Some views on Martial Art Training in Muncie, Indiana

Which is more different, our art or our philosophy?

The last time that I counted, there were about twelve martial art schools in Muncie. That’s a lot, don’t you think? The purpose of this blog is to tell you what I think of the other schools. There are several ways for me to speak here: as a martial artist, as a business owner, and as a man who wants the people in his town to be happy, healthy and strong. I’ll use all three voices before I’m done.

First, what kinds of martial art schools are there in Muncie? There is traditional Okinawan Karate, American Karate, Korean Tae Kwon Do, American Tae Kwon Do, Jujitsu, and of course Kuk Sool Won.  In addition to Asian martial arts, there are even some people who practice and teach the revived Western Martial Arts of fencing and combat swordsmanship, and of course wrestling is in all of the high schools,  not to mention gymnastics (which began as strength and agility training for Greek martial artists).

Historically, martial art school owners have not been on friendly terms with each other. You may have seen the old kung-fu movies where there are rivalries among different schools and they end up fighting in the streets. That might be an exaggeration of our situation, but it is kind of the way things used to be in Asia. And of course, the different cultures (and countries) have some  prejudice towards each other. By and large, these prejudices are alive and well in the martial art world.

As I mentioned last week, all of the other schools in the area teach arts that are very different from mine in their content. I also mentioned that many (probably the majority) of them focus on tournament competition, and we do not. However, that aside, it may be surprising that I do not consider myself to be in competition with the other martial art schools.  I choose not to compete for the same small “piece of the pie” that martial art school owners typically vie for. My marketing efforts are spent inducing people to look to us for fitness training, family activities, life-lessons, and camaraderie. I do not just focus on those who might be looking for martial art training.

Even so, Muncie has about 66.000 people. If all Asian Martial Art Schools in Muncie had 100 active students in our schools (probably more than any of us have at the moment) then that would be only about 1.8% of the population engaged in martial art training. If that’s the best that we can do as an industry, then we should just pack it in and go work at McDonald’s. No, we have lessons to teach in awareness, fitness, self-defense, compassion, and confidence that everyone can benefit from. I think if we had 25% to 40% of our city’s population (24,000 people) actively training in martial arts, things would turn around drastically in our society.

Questions:

Can that many people train at my school?

No.

Would they all be happy with my marital art and teaching style?

No.

Do I want to personally have 24,000 people as students?

Heck no.

Am I willing to do the work necessary to train that many people if no one else steps up.

Absolutely.

The truth is  that I need the other martial art school owners in town for my vision to be accomplished. Regardless of how they see the situation, they are my allies and I will continue to treat them as such and value their contributions. My conviction and belief is that if we stand together collectively to combat the ills that our society faces, we can teach people to change their lives. If we can put aside the prejudice and bickering that are endemic to martial art practice (and I suppose to humanity as a whole) we can accomplish so much more than one small school by itself.

So, if you like what you read from me, and are interested in training, we’ve just started a ONE FREE MONTH NO-COMMITMENT TRIAL PROGRAM. That’s eight entire classes, free of charge, to see if you like what we do and how we do it. If so, choose a package and sign up. If not though, please take a trial class at another school in the area (they should all have them). There is so much to be gained from martial art training that it would be tragic to choose not to train because you didn’t like the atmosphere or style taught at a particular school.

I have more to say on this subject, but it will have to wait until my next entry. Take care and train hard my friends.

Why “Martial Art” and not “Karate”?

This post may well become Part 1 of a series. I’ll do my best to keep it brief and to-the-point.

The term “martial art” refers to any practice or exercise of warlike nature. This would include: learning empty-handed self-defense (which, as the basis of all martial arts, is sometimes erroneously thought to epitomize martial art training), all sorts of weapons training (historical [sword, spear, club, etc.], and modern [knife, gun, chemical, biological, etc.]), tactics, first aid, recovery,  strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Karate is a specific style of martial art that originated with the people of Okinawa (an island near Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and China.) Being simple people, they didn’t have a warrior class and had to learn to protect themselves. As happens when one culture occupies another, the invaders outlawed weapons and martial training. Farmers and fishermen learned to use their empty hands, feet, and the tools of their trade to defend themselves from the atrocities that armies commit. This martial art style later became embraced by Japan (who had incorporated the Island of Okinawa into their country) and even taught in their schools. There are many different styles of Karate taught in Japan and all over the world, but they have their roots in the basic self-defense of the common people of Okinawa. Even with all the different styles of Karate practiced, that is just one type of Japanese martial art. There are lots more.

