Thursday, October 29, 2009

Think about what you would do

In my seminars I refer to an incident in New York with a woman named Kitty Genovese in which 50  bystanders watched her killed and did nothing. Here's a similar story with input from sociologists.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Manchester seminars

The 25th anniversary celebration of the founding of Steve White's studio in Manchester, NH was well-attended and tons of fun. The right photo, from left, shows Goju-ryu 10th degree Richie Bernard, Steve White, Francis Rene of New Orleans, myself and Don MacKay.
Hanshi Bernard was there to teach elments of traditional Japanese Goju with his first teacher, Kyoshi Ronnie Martin of Pennsylvania. Their time slot was chock-full of good information on fighting strategy. Steve White did an excellent seminar on kenpo takedowns that was followed by one of Olympic judo competitor Jimmy Pedro's black belts, the dynamic Ms. Chandler, covering ground work. Jim Peacock did a seminar on his new nunchaku program in a well-thought-out presentation. I wrapped up the day with teaching the Spear Set to the group, the first time ever since I learned it many years ago.
Mr. Rene thought a birthday couldn't happen without a present and Mr. White was given a ring with his school crest on it. The ring was done by our own Brad Congress of Bradley's Fine Jeweler's here in Ft. Myers.
   At a small gathering in Steve's home later that evening I was able to sit and talk with Mr. Martin, who was one of the best known tournament fighters in the US back in the 60s and 70s. We knew many of the same people and traded stories. It was great to have the opportunity to meet and talk with him. I caught up with Don MacKay as well. I met Don way back in the early 80s and he was instrumental in connecting Steve and myself.
   Congrats to MKS!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Congrats to Steve White

I'm off to Manchester, New Hampshire this weekend to participate in the 25th anniversay of Steve White's Manchester Karate Studio. I'm on the seminar staff for the event along with other excellent instructors. I'd met Steve back when his school was new and he was still working his regular job. He made the decision to go full-time back then and his school has been very successful. He is a model for achieving one's goals.
Once again, congratulation to Mr. White, his staff and students on 25 years!

Please help

Jim Peacock's Mt. Vernon, NH studio are holding an event to benefit the Cates family. The mother and her daughter were attacked in their home early one morning recently and the mother was murdered. The father was away on business. The daughter is a junior black belt under Mr. Peacock and they attribute her survival to her kenpo training.
You can contact Jim Peacock to contribute at the number below (it's a 603 area code) or  by e-mail at
Take a look at this, too.

The Mont Vernon Karate Studio Is Sponsoring a Penny Sale Fundraiser to Benefit The Cates Family
Saturday, November 7th at the Mont Vernon Village School.
Doors open at 5:00 - Drawings start at 7:00

We have LOTS of great prizes to raffle already, but we need MORE! Make your personal or business contribution today! Call the Mont Vernon Karate Studio at 603-672 - 3570 for more info.

All proceeds go directly to the Cates family

“ Never Give Up! “

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I was over at Marc Sigle's school in Esslingen last week. Marc's school is "smoking". He's got many students and the place is packed every time I've been there. I taught some classes and I think everyone enjoyed them, I know I did. Thomas Kozitsky was down from the Dusseldorf area, too. Always good to see him.
   Marc took me over to the Porsche auto museum on Friday. That was a treat to see the first cars they made, the race cars and the one-offs. If you get to Stuttgart check out the porsche and Mercedes museums, they're worth a look even if you're not particularly into cars.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Juggling Shown to Change Wiring of the Brain

October 14, 2009 07:00 AM

by Denis Cummings

An Oxford University study has found that practicing a task such as juggling can alter the structure of the brain, indicating that the plasticity of the brain is greater than previously believed.Juggling Increases White Matter
Researchers tested the brains of 48 volunteers, half of whom were given weekly juggling lessons for six weeks. At the end of that period, their brains were tested again. Those who had juggled—regardless of whether they had become good jugglers—had a 5 percent increase in their brains’ white matter, the nerve strands that connect different parts of the brain. Those who hadn’t juggled had little change.

Previous studies have found that juggling and other mind tasks—such as cabbies memorizing the streets of London—increased the amount of grey matter, the portion of the brain that contains neurons. This is the first study to find that white matter is affected.

Lead researcher Dr. Heidi Johansen-Berg said that the research shows “the structure of the brain is ripe for change.” It raises hope that scientists can design treatments to improve brain function for those with dementia or neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

“Knowing that pathways in the brain can be enhanced may be significant in the long run in coming up with new treatments for neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, where these pathways become degraded,” said Johansen-Berg.
The study, “Training induces changes in white-matter architecture,” is published in Nature Neuroscience.

