Goal Setting

Summer is finally here and it’s time to start setting your summer training goals! Goal setting is a critical component to training well and requires careful thought and organization. Below is a formula you can use to start setting your goals TODAY:

  1. Clearly define your goal.

    If it involves losing weight, give an amount you want to lose. If it involves promotion, give the belt color you want to get. “I want to lose 20 pounds.”OR “I want to get promoted to my next rank which is Green belt.”

  2. Set a definite date by when you will achieve your goal.

    a)“Today is (date) and in 3 months, on (mm/dd/yyyy) I will have…. (lost 20 lbs, been promoted to my next rank, etc.)

  3. Explain how you plan on achieve your goal.

    This is your ACTION PLAN. The more specific you are the better!
    a) I will get promoted to my next rank by attending each of my scheduled classes every week and by attending open mat twice a month to practice my shadow boxing.”

    b) “I will lose 20 pounds by attending each of my scheduled classes every week and by using the fitness center twice a week.” Be sure to include important dietary changes you will implement to accompany your workouts (not eating fast food, cutting back on soft drinks, eating more salad and veggies, less processed foods, etc).

  4. Write or type out your goals and place them where you will see them regularly.

    Good places are on your bathroom mirror, next to your bed, on the dashboard in your car, at your desk, on your computer monitor, etc. Seeing your goal daily and repetitively will help you stay focused on what you have promised yourself you would do, how you plan to do it, and by when you will do it by.

  5. Recite your goal out loud every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to sleep.

    Turn your goal into a healthy obsession. By always keeping your goal on your mind you are less likely to get distracted and more likely to follow through on your plan.

  6. Keep a journal of your progress.

    Every time you come to class – note improvements that you’ve made, or areas you want to improve. This is where you can keep track of mini goals: “Today in class I did 15 pushups, by next week this time I want to do 20 pushups. I will prepare for this by doing pushups at night before I go to bed starting with 10 pushups on the first night. Each night after that I will add one more pushup until I get to 20 pushups.”

This is just one of many ways to set a goal. If you have any questions about goal setting, talk to your coaches! We are here to help you become better and we want you to succeed.

Training, the Heart of the Martial Arts

The martial arts have been part of my life for 43 years. From the beginning, I had friends that trained with me, but I spent a good deal of time with myself. Both are important to your development in martial arts and almost everything you do. The most successful that reach their potential and make the greatest strides, hold training as the heart of martial arts life. The ones that push themselves to higher levels and are more consistent have steady training partners along the journey.  Consistent training over time will accelerate your growth and make training more fun.

It is important to know that everyone has talents. At the beginning, we are all unsure how to develop our new skills and talents to reach our full potential. To become the ‘good, better, best’ that you can requires consistent training – consistency is king!   Start where you are, start with small deliberate steps, but be consistent.  Watch techniques, training methods, skills and drills being taught with focus and mindfulness. Keep the image of your instructor doing the skill as you start performing the repetitions with your partner. Practice by yourself in front of the mirror, on the heavy bag, or grab a partner and take 5 – 10 minutes to drill back and forth.  You can also watch the skills being performed over and over with some intense focus. A great source is TeamAcademyCoaches.com to watch the techniques of the month.  You can watch matches, fights, training, and techniques. Watch them over and over until you start to form a mental blueprint. Picture the movement, body mechanics, position and structure. Finally, focus on your body performing the same skills.

Once you begin to feel more comfortable with the technique, it is time to up your training. Keep in mind, ‘Technique is everything.’ You want to drill with precision and sharpen your technique.  Quality is more important than quantity.  ‘Repetition is the mother of skill, but discipline is your Daddy.’  You want to get your reps in but, you need to be specific, detailed and disciplined with those reps.  , it takes discipline to show up and do the reps necessary to reach your potential.  One of the best ways to be more disciplined is to have a solid training partner that shows up.