As a traditional Korean martial art, Kuk Sool Won includes many of the before mentioned aspects of martial art training. It has a very broad focus and is literally more than just kicking and punching. Under black-belt level (that is, for about the first four years or so of training) Kuk Sool artists focus on empty hand training, strength, flexibility, endurance, and so on. They do begin to learn how to handle a staff (about a six-foot long rod, usually of flexible rattan) as an exercise and to learn how to allow the staff to move around their body. After black-belt, there is more and more time spent learning various traditional weapons including staffs of various lengths, sword, knife, fans, ropes, spears, etc.

To call our art “Karate” is incorrect. The word “karate” has become a generic term for any martial art. While it is true that the basics of kicking and punching are similar, the stylistic differences are huge. It might not be immediately apparent to the casual observer, but to practitioners of either art, it is very obvious. And while it may seem an innocent and harmless mistake, it is probably insulting to practitioners of Karate and Kuk Sool Won alike. Martial artists usually love their respective arts and work to be as good at them as possible. When people don’t take the time to respect that work and either use the name of their art generically or lazily use an incorrect name for their art, you might excuse them for taking some offense.

I used to run a website devoted to giving highlights from all the schools in the area, what their styles were like, and what their teaching styles were like, to give people looking into martial art training the chance to see the different schools compared side by side. Not very many of the other school owners were willing to take part in that attempt however. Still, there is a huge amount of information available online about the different styles that are taught.

If you are looking for a martial art school and the thought of lots of competition interests you, you will probably be unhappy with my school. Shoot me an email though and I can help you find a school that would be a good fit for you.

If you are looking for a school that focuses more on fitness, self-defense, and the science behind martial art training, we might be what you are looking for. Send me an email to set up a time to view a class or join our Trial Membership Class. There are no commitments; if you decide at any time that it’s not for you, we part ways as friends and hopefully you continue training somewhere else.

Next time I’ll talk more about Kuk Sool Won of Muncie and how it differs from some of the other martial art offerings in the area. Hopefully it will help you make a more informed decision about where you will train in the martial arts.

Marketing

One of the jobs of a small business owner is marketing his (or her) business to the public. As with all skills, there are some people who have talent in this area and others that do not. Marketing is not an area in which I have, heretofore, exhibited apparent genius.

However, as with other skills, practice goes a long way toward making one proficient. Lots of exercise, if done correctly and under correct supervision can render incredible results, especially to the untrained individual. The better we become, the more skilled our practice has to become to show results.

Now, the way that marketing usually works is that a business owner conceives a plan and puts it into motion by paying other businesses to talk about (or advertise) his business. This is usually an expensive endeavor and a risky one. Money is paid with no guarantee of return. For instance, the money that I have spent on newspaper advertising lately has been largely wasted. Most people don’t read the newspaper any more. Few look in the phone book, and even fewer, the Yellow Pages. So, business owners are largely turning to online marketing and what is known as “Internal Marketing”.

Internal Marketing is using existing clients and customers to spread the word about a business. That’s what this post is about. I have spent a lot of money using traditional forms of advertising over the years, and none of it does anywhere near as well as word of mouth (a.k.a. Internal Marketing). When my students and their parents care enough about the school to mention it to their friends and families, other than being a HUGE compliment (which it definitely is,) it is good for the school. The more people talking about us and the work that we are doing, the more people will come to want to be a part of that. When this happens, it is sometimes called “Viral Marketing”. The ideas spread from person to person like a virus (but in a good way).

Now, I have very specific goals that I am setting for the growth of the school. My wife and kids have committed to helping me achieve these goals, and I would like the to see a similar commitment from my students. Not for my financial gain, but for the benefit of the school itself.  We don’t need a mansion in which to train. We don’t require luxury training facilities, showers, saunas, espresso machines, etc. What we need is plenty of room to train, ample training equipment, a safe surface on which to fall, separate changing rooms for men, women, and families, separate restrooms, a comfortable viewing area, adequate office space, and a safe parking area. If I had my druthers, I’d like natural light, the ability to allow natural ventilation, a sound system, a video projector, mirrors, a large whiteboard, plants, and a smokin’ hot receptionist. Preferably female.

Just like in society as a whole, when you do things to help your martial art school, YOU reap the benefits too. If every student made it a goal of theirs to bring a new student to the school every four to six months, the school would at least quadruple in size every year! Can you imagine what we could do with that many more students? In addition to saving money on Yellow Pages advertisements and Newspaper ads (which could go back into purchasing equipment for the school) we would have enough tuition income to pay for a large, dedicated facility with all of the amenities that would make martial art training a real pleasure.

So, I’m not going to gamble my money on External Marketing right now. I’m going to spend it on some very nice fliers (which I’m designing at this moment), and I’m going to spend it on my existing students. What I want to offer is one month free tuition for each new (paying) student that you refer to the school. (I do want to encourage more scholarship students, but this post is about making the school financially viable).

