Be Persistent

The best way out is always through.” 

― Robert Frost

For as long as I can remember I have been about the struggle.  When it came to training and pushing myself I didn’t think of it as a struggle. I find meaning in struggle and hard work.  Without a doubt there were many days when it was tough. A battle as much with myself as with the hard training we were doing. Through athletics and martial arts I have developed a mentality that enabled me to continue to push myself and be persistent. The habit of sticking with something until it is complete. Being persistent has enabled me to get through most everything that has ever been thrown at me.  As martial artists, we are fighters, combat athletes and by our very nature… is to be persistent.

I am not sure what made me want to be an athlete and a martial artist , but I have figured out a few ‘hacks’ along the way.  Just so you know, I feel that hard work and persistence are two of the biggest ‘hacks’ to reaching your potential.  That being said, here are a few ways you can become more persistent in your life.

  1. When taking on anything the number one thing is, never stop attacking it.  Whether it is a task that needs to get done, a goal you want to achieve or a problem that you have to deal with, have the attack mentality.  Even if you are regrouping, trying to figure out the next best way to go, it is with an attack mentality.  The task isn’t going to take care of itself. Real goals will keep nagging you. Problems are not going to go away…you have to attack them until they are taken care of.
  2. My motto has always been, “It’s always too soon to quit.” Never Give Up the Fight!  If something is important to you, if it needs to get done, or if others are counting on you, you can’t quit, you can’t give up, sorry that is not an option.  No matter how hard something is you have to figure out a way to finish.  Hey, no one said it had to be perfect and pretty, but if you start something, finish it.  One of the statements I have used is, “Better never begin, once begun, better finish.”  Bottom line, if I didn’t want to do something that I didn’t need to do, I didn’t start.  However, if I started something that I had to do, said I’d do, or wanted to do, I would not stop until it was done.  That mentality has served me well, both in making decisions on what I am willing to do and following through on what needs to get done.  
  3. Do not let circumstances defeat you.  Life happens to everyone We are all going to experience good and bad times, health and sickness, happiness and sadness, good luck and bad luck. We are all going to have circumstances that are going to have the ability to derail you, but do not allow them to defeat you.  I look at everything as a part of life, even accidents and tragedies.  I have had my fair share of accidents, failures, injuries, illness, losses, personal tragedies, even life threatening cancers. But, we are martial artists, fighters, warriors and ready and willing to take on what life decides to throw at us.  When it happens I will take it on, never stop attacking and Never Give Up the Fight!

It is not going to be easy, worthwhile things never are.  You are going to have to be persistent…especially with yourself!  Once you begin to build routines and positive habits in your life you will find your ability to be persistent grow.  Once you know what you have to do and what you want to do, then you have to knuckle up and do it.  As Robert Frost stated, “The best way out is always through.”  You are a fighter, a combat athlete, a martial artist, you attack, you never quit or give up, and  you won’t be defeated by the circumstances of our life.  Be persistent and stand your ground!

Training To Be Healthy : Part 1

Everything starts with a good attitude, and that is a good start, but you need to be committed to optimizing your health.   Health is far more than simply just working out and getting in shape. To be in the best health there are a number of things that you can do. Most of these things will allow you to be more effective at what is most important to you.  Over the past year I have been learning more about high performance. Physiology is a major part of being your best. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The world belongs to the energetic.” Now let’s see how we can all be more energetic.

There are 6 areas that we can change to increase our energy for everything we do.   Most of these things we do, but often do not really focus nor fully engage them. First, our breathing and how we take in oxygen is crucial to health.  Most of us take this for granted. There are many simple techniques that you can do today that will immediately give you a charge.

“A healthy attitude is contagious, don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.”

First, the way we started life is breathing with our diaphragm, but then we stopped.  Therefore, it is simply about relearning how to breathe fully with both of your lungs.  Breathing in with your nose, expanding your belly as you fill up the bottom of your lungs on up, the exhaling fully with your mouth will better oxygenate your body.  Another very easy way to invigorate your body is to simply bounce up and down while you breathe deeply…how simple is that!

Second, drink more clean water.  We should be drinking 4-6 liters of water every day.  If you are training and sweating that amount goes up. We are made up mostly of water , so we need to re-hydrate with water.  Many people drink any number of different types of drinks and less of what they really need, plain water. This is about as easy as it gets.

Third, unless you are seriously training you should eat 2-4 meals per day.  One of the reasons America has a growing obesity problem is the amount and kind of food people consume.  The average person should eat more greens, veggies, fruits, but less meat and carbs. Eat less things out of boxes and cans and more things you can grow and grill.  Simply put, eat real food as much as you can. Next, keep the One Plate Rule. The amount of food you eat should fit on one plate and at one level. Eat better, cleaner and less.


