At-Home Training Program the Sequel

We understand that COVID-19 is still causing many significant events, schools, and other social gatherings to cancel their events. In the wake of this extraordinary situation, many families are ordered by the Governor to self-isolate. Therefore, we will continue our two-week at-home training program for another two weeks.

If you didn’t see our previous post about the At-Home Training Program, that’s okay. You can still start anytime. However, our program runs another two weeks! That’s four weeks of training with our school.

You don’t need to be an enrolled student to participate. Just let us know you’re doing the course and we’ll make sure you get credit for the work. When you do enroll at our school, you’ll get class credit for all four weeks.

These training videos include age-specific lessons that are fun to follow while targeting your child’s stage of development. You can print the planner from the notes section of our Facebook page and follow along with the video for fun training with some of the best martial arts instructors in our industry.

Here’s how you access the planners

In your browser, go to our Facebook page, and select the appropriate age group for your child or children.

Download the planners, take pictures (or videos) of your child training and then email us or post it in our Facebook group, and your child will get class credit.

Don’t worry that these planners are different from a typical class. The goal is to keep your kid’s body and brain learning while we are on break! These planners can be taught by parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, babysitters, or anyone at home.

Links to the Video Lessons

These links bring you to the ‘On The Mat’ YouTube videos for each planner. You can follow along with the instructor and students. Repeat the lessons as much as you like.

Little Ninja Tots (3 and 4-year olds)

Week 3, Lesson 5:  

Week 3, Lesson 6:  

Week 4, Lesson 7:

Week 4, Lesson 8:

Little Ninjas (5 and 6-year olds)

Week 3, Lesson 5:  

Week 3, Lesson 6:  

Week 4, Lesson 7:

Week 4, Lesson 8:

Little Ninjas (7to 9-year olds)

Week 3, Lesson 5:  

Week 3, Lesson 6:  

Week 4, Lesson 7:

Week 4, Lesson 8:

Ninja Warriors (10 to 14-year olds)

Week 3, Lesson 5: 

Week 3, Lesson 6: 

Week 4, Lesson 7:

Week 4, Lesson 8:

Benefits for You and Your Child

The even better news is that your child will get class credit for following each planner! Email our school or make a post in our school Facebook group with a picture or video of your ninja training, and we will add a class credit to your record for each planner.

Wait, there’s more.

Weekly Challenges

Each week, we’ll offer three challenges for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. These challenges touch on the physical, intellectual, and emotional aspects of Kempo training. An additional challenge is to do the lessons Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Then do the daily challenges on the following days. Warning, this is only for the best students at our school. Non-superhero students won’t be able to keep up.

Share this with anyone else you know who practices martial arts. They can win too. Remember to post these videos on our Golden Leopard Kempo Facebook page, or tag them with #goldenleopard #kempochallenge #athometraining

On behalf of our entire team, we thank you in advance for your participation in this program and look forward to seeing all the awesome pictures and videos!

Wash your hands, and stay healthy. Don’t stop training! See you on the other side.

8 Ninja Teaching Tips For Parents

With schools and other activities closing due to the coronavirus outbreak, many parents are finding themselves filling the roles of teacher, coach, guidance counselor, and hall monitor as the kids try to continue their studies in the home learning environment.

The first few days were likely an exciting new adventure. Still, as we continue to try to balance working from home, maintaining the needs of the household, and serving as the frontline for our kids’ education, we will likely experience new stresses. Kids who sit still for their teachers or listen to their martial arts coaches may not want to exhibit the same studious behaviors for their parents. And if there are siblings involved, you may even find yourself serving as a referee as the battle ensues.

Fear not, we are here to help!

You most likely do not have the training that educators have. Kids will naturally exhibit their worst behaviors around you because they feel the safest expressing their frustrations, fears, and desires to those who love them the most.

Your homeschooling adventure does not have to be a perfect recreation of the classroom or dojo. It only has to encourage kids to love learning. Once you relieve yourself of this burden, things will be much easier.

That said, you must have the tools needed to help kids get the most out of the time spent with you as their new teacher. The instructors at 4GK Martial Arts in Patchogue go through extensive training to be able to keep students engaged and enthusiastic, while also moderating behaviors. Read on to see how you can use some of our favorite teaching tips in your own home.

Here are eight teaching skills our pediatric ninja specialists use in every class to help keep kids engaged in the learning experience:

1. Healthy Competition

Competition no doubt allows students of all levels to step up their game, and if you prompt competition for your lessons in a fun way that splits the class into teams, then it’s not only healthy – it’s FUN too! If you have multiple children, this can be as simple as seeing who can draw the most number of triangles in 30 seconds.

If you have a single child, or your kids have a broad age gap, you may have to step in as the competition. Kids love seeing adults in agony. Just think of the shows your kids watch, and when they laugh the most, usually it’s an adult getting hurt or making a mistake.

Challenge them that if they can write their sentences in five minutes or less, you will do five push-ups, but if they take more than five minutes, THEY will have to do the push-ups. The challenge is not about punishment; it is about FUN (and the extra boost of endorphins will help break the stress).

2. Choices

When your kids get to choose the activity at hand, they become more motivated to put forth more effort. Kids tend to feel as if they have little control over their lives, and this can lead to some major tantrums. As parents, we sometimes don’t trust our kids with authority because they will make less than favorable decisions. Stripes and polka dots!?! No Way!

