Monday, October 19, 2015

Martial Arts is for Everyone

When people find out I am a martial artist I often see a surprised look on their face followed by “Wow, I would have never guessed.” My close friends think it’s an insult. I consider it a compliment. 

For almost 10 years, I was the consummate Dojo Mom. I was very good at this – supporting my husband and sons, laundering gi’s, cooking for potlucks, tournaments, cheerleading, ohana events, karate movies, and so much more. Martial arts has impacted my family in such positive ways and it’s always been an honor to be a part of the experience. But I was always on the bench, never on the mat.

Sure, I had trained a little bit here and there. But I never made the real commitment to stick with it and go for black. In my mind, there was no way I would ever be THAT good at it.

Then, an instructor suggested I get off the bench and experience first hand what my family was doing. 

Was he crazy? I certainly thought so! After all, I was overweight, uncoordinated, beyond non-athletic, clumsy, 37 years old and quite frankly, afraid of getting hit. I made up every excuse imaginable. He smiled and said I “owed it to my kids” to try it. “Martial arts is for everyone,” he said.

Did he not realize how safe it is on the bench? You don’t sweat when you are cheering. You don’t get taken down when carrying water bottles. You don’t feel the anxiety of testing when you are watching on the bench. It’s easier to remember techniques when it’s not you. Trust me: it’s safe on the bench.

Out of respect, I decided to try a class. I thought I would be the one student my instructor would realize he couldn’t help. We set a date and time and I invited three other friends so I wouldn’t have to go it alone.

I almost cancelled about 25 times. As I walked into the dojo I was as anxious as I was on my first date with Professor Kelly. How many times had I entered before and not been nervous? Too many to count! The class consisted of stretching and basic warm-ups. In terms of numbers, I did not do an enormous amount of pushups (maybe 5?), crunches, squats (still don’t) and I discovered muscles I did not even know existed (still do). We learned basic self-defense techniques and before I knew it, the 45- minute class period was over. 

I was hooked. I felt empowered that my mind was really able to control my body! Sweating felt great! I was able to experience a bit of what my family endured. It was awesome! My friends felt the same way. All four of us signed up.

Of that class, I am the only one that had the desire, dedication and discipline necessary to get my Black Belt. I have seen a lot of fellow students come and go. 

Becoming a black belt is one of my crowning achievements. Why? Because martial arts represents EVERYTHING outside of my comfort zone. I overcame my biggest fears through my training. Are my kicks the highest in class? NO. Have I finished learning? NO. Can I knock out the most pushups in class? NO. It’s not about that.

Martial arts has made me stronger physically and mentally. I routinely push the limits of what I can do in all aspects of my life. On my knees every day, I punch the mat and announce that my mind controls my body, not vice versa. My martial arts training has made me a better person.

I used to lead the cheering during tests. Now I have my own fans. 

Instead of just watching my family from the bench, I train right next to them. 

I no longer just attend class, I teach it.

I hit as many times as I get hit. I can hold my own in a self-defense situation.

Boxing and karate movies are my choices on date night.

I am not just married to a black belt. My husband is too.

And when I feel like I have nothing left to give – in any life situation – I remember how I mustered up just a little more effort to finish a particularly hard training session. I think about how I relied on nothing but desire when I couldn’t get the technique right. I remember how I did not let a broken foot keep me from testing. I think about the countless times I came back to class when every single muscle hurt from the last training session. I remember how I never quit even though my body had given up during the last three minutes of my tests.

Martial arts improved my life, my thinking, my family, and my heart. 

27 years ago I would have never thought I would be a Sifu, working side-by-side with Professor and my sons in our own dojo. It’s been an amazing journey that keeps on getting better. Becoming a black belt made it all possible.

So, when someone shows their surprise and disbelief at my martial arts achievements, I am happy. I know I don’t look like the “typical” martial artist. But one thing is for sure…martial arts is for everyone. Even me.