To be Continued….

Hard Work Beats Talent

‘Hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work hard’ Talent is a gift, skills are learned and when combined with hard work that is where the magic happens. We have that saying painted on our walls because it is truth. The mechanics of kicking, punching, knees, elbows, takedowns, submissions, etc… are all skills that are won through hard work, repetition and continual practice. Skills affect your growth as a martial artist just as talent does. If your technical skills are sharpened through hard work you can be very good, maybe even great! However, we have seen countless Academy members with no special talent and average mechanics become some of our best students and even successful competitors.

Talent and skill are important to becoming a great martial artist, or a great anything. However, they are not the most important elements to that success. We have many high ranking students, competitors in BJJ, MMA and Muay Thai, and instructors who are not gifted with natural talent nor have achieved technical perfection. So what is the most important factor when it comes to achievement? It’s called a strong work ethic.

Remember, ‘Practice Makes Habit’, so make a strong work ethic your habit.

What is a strong work ethic? It is the ability to consistently do the work at your highest level no matter what your circumstances are. In other words, no matter what happens, no matter what outside struggles you may have, you are still able to get in and bring all the talent and skill you have to every class, practice or training session. A strong work ethic is simply you doing your best every chance you get with everything you do.

A strong work ethic is a learned skill. Work ethic has nothing to do with genetics, natural talent or whatever you want to call it. It is developed the exact same way any of your technical skills are. If you don’t have a strong work ethic it simply means you haven’t ‘trained’ it enough yet. Anyone can develop a strong work ethic when they decide to put it into practice. 

Remember, ‘Practice Makes Habit’, so make a strong work ethic your habit.

Creating the habit to work hard starts with simple steps. First and foremost, you have to decide to work hard…it is a choice. Next, you must create a schedule and stick to it. Consistency is key! Stay disciplined, come to class and do your best. Do that every class, week after week, making a habit of pushing yourself and let your hard work speak for itself.

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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….

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!

Coach’s Corner: Training with Injuries – Missed Opportunities


One of the most difficult aspects of any contact sport are the injuries. I’m not talking about bruises and sore muscles. I’m talking about broken bones, surgery, the flu, the stuff that really puts us out of commission. We miss time in the gym, loose our conditioning and our timing. The progress we were making toward our next rank or fight is delayed. While these conditions will impact your progress, we are never really out of commission.  Injuries need not bring you to a grinding halt.

On the contrary they might be the right opportunity to improve your game in ways you had never considered.

I recently underwent shoulder surgery; I sat on the couch and gained 10 pounds.  I rationalized that it was necessary for me to take time off for my shoulder to heal, that I was unable to train.  I had labeled myself as being “out of commission” which drove me to miss opportunities to grow as a Martial artist.

Every day that I didn’t train in some way counted against me and created a steeper hill to climb once my shoulder was shoulder was healed.   The following are a number of great strategies that can make you a better martial artist even while you are recovering from an injury. The opportunities are limited only by your imagination and one simple rule:  Be creative, be safe.

1.     The Perfectionist

The Perfectionist figures out the one thing they can do with an injury and works it until its perfect.  Right hand broken? Sounds like a great time to work your left jab. Work the jab for speed, work it with different foot work, work it from different angles, double it, triple it, and hone it. When your right hand heals and you get back to sparring you’ll have the best left jab of your life.  Both hands broken?  Focus on your foot work, head movement, or core conditioning.

2.     The Specialist

This might be the time to work specific attributes like balance, flexibility or strength. Are you a BJJ student? Time to work the grip.  Grip strength?  Sure…speed too.  Manual dexterity?  Definitely.  Just opening and closing your hands as fast as you can in a sprint like format can increase not only grip strength but also your grab speed to secure a throw or trap.

3.     The Sponge

You could plant yourself on the couch to watch Family Guy until you recover, or you could stream videos of new moves, review old moves, go to the gym to watch classes and take notes. You’ll be surprised how much insight you can gain just by watching attentively. There has never been a time when information about the martial arts was more accessible.  YouTube alone has countless hours of high quality videos from which you can learn.

4.     The Mentalist

Visualization is a tool used by every healthy fighter when he or she is shadowboxing and warming up. In a study conducted by Doctor Blaslotto at the University of Chicago, basketball players who imagined shooting free throws for an hour a day increased their free throw percentage by 23%. Achieving nearly the same result as the players who actually shot free-throws every day at 24%.

