image of action figure of Bruce Lee

Seventy-percent of the people who start martial arts training is because they feel weak or have the need to be strong. If somebody feels strong and confident they don’t feel the need for martial arts. There are a lot of reasons why people start training, but it’s typically because they’re struggling with their weakness. Your self defense instructor might not want you to know – that if somebody doesn’t think they’re weak they typically won’t start martial arts training in the first place.

Struggling with Weakness

And guess what, chances are, that your instructor probably started off needing this training that he or she gained from martial arts. Your martial art instructor might have been bullied by people when he/she were young or maybe felt insecure/inferior in some way or another. Same goes with me, I was bullied when I was younger by my brother and by the people at school, and one day I just got tired of it and I said enough is enough.

There’s a Japanese saying that goes like this “he who must prove how good he is, is unsure himself.” That might have been my case when I was a kid. But not anymore. I haven’t been in a street fight for 21 years and I’ve been doing martial arts for 22 years. I’ve been in a sanctioned mixed martial arts fight, sanctioned boxing, and sanctioned grappling tournaments. I’ve done some real fighting, but haven’t had a real fight because I haven’t done anything worth fighting for, since then.

I thought it wouldn’t be worth it if I or my opponent goes to jail. Although the other guy might probably end up going to the hospital or might even die. If I would have to fight, the only reason would be a life or death situation. Life or death situations is something that you can avoid or get out of. I don’t fight for the sake of fighting or hurting people just to prove anything or just to feel better about myself.


So I want you guys to be aware that some martial art instructors are abusive in different ways.

If you come up to a martial art instructor and he’s got an attitude or he has something to prove or he’s very aggressive towards people, then he’s a bully.  And what he’s done now is the reversed roles. That kind of instructor was most likely been bullied before and then he found the power and now he believes that he can bully others. You have to be careful and avoid these kind of instructors.

So just watch out – if your instructor typically hurts students, someday he’s going to hurt you. But also understand that there a lot of instructors that spar with their students. I spar with all my students because I know I have the control. If the instructor is just very aggressive and mean beyond any reason, you can just walk out. People like that, once they don’t find value in you, they’ll turn on you.

I highly suggest that you find a good and wise martial art instructor.

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Image of two girls performing martial arts

Which martial art is the best martial art? We need to consider a couple of things before deciding which martial art is the best martial art.

Know your Purpose

So first and foremost what is your purpose for practicing the martial art? Is it to defend yourself in the streets or to go out in the ring and win matches?

If you’re going to use it on the streets, it should be something that is more close range and that has a lot of hitting mainly because wrestling on the street, or grappling is actually a better word for it, is not safe because your enemy may have a knife or they could be stronger or heavier than you. There’s no weight class when battling on the street. So a martial arts that focuses on hitting and joint locks and lots of joint manipulation, especially small joint manipulation is key for a good martial art that is suitable for the streets!

If you’re going to go for the ring, you can choose any martial art that you want to choose based on your preferences. For example, if you’re a hitting person like me then go for western boxing. And if you’re grappling a person then go for something like wrestling or jujitsu. So that’s kind of up to you, you know?

Things to Consider

First things first, practice makes perfect. So even if you’re doing the best martial art out there that is created by aliens, if you are not practicing hard enough then you’re not going to be any better than someone who doesn’t study martial arts at all. So practice, practice, practice!

Another thing to keep in mind is that quantity is not always good, so just practicing three times a day for 6 days is not good because you also need to recover; your neurons need to learn the movement patterns, stuff like that.

Something I get a lot is “Is boxing or kung fu better?” Well it depends, whoever practices more will win. Of course there are some advantages to both martial arts.  For example, a boxer would be better with angles, a kung fu guy would be better with kicks and different fist strikes and different joint manipulations.

Another thing to consider is ranges. You’ll need a martial art for each range. So there is a kicking range, a punching range, elbow and knee range, grappling range, and ground fighting range.

When it comes to kicks there’s no better martial arts better than Kung Fu types and taekwondo. Also lots of Muay Thai, American style kickboxing and French kickboxing. So practice a combination of these.

For the punching range there’s no better punching sport than boxing. Practice your jabs, your crosses, your hooks, upper cuts, your hooks to the body, body shots, everything. Also learning some type of Kung Fu is going to help you because they have all kinds of fist strikes.

Practicing using your elbows and knees are going to help you in close range battles tremendously because when someone is trying to stab you with a knife and comes close to you and you can’t kick them the only option is to elbow them. By protecting your body at the same time or knee them in the groin because that’s the safest option.

For the grappling range, which is when someone really gets close to you and tries to throw you to the ground or tries to get you into a joint lock, Brazilian jujitsu and wrestling are really good for these types of situations. Other than that you could also use Judo for throws because if you are good at throws then you’re going to devastate your opponent and just break them.

