had the opportunity to volunteer at the PADA Walk A Mile Family Fun Event in Lake Mills, WI.  First of all I want to commend all that participated in this event to promote safe and healthy homes for all in Jefferson County.  I’m so proud to have been a part of the…

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Keep it simple

Far too often, we make things more complicated than they need to be.  Sometimes it’s because we are overthinking everything.  We analyze, re-analyze, try to figure out the whys and the why nots and how to make it better whether it be in work, relationships or activities that are supposed to enjoyable. Other times it’s…

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more fun with Legos

I have been talking a lot with my students about how karate can be a lot like playing with Legos.  Each block is like a technique.  The nature of it doesn’t change; it’s still the same color and size.  What changes is how you use it. Is it part of the hood of the bat…

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take control

Mothers and daughters share a special bond.  It’s tenuous at times and fierce at others.  I came across a few of incidents this week of that fierceness – that primal instinct to protect.  Sometimes we’re there, able to protect our daughters and sometimes something happens out of our control and we can’t.  Often we are…

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Teens and tweens

It’s been said that teenagers are the explanation as to why, in the animal kingdom, some mothers eat their young.  As a mom, I remember times that I could understand this!  However, I truly love working with tweens and teens. They are so bright and funny when they want to be.  However, they have their…

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The biggest battle

Who is your real battle with? Competition can bring out some very good things in a person – it can encourage you to work harder than you ever have and give you an opportunity to show off your skills.  However, it can also bring out fear and a lack of self-confidence.  It can highlight a…

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Creating a bridge

It has been over 3 years now since I returned to my home dojo as the lead instructor. The dojo had been on a hiatus for 6 months while the previous instructor was on a medical leave and while I was very excited, I also had no idea what I was going to find in…

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Super novices

They are novices to karate.  They are super.  They are 3 and 4 years old. What kind of karate can you teach someone so young?  Actually, there is quite a bit!  There are the basics of course; learning their left from their right, directional awareness, listening to and following directions, building muscle strength, balance, reflexes…

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It’s not always a stranger that puts you in danger…

We often think about self-protection for women as being about strangers.  People that we don’t know that jump out from a dark corner or from behind some bushes and attack unexpectedly.  As awful as that is to think about, it’s even more horrifying to think about the truth.  The truth is that it’s people we…

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What’s your first line of defense?

Last week, I was talking with some people and when they learned that I am a martial arts instructor, they asked “Ok, so I attack you. What do you do?”  I really dislike this line of questioning.  Not because I don’t enjoy the conversation, but because the average person doesn’t realize that there is no…

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Does it work for you?

Sometimes people send me self-defense videos to watch asking what I think of the techniques presented.  It’s always hard to answer these requests.  First, I’m being asked to judge someones else’s work and opinions.  I’m not a fan of doing that because regardless of whether I think it’s great or it’s garbage, it’s not my…

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Kata

This session in our dojos, we will be having a kata tournament for the youth classes.  I thought all the kids would be pretty excited about this.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to win a prize for the best kata?  However, there were several kids that were not too happy with this announcement.  There are…

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Teen dating violence awareness month

February is teen dating violence awareness month, so I am reposting a blog I wrote in April of last year.  Teen dating violence is far more prevalent than we realize and as adults, we need to help our teens recognize and handle this problem. Teen dating violence is defined by the CDC as the physical,…

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Are you a damsel in distress?

Last week I told you about a book I recently read called The Martial Arts Woman by Andrea Harkins. In that book, I found a quote by Michelle Manu that really struck me.  Michelle is is a senior black belt in the Kaihewalu Hawaiian Lua with the Lua Halau O Kaihewalu. She said “Life is not…

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book review

I recently read the book The Martial Arts Woman by Andrea Harkins and I really wanted to share with all of you what an inspirational book this is.  This book is a very easy read with a tremendous amount of heart.  While the input is from multiple female martial artists,  this is not a book just…

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Firsts

My students will tell you it is rare that I lack something to say about the subject of self-defense or martial arts.  This week, I honestly struggled with what to write about.  It wasn’t that I had nothing on my mind, it was that I had too much! When this happens, I sit back and…