Aunty Jen 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Character and Success in Life

John G Miller, a motivational speaker and author says this: “Outstanding organizations hire and promote character over credentials and college degrees.”  
I believe that this statement is true. Believe me when I say that I believe an education is important, whether it is college, a trade school or some other non-traditional form of higher education. There are so many things we gain by going through the process of becoming ‘book-smart’.  And in some professional career fields, it’s virtually impossible to succeed without earning a degree in some higher education college.  
However, in my 35 years of working, managing and owning a company, I believe there are many “intangibles" that may or may not be gained in educational settings. These intangibles are the makeup of how we behave and the content of our character.  You might call these the “Skills You Did Not Learn in College.”  
For example, common courtesy.  People will arrive or leave throughout the day at my software company, most will say hello or goodbye.  To some that may seem unnecessary   To me, it indicates a care and concern for others in the office and a willingness to think of someone other than their self. Cleaning up after yourself is another example of common courtesy in the workplace. These are aspects of character that are not taught in traditional education but can play a huge factor in your success in the workplace and in life.  
How about being truthful?  Does it really matter what size of fish you caught, or how many? No, not in the big picture of life. But as an employer I do care about if I can trust the people that work for me. Many decision have to be made in a company based on information from multiple sources. Wrong decisions are made when bad information is received.  Truthfulness can be hard to ‘learn’ in an education setting outside the idea of cheating.  
How about someone that owns up to their mistakes or to the results when they are less than satisfactory?  That type of person is an amazing person to have around because you can trust them to tell it like it is. If they are busy covering up for their mistakes, then how can you trust them?  Personal responsibility is so important in all aspects of life.  
Other intangibles that come to mind: hard work, courage, teamwork. There are so many!  
I believe that our character program for the Dragons and Juniors promotes the importance of such intangibles (and many more) that are just as important for development as the physical skills and the education that they receive. Learning the skills for the next belt isn’t enough. Our students have to demonstrate characteristics that indicate that they can be trusted with knowledge that could be used to hurt someone. We don’t want any of our students becoming bullies!  
We utilize this type of thinking when it comes to promotions for our Adults as well.  
Many kids have been held back at their current belt because they showed disrespect to their parents, teachers or siblings. Some kids have had to wait at their belt because they have had too many missing assignments at school. Some have waited because they are not yet a team player.  
Our goal is to reward the best characteristics and to insure that the black belts we produce are top notch in trustworthiness, empathy, are team players, have a desire to learn, willing to serve others, respect for others and themselves, and many other traits.  
I personally want to be in the business of making better people not just someone who knows front grabs 1-12.  A good attitude and hard work make a great student, a great future leader and wonderful part of our world!  
Train Strong to Remain Strong!  

-Professor Kelly  

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Student of the Month - Kadence

Favorite Food- Caprese
Favorite School Subject - Math
Favorite Color - Purple

Pets - We have one dog named Rico.
Family - I like swimming in the pool with my family. My dad teaches me how to play softball and baseball. My mom teaches me how to play piano.

What do you like about Kaju? I like learning self - defense. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Student of the Month - Alex

Favorite Food - Sushi
Favorite School Subject - Math - I like the snake game.
Favorite Color - Blue

Pets - Loki, my yellow-naped amazon parrot. Sometimes he bites you if you taunt him.
Family - I have a 2 year old brother, Jacob, and we enjoy chasing each other and playing hide and seek.

What do you like about Kaju? Learning take-downs, punches, kicks and push-ups. Sifu Nick is stronger than me and can lift me with one hand.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Success is Sharing

Martial arts training is a very personal experience that focuses on personal growth. This is a good thing! However, this can sometimes make it a very "self-focused" exercise. As we concentrate on our improvement, our goals, our techniques, we must be aware that our attitude may become selfish and self-centered.