By providing choices, we let the kids feel a sense of control over their lives. The choice is essential for their development as someday they WILL have to be the one making the decisions. It is even more critical for their mental well-being as they are trapped at home, isolated from their friends because of social distancing practices.

When setting up the lessons for the day, have the flexibility to provide your child with a choice. If you tell them spelling is next, you may get pushback. But if you ask whether they’d like to do spelling first or math first, they will feel empowered; and since both of the choices you provided were acceptable options, your stress levels will go down, as well.

3. Re-directing

We can all agree that many kids will not have the very best discipline all the time. To increase the level of discipline and effort in class, we must continuously be catching and rewarding students that are trying hard and leading by example. The simple act of setting your kids up for success is the key to maximizing good behavior in class.

Focus on what is going right rather than what is going wrong. For example, imagine you have two siblings, and one is on task, but the other is dawdling. Most of us would try to correct the dawdler. Instead, praise what you like about the focused child. “I love how focused you are, Johny! That shows me that you are a person with good discipline.” A natural reaction will be for your other child to seek similar praise by modeling the behavior you said you liked.

You can also use a similar technique for a single child. The goal is to “catch them being good.” When you see the behavior you want, even if it is for a split second, praise it. Positive recognition works even better if they don’t think you are watching. It is a slow process, but you will start rewiring their brains to exhibit those positive behaviors.

4. Trickery

Trickery is a humorous way to help build focus, engagement, and connection. The concept is to try and trick your students into ‘going’ or ‘starting’ by using words that sound like the word ‘go!’

We use this in class mainly for physical movement activities. For example, when starting a martial arts drill that has two or more teams competing against one another, we may count down, “Ready…Set…. GOOSE!” The kids get a laugh, it breaks the tension, and encourages them to be ready to perform, but not to over anticipate.

You might use a similar bit of trickery when encouraging your kids to see who can collect the most amount of different kinds of leaves in 2 minutes.

Side Note – thinking outside the box about conveying lessons is also a subtle form of trickery akin to sneaking onions into the meatloaf. Collecting different leaves can teach about shapes, math, biodiversity, or even cooking if they are edible leaves. Not every lesson needs to be about notes and textbooks.

5. Up the Rep

Most students become tired towards the last few reps of activity, particularly in high rep drills, or activities which include a lot of physical or mental exertion. This tip consists of a strategy for promoting mental toughness throughout each rep. So that the student becomes better at every rep.

If your child has to write a set of spelling words five times each, penmanship will likely decline, and errors will increase as the child goes through the motions. One way to use the Up The Rep concept would be to encourage the child to have the first set of words be the sloppiest and worst spelled, the next set a bit neater, and so on until the last set of words is the neatest and best.

Penmanship provides them an achievable goal beyond merely completing the assignment, and helps them learn to practice mindfully rather than just going through the motions.

6. Neurobics

The concept is to get the left and right hemispheres of the brain working together by challenging the brain to ‘think’ more during lessons. Neurobics improves cognitive performance, which is how well a student can think and remember what they learned in class.

In the martial arts environment, we will perform exercises while counting by colors, or count our repetitions with names of foods. The reason this works is twofold. First, the addition of physical movement to the activity increases blood flow to the brain, which carries additional oxygen and nutrients to improve cognition. Second, by forcing the brain to think in unique ways, neurological activity spikes, which allows the brain to take in more of those nutrients.

By reciting vocabulary words while doing jumping jacks, for example, the increased neurological activity helps make the memory more concrete. As a bonus, the endorphins released during physical activity help reinforce that learning is a positive activity.

7. Intrinsic Motivation

This concept works by giving the kids options for performance, and then they chose the hardest option because they want to. We use this in our martial arts classes with great success. This tool works best if you can tie it to a character trait that the child wants to exhibit naturally.

For example, if a child has to write an essay, you could give them three options about how long that essay will be. This option is similar to the Choices tool mentioned above. It is empowering for the kids to have some control. By then tying each level of choice to a level of awesomeness, the kids will more likely choose to perform at the highest level.

“For your ELA homework, you have to write an essay about how much you love martial arts. Now, if you want to have good writing skills, you’ll write three paragraphs. But if you want to have rockstar writing skills, you’ll write four paragraphs. And if you want to have super ninja black belt writing skills, you’ll write five paragraphs.”

Make sure that all three levels are acceptable for the assignment, and within the stage of development for your child. Don’t prompt the kindergartner to write five paragraphs, because no matter how super ninja they want to be, it is unrealistic.

8. Extrinsic Motivation

This concept is when a person puts forth more significant effort based on external rewards such as prizes, praise, making others happy, etc. It is easy to overuse this concept, so be mindful of how you apply it.

This one is the simplest. “If you do your homework, you can have ice cream.”

We’ve all bribed our kids at least once in our parenting lives. To make this tool even more productive while maintaining a healthy boundary of control, tie it together with one of the other seven ideas. Instead of “If X then Y,” try something like, “If you can get your art homework done in 15 minutes, you can have ice cream, and I’ll do five push-ups.” Or, “If you finish your science packet by 10:30 am, you will get to choose the movie tonight.”

By tying multiple ninja teaching techniques together, you can create a learning environment that is full of fun, but which also encourages kids to love learning. Remember, when all else fails, step away from the kitchen table and find a way to have fun. To a child, play is the path to knowledge, experience, and wisdom. If you can make the lessons fun and interactive, there will be less stress for everyone involved.

