Myth instead of reality

When you start a new activity, it is common to have preconceived ideas about what to expect.

When a new student begins training, their head is often already filled with thoughts of leaping techniques and mystical abilities. Though most of us nowadays know that karate is more than crane kicks and waxing cars, sometimes we still hold on to beliefs that we think are more believable.

Unfortunately, these mistaken ideas can be just as erroneous.

Here's a brief list of common misunderstandings martial art students often have about their training!

1. All Martial Arts Come From Asia

Contrary to common thought, the world of martial arts extends further than Japanese Karate and Korean Taekwondo. For example, there are also arts from Africa (Dambe), Greece (Pankration), France (Canne De Combat), and even the United Kingdom (Bartitsu).

Of course, these are just a few examples of the numerous arts that stem from various countries. Get out there and explore!

There lies a bit of the beauty about martial arts training; there are so many cultural lenses to view it from. Each style you train gives you a glimpse into the workings of another region of the world.

2. Martial Arts Have Always Used Belts

I'm sure you've heard the "dirty secret" behind the color of your belt. Legend says, martial art students all started with a pure white belt and, over years without washing or changing it, the belt accumulated dirt and grime. The darker the color, the more experienced you must be.

Green smudges? Probably from the grass you were training on.
Red marks? Obviously, that is blood from the harsh exercise and wounds of your opponents. Brown stains? Er, hopefully that is just mud.

Problem is, this messy myth simply isn't true.

The truth is much more normal and much less nasty. To start with, belts didn't come into the picture until fairly recently.

To talk about the emergence of a belt system, we have to turn our attention towards Judo history. Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, was a big part of integrating the Dan/Kyū ranking system (seen in the popular ancient board game Go) into martial art training. Whereas a license such as Menkyo would only be given out after many dedicated years, a ranking with the Dan/Kyū system would provide a better measure of experience and progress.

In 1883, Jigoro Kano officially promoted two students to shodan. As Kano taught students who were Yudansha (those who were graded) and Mudansha (those not graded), he needed a way to distinguish between the two.

Over time, Kano adopted the practice of marking his Yudansha with a black belt. This was similar to the system used in other sports such as swimming, where a black ribbon kept at the waist marked those with more experience.

Colored belts were introduced later at the Kodokan, then later spread overseas by Kano's student Mikinosuke Kawaishi.

Despite the story of your belt showing your accumulated experience being a very motivational story to tell new students, the truth is much more hygienic than the legend.

3. All Martial Arts Are Perfect For Self Defense

It is certainly true that martial art training can produce excellent athletic results. It is also true that the healthier you are, the better your chances of surviving a bad encounter with a hoodlum are.

Self defense is about more than just being fit, fast, and strong however.

Self defense includes de-escalation tactics, pre-fight recognition, environment awareness, understanding/applying scalable force, and more that doesn't always get covered in the typical martial arts class. Unfortunately, not even every style that advertises themselves as "a great place to learn self-protection" pays attention to these considerations.

As you seek a style that helps you protect yourself and your loved ones on the streets, look for a school or instructor that can help you learn how to prevent problems, not just solve problems.

4. Combat Sports And Performance Arts Are Useless

While it is true that MMA fighters learn how to operate within the confines of a rule set, it is important to remember that they have still spent time refining themselves—their physique, fighting mentality, strategic understanding, and more—much more than the everyday person.

Just because they have learned the rules, doesn't mean they can't break them.

Similarly, martial artists who learn how to put on a performance with their skills gain much by their extreme attention to detail, refinement of technique and intention, and the athletic demands of their routine rehearsals.

Somebody else's training may have a different purpose than yours, however that doesn't automatically make it incorrect or a waste of time. What is important is that the subject is being authentically viewed and properly studied. In this world of martial arts, we have many different labels and categories. When you can look past the titles of your trainers and the categories of your style, you will likely find more commonalities than differences between what you and your neighbors study.

5. Stunt Performers And Actors Don’t Really Know Martial Arts

Though on-screen performance doesn't automatically equate to off-screen ability, a number of stunt performers, stunt coordinators, and actors often have at least some martial art training.

Learning how to fight and fall in front of the camera brings its own set of stylistic rules, however a solid martial arts understanding can be greatly helpful. This is especially true for Filipino Martial Arts which quickly improves awareness, coordination, and technical speed and skill.

6. Combat Sports And Traditional Martial Arts Are Opposites

Rather than viewing combat sports such as MMA as the rebellious offspring of traditional martial arts, simply view it as the child who grew up in a different era.

Many fighters draw upon age-old principles found in traditional arts, sometimes without even realizing it. Combat sports are simply another lens to view combat through, this time one that carries its own safety rules.

Modern combat sports and traditional arts often have more in common than a first glance will reveal. Look closely and you will find a pursuit for improvement, respect and obedience to a lineage or teacher/coach, applications of similar movements, and many more important commonalities.

7. Sparring/Fighting Is The Only Way To Pressure Test

Sparring is an excellent form of pressure testing, however it isn't the only one. Aside from putting gear on and fighting it out, it is also important to apply stress to the other aspects of your tactics.

Work your tactics in the spotlight surrounded by crowds, start in the lesser position or with a handicap, work when under intense fatigue, etc. This is how you transform an action into a skill.

Lest you forget, pressure should be applied to your mental training as well. Test your martial art knowledge and belief by explaining it to new audiences or seeing how well it withstands under argument.

This is also an important part of training!

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Two-Time Black Belt Hall of Famer Hayward Nishioka has been campaigning for judo in the United States to harvest more shodans (1st degree black belts) Shodan literally means student. It's analogous to being a freshman in college. It's not the end but the beginning according to Jigoro Kano, the Founder of Judo.