A training partner that shows up ready to work is important to keep you accountable. They will also give you feedback and make training more fun. Your instructors, top competitors, and top students all do consistent training outside of class with consistent training partners. Pick someone you like to work with and then, “Think like a gardener, work like a carpenter.” It is important to remember that skills grow over time and you have to water, weed and cultivate your skill like a gardener.  You need to plan and prepare your training to build a strong foundation. Connect your skills and techniques together like a carpenter building a beautiful house. ‘Training is the heart of the martial arts lifestyle.’ Training over time with great training partners is where the magic happens.

Academy History – Learn Our Story – #1 Martial Arts in MN

Coach’s Corner: The Black Belt Way of Life

team academy mn

Last month we had the pleasure of hosting Professor Pedro Sauer here at The Academy for an all day seminar. Jiu jitsu students from all over the state came to learn from Professor Sauer.

Among those students were students from The Academy that had the opportunity to test for their next belt rank. These are students who care deeply about being a martial artist and becoming a black belt. The dedication and focus that these students have shown throughout the years has inspired this topic of “the black belt way of life.” What does that mean and why is it important?

The black belt way of life is not just about dedication and discipline, it’s about your character off the mat too. Black belts shouldn’t just be masters of their art, but they should be humble, kind, willing to help others who aren’t as skilled or as experienced, they put the needs of others in front of their own. They are leaders who take on challenge with pleasure, and seek to make jiu-jitsu fun and accessible to all people.

Sometimes we forget that martial arts is not just for the strong, but for the weak. It’s because of martial arts that those who seem weak, frail, insecure, or uncoordinated become strong, determined, and confident. Becoming a black belt is about encouraging those who need it the most. We all have stories of feeling insecure or nervous when we first started training, but there was probably someone who was a higher rank that took time to be patient with you, to teach you what they know, to help you work through certain moves and techniques. Right?

As you continue on your journey of becoming a black belt (it doesn’t matter whether you do Muay Thai or BJJ) think about what kind of black belt you want to be… Think about why becoming a black belt is important on and off the mat.

If you’re reading this and you’re thinking that becoming a black belt isn’t one of your goals, ask yourself how come? Are you afraid of the commitment and the discipline it takes? aRe you nervous about the testing? What’s holding you back?

Achieving a black belt should be a goal of yours if it’s not already because the skills and tools that you learn, the experiences you gain are priceless and unique to this form of martial arts. As coaches, the time, money, blood, sweat, and memories that we’ve gained have made us better people in more way than we could have ever imagined. We believe that no other sport can make a more well rounded human being that the martial arts. Physically and mentally – martial artists learn to master and control their bodies and mind in ways that most people never learn how to do in their lifetime.

Sometimes life gets busy and maybe it takes us away from training and testing regularly. We want to remind you that training and testing regularly is critical to your progress as a martial artist and we strongly urge you to make testing a priority. Training prepares you for testing and testing is a way for you and us (as your coaches) to measure your progress towards becoming a black belt.

So whether becoming a black belt is a definite goal of your or you’re still on the fence about it, we want to challenge you to think about your own definition of a black belt and what it means to you. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by continuing your training here so keep up the great work!


Until next time,

Your Academy Coaches

The Academy welcomes new purple and blue belts to the team.






In March, four new purple belts and ten new blue belts were welcomed to Team Academy. We are extremely proud to have students who are so dedicated to their training. These students have been training tirelessly for many months, some even years. The road to becoming a black belt is not an easy one. However, the lessons learned, the skills gained, and the memories made, are worth more than the setbacks and obstacles. Black belts are not just masters at technique, but they are masters of their mind and body. Due to years and years of training, competing, failing, and winning – black belts have developed great mental fortitude and strong physical awareness of their bodies. As the saying goes, “Black belts are simply white belts that never quit”. So whether you are a new student to jiu jitsu, or you train in another form of martial arts, don’t give up. Don’t stop training when you feel discouraged, don’t let injuries scare you away from coming back to class once you’ve healed. Stay true to your path as a martial artist. In the end you will have more than just the honor of being a black belt, you will have all the memories and all the experience and insights that come from so many years of dedication. Once again, congratulations to those who tested in March and are continuing their journey towards becoming a black belt!