Let us know which Ninja Teaching Tool worked best for you!

8 Ways To Support Local Business While Practicing Social Distancing

The world is a crazy place right now. Especially here in California, where coronavirus has us all staying home and being responsible for our social distancing responsibilities. Many people are left wondering what to do as they find themselves thrust into the world of homeschooling, telecommuting, and even unemployment. With the recent mandates by government officials to close all non-essential businesses, many business owners also face uncertainty about what the future might hold.

In the long run, things will return to normal. Many of the adaptations we are making in our lives and businesses will likely become the new norm. Even amid Covid-19 worries, people with an entrepreneurial mindset are already finding ways to thrive.

Looking forward to a time when we can all start getting back to normal, we all must take steps now to support the businesses we love most. Many small businesses operate on extremely tight margins, meaning that even a few days of being closed down can impact them for quite a long time. Closing for a few weeks or months of quarantine means that many businesses will likely close forever.

With this in mind, let’s look at some ways that we can support our local small businesses now so that they will still be there when things settle. Many of these steps require some monetary support from those who have the means; many are also free, effort-based actions. Even when times are tight, your attention can be the most valuable thing you have to share, and it does make a difference.

1 – Buy Gift Certificates

“Cash is oxygen to a business,” says Gary Vee. Without money coming in, it is hard for a business to keep the doors open. While we may not be able to go to our favorite establishments right now, many of them are still open to making deliveries and take calls. Many more have an online presence.

By purchasing gift cards, we can provide those businesses with a bit of cash flow to help hold them over. Essentially, we are helping to flatten the curve of their debt so they can survive a bit longer. Then, when the world returns to normal, we can use those gift cards for a nice treat, or perhaps to celebrate with some friends.

A single gift card may not be much, but when many of us come together, it starts to add up quickly.

2 – Order To-Go

All non-essential businesses are closed in California, restaurants and other food service establishments are open for take-out and delivery. Ordering to-go lets the business keep the doors open, but more importantly, it helps them keep their kitchen staff employed.

Many delivery apps, such as Uber Eats and GrubHub, are also providing free delivery services. Check with your favorite restaurant, many shops waive delivery fees, or if they have alternate delivery options available.

3 – Shop Remotely

Usually, when you think of shopping online, sites like Amazon or eBay come to mind. While many small businesses do work with these major retailers, the closer to home we can keep the money, the better it will be for our local businesses.

Many local businesses have online portals or e-commerce sites, or they can custom-build links for the things you need. Other companies are accepting orders via text and taking payment over the phone.

4 – Maintain Subscriptions

When things get tight, many people look for ways to trim the budget. While this is undoubtedly important, the current situation is temporary. Once we have coronavirus under control, life will resume. Assess which subscription or memberships you want to keep and which to cancel. As you assess, include the value each brings to your life and your community.

Perhaps that magazine subscription could go since you are already three months behind on your reading. The national publishing house will likely be more able to adapt or to leverage credit and government programs to stay afloat.

Your local gym, massage clinic, or newspaper may be more severely affected by short-term losses. Of course, your family’s well-being comes first, but if you have the means, maintaining those memberships for as long as possible, can be an enormous help to those small businesses. They will likely make it up to you later with perks.

5 – Window Shop on Social Media

In the world of marketing, word-of-mouth is some of the most powerful advertising there is. The modern version of this idea is social media interaction. Even with brick-and-mortar locations closing, may businesses are ramping up their online spending as a way to attract more customers. Marketing takes a lot of time and can cost a lot of money…the money they may not have.

One quirk of online marketing is that the more people talk about business, interact with that business’s posts and content (such as liking, commenting, or sharing), the cheaper the marketing becomes, and the more people will see it.

When the businesses you like post content on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or their blog, be sure to click on it, like it, comment, and even share it. If you are using that business’s services, this is a great time to leave them a positive review on Google. Every little bit helps, and you may even see something you want or need to buy.

6 – Donate to Non-Profits

Non-profit businesses are committed to causes beyond making a profit, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need access to funds to complete their missions. Donating a few dollars to a local charity helps them keep the doors open and allows them to help those most in need. By maintaining the donations local, much of the money will also stay local as those small charities tend to serve members of their immediate community.

Even if your budget is tight, you can donate clothing, services, and food. If you give those gift cards you purchased, the effects of your efforts are magnified as your initial purchase now helps an even higher number of people.

7 – Stock Up On Local Produce

Farm stands and farmers’ markets conjure thoughts of meandering road trips out to Julian or along the coast. Many of these farms are open year-round, and buying the produce, meats, honey, and other products from the local farmer can help them stay afloat while they figure out new ways to get their products out to retailers and restaurants.

As a bonus, by keeping your purchases local, fewer hands will touch the food you are bringing into your house. Minimizing contact as much as possible is key to flattening the coronavirus curve. It’s a win-win!

8 – Talk About Them

Many businesses are using the interruption of their regular operations to provide community service. Pizzerias are providing at-home pizza kits to kids, teachers are reading bedtime stories on Facebook, and martial arts schools like Golden Leopard Kempo are providing free online lessons.

