Tuesday Thought: Translating Goals into Action

New Year’s is coming, and so are the resolutions. We at NWSMA prefer to use “goals” instead of the word “resolutions,” because we believe that “resolutions” are easily broken the first time your priorities change.

We like the idea that goals are things to be achieved and worked towards. I’d like to invite all our students to start thinking about their 2013 goals.

But just setting a goal isn’t always good enough.

You have to know how to get there.

In martial arts, this is pretty easy. Your goal is to make it to black belt. First you test for yellow belt, then orange or green, and so on until black. (Well, maybe not easy, but you have the steps laid out for you).

For other goals, such as “getting in shape” or “saving money,” you might need to make a more concrete plan.

As you set your goals,


Musing: Comfort Zones

A couple days ago, I went to another nearby dojo. The owner knows my instructor and is gracious enough to allow me drop in and train occasionally. I believe, as a black belt especially, it’s important for me to step out of my comfort zone, broaden my knowledge with other perspectives, and train with a wide variety of people (sizes and skills).

This time around he offered to let me teach. Having never taught outside my own school before, and since the class was 50% adult, accepting his offer was definitely going beyond my comfort zone.

I’m always struck by how much learning takes place when we move ourselves beyond what is comfortable and usual. Needless to say, I learned a lot about myself and my teaching habits and strengths/weaknesses, and I appreciate being able to see myself through a whole new lens. For his students too, I was a new experience, and I can only hope that the class was as valuable to them as it was to me.

Next time an opportunity arises for you to step outside of your comfort zone, embrace it.


Tuesday Thought: The Big “T” Word

We have a lot of students who will be testing soon, so today I’d like to offer some insight into how NWSMA handles rank testing/grading. I’m going to talk generally about the subject and at the end, I’ll offer some thoughts about what every martial arts student can do to make the most of their training.

How students advance through the ranks can be quite different from school to school and style to style. NWSMA instructors aim to tailor our approach to each individual student’s particular capabilities and situation.

At NWSMA, as a student satisfactorily learns the requirements listed on their sheet, we give them colored tape stripes (blue for kicks, yellow for hand techniques, etc). This allows any instructor to see what areas a student needs to work on, and it gives the kids a tangible mark of achievement.

When it comes to actual testing, though, the #1 school rule is that


Monday Musing: The Importance of Form

Forms. Patterns. Hyung, kata, poomsae, teul. Whatever you call it, you’ve probably learned a few. And you’ve probably also learned that nothing frosts your instructor’s cupcakes like when students forget their forms.

Today I’d like to talk about the importance of form.

What I don’t want to do is get into that pesky form vs. sparring discussion, which is a huge and controversy-inducing topic in the martial arts world. Both are valuable in their own right.

A martial art without forms is like