Dave Kovar ​
MA Drills

Dave Kovar

In 1979, Dave Kovar was teaching children a variety of karate techniques such as eye gouges, side kicks and throat rips. Ten years later, he received an unexpected phone call from a man whose kid had practiced those “violent” moves with him for a year. The dad wanted to tell Kovar that during the time his 10-year-old daughter learned martial arts at his dojo, she was impacted by the life skills she acquired.

Although kids were learning valuable life lessons in his classes, Dave Kovar wasn’t consciously teaching those skills. Nevertheless, moments later, he had an epiphany.

What if he began focusing on how to mindfully teach life skills to the next generation of martial artists? Many folks say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The insightful prefer to say, “It’s better to fix it before it breaks.”

With the second saying in mind, Kovar, who was Black Belt’s 2019 Instructor of the Year, set out to make sure his kids classes reached a whole new level, one that was powerful and important in the lives of budding martial artists.

Over the next 30-plus years, his neo-approach to combining multi-discipline martial arts training with personal-development programs soared. It did so via Kovar’s Satori Academies and his ProMac — also known as Professional Martial Art College — an initiative that allows him to help instructors become better teachers while growing their businesses. It’s no wonder he’s known as a teacher of teachers.

Also of note in his appearance on The Black Belt Magazine Podcast is the role played by Kovar’s age and experience. Now in his mid-60s, he delivers sound bites and wisdom-laced quips derived from his martial arts life story, as well as his business success. Through it all, he’s remained steadfast on his mission to teach martial arts to children and thereby equip them to succeed in life.

Handfuls of crucial concepts such as confidence spirals, fear loops, resilience and paralysis by analysis are detailed on the podcast. Additional discussions center around tantalizing topics such as the importance and application of one’s mental state, the establishment of morning routines, the right way to make conscious decisions and the benefits of savoring all that we do.

Subjects related to teaching and practicing martial arts include ways to make sure training is fun and cool, the importance of weapons, the need to learn humility, reasons one should respect all styles and, for senior citizens, six ways to adjust your mindset and training habits as you get older.

And what about his efforts to ensure that the next generation benefits from the aforementioned epiphany? It’s the perfect bookend for the story! A few years ago, a former child-student who became a successful psychiatrist visited Kovar’s martial arts school and said, “Everything I do in my practice and almost everything I learned [are from] when I was 8 years old on the mat in the dojo.”

Now that’s a powerful statement.

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