When you see these businesses doing something good for the community, help spread the word. Post about them on Facebook, tell your friends about them or even use them as examples as you teach your kids about community service in the face of adversity.

Small Businesses Are The Lifeblood of the Community

We often look to big businesses, the stock market, or celebrities for direction, and in turn, provide them our support. But, when you go about your daily routine, when you drive through your community, when you hear your friends talking about their dreams, it is a local business that drives the local economy and supports many of the activities and relationships within the community.

Be sure to support your favorite establishments, and you’ll help ensure they are there when it’s time to leave the house again.

Do you have a favorite local business? Shout them out in the comments!

Stuck at home with the kids? Check out our free daily age-specific martial arts challenges on our Facebook page.

At-Home Training Program for Our Young Students

We understand that COVID-19 is causing many significant events, schools, and other social gatherings to cancel their events. In the wake of this extraordinary situation, many families are choosing (or ordered by the Governor) to self-isolate. Therefore, we are taking pro-active measures to help students stay on course.

Our school has partnered up with one of the leading children’s martial arts organizations in the world to participate in an International At-home Training Program! Over 1000 schools all across the globe are participating in this 2-week event!

These training videos include age-specific lessons that are fun to follow while targeting your child’s stage of development. You can print the planner from the notes section of our Facebook page and follow along with the video for fun training with some of the best martial arts instructors in our industry.

Here’s how you access the planners

In your browser, go to our Facebook page, and select the appropriate age group for your child or children.

Download the planners, take pictures (or videos) of your child training and then email us or post it in our Facebook group, and your child will get class credit.

Don’t worry that these planners are different from a typical class. The goal is to keep your kid’s body and brain learning while we are on break! These planners can be taught by parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, babysitters, or anyone at home.

Links to the Video Lessons

These links bring you to the ‘On The Mat’ YouTube videos for each planner. You can follow along with the instructor and students. Repeat the lessons as much as you like.

Little Ninja Tots (3 and 4-year olds)

Week 1 Lesson 1:

Week 1 Lesson 2:

Week 2 Lesson 3:

Week 2 Lesson 4:

Little Ninjas (5 and 6-year olds)

Week 1 Lesson 1:

Week 1 Lesson 2:

Week 2 Lesson 3:

Week 2 Lesson 4:

Little Ninjas (7 to 9-year olds)

Week 1 Lesson 1:

Week 1 Lesson 2:

Week 2 Lesson 3:

Week 2 Lesson 4:

Ninja Warriors (10 to 14-year olds)

Week 1 Lesson 1:

Week 1 Lesson 2:

Week 2 Lesson 3:

Week 2 Lesson 4:

Benefits for You and Your Child

The even better news is that your child will get class credit for following each planner! Email our school or make a post in our school Facebook group with a picture or video of your ninja training, and we will add a class credit to your record for each planner.

Wait, there’s more.

At-Home Training Point Challenge

True champions find ways to succeed while others find ways to make excuses. Our goal for this challenge is to help each child reach an entirely new level in their personal martial arts journey by going the extra mile with their training. Each week has specific training challenges that will help every student to earn points. The more points your child receives, the more entries they get to win!

Week 1 Point Challenge Total:

  • Participate in class (10)
  • Post a video practicing your form (5)
  • Post a video doing the Week 1 Instructor Challenge (5)
  • Post a video practicing kicks and combs (5)
  • Post a video of you practicing your favorite move (5)

Week 2 Point Challenge Total:

  • Participate in class (10)
  • Post a video practicing your form (5)
  • Post a video doing the Week 2 Instructor Challenge (5)
  • Post a video teaching your combos to a family member (5)
  • Post a video of you practicing your kicks ten times (5)

Week 3 Point Challenge Total:

  • Participate in class (10)
  • Post a video practicing your form (5)
  • Post a video doing the Week 3 Instructor Challenge (5)
  • Post a video practicing kicks and combs (5)
  • Post a video of you practicing your favorite move (5)

Week 4 Point Challenge Total:

  • Participate in class (10)
  • Post a video practicing your form (5)
  • Post a video doing the Week 3 Instructor Challenge (5)
  • Post a video practicing kicks and combs (5)
  • Post a video teaching your kicks to a family member (5)

Share this with anyone else you know who practices martial arts. They can win too. Remember to post these videos on our Facebook page, or tag them with #goldenleopard #kempochallenge #athometraining

On behalf of our entire team, we thank you in advance for your participation in this program and look forward to seeing all the awesome pictures and videos!

Wash your hands, and stay healthy. Don’t stop training! See you on the other side.

How Does Rotating Curriculum Work?

As an instructor with a large class, I came across problems teaching so many people of different ranks. The prototypical solution is to divide the class into ranks and have each rank group work on different lessons. This division requires lots of room and very little time correcting the students. Also, I’m teaching four to five different things in the class. There is no consistency or connection to previous courses. Each rank group gets a portion of the period. For a half-hour section and three rank groups, that’s ten minutes for the sub-group. Breaking up the class is inefficient.

Another solution I learned was to get assistants to help teach. Now the rank groups get a full 30 minutes of instruction but not with the lead instructor. The rank group gets a senior student or a junior instructor, often volunteering. When do the assistants get their class? The problem with this method is the assistant instructors may not show up (because they volunteer), or the costs of hiring additional staff are high.