Training in martial arts is different than running or lifting weights. The people who are on our journey with us are very important to our growth. We need training partners that will push us to be better. We need to practice our martial arts on many different body types in many different scenarios. We need to teach the material to others in order to help us better understand the material.

An important part of training is to balance the yin (the soft) with the yang (the hard). This can take a lot of time to get right. We can say that our physical training in learning to do bodily harm to someone focuses on the yang. In contrast, our character and attitude of seeking peace can be our yin. An attitude of self-centered focus in only our training makes our character not in balance with our training.

" The most important human endeavors is the striving for morality in our actions.  Our inner balance and even our very existence depend on it. Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life. "   - Albert Einstein

Here are some questions that we can ask ourselves to see how our training attitude is:

1. As we train, do we compare ourselves to others and feel bad when someone else is doing better than us at the moment?
2. Do you keep insights to yourself, afraid that if you were to share them, someone might have an edge on you?
3. Do you avoid helping others because is might make them better or even possible better than you?

If the answer to those is 'yes', that person may be coming from a self-centered mode of training. That person often holds tight to what he/she knows. That person may become afraid to share, worrying that someone will steal his/her ideas or secret technical advantaged. The problem with this type of thinking is the student becomes stale and stagnant in growth. The focus becomes on worrying too much about what others think versus the reality of who we are. We could become obsessed with avoiding potential failure, leading to avoiding pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone. Once that happens, we stop growing.

If we can simply change our attitude to one of giving and sharing, our training experience will be enriched, Training partners will look forward to working with us and through this process we will get better as they get better. As we help others, we learn the techniques even better because we get to learn them again and again. As we push others to become better, they will push us to become better.

There is enough opportunity for growth for everyone. We should be happy when others attain success because this means that we are successful too! Success and achievement is contagious! Success is easy when you and the people around you are all pulling for your success.

I challenge you to look for opportunities to help others achieve their goals. I promise you will see it return to you ten-fold!

Train Strong to Remain Strong
- Professor Kelly

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Student of the Month - Jade

Favorite Color - Pink, Light Blue
Favorite Food - Pizza, Taco Salad
Favorite subject in school - P.E. Music, Writing and Reading

Family and pets - My family is a really good family. They take care of my family and I get spoiled by them. I have a cat named Socks and 2 dogs named Bubba and Nessie.

Besides Kaju, what other activities do you enjoy? School

What do you like most about training at KajuAZ? I like learning new things.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Everything You Need To Know You Can Learn at Kaju AZ, PART 2

Three years ago I blogged about our oldest son was graduating from high school and how martial arts
had shaped his life.

WELL, it happened again. Our "youngest" is graduating in a couple of weeks. I am definitely older...hopefully wiser...and while I have the same gratitude and and appreciation for all martial arts has provided Sibak Cam, it's been a different experience for this boy.

First and foremost, Sibak Cam was not a willing participant in martial arts for say.... 10 years. (Disclaimer: That might not be accurate. I am really too old to remember specifics as I have blocked most of it and am still discussing in "therapy".)  I know what you are thinking...what the heck was wrong with that boy? Or perhaps, what was wrong with his parents for "forcing" him to do it?
Sibak Cam was born with a strong will.  The minute I laid eyes on him, I saw it.  At first I thought it was the anesthesia haze, but it was soon proved out with the nurses informing us "there was nothing they could do" for him. It continued to prove out as he refused to nurse at precisely seven months old. It continued as he refused to do anything he did not want to do, despite all the begging, pleading, pre-framing and other necessary steps to get him to do anything (bathing, eating, playing).  It was completely evident when he refused to speak to us (his only discernable words were "I can't like it") until he was almost three years old.
There's very few pictures of Sibak Cam smiling in the early years.  There is very little video footage longer than 20 seconds for he started crying at 21 seconds. There were times we struggled to find anything positive about our day.  There was nothing physically wrong with him.  He was just THAT way.
I have always thought that the reason he was my second son was that the foundation was laid with the first and we were following the same plan with both. (Those of you who know me know I live and die by the plan/schedule.) So...we persevered.  We did the activities, outings, pictures...everything the same.  Including martial arts.
We had no idea how it would work.  Grandmaster and Aunty Lim assured us "he will be fine", "we can handle it" "bring him in." So we did.  Unlike my older son, I couldn't stay to watch class as it was too disruptive to Sibak Cam to see me there. So I dropped him and ran.  Literally like dropping a grenade in the middle of a room and then RUNNING out the front door.
When I returned at the end of most classes, there was Sibak Cam standing right next to Grandmaster, moving as he moved, staying right by his side, his face red from crying and bearing the standard-issue grumpy look. Every class summary was as follows:

"How did it go, sir?"

"He did great. See you Thursday, Cam."

"I can't like it."

I don't know what happened during class. His instructors always smiled and said he was fine. My insider source (a.k.a. big brother) would tell me simply "not good."  But we kept on.
As he got older, he decided to talk to us more (he could always communicate well, he just chose when and how) he definitely found moments of enjoyment and fun. He got confident and progressed.  He developed life-long relationships with his instructors and classmates.  But he never said he liked it or wanted to continue.
So maybe it was an exaggeration that he did not like it for 10 years. He probably did. But I could never ask " Excited about going to karate?" or "Did you like class?"  His stubborn attitude was never going to tell me the full-story and the simple fact was that it wasn't a choice. We wanted him to develop the skills taught in martial arts - discipline, self-defense, loyalty, hard-work and more (I am preaching to the choir - you all know the benefits.)  Given the choice he would have definitely chosen to play with legos, or computer-time or a TV show.  We just never gave him an option.
And now look at him!  (Spoiler alert: I am going to brag.) He's funny, smart, a leader (whether he wants to be one or not), hard-working, disciplined, loyal, can defend himself, physically and morally strong, honest (don't ask him questions you don't want the answer to), compassionate...and so much more.  His dad and I are amazed at the person he has become...because honestly, 18 years ago we couldn't see it happening.
Had it not been for martial arts, I don't know where he would have been.  For 16 years he has been actively engaged in a wholesome activity that at first was for HIS development, but now has become all about OTHERS as he teaches and shares his knowledge. He is starting his adult life will more life-skills than most and we are thrilled.
Could he have learned some of these traits playing soccer? Maybe? Football? Sure. Debate team? Possibly. He did some of those things and balanced his martial arts training at the same time. Seasonal sports and activities are the icing but and martial arts was the cake (always food analogies with me).  I believe he has been successful in all his extra-curricular activities, Scouts and Church due in large part to his martial arts training.

I know that martial arts is for every one - no matter your size, age, ability - and the results for each of us is the same although the journey is different: We become better in all aspects of our lives through our training. The founders of Kajukenbo knew this as Kajukenbo literally translates to "Through this fist style one gains long life and happiness."  So true!
Consistent martial arts training has changed Sibak Cam, and the Corder family.  Simply put, it's the reason Kajukenbo Arizona exists.  And we are forever grateful for being a part of your journey as well!

Aunty Jen

(PS: Many of you have asked Sibak Cam's plans after his June 6th graduation. He has accepted a mission call for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to the Dominican Republic. He reports August 12th and will serve for two years. After he returns he will be attending Arizona State University and has been accepted to Barrett's Honors College.)

Kajukenbo Motto: Train Strong to Remain Strong

Kajukenbo Arizona is a traditional martial arts school specializing in real self-defense through the art of Kajukenbo. Kajukenbo was founded in 1947 and is credited as being the first American martial art. Kajukenbo is a blend of five styles: Karate, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Kenpo and Kung Fu. Feel free to visit our school and see our programs for all ages! We also offer CrossPIT classes based on the world-famous Pit Conditioning System. Classes are 30-minutes of high-intensity old-school cardio. CrossPIT memberships available!