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Being a good partner

The past 2 weeks in our karate classes, we have been working on some new partner drills. Doing partner drills can be challenging because not only do you have to learn the drill, but you also have to learn how to be a good partner so that your training partner can learn as well.  When…

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a matter of perspective

In karate, bunkai is the analysis of kata; a way to determine the practical application of the movements. This process can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.  As an instructor, I teach basic bunkai to my students to try to get them to understand the movements; that it’s not…

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flexibility

Many people neglect flexibility in their fitness routines.  All of my students have been taught flexibility exercises, but few actually do them.  I have a limited amount of time with my students every week, so I like to take my instruction time in teaching them karate, not supervising them on basic calisthenics  and stretching. I…

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Take the new year by the horns!

I thought about not doing the cliche end of the year/start of a new year type of blog.  However, there have been people that have brought to my attention that yes, the discussion is needed. I was in between classes when a woman walked in to the gym where we train.  She was trying to…

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Warriors

Merriam-webster.com defines the word “warrior” as 1. a man engaged or experienced in warfare: or 2. a person engaged in some struggle or conflict.  It originates from the Middle English “werreour”: to wage war. It brings to mind images of soldiers, knights, vikings, spartans, samurai, gladiators and the like.  However, I run into warriors every…

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Just some observations

Last week was the last regular week of our karate session before the holidays.  I like to focus on sparring the last week of each session.  The students work hard on techniques and kata all session and it’s a good opportunity to be able to put some of what they learned into practice.  However, it’s…

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Let the wind blow…

During the last week, we have been testing in all our novice and junior karate classes.  It was a very exciting week, but in some ways it was stressful too.  While all the kids did very well (I am extremely proud of all of them), some did better than others.  It is sometimes hard for…

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A body in motion…

Recently, I have had several students, both kids and adults, going through some emotionally hard times.  They all came to me considering taking some time off from karate.  My advice to them is always the same…don’t do it!  While I never want to lose a student for any reason, that is not the motivation for…

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Manipulation

Physical abuse can often be seen, but what about what you can’t see?  What about the things agencies like PADA and the police can’t do anything about?  What about the emotional manipulation that crushes self-esteem, makes you feel badly about things you are proud of and makes your soul feel dark?  In these blogs, I…

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Being excellent

I was talking with the kids in karate class this week about being excellent.  I asked them if the wanted their karate to be ok or excellent.  They all agreed they wanted to be excellent except for one student who really wants to be ultimate!  According to www.merriam-webster.com, excellence is “extremely high quality”. How then,…

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my vantage point

I love having parents, family members and the general public come to the dojo and observe our classes.  I think it shows great support for the people participating in our classes.  However, I sometimes wonder what you see from your point of view.  Some of the comments I hear tell me it’s different from what…

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Learning responsibility

Learning responsibility is our theme for the kids in our current session of karate classes.  We can look at what it means to be responsible in many ways, whether it be for kids or adults.   There is being responsible to meet your financial obligations, following through on a commitment, doing your homework and being…

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Edith Bunker (part 2)

Last week I talked about a very powerful episode of the old tv show “All in the Family”.  Just like the 2 part episode of “Edith’s 50th birthday”, there is more to a sexual assault than just the physical act itself.  While Edith did manage to get away, the mental and emotional toll it took…

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Edith Bunker (part 1)

Back in the 1970s, there was a show called All in the Family.  The main characters in the sitcom, if you aren’t familiar with it, were Archie and Edith Bunker.  On October 16, 1977, the episode “Edith’s 50th Birthday” was aired.  Written by Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf and directed by Paul Bogart, it was…

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Get out of your way

Sometimes, the only thing holding us back from achieving what we want is ourselves.  We lack the self-confidence to go out there and just try. There are tons of quotes and cliches out there regarding this hurdle. Getting past our own insecurities can be coached by others, but only actually done for and by ourselves.…

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Congratulations!

