Martial Arts

Have you heard of The Penny Challenge?

It's a financial plan to build your budget; on the first day, you simply deposit a single penny in a savings jar and each subsequent day, you add one cent to the amount you deposited the day before. In other words, day two is when you put in two pennies and day three is when you put in three more.

If you did this for a year, the last day of the challenge would only involve putting $3.65 in the savings jar. But, inside the jar itself, you would have saved nearly $700 ($667.95 to be exact)!

The lesson: kids don't just have to sell lemonade or mow lawns in order to stash away some moolah.

Well that, and also you could learn that the smallest actions we take can have enormous rewards when consistency is kept.

This is especially true for a lifelong journey such as martial arts training. There are numerous small tasks we can take as martial artists that affect how we perform and excellence is often found in simple habitual attention to these nuances.

Let's look at a list of five actions we can consistently take which will transform your abilities and skills!

1) Take Notes

Er, what was it sensei said last week?

It is abso-freakin-lutely mind-blowing how many things we forget from class! Just because you are standing in a pond filled with fish doesn't mean you are catching them. The action of reach out there with your net and catching them is necessary for true progress to be made!

In other words, you did something right — you put yourself in an environment filled with exciting new information, now do the write thing — jot down notes about what you discover in class and from conversations with classmates.

If a handy-dandy notebook ain't your cup of tea, at least dictate audio notes into your phone or tablet.

As you continue your martial art journey, it is extremely likely that the things you were told during your fledgling days will also come back to guide your progress towards perfection for many more years forward.

Believe me, you don't want to lose these thoughts!
Mind you, action can speak louder than words. Rather than (or perhaps, in addition to) trying to

perfectly articulate every single step of your training, let's not forget the power of video.

2) Record Video

Mirror mirror, in the dojo, how can I improve while training solo?

Some martial art studios keep mirrors in the training area so that students can review their practice in real time (and also to help the teacher guide the class easier — they don't need to turn and face the class each time to demonstrate a move).

Some martial art studios prefer working without mirrors so that students don't focus on anything external during their training. The teacher doesn't want them to focus on how their movements look, they want students to self-reflect and study how it feels.

Both are very, very valid arguments.

There is also a third option we mustn't forget about when training at home. This option allows you to stay present in the moment of movement, yet still review your progress. This is the power of that super-tool in your back pocket — your phone.

Use your phone and record how well you can perform movements you've been working on. If you want to take it a step further, use the camera as an audience and try to "teach" the technique or form you are working on.

Bonus point, over time these videos become your "baby footage". You can look back at these old recordings and see the progress you have made. This is wonderful for maintaining motivation during moments when your intrinsic motivation wanes.

Don't forget your past progress in pursuit for a better future.

3) Ask Questions

Think back to your diaper days.

When growing up, how did you discover how the world worked?

For most of us, we had curiosity and asked for answers. And then we asked more questions again and again. Rather than be satisfied with the first thing told to us, we wanted answers that actually told us everything. Waiting below the surface of our first ask of "why" was a million more questions ready to launch.

Unfortunately, we eventually grow up and lose that innate curiosity. Either that, or we believe we would look too silly if we kept prying for deeper answers.

My thoughts: you are only a fool if you actively avoid knowledge. Ask.
Then ask some more.

When you are shown a technique or presented with an idea, ponder it appropriately on your own and try to figure out the answer. Regardless of whether you come up with an answer or you are completely stumped, follow up with a senior classmate or your teacher. They can either confirm your idea or guide you towards a more appropriate answer.

Questions also help teachers and senior students. It can either help reinforce knowledge we already know or it can encourage a new perspective on what we believed.

It is better to be a teacher faced with a question unanswerable than to solely spew out answers unquestionable.

4) Understand the Purpose of Home Training

Unpopular opinion: you don't come to class to become a master martial artist. At least, not exactly as most people see it.

There are certainly accomplishments that can happen on the training floor, however the main goal of a class session is to give you the information and environment you need to properly grow. A teacher can show you how to do a technique and a partner may provide the feedback you need to better grasp how it works, however it is up to you to put in the physical repetitions and mental thought outside of class in order to truly assimilate the lesson.

Many martial artists train in the studio roughly 2-4 hours each week. That's enough to get study material, however that is—in most cases—not enough to obtain a true measure of mastery.

Receive the lesson in class then digest the lesson via solo training.

5) Swap Partner

Question for my black belts who are reading this: are you proficient with your movements or are you only proficient with your partner?

While it is important to have a partner who can match your intensity level (and has developed clear communication via body language, in the case of drills such as pad holding), it is important to ask yourself if you can still perform to a high level if your partner is a larger brute woman or a more frail elderly man.

Regardless of our partner, hold yourself to the standard of being both the most safe and the most vicious partner anybody could work with. It is only by working with different body types and mental dispositions that we will be able to develop better control and adaptability.

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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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