Purple Belts:
Coach Nat McIntyre
Coach Adam Ahern
Subash Seshadri
Shawn Woodhull

Blue Belts:
Brady Sheehan
Alex Wolter
Randal Rasmussen
Kirsten Magnuson
Megan Bugge
Joe Lahoud
Ron Winslow
Nick Pielert
Blake Vierling
Barry Nelson

Student Spotlight: Jim Vang & Ben Lor

Jiu Jitsu Minneapolis

Jim Vang & Ben Lor Earn Blue Belts

Congratulations to Jim Vang (left) and Ben Lor (right) on receiving their Blue Belts.

Jim and Ben are two of The Academy’s most dedicated students. They are always the ones that stay past the end of class to keep training and are never shy to ask questions to make sure they’re executing techniques correctly. They both have a deep passion for mastering jiu jitsu and we are so proud to have them training at The Academy. We look forward to watching them march forward on their journey to Black Belt!

Coaches Corner: Age Is Nothing But A Number



Hey Team!

As mentioned in the previous issue, this month’s focus will be on the importance of fitness and martial arts in your life regardless of age. As coaches, we often hear, “I’m too old to do that.” Or, “I’m too out of shape to do that.” You are never too old to start taking care of your mind and body. Not matter what season of life you’re in, you can reap unthinkable benefits from working out, eating healthy, and achieving your goals.


Here at The Academy, we have students as young as 4 years old training in our Tiny Ninjas program. Children who get involved in martial arts at a young age learn important skills in discipline, respect, and team work that carry on into their adolescent and adult lives, while simultaneously burning off some of that energy that never seems to end. (Parents, you know what we’re talking about.)

Teens and Young Adults: While we don’t have a teen specific program, most of the teenagers and young adults that train here attend adult classes. Just like the Tiny Ninjas and Little Dragons programs, our adult program also emphasizes discipline, respect, and team work. By allowing this age group to train with adults, we expose them a variety of mature and hard working training partners that they can look up to and learn from. This is also a great age to start learning self defense skills that can be used to protect themselves in the event they find themselves in a situation where it is necessary to do so.


If you’re between the ages of 25 and 50 then martial arts is a fantastic way to lose weight, become stronger and leaner, and to build mental fortitude. Training in the martial arts as an adult will give you a renewed sense of confidence that maybe you’ve never experienced before, or once experienced but lost it because of stress, work, family issues, etc. While its true that maybe at 50 you don’t feel as energetic or as flexible as a 25 year old, but training at your own pace and with good partners that are patient, will help you succeed in your training. The key to training safely is learning the balance between pushing yourself and knowing when to back off and take breaks. Don’t be discouraged if you have to start slow, or if you have to take breaks. This is normal if you haven’t worked out in a while. As you train more, the workouts will become easier as your body gets more used to training.

50 and over:

As people get into their fifties and into their sixties they write off exercise completely using the common excuse of, “I’m just too old,” or, “My joints hurt too much.” We’re here to tell you that this excuse is unacceptable. We are fortunate to have Coach Dick Kotasek, our Monday and Wednesday night Foundations BJJ coach, who is in his early seventies and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Professor Pedro Sauer. He is living proof that no matter how old you are, training in martial arts is not just for the young and spry. Choosing to be active at this stage in life is key to potentially prolonging your life. We have a number of students in our programs that are in their late forties and early fifties and they’ve all said that their training has been extremely beneficial to not only their physical health, but their mental and emotional health as well. It’s never too late to start, better late than never, right? Just remember, start slow and take your time!
Coach Dick Kotasek 70 Years Old Still Competing in BJJ!