About Phases, Cycles, and Levels

I went to a training seminar for professional martial arts instructors and learned about a better method of teaching classes for large groups. It’s called a rotating curriculum. I teach the same material to the whole class at the same time. There is no need to break up the class by rank. How is this possible?

  • Divide the belt ranks into beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.
  • Different belts ranks will be at each level. For instance, White, Yellow, and Gold belts are at the beginner level.
  • Divided classes into beginner, intermediate, and advanced level classes at different times or days of the week.
  • The material for each belt rank is a Phase. A Phase ends in a rank test.
  • Colored belt ranks are divorced from particular techniques. For instance, the Yellow Belt material is now Phase 2 material.

What do I review at the test for different ranks? I evaluate the Phase material taught at that cycle. The limited format means the test is shorter, and the class performs together, synchronized as a team, and I can test a larger group of students. Since everyone is doing the same material, it is easier to score the test. The benefits to the instructor (me) are better student quality and retention.

What happens to new students after the first cycle? The new student starts learning the next Phase with the rest of the class. For my students, I have them organized into three groups, A, B, and C. New students are in one of those groups based on when they join the school. Below is the table detailing how it works.

Table 1: Phase Progression Order in a Rotating Curriculum

The student cycle is the cycle number of the student’s career. They generally move from I to IX through their journey to Black Belt. However, they may not start with Phase 1. They could begin with Phase 2 or Phase 3. The table shows which Phase they advance to after the test.

By the end of the beginner level, the student will know all of the material from all three ranks. The same thing occurs at the intermediate and advanced levels. Testing for Black Belt, all the students will have the same content.

The only issue that this method of teaching causes is the change in class times. Once you test out of the beginner level, the intermediate class is at a different time or day. The same thing happens when a student promotes out of intermediate and enters the advanced classes. However, I did do something like this anyway. During my La Mesa dojo days, I had a special White-Yellow belt class and a Brown Belt class in addition to the regular class. So the difference in my school is negligible.

An Example Students Training Life

Using the table above, let’s use a new student’s life as an example. Maria joins Golden Leopard Kempo during the third cycle, so she is in group C. In her beginner class, she learns the old Gold Belt material first. After her first test, her class will learn the old White Belt material. And her next Phase, she learns the old Yellow Belt material. Using the table above, we see she learned Phase 3, then Phase 1, and then Phase 2. Maria has absorbed all the basic curriculum (kata, counters, and drills) and is ready for the next level.

When she promotes to the intermediate class, Maria learns the old Purple belt material first. After her test, the class will learn the old Orange belt material. Finally, in the sixth cycle, she’ll learn the old Red Belt material. To summarize, Maria learned Phase 6, then Phase 4, and then Phase 5 material. Maria has absorbed all the intermediate curriculum (kata, counters, and drills) and is ready for the next level.

At last, Maria enters the advance class and is a model student at her school. The first Phase she learns is 9, which is the old Brown Belt material. After the test, Maria learns the old Blue Belt material. In her last advance cycle, she learns the old Green Belt material and is now ready to test for Black Belt.

What happens is this, Maria is a Blue Belt knowing Brown Belt material. At any level, the difference between the technical content is not that different. There is a difference between content at the beginner and advanced level, which is why I divide these classes. When Maria is a Green Belt, she’ll know Brown and Blue Belt material. And at Brown Belt, Maria will know all the content for all three Phases of advanced level.

Benefits of Rotating Curriculum

Now, this may seem not very easy for you in this explanation, but I promise you it is effortless to understand in implementation. It flows naturally from Phase to Phase, and through cycles. The benefits are immense. Classes are better because I instruct all three ranks in the same class at the same time teaching the same material. The rotating curriculum brings high energy classes, organization, manageability, excitement, teamwork, and unity to the student program and students’ learning.

The rotating curriculum also requires less staff for maximum results. I don’t need a ton of assistants when two or one will do. The class can handle more students to teacher ratios because of the simplified curriculum. Tests are more comfortable to run because I can maintain high energy and unison during the session, and the test can be huge. Also, the examiners are only looking at a smaller set of curriculum.

Our cycles run ten weeks, with five cycles per year. That’s 50 weeks of class per year, including our standard two weeks off for the holidays. 

That’s a quick explanation of the rotating curriculum and how we implement this method in our school. At Golden Leopard Kempo, we are always looking for ways to improve our teaching methods. We practice the Constant and Never-ending Improvement philosophy in our school. The commitment to improvement led me to implement a rotating curriculum, and I am pleased with the results.

‟There are no bad students, just bad teachers.” – Mr. Miyagi, The Karate Kid.

What Rank is My Child When She Promotes or Ages Out of Her Program?

Our Children’s Curriculum runs differently than our Adult Curriculum. First, we divide the curriculum into age group programs: 3-4 years old, 5-6 years old, 8-10 years old, and 11-14 years old. This helps all the students learn because they are with their peers, not younger or older kids.

  • During the enrollment session, each child goes through an evaluation to see if they are mature enough to begin training at our school and at which program she should start.
  • Our programs are organized by maturity level. We use a student’s age range as a starting point for the evaluation.
  • We educate and teach Kempo through skill-based games.
  • There are three levels, beginner, intermediate, and advanced, each with three ranks for a total of nine belts.
  • Students gain a skill stripe on the second or third exposure to the skill after they pass the skill requirement for that stripe.
  • Once a student gets all the stripes, the student can test out of the belt rank.
  • The program teaches martial arts skills, not techniques found in the Adult program. See my article on Kempo Karate for Toddlers about how skills are better than techniques for younger Peewee students.

