Coaches Corner: Do or Do not, There is no… not doing what you Need and Want to Do Pt 2

I believe most of us want to improve ourselves, becoming better in specific areas, more fit, healthier and experience more in life. I know I do.  If we want to improve ourselves how do we begin, how do we get over the hump, or stop procrastinating?  There are a ton of books and courses on this very subject, and I have read a lot of books and taken courses….still do.  Many methods focus on dealing with your thoughts and feelings.  All you have to do is change your thoughts, think positive, focus on all the good you can do, and become if you start to balance your thoughts and emotions, so you are mentally and emotionally ready to get after it.  To start this way you have to ‘quiet your mind’ and start to create positive and empowering beliefs, this will build your self-esteem, and through positive affirmations and self-talk you can find your focus to affirm your personal power and gain control over your emotions and visualize yourself doing what you want, how you want to do it and see yourself becoming the way you want to be. Once all that is done you can align everything up just right so that you have the confidence to get motivated to want to commit yourself to start what you want to do…..that’s it….holy Hanna what a lot of psychobabble! 

Or you could just decide to Do It and take action!

No one is ever going to be 100% ready and your life will always be happening.  There will never be a perfect time, but there is always a right time: the time you make to do it. So make time, take a deep breath and get started. Once started, keep going.

Over the 41 years that I have been training and 30 years I have been teaching I have found a couple of things to be true. First, doing something, anything, even the smallest amount of training is a million times better than all the ideas and plans to train…but not actually training. Second, I have never felt or said, “I wish I would not have come in and trained.” However, there have been numerous times when I have said, “I wish I would’ve went in and got something done”.  So whether you are already a capable athlete or someone simply interested in a new experience, when starting a new activity, art, technique, training method…be gentle with yourself.  Show yourself the same tolerance and patience you would a beginner or a small child learning something new….the same child you once were!  No one started out knowing how to walk. Everyone fell many, many times, in the process.  Everyone around you encouraged you and never gave up on you…and lo and behold, nearly every single able person walks…just like you.  We all need to be kids again.  Children make errors, that is what they do – learning to crawl, walk, eat with utensils, drink out of a cup, skip rope, ride a bike, swim….everything must be learned and making mistakes is simply part of the process.  The crazy thing is, children learn at a pace far beyond almost every adult. Stop worrying and become like a child again in regards to trying new things and be on your path towards mastery.  Do what you can, with what you have, where you are, and just have fun doing it.

There is no better way to get better at whatever you’re doing.

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….

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

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.

Instructor Spotlight: Nora Schull

10247396_10152375113586718_8424570583080340773_nCoach Nora started training at The Academy over 6 years ago. Through perseverance and hard work she has earned a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a black rank in Muay Thai. Her commitment to training, coaching, and competing is unprecedented. Her esteemed title of ‘Momma Bear’ was earned through her commitment to the team which has afforded her teammates the ability to travel and pursue their passion. With over 2 decades of experience in modern dance, she oversees all of the arts programming for Minneapolis Public Schools. When she isn’t occupied by these demanding commitments, she is a proud mother of two children, Ella and Ian, and is an avid feline enthusiast. The Academy thankful to have someone of Nora’s caliber within its roster.

Coaches Corner: Never been a horse that can’t be rode, Never been a cowboy can’t be throwed

Martial Arts Minnesota

Bottom line, you are going to have good days and bad.  We have all had times when everything is going great and times when we seem to deal with set back after set back.  The ups and downs we all experience is part of life.  No matter what, at some point or another you will have to deal with events, injuries, illnesses, personal crises, or whatever that is out of your control.  For me the martial arts has been one of the vehicles I have used to develop the ability to deal with life’s struggles, and find a way to work around, over or through them.

I have had my fair share of ups and downs, but I have made it a habit to be positive and have developed into an eternal optimist. When I was in 9th grade I started to look for positive sayings from wherever I could find them.  I did a lot of reading, digging through books and started writing them down in a notebook.  As an athlete, you learn how to grow from wins and losses.  Dan Gable has been synonymous with victory.  He went 64 – 0 as a high school wrestler and then 118 – 1 in college at the University of Iowa.   Gable says that it was his only loss to Larry Owens that allowed him to become ‘good’.  In fact, after that loss Gable became an even stronger wrestler, even more determined to excel.  Gable stated, “I say that I went undefeated for seven years, lost a match, and then I got good.  He would go on to become undefeated in international competition and go unsecured upon in route to winning the 1972 Gold Medal in the Olympics.  In addition, Dan Gable believes that without that loss he would have never have become the coach he was. 