In Conclusion

To put this all together the idea is that you will create a new type of mixed martial art of your own. There’s a quote from Bruce that says “absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.” So if you take that advice, you will learn martial art skills that will be best suited for you that can be used on the street.


Image of martial arts school

Have you been asking how you should choose a martial arts school? That’s a great question. It comes up a lot. I think you need a mixture of everything. A good foundation in self defense and a good understanding of how people will attack you. I also think that you need a long term view on your martial arts. Your martial art has to be of some benefit to you in the long term that doesn’t have anything to do with conflict because you may never ever use your martial law for conflict in which case why would you invest all of that time into training in the first place.

Where to Start

The first thing that we’re looking for is a school that’s somewhere relatively local. There’s no point in having a great school if you’re not going to be able to get there and if you’ll not be able to maintain it. Becoming good at martial arts isn’t an overnight thing, it takes time.

The Right School For You

The next thing I’d be looking for is some nice people. Sometimes people running schools just aren’t nice people at all. They enjoy inflicting pain on you making things as uncomfortable for you as possible. When I first started my Aikido training there was a guy that was training with us. He would come into our class and he would have bruises. And I’d say “What’s that about?”  In some respects when you do your martial arts training it is good to shake you up.

Some mistakes I made when I first started training – I was so enthusiastic and I was running all over the place I was having to wake up at 6 AM. I burned myself out in the first 2 years. If you’ve read our previous posts you know that we advocate a mixture. I’m not really too interested in mixed martial arts because mixed martial arts is solely designed for kicking people up. I ain’t really interested in kicking people up. The way to get around that problem is to start off with one martial art. Once you’ve been there for maybe one or two years, start to think about training in another school. And always remember this is your training, this is your life, make sure that you are happy with your training. It’s the most important thing. If you are unhappy then it’s a frickin’ waste of time!

Go to Training

The things to watch out for, if you are not looking forward going to training. It should be a pleasure, you should be missing the people, you should be enthusiastic. If you are hesitant or have a feeling of dread, this isn’t the right school for you.

If your instructor or your teacher is afraid of you seeing other martial arts and they’re afraid that you might leave, then this isn’t the right school. The teacher should be relaxed. Teachers should be okay and happy that you’re exploring.

You can also learn different martial arts on our training center


Keeping the Awards Interesting

Here’s an idea to help with motivation, and help with retention for Karate Instructors. You can pass out martial arts certificates based on random things or specific things like “the best listener of the day”. Another award might be “the best kicker of the day”. There are a variety of options when you use your creative mind. This kind of change of the patterns of the class gives instant gratification as students are earning their belts.

Other ones might be for kids that are just “excited to be here”. For some of the credit kids that maybe aren’t athletic and struggling to get awards and are overlooked, you can provide mini-prizes to keep them engaged.

You can also create a “best ‘blank’-of-the-day”, but you could do punch or you could do striker, best yell of the day, etc.  You could also use a concept like rope skipping.  We do rope skipping and I have that’s a jump rope that has no middle and with the best or most 30 seconds of jump roping.

Use Stickers on Your Awards

At one time, I had off site locations so you could list them all on one certificate. Pass out stickers for the kids to put on their certificates; maybe one, two or three stickers to customize it and make her/him look and feel part of the cool groups.

The students used to stick them on their shirt — and I made them stick them on the paper because it usually will stay. I find if I say, “Hey guys we’re going to pass out this best kicker of the day certificate at the end of the class”, I’m gonna see who’s got the best kicks for the day. Or who’s going to be an all star for today.

It’s one of the things that I found that really motivates a lot of the kids – and they’ll perform at higher levels than you even expected – its like “wow they’re really working hard for that!” It gives them some self esteem, it helps them with their spatial awareness, etc.

Another one we put stickers on is “other things you can do”. Yes like I said you can incorporate your school curriculums. For a hi-tech folks out there, you could put a QR code right on the certificate and then their mom or dad could scan it with their smartphone and you could take him to whatever page you want– whether it’s a video of the class or picture of the class or your enrollment page.  You know could you be creative on that tip.

Leave Placeholders to Place Kid’s Faces on Awards

Other things that I found that works really well in addition to the stickers, is putting your name on it.   You have parents sign a release where you can take pictures and photos what I would do it my next location is free do the certificates what the pictures of the kids are so for example let’s say this was an actual face of a kid.  You would have a blank space that they would say “best ‘blank’-of-the-day” and then have five blank certificates already printed up with her/his picture on it.  I guarantee you, if his or her pictures on the certificate they’re gonna keep it, they’re going to treasure it. You can also change the borders of the certificate- — some don’t have borders and some have borders.

What I found, kids that get the outstanding student once, they seem to always get outstanding ones so they’re good. Let her/him know that they’re good, but kind of change up to certificates. Change up the borders, and colors of the certificates.  Hopefully these tips help you generate your own ideas for helping retention in your school!

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