We had a very exciting week here at our dojo. Our founder, Kyoshi Brad Wells, paid us a visit and we celebrated 4 long time students earning their black belts.  These young people have been studying and practicing for many years, in some cases for over 10 years.  They started young and practiced hard, working…

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Fighting the fear of fighting

Sparring can be scary.  Even higher ranking students can find this intimidating.  Whether it is sport fighting or practice for self-defense – it doesn’t matter; our brains are trained to be nice.  Being nice is a good thing!  However, it tends to hold us back when we are either learning to fight in a ring…

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Letting them down easy isn’t letting them down at all

The definition of tenacity is the state of holding on to an idea or a thing very strongly per http://yourdicftionary.com.  Often in our society, we value this trait as in when an athlete finishes a race or game after they have been injured.  However, it’s not always a positive thing, like when it makes someone else…

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…and another thing!

I’m sure you’ve had it happen to you, but if not, you’ve seen it happen with someone else. You and a member of the opposite sex get into an argument; the male in the argument gets angry, blows up and storms out.  He comes back a short time later, calmer and maybe ready to come…

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re-start

I love September.  It always feels like a time of renewal to me; more so than New Year’s Day.  I know that may seem odd, since fall is just around the corner, but it’s the start of a new school year and football season and with summer coming to an end, it seems like a…

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“but, you don’t look like a karate instructor…”

I get this a lot.  When someone asks me what I “do” and I answer truthfully with “I teach martial arts”, I get this look and the comment, “but you don’t look like a karate instructor”.  It makes me laugh every time.  What is a martial arts instructor supposed to look like?  Like Mr. Miyagi…

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No way! Not my kid!

You get a phone call from the school or another parent telling you your child is bullying other children; you can’t believe it!  Your sweet child with the soft heart could not possibly be capable of behaving that way.  I remember very well having these same thoughts when I got that phone call many years…

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Don’t take it personally…

In our karate classes, we are in week 2 of working on how to deal with bullies.  While we are working on certain physical aspects (after all, it is a karate class) we are also concentrating on the mental aspects. I have learned from talking with the kids, that they really feel like there is…

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What kids want to know about bullying…

With the start of the school year coming up, I decided that this last karate session for the summer was going to address bullying more in depth. While my dojos are in small towns, that doesn’t mean we don’t have our fair share of this problem.  In fact, I was surprised to see how many…

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Bullying…it’s not just for kids

Have you ever been bullied?  I don’t mean the playground variety of bully, I mean the victim of a person that needs to use power to project their own feelings of inadequacy onto another person in order to feel better about themselves, leaving you feeling awful every time you have to interact with them.  Examples of…

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signals of aggression

Signals of aggression can help us to predict violence.  Some signals can be very obvious, but others are more subtle.  A person can tell lies, but their body language tells a different story.  Our limbic reactions are automatic.  Needs, feelings, thoughts and intentions are processed by the limbic brain and expressed in body language.  The…

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Respect

Respect.  It is highly valued.  It is sometimes demanded when not earned.  It is often withheld when it should not be.  In karate, we often discuss respect.  “Do not forget that karate-do begins and ends with Rei” is the first of Funakoshi’s 20 precepts. (The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate. The spiritual legacy of the…

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Working with what you have

When I first start working with a group for a self-defense workshop, they inevitably get caught up in what they don’t have.  I hear many different concerns.  Sometimes people think they can’t protect themselves because of what they view as physical short-comings such as not being strong, tall or fast.  Sometimes they think they are…

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Click

When you are trying to learn a skill, there is that moment when it all seems to come together and your brain/body connection snaps into place.  You may come close many times before that, but there is that “click” that happens when everything comes together.  You can find this moment in almost anything: the first…

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To leave or not to leave…

If you have never been in an abusive relationship or been really close to someone who is, it may be difficult for you to understand why the victim doesn’t just leave, break off all contact, get a restraining order or a divorce.   The realities of domestic abuse are not as black and white as…

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“Be sincere and grateful”

Be sincere and grateful; that is part of our dojo kun as set forth by our dojo’s founder, Kyoshi Brad Wells. At the end of each class, we take a moment to say thank you to everyone, but it’s not always possible for everyone I’d like to thank to be there at the end of…