When life gives you lemons make lemonade“, not only that but drink that lemonade down to get more energy to grow even stronger.  When you get thrown off that horse, you have to shake off the dust and get back at it.  Do not stew over losses and mistakes, but rather the some time to see where you can grow from the experience.  The mentality with Muay Thai fighters in Thailand is unique compared to the U.S. In Thailand it is about the experience and not simply a win/loss record.  In Thailand they  don’t ask “what’s your record?”, but rather, “how many fights do you have?” It is the experience gained from fights that will eventually make a great fighter.  The same goes for all of us in life.  It isn’t about dwelling on mistakes, personal problems and whatever else life throws at you, but rather learning from them.  I have made it a habit to write down what I’ve learned from life’s experiences, good, bad and ugly.  It is not what happens to you, but rather how you grow from the experience. 

It is a learned skill to be positive.  One of the sayings I wrote down 35 years ago was, “You can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses”.   The same event can be taken in two different ways.  There are those that seem to find the good in everything.  No matter what we experience it is how we look at it that makes the difference.  Good luck, bad luck it is how we deal with our experiences that will determine how we grow.   There is a Chinese story of a farmer who used an old horse to till his fields.  One day, the horse escaped into the hills and when the farmer’s neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, “Good luck? Bad luck? who knows?” A week later, the horse returned with a herd of horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck.  His reply was,  Good luck? Bad luck? who knows?  Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to break in one of the wild horses, he fell off and broke his leg.  Everyone thought this was very bad.  The farmer again said,  Good luck? Bad luck? who knows?  A few weeks later, the military came to the village and drafted all able-bodied young men in the area.  When they saw that the farmer’s son had a broken leg, they had no need for him.  Good luck, bad luck?  Who knows?  Things that seem bad on the surface may in fact end up making you a better person. What determines how you will respond to life ups and downs? In simplest terms it will come down to how you habitually respond to them, positively or negatively. It comes down to how you deal with the 1/2 full glasses of lemons surrounded by thorny roses.  I found that using the thorns will make it easier to fill your glass with lemonade. 

Your mind can only focus on one thought at a time, that thought can be positive or negative. You can be actively dealing with or freaking out about what you are going through. I can honestly say I have been through the ringer a couple times. Not only the normal ups and downs of life, but also a little more.  14 years ago I was diagnosed with liver cancer, then sciatic nerve cancer.  In both diagnoses the doctors said that the chances of survival was bleak. There were many times that I had my head full of negative thoughts about dying, not seeing my kids grow up (by far the worst), if the pain was ever going to stop…Now if I would have let those thoughts take over there is a much greater chance that the outcome would have been quite different.  However, I had made a habit out of thinking positive.  It was at times a battle, but knowing that you can only think one thought at a time, I would often repeat a positive affirmation or a Bible verse over and over until I had changed my thought.  I was so happy that starting in 9th grade I had memorized positive statements and later Bible verses.  To this day I repeat positive affirmations daily to both start and end my day.  Being an optimist has in fact been both instrumental and a necessity in my life.  So whether I am able to ride that horse or get tossed on my butt, I know I have the attitude to keep getting better.

Fighter Spotlight: Troy “Trouble” Jones Jr. 2015 IMFA Royal World Cup Champion

Team Academy fighter left for Bangkok Thailand to compete in the IMFA Royal World Cup as part of Team US on August 12th – & he returned a CHAMPION!  After winning the TBA Sanctioning 2015 Class-A title & still being undefeated, he was selected to represent the US in Thailand. To get to the gold medal match Troy defeated 3 fighters from Ivory Coast, Finland, France. In the finals match Troy defeated a very tough fighter from Turkey. Minnesota now has it’s very own Muay Thai kickboxing champion!

