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

Don’t Fear The Process

In junior high and high school I was a gymnast.  In the beginning you learn how to simply swing back and forth, learning how to use your body to create more and more momentum.

Once you become comfortable with swinging you then learn how to do a kip. This requires some technique and timing.  On the outside, it looks very simple. However, there are many little movements that must be coordinated and timed to complete the move.  Eventually, the goal is to kip up and cast as high as you can so as to let your body drop and allow your body to swing completely around the bar.  Of course, the bar is 9 feet off the ground and what looks so effortless from the outside, is not so easy.  No matter how many times you swing back and forth, at some point you are going to have cast as high as you can and let gravity work. Allowing the process to happen is always the toughest part. Why is it so tough to just let it happen -fear!
What ultimately allows a gymnast to allow their body to swing through the air around the bar is faith.  Eventually, you have to believe you are going to get all the way around.

We all get to that place when doing something for the first time where fear hangs out and you have to choose to move through it.

Most will never become a gymnast or have to swing entirely around a bar. But at some point you will have something in front of you, something new and scary, that you have to face and get over.  We all get to that place when doing something for the first time where fear hangs out and you have to choose to move through it.  Your first class, your first time sparring or rolling live, your first competition, the list goes on.…  Will you allow fear keep you from taking the next step? Will fear stop you from starting something new or will you have faith in the process, let yourself go and just have fun doing something totally new?

I can tell you I have done both. I have hesitated and even prevented myself from experiencing something new. On the other hand, I have ‘casted straight to handstand and let it rip.’ I have taken chances to do new things, meet new people, experience the curiosity and joy of being a complete beginner again.  What is it that prevents you from taking that swing?  Whenever you are at the cusp of doing something new and hesitate to jump, you must not let fear win.  Courage is not about the lack of fear; courage is about being afraid and doing it anyway.

Learning to trust the process will allow you to experience many things that will never be there if you allow fear to control you.  Learn to simply let go.  It’s something I wish I would have done it always throughout my life. Just like when I went for that first giant swing in gymnastics.  

Start doing those things you are putting off, that you may be afraid of, but will benefit your life….you’ll be happy you did.

Rules For Living Part 2

Rule #4

All Champions Have To Start Somewhere And Quite Often It Is At The Bottom

My first year of wrestling I was on my back looking up a lot! I counted a lot of gym lights my first year of wrestling in Jr High losing 11 matches and winning only 1. I was a real ‘loser’ all around that school year. I got in a ton of trouble and was eventually expelled in the last 2 weeks of school. Incidentally, that made that summer a turning point in my life. My dad, who was athletic, an eagle scout, a successful manager at one of the first computer companies, grew up poor and worked on a farm, put me to work. My dad gave a list of chores to do everyday, and I was expected to finish it. What wasn’t finished was added to the next day’s list. I started my 7th grade year pretty much on the bottom of every area of my life, sports, school and letting my parents down. However, with my dad’s stern guidance and a summer of continuous work something changed in me. I definitely started on the bottom, but the following year my season record was 12-2. In addition, I stopped getting in anywhere near the same amount of trouble.

It is not where you start, but where you end and how you get there

Rule #5

If You Truly Believe In Yourself, Others Will Too


After starting from ground zero and working to change my self image, I started winning. More than that I was pushing myself in ‘most’ areas of my life. I decided to set my alarm for 30 minutes earlier every morning and get up and jog. Training was now a habit and by high school I was excelling in gymnastics, doing well in wrestling and my grades were good, but not great. My teachers saw that I was working harder than ever and taking classes more serious, but I was certainly not one of the most studious in the school. They soon began to realize that I was beginning to believe in my ability to be scholar athlete. I began taking an interest in my classroom work and looking at my school work in the same way as my athletics. A few teachers began to really work with me in areas I did not excel. They saw me not just as a high level gymnast and good wrestler, but as someone that wanted to succeed.


There are two types of people who begin to attract help from those in the know: those who try hard, fail, get back up and go hard again, and those who succeed and are always open to suggestions to get even better. I was of the first group and I found that people like to help those who work hard to improve, listen and actually follow their advice. When you go to a coach, mentor or teacher and share your goals and ask for advice, criticism and guidance they are in your corner as you fight to succeed. We should make sure our mentors become part of our successes, let them know how much we appreciate all they do and show your gratitude with every new victory.

Judge your successes by what you had to give up to get them

Dealing With Life’s Distractions: The External

No matter who you are, you will have many distractions in your life. Ultimately, no matter what your goals are in the martial arts, your job, academics, a new skill you want to develop or whatever, everyone will face an array of distractions. One of the number one areas you can develop is your ability to maintain your focus, despite all of the distractions that everyone has to deal with.