Each program has nine belt ranks that they learn in order, three beginner ranks, three intermediate ranks, and three advanced ranks. There are two issues with this structure. First, a student completes all nine ranks before being old enough to graduate to the next program. Or, a student gets older because of a birthday or growth spurt and is now ages out of the program.

Let’s tackle the first issue. The student graduates from the final belt rank in their current program. The new belt rank is the first intermediate rank of the new program. In our school, that’s Orange Belt. The first three ranks in the program are the entire curriculum of the previous program. This is how all four programs are set up. The student now learns new material because the student has demonstrated competence during the last course.

The next issue is a bit more complicated. If a student has a birthday or has a maturity growth spurt, she may be ready for another program. In this aging out situation, the Enrollment Advisor re-evaluates the student for the next program, just as if they were new students. Two things will happen. If the student passes the evaluation, she will move to the next program after her next belt rank test.

Current Rank New Program Rank
White, Yellow White
Gold, Orange, Red Yellow
Purple, Blue, Green Gold
Brown Orange

If the student doesn’t pass the evaluation for the new program, she stays in the current program. She will get a further assessment after the next test, as directed by her instructor.

We found this system works the best for all children involved. Remember, the age range is a guideline, not a rule. Children mature at different times. The maturity of the student’s emotional capability, coordination, and following-directions ability can, and often are, at different stages. We want the best fit for all our students. Trust in our system of placement.

No student is behind if they are at a different age program than their age. Our entire breath of children’s programs is our way of developing the best student martial artist. It’s not a race through the ranks. We want excellent martial arts skills, and we want these skills to build carefully and deliberately. There are no short cuts. We find that once the students hit middle school age, their previous training in our programs will catapult their technical skills in the following programs. Patience pays off.

The transition from program to program is consistent and fair for everyone involved. Our age-based classes also have a different teacher to student ratios. The younger children have a smaller ratio, while the older children have a higher ratio. This focus on each student’s ability and instructor’s attention is what makes our dojo school extraordinary.

If you have any questions, please contact your Enrollment Advisor.

What are Kata Segments?

A kata is a traditional floor routine of kicks, punches, and body movements in a pre-defined order. The moves represent martial techniques. In my article, Forms in Practice, I discuss why kata or forms are essential and how to improve your performance. I also talk about the effectiveness of kata practice for the student.

At Golden Leopard Kempo, kata are between 18 to 26 moves. We clump sets of kata together to form a long kata. Learning kata is the most common difficulty in learning Kempo. To make it easier, using ghestalting, we chunk the moves into small segments of the kata. Think of it as chopping up the kata into small sections. I have heard this called Line Drills, but I use the term drills when it involves two or more students.

We practice a chunk, the segment, of the kata in unison as a class so each student can see each other. By doing the exercise in unison, the student can practice the correct movement. Teaching forms in this manner helps the absolute beginner grasp the flavor of a particular kata.

It is easier if every student works on the same material at the same time. There are slight differences between the segment and the kata. The segments may have additional moves to make it practical for class and student management. For example, the segment may have a 180° turn and repeat the step while the kata doesn’t. ‛Turn and repeat’ facilitates class instruction.

This method of teaching kata helps in memorization and muscle memory. The kata segment aids memory retention and taps into group memory—more mental references provided by other students to support memory encoding and recall.

Once the kata segments are sufficiently memorized and practiced, learning the full kata sequence becomes easier. The student now has to remember section A, then section B, then section C, rather than 15 separate moves. We are using ghestalting to chunk our material into rememberable parts. The student recalls three items, not 15 items. Chunking reduces memory overload. We do this to remember our punch defenses, kick defenses, and kempos. Now, we use the same method for recalling kata.

It may seem strange that so a modern Kempo instructor would place so much emphasis on kata practice. Kata are not en vogue in contemporary arts. However, I have found that kata provides better body movement, transitions, and rootedness in my kata-practicing students. It is a fast way to get the nuanced qualities I seek in a student from the student. I implore you to consider keeping kata practice a focus of your training. And use our kata segments as a way to learn the kata efficiently.

What is the difference between Kickboxing and Muay Thai?

In the last twenty years, the distinction between Kickboxing and Muay Thai have blurred with the proliferation of sanctioning organizations, sponsored sporting events, and fighting rule sets. Previously, I described the origins of Kickboxing and Muay Thai. These are fighting sports that appear very similar to the uninformed or novice. I’ll discuss what is the main difference and then similarities between these two sporting arts.

Both martial arts produce outstanding fighters because the practitioners punch and kick at full-power. They employ fakes and feints to a live opponent who is actively avoiding hits and reading feints. They highlight training and conditioning are very important in fighting ability. These bouts are the closest one can get to an actual combat or self-defense situation.

The conditioning of the fighters is vital. A fighter with a lack of cardio will gas out or fail in the bout. If the fighter is not good at strategies, the fighter will get hit hard in the face. If the fighter has bad footwork, the fighter will trip herself up and not have adequate power in strikes. Physical fitness is crucial to being an impressive combatant.