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Team Academy Winter Fight/Competition Results

Another great season of competition brought with it both adversity and triumph. We’re so proud of all our Team Academy competitors that continue to push themselves and grow as martial artists in victory and in defeat! Here is a quick summary of this winter’s results:

Ben Smith RFA

Ben Smith taking the title!

MMA Results

RFA 24 (3/6/15)

  • Ben “Silver” Smith captured the RFA welterweight title with a TKO from punches
  • Dan Moret suffered a defeat by unanimous decision
  • Andre Tieva got caught on the receiving end of punches and lost his fight via TKO
  • CT Bailey took a loss in a unanimous decision

King of the Cage 17 (2/21/15)

  • Nick Compton defeated Brandon Jenkins via unanimous decision

A-Town Throwdown (2/13/15)


Sean Richman, victorious at WWFC

  • Jon Ebert submitted his opponent with a triangle choke in the 1st round, winning his amateur debut!
  • Anthony Rose lost his bout, tapping to a guillotine choke in the 2nd round

Dakota FC 20 – Winter Brawl (1/24/15)

  • Clarence Jordan lost his fight by unanimous decision
  • Jason Huntley suffered a close, split decision loss

World War Fighting Championship 17 (1/17/15)

  • Sean Richman finished his opponent in the 1st round by TKO
  • Nick Compton put up the second “W” of the night for Team Academy, securing a rear naked choke to win his fight in the 1st round

Chaos At Cantebury VI (12/20/14)


Nick Compton with the “W”

  • Nate Howe earned a victory from an arm bar submission in the 1st round
  • CT Bailey also edged out his opponent with a 1st round arm bar
  • Melvin Cruz secured the win by TKO/referee stoppage in the 4th round
  • Jason Huntley won out in a unanimous decision

KOTC Industrial Strength (11/22/14)

  • Clarence Jordan found himself on the winning side of a unanimous decision

A-Town Throwdown IV (11/15/14)

  • Hayden Buckner tapped out his opponent with a guillotine choke early in the 2nd round
  • Anthony Rose executed a beautiful knock out after just 14 seconds of the 2nd round


    A beautiful TKO by “The Marine”

Bellator 131 (11/15/14)

  • Mike Richman earned a swift TKO victory over Nam Phan, prompting a stoppage to the fight after just 46 seconds!

RFA 20 (11/7/14)

  • Ben Smith defeated his opponent via a unanimous decision after 3 rounds

BJJ Results

Submission Hunt (11/22/14)

Bergeron Subhunt

Team Academy grabbing gold at the SubHunt

  • The Academy competitors came out on top, winning several divisions and taking home the championship trophy for team points!

NAGA Chicago (11/1/14)

  • Another exciting and successful grappling tournament for Team Academy!

FIVE Grappling Tournament (10/18/14 – 10/19/14)

  • Brandon Bergeron took home gold in his gi division
  • Kelly Johnson was victorious, also taking the top spot in his division

    Troy Jones ESP

    Troy Jones celebrating the win with a proud team!

Muay Thai Results

ESP (2/21/15)

  • Troy “Trouble” Jones captured the ESP kickboxing title!

Coach’s Corner: 10 Nutrients Proven to Make you Feel Awesome


Hello Team! You may be thinking, “What’s up with all the nutrition articles?” Well, you may not know this, but nutrition is one of the most important aspects of losing weight and staying in shape. No matter how much you train, if you’re eating garbage you’re not going to optimize your results.

Here are 10 key nutrients that have been scientifically proven to improve your health and make you feel great!


Did you know that calcium is the most abundant mineral in our bodies? It helps maintain strong bones and healthy blood vessels! Don’t like milk? Try adding collard greens, kale, or plain yogurt to your diet!


There are only trace amounts of chromium in our bodies, but it’s important in metabolizing food. It also plays a huge role in helping the brain regulate emotions and your mood. Feeling depressed? Try adding broccoli, potatoes, and turkey breast into you weekly meals!


AKA B9, this nutrient is a key player in creating new cells and supports serotonin regulation. Not having enough folate in your diet can make you feel more fatigued than normal. Boost your folate levels by eating spinach, avocado, and brussels sprouts.