One thing I have learned is that no matter how much you prepare, life happens. Even with the best laid plans it is almost certain that something will come up. You must learn to ‘expect the unexpected’ and save an emergency, do what you have set out to do. Unfortunately, many people do not live with this attitude. Research has shown that your ability to keep focus on what you are doing, regardless of distraction, has proven to increase success. In the martial arts, students of equal ability and skill, in most cases, those that can put distractions aside and focus on their training will learn better and advance faster.

Just like training your physical skills, you need to train your mind to focus on the task at hand and set aside the distractions that attempt to train alongside you. Once you start to develop your ability to focus and set aside distractions on the mats, you will start to bring it to the rest of your life. Initially, I learned to totally focus while doing gymnastics. You had to be 100% in the moment, you couldn’t be distracted or you would be tempting fate. Regardless of what you are doing the distractions you will encounter can be categorized into two areas: Internal and External. We will deal with external distractions first.

External distractions are ever growing, and becoming an issue to everyone coming up in this era. There is your cell phone with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, texting, email….However, other stuff like the weather (heat, humidity, cold, rain, snow…), everyday issues and problems with your family, boyfriends, girlfriends, job, school, and work are things that everyone has to deal with are always present. Once you get into the classroom and you have to deal with other students, what they say, how much they know, their intensity level, physical ability, their smell….Your list could continue. Guess what, everyone is dealing with the same things but, some are able to set all of those external distractions aside and get busy.

First, you need to recognize the distractions in your life. You need to see what of the above distractions make you nervous, anxious, or lose focus. You need to see if you have any patterns, specific times or situations which distract you most. Once you know what, when and where you get distracted you can start to make changes.

Your ability to minimize distractions can be developed and refined just like your attributes and technical skills. One of the most effective ways to minimize distractions and increase your focus while training is to develop pre-class routines. Your pre-class routine can be totally individualized and modified as you find what works best for you. It is important to understand that your pre-class routine allows you to relax and prepares you to focus totally on your training.

There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A person’s life is a succession of moment after moment. When one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do and nothing else to pursue. – Yamamoto Tsunetomo (Hagakure)

Coaches Corner: Do or Do not, There is no… not doing what you Need and Want to Do Pt. 1

muay thai minneapolisYoda knows what all successful people know, it is about ACTION! But, so many, including myself, have created barriers and blocked our own paths to getting started and just simply taking care of business….whatever that business is. “​Life was never meant to be a struggle, just a gentle progression from one point to another, much like walking through a valley on a sunny day” ​But, for many they often create their own mountain of doubt and make even the simplest task so much worse than it really is. On the other hand, for others the climb is an adventure, the harder it seems the more they want to do it, the struggle to get from one point to another is how they want to spend their sunny day. No matter what your goals are, the truth is either you get after it or you don’t.

‘​Nature’s way is simple and easy, but men prefer what is intricate and artificial’ ​

Why do some people make such a big production out of doing the simplest things and others thrive in the most difficult of environments. Well, I have no clue, but I do know people will make things out to be more difficult and see themselves as less capable before they really know what they will be doing. Creating negative images in you head will dissuade you from doing things that in reality are pretty simple and easy. To take away some of the apprehension it is important to be aware of your potential of being successful at some level, be realistic in your goals and understand that everyone starts somewhere near the same place….at the beginning. I feel many people put an unrealistic expectation on themselves and without having any real idea of who they will be training with and what they will be doing, make imaginary comparisons of themselves and others who will be in the classroom and are self conscience that they do not know what they are doing. The same mental process will take place every time they want to do something knew, and in many cases dissuade them from new experiences. How can we reduce and even eliminate our doubts and fears of new opportunities in our lives and experiencing all that life has to give? Well, that is the million $ question. To Be Continued….

Muay Thai, Jiu-jitsu, and Some Dude with a Stick?

martial arts instructorsIf you walk through the main Gym you might notice two pictures of Asian gentlemen gracing the walls. These two men who have shaped modern combat sports, introduced and popularized their respective arts in North America. Two guys who are still teaching and come to Minnesota every year: Ajarn Chai and Dan Inosanto. Most of the gym is familiar with Muay Thai but if you walk through that same room late on a Tuesday or Thursday you might see some silly looking dudes swinging sticks around and brandishing plastic knives or playing patty cake really fast.

