Sign up Now! - Summer Special: 8-Weeks for $197! (+ free bonus)

Innovative Martial Arts
15-1599 Dugald Rd
Winnipeg, MB
204-505-2787
logo
Our Philosophy

Martial Arts School Culture pt 2: Who Serves Who?

The next part of culture I want to talk about is who serves who.

In the martial arts it's not uncommon to put the head of the school or organization up on a pedestal.  They get their picture on the wall, the picture gets bowed too, you aren't supposed to speak to them unless spoken too.  We even had a guy in the city that had students "volunteering" to go out and build his on temple in the religion he started with him at the top...

This is very contradictory to so much of the traditional values of the martial arts.  "Samurai" translates roughly to "one who serves", humility has always been a core belief in martial arts from all over the world.

Our goal is to be accessible, human, and to be here to serve your needs, not the other way around.

So if you want to know who the master is at our school is, it's the students.  The white belts.  The person that just stepped through the door for the first time.  We are here to help you get better, to use our experience to serve you.

And it is our hope that one day many of our students will also be able to serve others by sharing their experience.

In the words of Albert Einstein "Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile"

Keep following our blog for more thoughts on our schools culture

Fitness

Safety in Fitness: Strength Training

Today I want to talk a little about fitness programs, and the safety factor involved.

Now people train for very different reasons, and that is something that needs to be taken into account.  A body builder is going to have a very different training routine then a power lifter, or olympic lifter despite the fact that they are all weight training sports.  It's no different then a sprinter vs a marathon runner.

The other side of this is where strength training is done, not for competition within strength training, but as a supplement to other activities.  In this case the goal is not necessarily to get bigger, lift as much as possible, but rather the prevent injury in other activities.

For us our fitness program is just that.  It started as a way to get our members in great shape and prevent injuries.

We are not a kickboxing themed aerobics class, and we will never run that in our facility.  Our program is a athletic Strength and conditioning program, designed to get people in shape in a way that makes them strong, lean, agile and resistant to injury.

This effects the way we train, and explains a lot of why we do things the way we do.

As an example of what I mean, in "real life" be it sports, martial arts or simply shovelling your drive way, strength is rarely applied equally from both sides straight on as it is in a weight lifting environment.  It is applied with movement, and rotation plays a big part of it.

So this is reflected in the way that we train.  Too often athletes and non-athletes try to rely on body building or powerlifting exercises alone.  And while these exercises are great and can be very beneficial the body works the way you train it.  If you train everything in 1 dimensional motions its hardly surprising that when you apply that strength in a 3-dimensional "real world" activity it can lead to injury.

It's sort of like putting a race car engine in a car without steering, breaks and balance to go with it.  Too much power without those and you're going to crash. An F-1 car is a amazing vehicle... unless you take it off-roading.

Learn more about our fitness program here

Fitness

Balance in Strength Training

This is a pretty simple concept in Strength training, but one that is easy to neglect, so I wanted to take a minute to look at a couple of ideas.

The first is that muscle groups work opposite each other.  For example your biceps bend your arm and your triceps extend your arm.  Or rather one set pushes, the other pulls.

Balancing push / pull exercises is very important in preventing injury and maintaining a healthy body.  If one group gets disproportionately strong in relation to it's opposing group it's only a matter of time before something gets injured.

The second concept is that outside of a gym environment most "real world" activities are not straight pushes or pulls, but involve rotation.  Throwing a ball, swinging a bat / golf club or even shovelling the driveway are rotational movements where one side pushes, the other pulls.

Again, this is a common cause of injury if the muscles involved are not trained for this.  So not only do pushing and pulling exercises need to be balanced, but training those muscles to work in more dynamic situations is also important for injury prevention.

And the third part of this is stabilization muscles.  Or rather the muscles that help stabilize you're main muscles as they do heavy work.  To see what I mean compare doing a pushup on the floor vs with your hands on a exercise balls or a suspension set up (gymnastic rings, TRX, etc.) I would refer to this article, for stuff that i needed for gymnastics.

Imagine taking a race car engine and sticking it in a economy car without upgrading the tires, steering, breaks and weight distribution... It's a crash waiting to happen.