A very dear friend and sensei of mine the late Allen Johnson, may he rest in peace made a home at Emerald City Judo. In Redmond, Washington.

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Competitive Edge Karate
Photo Courtesy: Jackson Rudolph

Team Competitive Edge, coached by Jackson Rudolph, Reid Presley, and Cole Presley, has become one of the premier teams in the sport in recent years. The team consistently takes home individual overall grand championships and they are the reigning U.S. Open ISKA Team Demonstration World Champions. Moving into the 2022 tournament season, they have made a huge move to deepen their roster and add seven junior competitors to the team. The new additions range from proven champions bringing their talents to the squad, some skilled workhorses who have previously joined the team for the Team Demo division, and some promising young stars who will be making their debut in the black belt division this year. Keep reading to learn more about each of the new additions (ordered alphabetically).

Gavin Bodiford

Gavin Bodiford

Photo Courtesy: Kellie Austin Bodiford via Facebook

Bodiford is twelve years old and hails from Lebanon, Tennessee, a product of Premier Martial Arts Lebanon (formerly known as Success Martial Arts Center), where the Competitive Edge coaches have all earned black belts. He has five years of martial arts experience and was the 2020-2021 ProMAC Southern Region Champion in four divisions. He also finished the 2021 NASKA season in the top ten for creative, musical, and extreme forms and weapons. Bodiford is one of the competitors who has stepped up for Competitive Edge in the past, joining the demonstration team to help them secure the 2021 U.S. Open ISKA World Championship.

Riley Claire Carlisle

RC Carlisle

Photo Courtesy: Mallory Parker Carlisle

Carlisle (pictured with coach Sammy Smith) is a 10-year-old rising star from Starkville, Mississippi who has been training for four years. In the underbelt division, she has won grand championships at the Battle of Atlanta and numerous regional events. She holds multiple divisional and grand championship titles from the ProMAC circuit, and has amassed over ninety divisional wins in recent years. She is moving into the black belt division in 2022 and looks to continue her winning ways.

Kodi Molina

Kodi Molina

Photo Courtesy: Priscilla Molina via Facebook

Molina is a 13-year-old world champion from San Antonio, Texas with 10 years of martial arts training under her belt. She has won many grand championship titles on the NASKA circuit, and has claimed world championships from NASKA, ISKA, ATA, and WKC. At the 2021 U.S. Open, she became the reigning ISKA world champion in 13 and under girls creative/musical/extreme weapons. She is a versatile competitor who can win with extreme bo or kama routines, performs beautiful traditional forms, and is a solid point fighter as well. She is an active member of her community and participates in a variety of leadership programs, making her a great role model for younger members of the team.

Michael Molina

Michael Molina

Photo Courtesy: Michael Molina via Instagram

"Super Bomb" is the 9-year-old brother of Kodi, who is a world champion in his own right. In his seven years of experience, he has already won a variety of titles across multiple leagues, including NASKA overall grand championships at the 2021 Battle of Atlanta and AmeriKick Internationals. Since he began training at the age of two, his regimen has included strength, speed, agility, and conditioning training at "Rojo Dojo", where a number of world champions and national contenders gather to train. He is known for his incredible performance ability, always putting on a show when he graces the stage.

Gavin Richmond

Gavin Richmond

Photo Courtesy: Bobby Benavides

Richmond is yet another world champion being added to the Competitive Edge roster. The 13-year-old from San Antonio has been training for five years and has accumulated several grand championship titles, including wins at prestigious events like the Diamond Nationals and U.S. Open. The young star is a well-rounded athlete, not only because he competes in a variety of divisions at sport karate tournaments, but he also finished in 7th place in the pentathlon at the 2021 AAU Junior Olympics which included the high jump, long jump, 100m hurdles, 1500m run, and shot put, resulting in him being named an All-American. He is currently recovering from a knee injury, but his high-flying routines will be back on the mat soon.

Madalynn Wiersma

Madalynn Wiersma

Photo Courtesy: Gabrielle Dunn

Wiersma (pictured with coach Gabrielle Dunn) is another rising star moving up from the underbelt division who is expected to make waves in the black belt division. She first moved up into the black belt ring at the WKC world championships, where she won her first world title. The 9-year-old Georgia native was the 2021 Underbelt Competitor of the Year for ProMAC and she secured underbelt grand championships at the Battle of Atlanta and U.S. Open this past year.

Elijah Williams

Williams is a 16 year old from Lebanon, Tennessee who trains at Premier Martial Arts Lebanon. His eight years of martial arts training has culminated in black belts in Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do. He is on an upward trend as a competitor as he has started breaking into the top four in his divisions, which are some of the most stacked on the NASKA circuit. Williams has been a great asset to Competitive Edge in the past, stepping up to fill in for team demonstration, such as in the world championship effort at the 2021 U.S. Open.

The Competitive Edge coaching staff told Black Belt that they are thrilled to take their roster to another level with these moves. They believe that these new players will create the perfect storm to win more overall grand championships now, strengthen the team demo, and build a great foundation for the future of the program.

Jose Also Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
The seemingly ageless Jose Aldo won his third straight fight at bantamweight Saturday claiming unanimous decision over Rob Font in the main event of UFC on ESPN 31. Font started well against the former featherweight champion working behind a strong jab that kept Aldo on his back foot and allowed Font to consistently land sharp punches. But with 30 seconds left in the first round, Aldo threw a stiff left jab and immediately followed with a powerful straight right hand that dropped Font though time ran out before he could do more damage.
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