Background: Strengthening the brain
The Oxford study also found that the white matter of the jugglers did not change and the grey matter did not decrease after four weeks of not juggling. This finding conflicts with a German study released in 2004 that found the amount of grey matter produced by juggling had decreased after three months.
“The brain is like a muscle, we need to exercise it,” said Dr. Arne May, lead researcher of the German study.
There have been studies showing that games and puzzles such as Brain Age and Sudoku keep brains healthy and improve mental skills. Several studies have had promising results giving brain games to the elderly, people with forms of dementia and children with ADHD.
However, the findings on brain training can be misleading, according to Dr. Adrian Owen of the BBC’s Lab UK, who writes that many studies aren’t peer-reviewed, and don’t have a proper control group. He also says that brain imaging, which was used in the Oxford and German juggling studies, “only shows how hard the brain is working, rather than how effective the training is.”

Lab UK is organizing an experiment, called “Brain Test Britain,” that allows Internet users to take online brainteaser tests, use brain training games for at least 6 weeks, and then take the tests again to see if there is an improvement. The study will run for the next year and be published in 2011.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Reasons For Positive School Growth

My last post asked for feedback on why your school may be doing better in this recession. Tony Perez in Australia responded. You may not think it is relevant to you in the US but Australia is feeling the effects of the global recession.

1. Positioning. The market placement I take is that I offer a character education and life skills program with the framework of one of the most comprehensive martial arts around - Kenpo.

I promote my belief that Kenpo is a paradigm for life. Just like going to school, we teach one how to think, not what to think. One of our goals is congruent actions. Defending yourself in physical ways, by getting a good education, taking care of your physical body, paying your commitments on time, completing home work assignments for school, etc. would be examples of the congruence, or consistency, a martial artist tries to develop.
2. Thorough student pre interview. My wife Leah takes care of this mostly-(she' s the brains and the beauty of the outfit)-where we endeavour to pre qualify potential students by assertaining their background, wants, needs and desires / outcomes of their training. At the same time to explain to them that what we offer is not a hobby martial art, to show how we integrate it with school or work life.
3. Seek commitment. We don't accept casual students. We sign all our team members up to a 12 month program with the reasoning that this offers win/win. At the end of their initial 12 months should they decide to move on at least they are moving on with some physical, emotional and problem solving skills and I haven't wasted my time and other students time with someone who is here one week and not the next. We only use a Direct Debit Tuition Billing Co. to handle this part of the operation - that's their skill, not mine.
4. We are a school not a club. A school is where an education takes place whereas a club is a simply a place to hang out. Schools have consistent rules, standards and a module and competency curriculum.
5. Treat your training partner well. Just like you would your friends, colleagues, parents, mentors, etc.
6. Open door policy. I work hard to network with the families of all my students and I try to acknowldege their achievements outside of Kenpo. This lets them know that I care about them as people not just as a source of income. I try to make everyone feel welcome, valued and respected.
7. Be prepared to say "NO". I 've worked hard to build a positive, nuturing environment and gained the respect of our local community and I'm not prepared to introduce a "bad apple" that may spoil this culture. I have often directed people to other schools. And guess what? - many have come back.
8. Know my niche. I don't try to be all things to all people. As far as the kids go, I'm not a child minding service and as for adults I'm not into creating rock - em , sock - em robots. Do I possibly miss out on students here? Maybe, but I'm confortable with that.
9. Be professional, think professional, act professional. Everyting we strive to do is professional - from presentation and appearence through to communication and qualification. I'm just completing my Diploma in Sports Coaching and Administration (specialization martial arts) which is the highest educational qualification (not certification) recognised by our Dept. of Education and the Sport and Recreation Industry here in Australia.
10. Value your worth. If you don't belief in the value of what you have to offer then nobody else will believe you either. I operate in a local community of some 25,000 people. Servicing this we have 3 x TKD schools; 2 x Kung Fu schools; 2 x traditional Karate schools and lord knows how many MMA places. My tuition fees are the highest yet I have the highest student retention rate. Most of these other places having a revolving front door. I try really hard to get the right people in the front door and then I don't have to work harder to keep them from working out the back door. We explain to people that their tuition fees are not like buying something at a shop on impulse. We have all suffered from "buyers remorse" I'm sure when the novelty of the initial purchase wears off soon after walking out of the shop. I tell people that they are investing in a better future for themsleves or their children and that like any investment, the full value of which will only be realised over time.
11. Thank people. It's easy to take students for granted so I try to make sure that I regularly and sincerely thank them for sharing their journey with me.
12. Never forget what it was like to be a white belt. Enough said
13. Be consistent. I've made many, many mistakes along the way. I've been disappointed and let down by students and colleaques alike - but that is life. The only time you fail is the last time you try.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Latest poll results

The latest poll here asked how your school was doing in the recession. Interesting that the majority said their schools/clubs were doing better. If you would, please e-mail me at with the reasons why. I'm sure those who said their school was doing worse or the same would like to know what they can do. Thanks.