Same thing when training, a large number of injuries come from not properly training those stabilization muscles.  This is one of the biggest problems of using machines for strength, they take the stabilization aspects out.

Kids

14 tips on getting hired as a teenager

I've gotten to hire multiple teenagers, and for what I would consider pretty good jobs.  I am in a industry that tends to hire teens frequently, and have discussed the matter with many others that employee teens many times.

So why post this on a martial arts blog?  Well, we train with and hire teens, and we want the best employees we can get :)

So, how would I recommend a teenager get their first (or second) job?

1 - Personality matters.  More then anything else in a lot of cases.  In the business world this is called being a "culture fit".  It is easy to teach a person technical skills, much harder to teach them to be a good and motivated person.  When in a group do you tend to elevate the group or slow it down by being a distraction?  If something needs done do you do it, or ignore it until someone else does it?

2 - Any job pays you for the value you bring.  If you bring more value, you can ask for more money in return.  If you need to be constantly managed and given direction, you're not going to get very far.  In any business a employee has to be worth more in value to that business then they get paid.  Otherwise you aren't a good investment.

3 - The ability to work with anyone on anything is a huge value.  Someone that bickers and gossips with others... they are a poison to a workplace and won't get very far.

4 - Your network is important.  Jobs often come as a result of who you know, not just what you know.  Again, technical skills are easy to teach, but a being a jerk is a hard thing to fix.  Most employers will choose to hire someone they know, or someone that is recommended by someone they trust over a unknown.  References on a resume are there for this reason.   But a personal recommendation from someone trusted will carry more weight then most references.  It's just the way we are wired, people will look at reviews for a movie, but a critics reviews will fall second to a friends recommendation.

5 - Everything you do matters.  We live in a social media world, and employers will check you out.  If we pull up your profile and see something we don't like, that's a hit against you.  If you're friends list looks like a bunch of drug dealers you're not getting the job.  On the flip side, if you're profile is good that's points for you.

6 - Have hobbies.  Seriously, have hobbies.  And Call of Duty and flipping water bottles doesn't count.  School is important, but if all you do is what everyone else does you are just like everyone else.  No one wants to hire a boring person.  Every job I've gotten from the time I was 16 has been because of things I did outside of school.  Between about 11-16 most people drop out of things, Be the one that doesn't and you'll be thankful you didn't and possibly land a great job as a result.  Even if it's completely unrelated to the job, I got a software job  and one of the differentiating factors was that I did martial arts and the "other guy" had no active hobbies.

7 - There is nothing wrong with working at McDonalds or other big chains.  In fact, it's a great idea.  Big Chains have something important down.  Business systems.  McDonalds is basically the text book case for developing solid business systems.  Spending some time learning how companies that can scale to that size manage day-to-day operations is a great experience.

8 - If you want a good job, go for it.  If you want a job that requires specific skills and is more rewarding, go for it.  Earn that job.  Just because you are young doesn't mean you can't get a job that makes you feel valuable.  The youngest I've ever hired someone was at 14, and that was to help teach.  They didn't show up with a resume out of the blue one day, they'd been training with me for a few years, they'd come early to work with the younger kids regularly.  Get out and be involved in things and more skilled jobs are there if you look for them.

9 - Sales is a universal skill.  From selling yourself as a potential employee to selling products or services to selling a proposal in a office job, sales skills are universal.  If you understand sales you can succeed in most environments.  If you want to sell anything you have to be trustworthy, likeable, helpful, professional and know what you are talking about.

10 - Know your strengths and weaknesses.  A job will go well if it is both something you like doing, and something you are good at.  It needs both to work.  A job that is a bad fit for you isn't going to do you or the employer any good.

11 - Go after the job you want.  There is a time to plaster your resume out everywhere you can find, but make sure it's positions you actually want.  And the ones you want, make sure the employees knows you want "that" job, not just any job anywhere as long as it pays you.  For me if I am hiring a instructor, I don't want to hire someone because they just need a paycheque.  I want to hire someone that wants to teach martial arts, loves working with kids and believes in what we do and how we do it.  Same goes for any employer.

