Dealing with Injury

As my students know, a few months ago I suffered a major ankle injury while competing in an obstacle course race. I suffered a level three sprain (which in this case is worse than a break), along with two torn ligaments that required surgery. It has put me in the injured list, preventing me from running, sparring, certain exercises at the gym, and pretty much anything with the martial arts. Wait, cancel that last one…

There’s no doubt injury will slow us down, particularly as we get older. Whether the injury occurs in the dojo (it should be noted I’m incredibly proud of my safety record in my 20+ years teaching), on the sports field, or gardening (one of my students told me...

Importance of Hydration

As I drove to my office a bit ago, I noticed the outside temperature on the thermometer on my dashboard. It read 104, and that’s only supposed to go up in the next few days! On days like these, keeping your body properly hydrated is crucial! Even mild dehydration can cause headaches, sleepiness, heat stroke, urination and kidney issues, and even seizures. Chronic dehydration can lead to dozens of medical issues, ranging from simple fatigue to fatal cardiac issues.

The “eight and eight” rule is good to remember. It simply means to drink eight, eight ounce glasses of water per day. However, this may vary depending on several factors including your health, size, activity level,...

The MMA Craze

Several years ago, while the mixed martial arts (MMA) craze was at it’s height, an MMA dojo opened next to the gym I go to. Naturally, when I go to the gym, I wear my United Studios of Self Defense shirt to represent the dojo, and understandably, members of the MMA school wore their logos as well, so their students were easy to identify.

I met the owner of the school a few times, and he seemed nice enough. He trained with Chuck Liddell, a well-known MMA fighter and a legend in the industry, so when the school opened he made an appearance to sign autographs, take photos, and conducted a training session. Within a couple months, the school was packed, likely making a significant profit in...

Women's Self Defense

It seems only appropriate that on International Women’s Day, today’s blog entry focuses on women’s self defense. When I started martial arts back in the early 90’s, martial arts was mostly something only boys and men did. In fact, the disparity was close to 90% men! That would occasionally be skewed by some of the pioneer women in our industry like Linda Tomasello at our school in Belmont, or Gina Pinpin at our school in Foster City, who naturally would attract more female students, but even at those schools, it was still mostly men.

I am SO happy to report, that today there is very little disparity, especially at USSD, as it’s close to 50/50, and it’s not ...

When To Use It

First off, sorry for the delay in updating here. That flu that has been going around is not fun, and even looking at a computer screen for more than a minute made me sick!

With that out of the way, let’s talk about a common question, and that’s when to use your skills! I tell my students to try and talk your way out of a fight whenever you can. Use your wit, your sense of humor, any ability to reason with the person prior to the first punch being thrown. One thing I tell my students, especially kids, that isn’t always popular with some parents, is to never run from a fight though. The reason is simple, if you run from a fight, you might as well paint a giant bullseye on your...

How Many is too Many?

Recently a dojo opened across town here in Livermore. I knew about where it was, but didn’t have any desire to see them or know exactly where they are. I have enough things of my own to deal with without worrying about what others are doing. A few days ago some friends wanted to get dinner at a new place, and as it happens it was next to that new dojo. As I looked at their storefront here’s how it read: Karate/Kung Fu/Tae Kwon Do/Krav Maga/Boxing/Judo/Jiu-Jitsu/Aikido/Dance/Ballet/Cheer/Yoga. If you’re counting, that’s 12 different things.

Being the naturally curious type, I stepped inside and asked the gentleman, “sir, I see you guys offer a lot of different sty...

Lethal Weapon?

I’m occasionally asked if being a black belt makes me a registered lethal weapon, if I must register that I’m a black belt, or similar questions. The simple answer is no, and schools that claim their students are registered with any level of government are lying.

The root of these stories is debated, but the one most logical to me is from feudal Japan. A law was struck that required certain warriors to register themselves with the new government. The government saw the warriors as potential threats, so they quickly executed them when they registered. As you may guess, this dissuaded them from registering, and caused a revolt. This story caught on with movies and television shows, ...

Testing Qualifications

I’m often asked by prospective or current students what my criteria is for promotion from one rank to the next. Many schools simply base it on a time scale, where once you’ve been a rank for a certain length of time, you automatically test for the next level. This of course doesn’t take into consideration the differences between a student who practices at home and a student who doesn’t. Obviously, the student who practices more at home or attends classes more often will progress faster than the student who doesn’t. This is a common strategy among schools that have little or no qualifications for black belt as I described in my October 25th entry on this site.

At ...

Profound Impacts

I’m always amazed how we can have a profound impact on someone and not ever know it. As a teacher, we all know individuals we’ve had life-changing effects on, but there are countless more names and faces who we barely knew, but we had an impact on. There are students from other dojos, or teachers from other dojos, who have told me that the way I carry myself inspired them to be better people. Or even someone at the local supermarket or Starbucks who has noticed the etiquette and character that my students have shown while wearing our logo there, inspired them to be better by our example.

A great story is from my first day. I remember I arrived for my first class so nervous I was a...

The Fad of the Week

In my 20+ years of teaching martial arts, I’ve seen countless fads come and go. This is of course not unique to the martial arts, as I have also seen this in the health and fitness industry, another passion of mine. I’m sure it's happened in every industry since the dawn of time. Over the years, I’ve seen variations of Tae Bo, Kickboxing, aerial martial arts, and so many more that all claimed to be the next big thing, and all eventually fizzled out.

The current “next big thing” is Krav Maga. Krav Maga is the hand-to-hand combat system designed for the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). It’s a very aggressive style that takes every technique and situation to a kil...