Cadet Serena Wedlake promoted

My niece, Serena, was recently promoted to Cadet Lt. Colonel in the Civil Air Patrol. She is a member of the Charlotte County Composite Squadron. Her commander, Major Jim Kaletta, is on the right. Serena was also recently named to the National Cadet Advisory Committee at the CAP National Conference in San Antonio. She's expected to acheive their Spaatz award this year, the highest a CAP acdet can earn. I don't know what's after that, except maybe world domination.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ed Parker video

Phil Buck in England sent this. It was done about the time I was training with Mr. Parker and his patter was frequently used in seminars. Nice to watch.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Right off his sleeve

Greg Schreffler is one of our Atlanta area black belts, trained by Robert Ray. When 9/11 happened Greg got so motivated he joined the National Guard - at the age of, I believe, 35. He was the oldest guy in boot camp. Greg has been shipped to Georgia and Afghanistan, where he is now serving. There's a symmetry to that, a Georgia boy going to Georgia in Asia.
Like some other military I've trained in the past, he sent me a unit patch. It came right off his uniform, and that means a lot.

The new website

Yes, it's actually on its way. Tom Fanelli in California has got much of the content moved and built a new look for us. The address remains the same.

Friday, October 2, 2009

From Steven Oliver

Mixed Up Martial Arts

I just returned from Washington, DC. While there I attended a NASKA World Tour tournament (The U.S. Capital Classics) met with about 25 school owners representing around 5,000 students, and then met several times with my instructor Grand Master Jhoon Rhee.
Meeting with Jhoon Rhee and my other events during my quick trip reminds me of several important aspects of martial arts instruction in 2009 and beyond.
One of my favorite Jhoon Rhee quotes is "Martial Arts without Philosophy is Just Street Fighting." Now, he's obviously a visionary and at times out of sync with where things exist currently in the martial arts community due to focusing on where how he sees the future unfolding.
We discussed his development of Musical Forms (Martial Ballet.) He explained that in the 1960's he foresaw that martial arts "fighting" would no longer be necessary in the future but rather to preserve
martial arts the "art" must be preserved over the "martial." He then explained that his concept was 100% congruent with our American Founding fathers and with the true purpose of human evolution.
Quickly as he saw my skepticism he pulled out a manuscript of his soon to be published biography and pointed out this quote: "I must study politics and war, that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, natural history and naval architecture, in order to give their children a
right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, tapestry,and porcelain." John Adams quotes (American 2nd US President (1797-1801), 1735-1826)
Now, that's really interesting. To me it seems that in the 1970's and 1980's most martial arts
 instructors had come around to Grand Master Rhee's way of thinking.We practiced the "DO" arts to facilitate personal development. The movie "The Karate Kid" shared principles and values that were
clear about developing discipline and confidence and avoiding violence. To my great disappointment it seems that many practitioners and instructors have lost sight of what Grand Master Rhee keeps clearly
in focus. Martial Arts Practice today for the vast majority should be purely about personal development. Clearly our armed forces and police need effective fighting technique, but frankly that's more often
about modern weapons not about unarmed combat (hopefully.) And, if you don't want to take Jhoon Rhee's word for it (or even John Adams) how about another kick-boxing and point-fighting legend Joe Lewis? He's perhaps the ultimate "old-school" tough guy still training students throughout the world. What's he have to say?
 In one aspect of what is called "martial arts," the MMA stuff, many black belts come across as heavily tattooed, cartoon looking hoodlums, who respect violence and feel free to curse and to exercise degradation
against others on national TV. The media has gone from completely ignoring us in the early sixties to seemingly only granting visibility to those who believe that it's in vogue to condone violence, and/or that it
is okay to send kids the message that adults accept the use of violence as a means to resolve problems. This is not the message that parents in martial arts wish to have their kids taught to value or with which to have
them exposed. Just as "Pro Wrestling" is not real wrestling, in a way, perhaps MMA is not real martial arts.
Violence by definition is a "loss of self-control." Martial arts teaches self-control; therefore martial arts is not violent-people are. Guns (for the gun control freaks) do not kill others-bullets do.We need to wake up-black belts are leaving the martial arts in droves. We need to revalidate and grant dignity to the meaning of the old definition of what is a black belt. Either it does not mean anything any longer (in this fanatical M.A. marketing atmosphere) or it has become the finish line which determines at what point in ones journey does he call it quits. SAD!
 Joe Lewis