12 - Develop skills in the area you want to work.  It's never too early. So many successful people started on the path that got them to that success when they where really young.  It's just like having hobbies, if you want to stand out as the best person to hire, you have to bring something that goes above what everyone else does.

13 - Don't be easily  replaceable.  If you do get a job and want to keep it, don't be easy to replace.  Some jobs take a couple hours training and you're in action... if all you bring is the minimum required you can be replaced as easy as changing a lightbulb.  Going above and beyond the basic expectations makes you much harder to replace and is what leads to advancement and promotions.

14 - Be reliable.  One of the biggest concerns a lot of employers have regarding younger employers is reliability.  Showing up late for a shift, calling in sick regularly, showing up with other things on your mind that interfere with doing your job.  Pretty much every reference call I've done for someone their potential employees asks about their reliability and attendance.  This might mean hitting deadlines, or simply being at work, ready to go and on time overtime.  If you work for a business that business depends on you.

Our Phiolsophy

Martial Arts School Culture pt 1 - Titles

Martial arts schools all tend to have their own unique culture, just like most places do.  In the martial arts world sometimes things can get a little... "overboard" at times.

We've tried to keep our school culture healthy and in the next few articles I want to look at a few pieces of culture and why we choose to do things the way we do.

I guess the first thing to acknowledge is there is no single right way on any of these things.  Just preferences and how they fit into the larger picture of the culture of a school.

The other thing to keep in mind is that martial arts has had a impact on the entertainment industry, but that influence goes both ways.  Some of which are good... others not so much.

So, first topic:  Titles

And boy does the martial arts world love titles.  For a community that stresses the importance of humility some of it seems a little out of place.

In the west we generally had "coach", "instructor", etc.  In Japan it would be "sensei", which isn't a title as much as a honorific, more like Mr, Ms, Mrs, etc but used towards someone in a higher position.  Teachers, doctors, lawyers and other positions of authority.  Roughly translated as "born before", or more along the lines of a way to refer to someone who has experience and is passing that along.

Anyways, other languages have similar words (shifu, euro,  sah buh nim, etc)

But at some point in the 50's / 60's we started getting some serious title inflation...

I am not "Master Andrew", never will be.  language plays a part in how we view things, and I am not anyones master.  Just a coach, that's what I do.  I try to make people better at martial arts.

To put it in context suppose you or your child joined a soccer team and the coach introduced himself as "Grandmaster Joe" and wanted the players to call him that... it would seem a little odd.

Some schools try to keep a "mystic" element to what they do, putting high ranking people as capable of inhuman feats like they are in the movies.  But, we are all just humans, even the most experienced martial artist is still human.  They can't really run up walls, or blast you with chi from across the room.

Even if someone can be said to have reached a mastery level of skill, calling them "Master Bob" in the martial arts seems as strange as calling a master carpenter "Master Stan".

The other thing that we have is language related, but also adds some confusion.  For example the term "Professor" gets used in some styles.  In the native language "professor" means teacher, and is used at all levels.  However in English it has a very specific meaning.

Language and context matter, and in English in Canada we have perfectly suitable words.  I suspect people would give me a puzzled look if I used the term "Doctor" a title for teaching martial arts, however in Rome "Doctore" was the term used for the person training gladiators.

It's sometimes marketing, sometimes ego and sometimes a sort of cultural appropriation.

What makes it more interesting is that when Kung fu went to Japan and karate was formed, it took on Japanese terms.  When Korea was occupied and Karate went into Korea, it took on Korean terms.  When Judo went to Brazil it took on a lot of Portuguese terms.

Yet for some reason in English speaking places we feel using foreign words gives credibility.

Funny little piece of trivia.  In Japanese a front was "Mae Geri", a side kick being "Yoko geri", etc.  The word for kick being "geri", except context matters and on it's own it does not mean kick, but poop.  Without something in front the word should be "keri", not "geri".  So we spent a lot of time practicing our poops until someone informed us of what was getting said :D

For our school we choose to go with first names, or if the child prefers "coach" is also good. Misusing another languages terms is something I've seen enough of in the martial arts, and I think it's a little disrespectful to people that actually speak those languages to be butchering them constantly.