You might say to yourself, what are these clowns doing? That’s not fighting. You’re right. It’s drilling. Not all fights happen in a ring. Some happen to soldiers, some to police officers, and some to everyday people like you and I. Sometimes there are knives, bats, rocks, teeth, bike locks, screwdrivers and any ridiculous or terrible thing you might imagine involved. Jab, Cross, leg kick or a double leg tackle might not be the right solution to a knife wielding psycho. You might need different tools, you might need evasive foot work and quick accurate hands to gain control, you might need to access and use something around you as a weapon.

“If I Can Do You Can Do” -Ajarn Chai

Kali teaches these skill sets and it teaches them through repetitive drilling in which attack, defense and counter attack flow seamlessly into each other. These drills often begin being very scripted and then become free flowing. Two old sword fighters might look at a guy with big pads on his hands hitting other pads over and over and say, “That’s not fighting.” Then they would presumably stab each other with their long pointy swords.
But, But, but this sounds a lot like that kung fu crap that doesn’t work! It’s important to understand that these techniques are currently used by a large percentage of military people in modern day. Yet they have also shaped historical warfare. Filipinos killed Ferdinand Magellan and eventually made up most of a Spanish Galleon’s fighters. Later these techniques were used in WWII to fight off the Japanese. If your still worried about its functionality the dog brothers have explored this in detail, check out their videos or ask your local Kali instructor: Greg Nelson.

“Knowledge Comes From Your Instructors Wisdom Comes From Within” – Guro Dan

One of the key reasons to train FMA (Filipino martial arts) are they attributes they develop. They stress footwork, hand speed, coordination, precision and creativeness in a way that will positively improve your other arts. If you want to functionalize it buy some hockey gear and a few ice packs. It might even save your life.

Patience Is The Companion Of Wisdom

“Patience is the companion of wisdom”
-Saint Augustine

We live in a “hurry up” world. Rush hour, coffee, work, and lack of sleep are part of what we think of when we think of our city, our state, or our country. It sometimes feels like we must “get things done.” All of us to some degree are affected by this speedy mentality. Change must come quickly in this lifestyle. The question for me is why? Why does society worry so much about the amount of time it takes someone to do something? If it takes us an extra 20 minutes to cook a balanced meal than to eat fast food, then should we eat fast food to save those 20 minutes, or should we spend 20 minutes on healthy food, and not add the extra calories to our already excessive consumption of food? Americans are, by far, the fattest group on the planet. We live in the most affluent country in the world, yet we sometimes are the least proactive, and most reactive people alive today. Martin Luther King Jr. said,”Rarely do we find people who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” He’s challenging us to take our time and sort through our thoughts and listen to the many different possibilities that are out there.
Kickboxing MN

It’s important, for me to say, now that I’ve spent the past few sentences setting up this critique of our exaggerated feelings of urgency, that I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to going too fast when I do things. I’ve spent a lot of time on the highway speeding past those suckers on my way to our Academy. I can see us feeling that even in training. We want this instant gratification. Sometimes the best thing to do might just be to slow down and think before you act. “Are my hands up?” “Do I have my balance?” Constantly asking questions leads us to find mistakes in our thinking, and thus our actions. I always say to my classes “Take your time, warm up…” I want you to think about and to be mindful about, just where your body is moving. I guess that’s just another way of saying, “be coordinated.” Simple lessons, are sometimes the most complex ones to understand, those of us who have competed know that the “devil is in the details.” It’s just one more reason to practice slowly, yet focused and methodical.

So be patient with yourself and others. Let go of urgency, because it really is only a temporary feeling that won’t permanently motivate. Set big goals, aim high you might just get close to the mark. Have fun being in the flow of working towards your next rank. Keep in mind it never really stops with the next rank test, because you can always get better. Be patient and forgiving to yourself in training, but also don’t let fatigue or stress turn you into a coward. Just take your time and enjoy all your training and experience.

“With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown” -Chinese Proverb

17 Things Peak Performers Can Say

One of the wonderful by-products of high self-esteem is that you become a “Peak Performer.” Every day you become more aware of your abilities and recognize that opportunities to stretch your capabilities are limitless. You desire change, growth, and challenge, and a healthy self-esteem provides the energy. Peak performers have more than goals, they have a vision of what their life will mean to themselves and others. Peak performers do not live in the future. Peak performers make sure each step taken in the present keeps them on the road toward their life goal.