5.     The Socialite

You could drop off the radar, put on pajama pants and grow a beard while sitting in your basement. Or you could host a UFC party.  Call up some buddies to watch old pride fights.  Or help another fighter watch tapes on his/her opponent and pick it apart, giving him/her the edge in the fight next week. Build relationships so when you do head back to the gym you have new friends who want to hold pads and roll with you. Maybe one of these new friends tells you about this new killer combo he/she is landing in sparring and it ends up working great for you. Half of my good ideas belonged to someone else first.

6.     The Planner

Two days sitting at home with a head cold? Why not spend a few hours reviewing your training regime? Could your strength training use an over-haul? Could you be getting in the gym more often? This might be just the time you need to set new goals and become more productive when you are at the gym.  Create a plan, set goals and stick to them once you’re feeling better. Proper planning and goal setting can help you maximize your training time.

7.     The Analyst

Closely related to The Planner, The Analyst takes the time to look back at what he or she has been doing and determine what has been successful and needs improvement. Just as important is the act of fine tuning the partially successful drills and training methods.  One of the best ways to do this is to make a simple matrix on a piece of paper with headers that read Start Doing, Stop Doing, Do More, Do Less. From those observations you can chart a new course for training and reach higher levels of skill.

As you put these tools to use, listen to your body.  Remember R.I.C.E and consult a physician, if you have any concerns about the safety of your training regimen.

It’s important to your development in the martial arts not lose your momentum. Whether your recovery lasts one week or six months, you can’t afford to spend it sitting on the couch doing nothing.  Spend it doing something: writing, watching, analyzing and discussing. Or focus on what you can do until it is perfect.

– Coach Erik Little

Coach’s Corner: The Value of a Good Training Partner


Hey Team! This month’s coach’s corner comes to you from Coach Lance King, who is a blakc belt in muay thai, an instructor here at The Academy, and a rockstar (literally)!

I’ve trained Muay Thai now for over 14 years. The one thing that is probably the single most important aspect of my growth while training was “who I was training with”. The person on the other side of the pads is hugely important to your success and growth; how they hold, how they move, how fluid they are, how relaxed, how rigid or strong they are, all these aspects can create a variation in feel and how the training session goes. Every aspect of what they do will effect your performance and what you’ll learn or what you’ll physically get out of the training session.

There is no doubt some days you’ll come in and you’ll have to go with someone that you’ll be training more than they will be training you. Step into this position positively when it happens, as you are now their mentor for that session. In the beginning when you start training a certain style, you’ll be learning more than teaching, the better you get, the more that will likely change. But regardless of that, when you are in the position of holder, you should consider yourself a trainer, and realize you are responsible for the other persons growth. Of course coaches will step in and point out the things both the hitter and holder need to focus on improving, but the holders eyes are always on their partner, and that makes you very important to your partner’s success.

As the holder, you will be monitoring your partner’s ability and conditioning level and pushing them to their absolute best level they can deliver that day. Some days you’re going to be bursting with energy and some days you may be drained, each is an opportunity to learn and grow if you push yourself and your partner to their max ability. I find that if I’m really drained on a particular day, that is a day I will focus more on “form” and “flow” as opposed to going really hard. It’s good to share what you want to focus on with your partner/holder and how you’re feeling that say do you can be in synch.

In general, holding Thai pads should be done in a focused and aggressive way with a strong stance. This still can be fun and enjoyable, but there is no doubt you will get a lot more out of your workout if your holder pushes you to your best. Quite simply, this action will lock out over thinking things and forces your body to react. A side benefit is you’ll think less about being tired. You’ll be amazed at how much more your body will automatically put into your pad training session.

IF you’re training to be a fighter, then it’s more serious business. But even fighter need to control their aggression as to not hurt their training partners. It’s one thing to be competitive and quite another to loose your temper because of ego and try to inflict damage to your partners while training. There is a fine line between not enough and too much aggression.

Most great fighters are naturally aggressive and they need to train in a more aggressive way because they’re conditioning themselves to go hard and to hit hard “all the time”. However, they also need to continue to train consistently. Injuries happen, but it’s not something that helps consistent training. An injury can take you out of training for weeks or even months, so it’s good to try and avoid them until you’re in the rind or in the street where it’s time to seriously throw down. It’s always important to wear as much protection as you can. Cups, mouth guard, hand/wrist wraps, 16-18 oz gloves, and if you’re going hard, headgear is always a good idea! Remember, you want to have the best training partner possible, so it’s important to be one in return!

-Coach Lance King