Differences Between Kickboxing and Muay Thai

 Kickboxing Muay Thai
A varied number of rounds and time of rounds Five three-minute rounds
Sweeps and takedowns are not allowed Sweeps are allowed
Elbows and knee strikes are not allowed Elbow and knee strikes allowed
The referee breaks up clinches Clinch is allowed
A mixture of Western Boxing and Asian martial arts Developed from Thai culture and Thai warrior history
Wear pants or shorts Wear shorts to fight
Fighters are from different arts like Karate, Tae Kwon Do, and Kenpo Fighters all study Muay Thai
Fighters wear boxing gloves and foot gloves Fighters wear gloves only, wraps on feet

Similarities Between Kickboxing and Muay Thai

  • Cardio conditioning, strength training, bag work, and mitt-glove work are essential to prepare for bouts
  • Full contact so fighters can get knocked out, bloody cuts, bruises, cracked/broken bones
  • They are both sporting events with sponsors, lights, and an audience
  • Fights occur in a raised ring
  • Both use rounds to track the bout. There are time limits and other rules
  • Sanctioned fighters compete and have rankings within the sanctioning organization
  • The sanctioning organization sets the rules for the bout

Tired of the same old Zumba or Cardio Dance?

Kickboxing fighters must have excellent physical fitness. This aspect of art is something everyday people can enjoy. The practice of Kickboxing to music is cardio-intensive, intense strength building, and sweat-inducing. When combined with the heavy bag, padded mitt work, and shield striking, the fitness student can get the same great results all while having fun.

I’m a registered Cardio Karate Kickboxing instructor and led classes for students interested in something new and different. We drill fighting combinations to music, get good at striking flow, and kicking power. The workouts are tough. We get sweaty, and our muscles are sore. After a few months, you’ll notice a difference in your body and how your clothes fit. The best part of this cardio fitness program is you learn real punching and kicking, usable in self-defense. However, you’ll still need to learn self-defense techniques, but you’ll have the power punch to back up the move.

Conclusion: The Two Arts are Un-identical Twins

What used to be an apparent distinction between Kickboxing and Muay Thai has muddled over the years. For example, many fighters compete in both types of matches (Kickboxing and Muay Thai), thereby confusing the distinction further. The arts appear to be the same to the casual observer. While both Kickboxing and Muay Thai are separate, distinct arts, they share a considerable amount of features characteristics that make them similar sports. Another issue with the confusion is the advent of Mixed Martial Arts fighting, which combines Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Jui-Jitsu, and Shoot Wrestling.

Martial arts styles are training styles with unique customs and fighting strategies. A student finds and studies arts that suit them. (link to choosing a martial arts style for you) Martial arts styles like Kickboxing and Muay Thai appeal to different people. Don’t think of differences or characteristics as making one style better than another. The martial art makes the fighter effective for that martial art’s focus or specialty. I suggest finding a style that you will enjoy because getting proficient takes a lot of time and effort.

I hope this helps you understand these two amazing fighting styles. If you are interested, consider finding an instructor near you.

What is Kickboxing

The art and sport of Kickboxing began in 1970 with the exhibition bout featuring Joe Lewis. Lewis was a Black Belt in traditional Karate and a student of Bruce Lee. He grew frustrated with point-fighting. Lewis felt point-fighting didn’t reflect a real fight, so he proposed a full contact bout using a karate and western boxing blend where a fighter could get knocked out.[1]

‟Lewis faced Kenpo stylist Greg ‛Om’ Baines… Lewis won the fight by knockout in the second round.[2]” At this exhibition full-contact bout, the announcers coined the term Kickboxing. Joe Lewis went on to defend his title ten times. The rules for fighting were still embryonically lacking weight classes, and most fights continued until only one boxer remained standing.

The sport continued to refine with the formation of two sanctioning bodies, the Professional Karate Association (PKA) and of the World Kickboxing Association (WKA). These two bodies developed a ranking system and sanctioned bouts worldwide. Several other organizations have come and gone since the mid-70s. The fighters also improved their art by including western boxing techniques and better physical stamina training.[3]

Kickboxing blending with Muay Thai during the 80s, eventually branching into the Mixed Martial Arts sport fighting. There are still Kickboxing bouts, but the field of options has expanded into various forms and governing associations. The most popular one is the UFC.

Legendary Kickboxing Fighters

A few of the early fighters became legends in the sport. Here is a brief list of the most popular and my favorite.

Joe Lewis

Joe Lewis was a Marine and former high school wrestler who studied Shorin-Ryu Karate in Okinawa between 1954-1955. Lewis earned his Black Belt in seven months. After his return to the United States, he entered many point sparring tournaments taking first place in many bouts. Through his continued training with various instructors and his experience in the ring, Lewis developed an influential full-contact fighting art.[5] His art continues through his website Joe Lewis Fighting System. If you are interested in learning his system, join their online training and access to regional seminars.

Bill ‛Superfoot’ Wallace

Bill Wallace is an Airman who studied Shorin-Ryu in 1967. Wallace began to enter point-fighting tournaments and achieved some success. He switched to full-contact fighting with the PKA and dominated the middleweight division. Wallace acquired his moniker Superfoot because of his swift left foot, notably the round-house kick and hook-kick.[6] After retiring from Kickboxing, Wallace began teaching seminars across the country. These seminars were very popular, leading Wallace to produce instructional videos with Panther Productions. I was fortunate enough to attend one of Bill Wallace’s seminar. If you want to learn more about Wallace’s fighting system, visit his website, and join the classes.