It's vital to recognize that Martial Arts Training is always about developing high quality physical skills. It's about fitness and self-defense. However, those mostly arise from the mental and emotional development
that goes with rigorous practice of martial arts. And, to add another point that Joe Lewis makes. The first, second, or  third degree Black Belt must be a starting point for personal development. Just as a high school diploma should be a start to one's learning through life. For a beginning student achieving Black Belt is an appropriate early "bench-mark" to beginning quality personal development for life. It's not an end in itself.
Quality schools will (and, do) constantly expand and enhance the definition of what a Black Belt (and, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Degree Black Belt) is and must attain. Marketing for Martial Arts schools should be about
attracting quality students - never about watering down the achievement and recognition of students and never about lowering standards of excellence.
Stephen Oliver, MBA
8th Degree Black Belt

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The doctor is in

This was dug up by Dr. Rowe. It is about how tai chi can help diabetes.
UF study: Tai chi can help people with diabetes lower glucose levels

Filed under Health, Research on Wednesday, September 30, 2009.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A regular tai chi exercise program can help people better control their diabetes and lower glucose levels, according to a University of Florida study.
In a study of adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, those who participated in a supervised tai chi exercise program two days a week with three days of home practice for six months significantly lowered their fasting blood glucose levels, improved their management of the disease, and enhanced their overall quality of life, including mental health, vitality and energy.
“Tai chi really has similar effects as other aerobic exercises on diabetic control. The difference is tai chi is a low-impact exercise, which means that it’s less stressful on the bones, joints and muscles than more strenuous exercise,” said Beverly Roberts, the Annabel Davis Jenks endowed professor at the UF College of Nursing.
Roberts, with Rhayun Song, of Chungnam National University, studied tai chi’s effect on older Korean residents. The research was featured in the June issue of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
About 23.6 million children and adults in the United States, or 7.8 percent of the population, have diabetes. It occurs when the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.
Risk factors include obesity, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, high blood pressure and cholesterol, a history of gestational diabetes and increased age, many of which can be reduced through exercise.
“People assume that for exercise to be beneficial you have to be huffing and puffing, sweating and red-faced afterward,” Roberts said. “This may turn people off, particularly older adults. However, we have found that activities like tai chi can be just as beneficial in improving health.”
Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that combines deep breathing and relaxation with slow, gentle circular movements. This low impact exercise uses shifts in body position and stepping in coordination with arm movements.
Sixty-two participants, mostly Korean women, took part in the study. Half the group participated in at least 80 percent of two supervised sessions one hour per week, with three days of home practice for six months, and the other half served as a control group. Those who completed the sessions had significantly improved glucose control and reported higher levels of vitality and energy.
“Those who participated in the tai chi sessions actually had lower blood glucose at three and six months,” Roberts said. “Those individuals also had lower hemoglobin A1c, which means they had better diabetic control.”
In addition to improved blood glucose levels, participants also reported significantly improved mental health. This was very encouraging especially since people with less depression are typically more active and independent, Roberts said.
Tai chi has also been used for people with arthritis and disabilities to increase balance, muscle strength and mobility and to reduce the risk of falls. It is worth investigating its effects in other conditions, especially in older people, Roberts said.
“Tai chi provides a great alternative for people who may want the benefits of exercise on diabetic control but may be physically unable to complete strenuous activities due to age, condition or injury,” Roberts said. “Future studies could examine if tai chi could similarly benefit conditions such as osteoporosis or heart disease.”
Since tai chi is an exercise that involves so many parts of the body and also helps to relax the mind, it is more likely participants will adhere to the exercise, said Paul Lam, a lecturer with the University of South Wales School of Public Health and Community Medicine and a practicing family physician in Sydney, Australia.
“This study shows that tai chi can have a significant effect on the management and treatment of diabetes — a significant and growing health challenge for all Western countries,” Lam said.

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Multimedia: UF study: Tai chi can help people with diabetes lower glucose levels
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