I would love to be in a new facility by Seminar Time (the end of June). We can make this happen, but it will take working together as a team, or maybe as a family. It would be very cool to have Kuk Sa Nim participate in a Ribbon Cutting/Grand Opening when he comes through on the Seminar Tour this summer. If you think so too, please help by spreading the word. Use email, Facebook, Twitter, SMS Text, or just plain old talking to people. In a couple of weeks I’ll have some nice fliers, and you can post them in your place of work, church, clubs, schools, neighborhoods, etc.

And if we don’t have enough students to hire a receptionist by then, it’s ok. I’ll get by.

 

Introductory Classes

If there is one thing that my students and I all agree on, it is that we need a new location for our school. Something permanent where we can stretch out, push ourselves, enjoy ourselves, and become the best martial artists that we can be. In order to do this, we simply need more students. Lots of them.

I have decided to utilize some low spots in our schedule to offer extended trial classes to prospective students. Rather than my usual one week No Commitment Introductory Class, I am going to offer a One Month Free Trial Course. This objective of this course will be to introduce new students to the unique martial art system that is Kuk Sool Won, get them used to the way that I, and my instructors teach, and do this without interrupting my existing classes and paying students.

It has been nice to have the Senior Center to practice in. It is a much safer environment than our previous location. Still, the limitations are rather severe. Elbow room is lacking and the floor, even with our padding, is no fun to land on.

To make the most of these classes, I’m asking everyone to tell people about them. Let your friends know that if they ever were interested in trying out martial art classes, now is the time! This will be a mixed class (both children and adults), meeting on Tuesdays and Fridays from 5:30 until 6:15. I plan to run this One Month Free Trial Course all the way through the summer. If we can keep it full (20 students or so) in that time, we will be in our own school in no time.

As always, email me if you have questions or suggestions. I have some business cards that you can pass out to people if you would like. Next week I will have fliers for you to post in your work, church, and schools. If you find yourself uncomfortable recommending us to your friends and family, maybe you could visit our Facebook Page and write a recommendation for us there.

 

Primal Eating – Week Three Recap

Week three was an atypical week for me. It was spent travelling, staying in hotels, and in day-long workshops. My diet was not perfect, but not horrible either.

I had several deviations, some of necessity, others of weakness. I had pizza twice, and I thoroughly enjoyed it both times. Both times were after long marathon sessions on the road. I needed something relatively quick and easy to eat, and the pizza was delicious. I ate the crust without thinking.

One deviation was simply a dinner roll. I was eating a huge meal of Texas BBQ and vegetables with water to drink and succumbed to the temptation of yeasty goodness. Just once though.

I had a couple Guinness one night, and, the big no-no, a breakfast of danish from a truckstop on the road.

All told, I ate in several different restaurants and found it relatively easy to accommodate my Primal preferences. The hardest was in the Chinese restaurant. The easiest was in a steak house.

Perhaps due to the training and residual swelling of my joints (not to mention my poor sunburned face,) I had no weight loss this week. I will be interested to see how this rebounds next week though. The extra training should burn more calories and result in fat loss (one would assume).

All in all, I had loads of energy for the training last weekend. I never felt tired or “shaky” from low blood sugar. The only cravings I had were due to being in truckstops and gas stations and around the junk food that they are filled with. I need to prepare myself better for those temptations and have high quality snacks and meals ready so that resorting to those lower quality choices will have less appeal.

Primal Eating – Week Two Recap

Things are easier and harder.

Good news: Most of the craving is gone. As I get farther (or is it further) away from a lifestyle of ingesting grains and sugars, the cravings for them are becoming less and less. I think that I am beating most of the addictions to them that I had. Bowls full of cereal, pies, doughnuts, even ice cream are not the temptations that they were last week.  I would be hard pressed to turn down a big cinnamon roll if I were face-to-face with one, but hopefully my discipline would win out over my salivating gluttony.

Bad news: It takes a bit or work to plan every meal. I got stuck once this week and either had to eat pizza or go hungry. I’m not to the point where I could cheerfully do that, so I ordered pizza with double all the vegetable toppings and light sauce (commercial sauces are loaded with sugar). I didn’t eat the big crust pieces at the edge. Making the best of your situation and eating the food at hand is, I think, in the best spirit of the Paleo Lifestyle. Most of the time I’ve been doing very well keeping on track.

The morning after my pizza indiscretion I had another one of those weird pulsing headaches on the left side of my head. But just the one. The wife gave me a cookie this morning (from the last package of her Valentine’s Present) and I had a huge headache all day, but I don’t think the two were related. My head felt fuzzy when I woke up.

One thing that I forgot to mention last week was the acne. Almost as soon as I stopped eating grains and sugars my face started breaking out. It seems to have finally cleared up this last day or two. I wonder if that could be caused by the stress of diet change rather than the body “purging toxins” as some of the more esoteric foodies believe.