Responsible for moving oxygen, supporting energy levels, and aiding in muscle strength – iron is really important, especially for women who may suffer from anemia. Low levels of iron typically result in fatigue, apathy, ad mood swings. Keep the blues away by eating lentils, beef ribeye, and oatmeal.


With over 300 roles, this nutrient is one you don’t want to lack. Keep your Mg levels up by keeping ample amounts of almonds, spinach, edamame, and cashews in your diet.

Omega 3s

This essential fatty acid is critical for improved brain health and contributes up to 18% of the brain’s weight! Our bodies can’t naturally produce omega 3s so it’s really important you get them through your diet. You can take fish oil, or add chia seeds, Atlantic salmon, spinach or Chinese broccoli to your meals!

Vitamin B6

This essential vitamin helps produce and maintain the neurotransmitters that send messages from our brain to our bodies. A lack of B6 can result in short term anemia, a weakened immune system, confusion or depression. Get your fill by adding chickpeas, tuna, salmon, or chicken breast to your salads and sandwiches.

Vitamin B12

Feeling tired and paranoid? You might be B12 deficient! Give yourself a boost with Rainbow trout, swiss cheese, and Sockeye salmon!

Vitamin D

Known as the “happy” vitamin, vitamin D has been linked to helping ward off depression, especially during the winter months when its cold and gray. Give yourself a pick me up by adding D rich foods like eggs, salmon, milk, and Chanterelle mushrooms to your diet.


Found in almost every cell in our bodies, it playing an important role in supporting a healthy immune system and helps the body protect our guts from damage. Get your zinc on by eating cashews, pork loin, and swiss cheese!

Well, there you have it! Your homework for this month is to review what you’re eating and make sure to get as many of these into your diet as possible.

Coach’s Corner: 8 Ways to Set and Achieve your Goals


A new year means new beginnings. We like to talk a lot about goals and how to achieve them because goals are measurable pieces of success. Here are 7 ways you can set goals and achieve them once and for all!



1.  Define what you want to achieve.

Before you can set a goal, you need to know EXACTLY what you want to achieve. Be specific. If it’s weight loss, say you want to lose 10 pounds, or 50 pounds. Goals should be quantitative.

2.   Know your time frame.

Goals need to have a time frame, and it should be realistic. Decide WHEN you want to have your goal achieved. Again, be realistic – give yourself adequate time to do things right. Need help coming up with a time frame? Talk to your coach!

3.   Write your action plan.

Without an action plan, goals are just wishes and dreams. Write down what you are going to DO to achieve that goal. Are you going to commit to training 4 times a week? Are you going to start a meet-up group on the weekends to go over drills? Be specific about who, what, where, and when you are going to work on your goal.

4.   Keep track of your progress.

Start a goal journal that you keep in your gym bag or in your car. Every time you do something that gets you closer to your goal, write it down! Write down the small successes, big successes and failures alike; what you’re getting better at and what you’re still working on. This will help you see your progression in a more concrete way.

5.   Have a team.

Have a team of people that you share your goal with and that you train with on a regular basis to achieve that goal. You NEED a support group to keep you on track. You can’t do it alone, despite what you may think!

6.   Tell your friends and family.

Share you goals with other people. The more people that know about your goal, the more you’re going to stay accountable. If you are hesitant to share your goal, then you’re not that serious about it. When you share your goal, the pressure is on to achieve it. That’s what you need – pressure and motivation to succeed!

7.   Consequences for slacking.

You need to set consequences for yourself when you miss workouts or action steps. This could be anything from no morning lattes for a month, or ice cream before bed (you should probably be doing this already, but it’s just a friendly reminder.) Hard work and focus should be the only things that are rewarded.

8.   See, say, and work on your goal every day.

The last, and probably the most important step is to see, say, and work on your goal EVERY DAY until you achieve it. Write them down and stick them on your dashboard, on your mirror in the bathroom, on your phone, on your computer screen, etc. In order for you to get to where you want to be, your goal has to become an obsession to the point where you don’t want to do anything else until that goal is achieved. Otherwise, it will just get put on the back burner and become a lost dream. It sounds harsh but it’s the truth. So really think about how badly you want it and what you’re willing to do to get it.

We’re here for you, so if you have questions, talk to your coach!