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fighting dirty

One of the things that can be a challenge when teaching self-defense is fighting dirty.  When I get a group in that is taking a workshop or class, especially for the first time, and I start talking about gouges and rakes to the eyes or grabbing, twisting and ripping at the groin, I inevitably see…

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An ounce of prevention…

There has been a lot of discussion on social media recently regarding sexual assault and the best way to prevent it.  Obviously, the best answer would be for all humans to have respect for each other and keep their hands to themselves unless invited.  However, since this is not currently the case, we need to…

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What is self-defense?

It may seem like a simple question with a simple answer, but it is more complicated than you might think.  Most people think of it as physical, but in fact, much of self-protection is preparation, safety, mental, verbal, general avoidance of violence and good old fashioned common sense.  Using these tactics hopefully keeps you from…

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NO

No. It’s one of the first words we learn and also one of the first we try to get around.  As children, our parents may tell us “no” and then when they are not looking, we do it anyway.  As parents, we say no, but sometimes cave in to the begging, whining, or bargaining.  Our…

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Starting karate as a grown-up

There seems to be a misconception that martial arts is something that you need to start as a child or at least as a teen-ager.  While it’s good to start young, it isn’t a requirement.  Personally, I didn’t start martial arts until I was in my late 20s.  I have students that started in their…

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It’s not one size fits all

When it comes to self-protection, one size does not fit all.  Statistically, attacks against men are significantly different than those against females.  Matt Thompson of www.modelmuggging.org researched 3000 assaults back in the early 1970s and what he found was that when men attack men, it’s territorial. There’s a “squaring off” behavior; it’s a fight.  However,…

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Mindful practice and practicing mindfully

There is a lot of talk regarding the benefits of mindful practice.  To some, this means meditation and that scares some people off.  While they may be intrigued by the benefits, sitting still and trying to empty the mind seems either impossible (I don’t have patience for that), boring (I always need to be doing…

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Just because you can doesn’t mean you should…

Last weekend, a student of mine sent me a link to a disturbing story.  She was disturbed by it and quite frankly, I think everyone should be.  She asked me to address it from a self-defense point of view, but it’s more complicated than that.  Here is a synopsis of the article on Buzz Feed…

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The Math of Mastery

When it comes to kids and karate, it can be hard to balance this activity with family, school and other extra curricular activities.  As parents, we want our kids to experience as much as possible while they’re young; not only to enrich their lives in general, but to give them a start finding their passions…

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Teen dating violence

Teen dating violence is defined by the CDC as the physical, sexual, psychological or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking.  It can occur in person or electronically and might occur between a current or former dating partner.  According to the annual report in fall of 2015 from http://www.endabusewi.org, 81% of parents don’t think dating…

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What do you have to gain?

One of the many things I love about teaching karate is the vast amount of benefits it can provide.  Regardless of age, size, gender or ability, there is something to be gained, often more than we initially realize.  Whatever your primary goal is, I think we can help you attain that goal and more in…

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Prey

  Imagine for a moment that you are a woman out with her friends at a bar or club. There is a man that keeps interjecting into your conversations trying to get your attention.  You are polite and answer him so as not to be rude, and do it with a smile on your face.…

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What does karate have to do with playing with Legos?

    adults playing with legos karate style My students and their families will tell you I love to use analogies when I teach. (I believe this teaching tool comes from my own Sensei, Kyoshi Brad Wells.  He has some great ones.)  It helps me find a different way to break things down for them…

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Are you well equipped?

When people first meet me, inevitably the question is asked what I do for a living.  My answer of “I teach karate and self-defense” is almost always met with surprise and the statement “I’ve always wanted to take a self-defense class, but just never have”. At a recent social gathering, this same scenario came up…

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Be patient with yourself and others

In the dojo, we have rules called dojo kun. They’re also rules that as martial artists, we try to live by outside of the dojo as well. One of those rules is to “have patience with yourself and others – Kyoshi Brad Wells”. (The irony is that as I sat writing my first draft of…

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