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith is a Tae Kwon Do artist (taught by Jhun Rhee) who is a seven-time PKA World Champion. He is now a 10th-degree Grand Master and teaches at his Tae Kwon Do school in Virginia.[7] During his fighting career, Smith defeated many of the famous fighters in the era. His most memorable bout was the lead-in match for the worldwide broadcast of the 1975 ‛Thrilla in Manila’ featuring Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.[8] Learn more about Smith at his website.

John Natividad

John Natividad is a champion fighter who fought on the Chuck Norris team. Natividad earned the moniker Giant Killer by defeating the top 5 National ranked competitors. His most famous bout was with Benny Urquidez, which Natividad won in overtime 13-12.[9] Natividad is now a 10th-degree Black Belt in Chuck Norris’ United Fighting Arts Federation. Learn more about Natividad and his school.

Grandmasters Natividad, Olivier, Wilson, and Gabriel

The early 1970s brought about an interest in full-contact Karate in the form of Kickboxing. This testing of martial arts skills in a real fight has led to many innovative changes and a flood of modified styles. With the influence of Bruce Lee and Kajukenbo, martial arts began to move towards realistic versus traditional evaluation of their effectiveness. And this progression percolated in the 1990s with the advent of thoroughly mixed martial arts, full-contact fights.

[1] Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kickboxing

[2] Ibid.

[3] ATA Kick, https://atakick.com/the-history-of-kickboxing/

[4] Prokick, http://archive.prokick.com/kickboxing/article/history-of-kickboxing/

[5] Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Lewis_(martial_artist)

[6] Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Wallace_(martial_artist)

[7] Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Smith_(martial_arts)

[8] IKF, http://ikfkickboxing.com/JeffSmith.htm

[9] John Natividad, https://www.johnnatividad.com/

What is Muay Thai?

Muay Thai is a full-contact sport similar to boxing, except these fighters can use fist, feet, shins, elbows, knees, and lots of clinching. It is a swift sport featuring powerful blows, in-close elbows, and lots of fantastic athleticism.[1] Muay Thai is the national close-combat martial art of Thailand developed hundreds of years ago. Thailand’s history includes stories of great Muay Thai fighters and their heroic battles.[2] Just as Japan is known for Karate and China for Kung Fu, so is Thailand known for Muay Thai.

A Brief History of Muay Thai

“The ascension of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) to the throne in 1868 ushered in a golden age not only for muay but for the whole country of Thailand. Muay progressed greatly during the reign of Rama V as a direct result of the king’s personal interest in the sport.[1]” Muay Thai continued to gain popularity during the early 1900s with the infusion of Westerners and their interest in the sport.

The 1990s saw Muay Thai gain worldwide popularity, and the governing federation of fights grew to international proportions. Muay Thai is now a mainstay in the fighting sports watched by enthusiasts across the United States. I enjoy watching the skill and power of these fighters and their distinctive style.

Tiger Muay Thai has a much more in-depth history of the art.

Famous Muay Thai Fighters

Want to know who the best Muay Thai fighters are? Check out Muay Thai Citizen’s list of the Top Ten Thai Fighters.

Many UFC and MMA fighters cross-train in Muay Thai to improve their standing game. Others use a combination of Karate, Kickboxing, or Savate. The combo of Muay Thai and Brazilian Jui-Jitsu is trendy among MMA fighters.

Current Information about Muay Thai

“The World Muaythai Council (WMC) is one of the oldest and the largest professional sanctioning organizations of Muaythai in the world for the sport. The organization was set up in 1995 by parliament resolution, and is incorporated by the Royal Thai Government and sanctioned by the Sports Authority of Thailand, …[6]” This is the organization that approves professional fights for Muay Thai fighters all over the world. Look for their logo on a sanctioned fighter. Head over to their website to find out more.

Are you interested in the amateur fighters? There is an amateur body to sanction these fighters too. “In 1993, the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur, or IFMA, was inaugurated. It became the governing body of amateur Muay Thai consisting of 128 member countries worldwide and is recognized by Olympic Council of Asia.[6]” If you want to be knowledgeable about the rising stars of Muay Thai, this is a great resource.

I want to learn more Muay Thai

Though I don’t teach Muay Thai at my school, it is an incredible art. If this article stirs interest in the art of Muay Thai, take a look at Budo Videos for at-home training. This won’t take the place of a qualified instructor, but it will get you moving in the right direction.

If you want to add this to your school’s curriculum as a new program, consider enrolling at KRU Muay Thai for their instructor training.

Conclusion

Many nations and areas across the world have their indigenous martial arts, developed through history in countless battles. These arts are national treasures and should be preserved by those willing to put in the work and dedication to acquire the skills. What other art forms do you know of from other countries?

[1] Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muay_Thai

[2] Tiger Muay Thai, https://www.tigermuaythai.com/about-muay-thai/history

[3] Best Muay Thai Boxing, https://bestmuaythaiboxing.com/what-is-muay-thai

[4] Muay Thai Citizen, http://www.muaythaicitizen.com/beginners-guide-to-muay-thai/

[5] World Muay Thai Council, http://www.wmcmuaythai.org/

[6] Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Muaythai_Council

[7] International Federation of Muaythai Amateur, http://www.ifmamuaythai.org/