I was hungry last night before bed. I dipped some carrots in cashew butter while I finished the work that I wanted to get done. It was filling and quite yummy! I made beef jerky for my trip to Houston this week. There’s not as much of it as I wanted, but it should be good. I used orange zest instead of red pepper flakes. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

My friend Daniel has been eating this way for some time now and shared a wonderful recipe with me. The family agrees that it should become a traditional weekend breakfast for us. It is Walnut Pancakes made with no flour and no sugar. There are eggs and a bit of honey and of course, walnuts. I’ll share the recipe with whoever wants it.

As usually happens with dietary changes, I have lost weight; more the first week than this week, but I’m still losing. My clothes fit a bit more loosely around the middle. More than that though, it looks to me like my kids are slimming down. I’m really glad about that. I can endure a lot if it means that they are healthier.

The next week I am away from home the entire week! There will be more fruit this week, I know that for certain. Other than that, I hope to stay away from sweets entirely and bread, mostly.

Let me know if you are interested in anything specific or would like more information.

Primal Eating – Week One Recap

First, just a quick description of what I, my family, and some others in the school are choosing to do with our diet. It is called eating “Primally”. There is a huge movement right now about eating a Paleolithic Diet – that is eating like our ancestors. They lived, thrived even, on a diet of meat and vegetables with no grains to speak of and very little fruit. There is lots of evidence to suggest that they lived very long and vigorous lives on this diet. There is also lots of evidence to show that as societies depend more and more on a grain-based diet, its members get sicker and fatter (and, dare I say it, more degenerate and dependent). The difference between strict “paleo” eating and what I’m doing is that I’m eating a little bit of dairy (for several reasons), having occasional bits of very dark chocolate as an indulgence, and maybe even some red wine occasionally. My wife and kids are finishing the last of the grains that we have in the house (gradually, not all at once) so as not to waste them. I’m using most of the guidelines from MarksDailyApple.com. He calls his diet “Primal” rather than “Paleo”.

I started Monday with fruit. It is higher in carbs than I really want, but I wanted the “cleansing” effects that it offers. I snacked on nuts and dried fruits through the day. Dinner was not ridiculously low carb, but was still primal. Wound up with over 100 carbs for the day. Not low, but a LOT lower than my old way of eating.

The next two days I restricted my carbs a lot. That’s not really the point of paleo (or more accurately “primal”) eating, but I really want to get my blood sugar down and get my body chemistry changed quickly. I don’t know if the process can be rushed or not, I just don’t want to have mood swings and metabolic issues while training in Houston at the end of the month. So Tuesday I consumed less than 30 grams of carbs and about the same Wednesday. I honestly didn’t keep track the rest of the week, but it was probably a lot less than 50 per day.

I had regular headaches most of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I also had strange little piercing waves of pain through the right side of my head later in the week, say from Wednesday through Friday. These were disorienting and very painful, but only lasted for two seconds or so.

My mood wasn’t as bad as I expected the early part of the week (especially considering that I was working on my van most of the time). I didn’t feel like doing much training though. By the end of the week my energy was WAY up. Friday I trained more than I have in a long time, working on strength training with my classes, “rememberizing” self-defense techniques I haven’t worked on in a while, and working on forms practice.

I had to be up very late on Saturday and was amazed at how high my energy stayed, even though I ate very little. My focus was very good and my mood was elevated, even buoyant (if that word even describes me). I stopped by Qdoba about 4:30 and got a “Naked Burrito” (made in a bowl with no tortilla) with no beans or rice, double meat, lots of veggies, salsa, sour cream, double guacamole and green tea to drink. After I ate, I could still feel that my blood sugar was low, but unlike the panicky feeling this generated early in the week, it is starting to make me feel energized and happy. Weird.

I deviated just a little bit on Sunday. I bought some Welsh Cookies for the wife for Valentine’s Day. She offered me one in the afternoon as we were getting ready to go out to dinner and a movie. Just fifteen minutes after that cookie, I had one of those weird headache “pulses”, only this time on my left side. I had four more cookies during the movie and a large bar of dark chocolate in the evening when I got home. The headaches repeated maybe four or five more times.

As I was relaxing in the evening, the craving for more cookies was ridiculous! Krystal offered me some, but thankfully I refused. We’ll see how things go this week. I’m still planning to restrict carbs quite a bit. I’m also going to use Kristofer’s keto-sticks just to see if my body is spilling ketones (a metabolic “trick” of Dr. Atkins to determine whether fat burning was taking place rather than just sugar burning.)

I’ll post on this subject weekly. I don’t know if I’ll post my weight or not, as that’s not really what this is about. My goals are to make my body healthier, less fat, same muscle, gain strength, gain flexibility, get ready for Third Degree Testing, and train for the silly Spartan Race that I promised to do. I think my weight will come down without really worrying about it, but I suppose it is a valid measurement to use. We’ll see.