On a Question of the Day

BLACK BELT: Have you ever grappled with someone who was so far beyond you that even though you were trying your absolute best, you knew you had ZERO chance? I’m my case ... Gene LeBell. Hopeless but fun!


DrAnnMaria: Yes, Margot Sathay, when I was 17. She kicked my ass on a regular basis. Also, Diane Pierce, who beat me in the finals of the US Open, also when I was 17. Fortunately, I got better.
[For those who don’t know, Dr. AnnMaria De Mars won the 1984 World Judo Championships.]

Paul AP: Most def ... every time I get to roll with Mario Aiello or the brown/black belts at Gracie Jiu Jitsu Valencia-Ca. It’s how you grow!

Doug Greene: Yes, my opponent was Wally Jay. There was no chance in hell of me winning that one lol.

John Devenney: With Takahiko Ishikawa sensei as a young kid. He was like a tank but quick as lightning. It was never an actual match lol just sensei having fun and sharing his knowledge with everyone! Great man

Martial Arty: My first judo tournament. I started judo in my 40’s. The only other player my age at the tournament was a black belt. I fought him twice. It was a massacre. Thank goodness he was a nice guy. Now I love judo more than ever!

No, the other Mike: Every time. I’m terrible but it’s fun. Can’t get better watching and wondering.

On an Old Saturday-Morning Show
BLACK BELT: Made for kids, but adults liked it, too! Remember this martial arts TV show?

Brandon Demko: WMAC Masters, hosted by Shannon Lee!

Joseph P. Rebelo II: WMAC MASTERS! Actually sent in a announcer video to 4 Kids Productions but they hired Shannon Lee! Had several friends on the show like Richard Brandon & Christine Bannon-Rodrigues.

Andrew Babcock: Glad to see that I am not the only one who loved this show growing up! Had the VHS tapes, action figures, etc. I liked em all but was always partial to Chris Casamassa/Red Dragon. We need a proper DVD or Blu-ray release of all 26 episodes!

Mike Boone: One of my favorite shows ever! Every now and then, I Google my favorite stars from this show to see if any of them are currently active in movies/shows. A few of my favorites were Hakim “The Machine” Alston, “Tsunami” and Ho Sung Pak...

Ronald W Gillespie Jr.: It ended abruptly with no resolution. Netflix should pick it up as a new original series with all new young martial artists. It had a good premise. Just needed to be developed more.

On Digital Mags
BLACK BELT: What’s more convenient than having your favorite martial arts magazine right on
your computer, smartphone or tablet? You can get Black Belt mag from all the top digital platforms such as Google Play, Apple iTunes and Amazon Kindle!

Lynn Marie: It’s nice to be able to view it that way, but I prefer to hold the magazine itself in my hands.

On the Biggest Physical Accomplishment of Your Martial Arts Journey
Desmond L. Diaz, LMT: Earning a silver medal in kata after a double tie at the 2014 Tafisa world martial arts games. I had never competed internationally prior, and it was proof that [I] could hang on the world stage after 10 yrs away. 2 years later I won gold and repeated after that. Never forgot that moment.

Brian Johns: The fact that I’m still going at age 54 and plan to do so for a 
long time. :-)

Ryan T. Loy: For me, just starting the journey is a big accomplishment in itself.

Brian Johnston: My Black Belt Grading. I did not start training until I was 45 and received my Shodan rank at 52 . It felt so good to accomplish this at my age. I am 54 now and will keep going as long as I can.

The Listener: Having time to return to practice now that I have a baby.

Mark Mullen: Only been practicing 40 years. Ask me in another 40...

Dennis Goldsmith: Losing 40lbs, lowering my blood pressure, cholesterol, body fat, and vastly improving my physical health, likely adding years on to my life — all from martial arts training.

Paul Mihalik: Going from being told to give up because I’d walk with a cane for the rest of my life to being able to kick head height with both legs again.

Tom Drake: Being 65 years old and still being able to work my day job as a mechanic, getting under equipment and doing heavy lifting. Most guys have [to] leave the trade long before 65. Stretching and exercise for 40 years in the martial arts helped me to achieve this.

Anthony Martinez: Achieving my Black Belt after a stroke interrupted my journey. It taught me a lot about perseverance.

Todd Reynolds: Stretching without farting ... focus on the small things.

On a Much-Needed Martial Arts Documentary
BLACK BELT: I’d pay money to see this! Get the MythBusters team to test the often-seen movie response to a sword slash in which the hero does a backflip to avoid the blade. Use an Olympic gymnast just to make it interesting.
David Downs: Start the Black Belt Mythbusters team and take on different ones.

Donald S Thomas: Let’s up the stakes; how about the one where the hero/heroine catches the blade between their palms/hands!

Marvin Freimund: Please believe nothing you see in movies. It’s all make-believe. It’s wire work. It’s CGI. It’s camera angle. It’s Hollywood.

On Another Question of the Day
BLACK BELT: When it comes to martial arts, are you a teacher or a (lifelong) student?

UNDERGROUND ALLIANCE: I’m a lifelong student of the Martial Sciences who teaches...

RJ: The best teachers ARE lifelong students. Ous!

Tony Chalk: Both. Every good martial artist is both. If it’s your second day of training, there is something you can teach the person on their first. The day you stop learning, you stop growing.

LaKeith Riddick: I’m a lifelong student still learning to be a teacher

Jeramiah Giehl: Both. I’m a lifelong learner and a Martial Arts instructor. As Tuhon Apolo Ladra says, “learn to teach, teach to learn.” Like another one of my instructors Guro Dan Inosanto, I’m not afraid of throwing on a white belt and learning from another Martial Artist. Personal growth is the key to being a great Martial Artist and instructor. “Train with the best if you want to be the best” is what I like to say. I try to train often with my instructors and other highly qualified and recommended instructors with the background, skill and experience.

Jack Damon: You will always be a student. Always keep the white belt mentality. 

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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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