Peak Performers Can Say:mma classes minneapolis

  1.  I am motivated and have a mission with realistic and measurable goals.
  2. I accept complete responsibility for everything I think, say, feel, and do.
  3. I look for the window of opportunity in every situation and know that I will learn from every
    experience if I choose.
  4. I always help others to do their best, and I encourage everyone to contribute something.
  5. I correct my course when I reach an obstacle. This way, when things go wrong, I am still
    headed in the right direction.
  6. I expect and appreciate change. It does not overwhelm me because I am prepared.
  7. I stand up for my own opinions and values and respect others.
  8. I am able to manage myself. I do not require instruction every step of the way.
  9. I am not afraid of making mistakes or of taking reasonable risks.
  10. I am my own coach. I engage in positive self-talk and rehearsal.
  11. I am a life-long student. I am always ready to learn, and I know growth takes sustained
  12. I know myself well and still expect to find hidden talents, resources, strengths, weaknesses,
    energy, and interests.
  13. I respect reality both pleasant and painful.
  14. I engage in self-confrontation and do not blame others.
  15. I readily forgive others and myself and correct mistakes when possible.
  16. I am patient, kind, gentle, and compassionate with myself.
  17. I have no need to prove I am better or worse

Plateaus and breaking your Routine

DSC_6847At some point you will get good, it’s going to happen if you put in the time. The problem is once that happens you might find you stop getting better. You might find you’re bored with your training. So what can you do to keep advancing? Avoid some simple mistakes.

Have you been training with the same partner during and after class (yes you should be training outside of class).  I’ve seen a lot of great training partners who get comfortable with each other and they stop pushing each other. They do what they always do and thus they repeat the same mistakes, focus too much on their shared strengths and not enough on their weaknesses. The fact is if you and your training partner never work clinch you will always suck at clinch, if they let you skip your conditioning you will never get as strong. Simple Solution, train with more people…if you’re dedicated and hardworking you will find that people who are better than you will be happy to work with you.

Set new goals and research new drills. You’ve been doing pyramids for two years like a metronome and your conditioning is awesome, but could you be faster? How’s your foot work and head movement? It’s easy to work what you’ve been working, it’s easy to work what your good at. Set new training goals. WRITE THEM DOWN.

Go to a seminar. Believe it or not martial arts masters are real and they have real knowledge to share and you should probably go get some of that sweet, sweet brain nectar. Heck they don’t even have to be a master, just another person with a different skill set who has made different discoveries than you about martial arts might send you in a new direction towards improvement.

Get a new set of eyes. Your training partners are so used to seeing you they will miss the obvious and you see yourself through some pretty screwed up rose colored classes. Ask someone you respect to watch and give you feedback and work on it right away.

Even if you’re a black belt you will fall into routines, you will be limited by your comfort zone, limited by your own knowledge. To break your routines and progress you need to be creative, seek new information and methods, set clear goals, be disciplined and work hard.

Coaches Corner: Keep Training – Keep Growing

IMG_3136Why are you training? The answer varies, but whatever the answer you are going to face some challenges to your training: injury, loss of interest, new job, new family, and anxiety. Whatever the reason there is one thing that you must never do….stop training. When you stop training the habits, the strength, technique, timing, and confidence are all going to fade away. You will start finding more reasons not to come in and soon martial arts will be something you did once upon a time.

Even if you can only get into the Academy once per week – do it! If you keep training, you keep growing. If you keep training you will find more time to train. If you keep training you will get better. If you stop training you will lose everything you gained. If you stop training you may never start again.

How do you keep training so that you don’t wash out and lose all the hard work you’ve put into your art?

When things are tough just make sure you get to the gym once a week no matter what.

Make yourself accountable, tell your training partner you will see them next class. Tell your wife you will be in because you’re getting fat. Post on Facebook that you will be in…people will expect to see you. You will feel guilty if you don’t show up.

But you’re bored and your favorite training partner stopped showing up? It’s time for you to shake things up and set some new goals and focus on new areas of the art…how’s your boxing? Sword fighting? Spider guard? It’s time to watch some inspirational masters on YouTube and try some new things. Go to a new class with a new coach…they will teach the same material differently and this will result in startling epiphanies. Sometimes if you look at things from multiple angles you understand them better….go figure. You might even go to a seminar, heck you might try a different art and the instructor might share an insight that changes fundamentally the way you think about combat sports and the martial arts.
But I’m tired and too busy…just stop thinking that way. One thing is certain; once you are in the Academy crushing the pads or trying to choke someone you will not be tired and the stress from being busy will fade away. You will go home mentally energized and sleep better than if you had flopped your tired butt on the couch.

The truth is your training will have peaks and valleys. That’s okay, but if you stop you probably never start again. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest, keep your momentum! Keep moving!