2 New Push-Up Drills…

I’m sure you’ve probably seen the TV program The Ultimate Fighter?

Personally I think “ultimate” might be the wrong word, but hey, it’s a UFC reality show so it fits. They weren’t going to call it The most-of-us-have-no-clue-what-we’re-doing Fighter. That would be a bit of a ratings-killer I guess…

Ultimate or not, there’s little denying it is entertaining in parts whether it’s Rampage Jackson acting like a 5 year old and destroying a set door or listening to the verbal diarrhea that comes out of some of the fighter’s mouths. But the main reason I watch it is for the training drills that they do during the show. Sometimes I pick up a couple of new drills or exercises to try out on my students.

If you didn’t catch last week’s episode here are a couple of push-up variations you can use in your classes.

Hop Pushups

Start by taking the regular push-up position but instead of going all the way down to the floor, lower yourself half way and then push up as fast as you can so your hands leave the floor (your feet stay where they are). Try to get about 1 inch of “air” with each hop. These push-ups are done rapidly and explosively and you’ll feel your deltoids (shoulder muscles) getting a good work out.

Do 20 as a warm-up exercise, or 3 sets of 20 as an endurance exercise.

Hand to Hand Pushups

Perform a regular push-up with full extension, but as you come up to the up position put your weight on one hand and touch that hand with the other. Then repeat and switch hands so that you are alternating balancing on your left hand then your right hand.

This is a good little variation for balance, control and strength building.

Try these out in your classes this week and let me know your student’s response!



P.S. The Ultimate Fighter is on Spike at 10pm Pacific Time on Wednesday nights here in the States. Not sure when it’s on elsewhere but I’m sure you could do a Google search and find out faster than you could throw a 1,2.

Where’s the customer service?

I just got off the phone with Verizon…


It took them 45 minutes and 6 different operators to finally resolve the issues… Oh, no wait. Let me rephrase that. It took them 45 minutes and 6 different operators to resolve 1 out of 3 issues I have with them regarding our account.


Years ago we had Verizon for phone service and got messed around with by their billing department (basically they kept charging us after we canceled service), and I swore I’d never use them again. As it’d been 5 years since then I thought everyone deserves a second chance, right?

Well, let me tell you nothing’s changed. And the stupid things is the signs were there before we signed up again. Distant voices crying out telling us to stay away. Friends reporting weird things were happening with their FIOS, PPV events crashing during service, and horrible tech/customer support.

“Ah!”, I thought. “That won’t happen to us! I’m pretty tech savvy and can handle it.”

Needless to say, I’m very disappointed with paying what we pay for what we get. Yet, we’re locked in for 12 months and if we cancel service before then they’ll hit us with a hefty early termination fee.

Now I realize I can fight them tooth and nail and ultimately probably get out of it all without having to pay anything further, but since it took me a minimum 45 minutes to resolve just one issue, I’m not hopeful that cancellation would be headache-free. At the end of the day, I just want what I pay for to work properly and be worth it.

Ok, so enough about Verizon. What the heck has this got to do with karate?

It’s this:

What is the message you send to your students, family, friends and community about your dojo? What is the general word of mouth? Is your place well liked? Well respected? Does it get recommended by others? Is it remarkable (in a good way)?

Creating good customer service, friendly atmosphere, and good rapport with everyone associated with your club goes a loooooooonnnnnnnng way to keeping customers a much longer time. But if you overcharge and provide horrible service you’ll lose students quicker than you can “yame!”

Verizon gets away with it because they’re no longer a small business, have a huge marketing budget and can churn customers over without much care. You can bet your bottom dollar they didn’t start out that way.

However for a small business that’s trying to prosper in challenging economic times, failure to provide is business suicide.

Your thoughts?

Post ’em below

– Jason

Instructor, Teacher or Coach?

Do you consider yourself a martial arts instructor, teacher or coach?

When I first started teaching karate I thought of myself as an instructor. Then a few years ago I decided I wasn’t an instructor anymore, but a teacher instead. And recently I’ve changed my mind again – I now see myself more as a karate “coach”.

While the differences may be subtle at first glance, the words you choose to describe yourself can have a great impact on the actions that you take, and how you are perceived by others.

Here’s why…

When you think “Karate Instructor” what’s the first thing that pops into your mind?

For many people it’s “drill sergeant” or something similar. The image is a hard-nosed, tough guy who barks orders, walks the lines and gets in student’s faces. This person dishes it out and has one volume level – LOUD! This type teaches at a group level, doesn’t accept any questions and teaches with intimidation. Students are mostly anxious when this person is in charge.

When you think “Karate Teacher” what do you think?

I think of someone who takes more time to explain the details than the instructor. Someone who is passionate about what they do. They’re approachable and encourage and are happy to answer questions.  I think of a teacher as someone who wants their students to learn and do well. Again this person teaches mostly at a group level.

Now think of the word “coach” and notice your first feeling that you associate with it…

If you’re anything like me you’ll probably associate “coach” with training someone on an INDIVIDUAL level, instead of group level, yes?

Obviously as karate sensei we need to be able to communicate at both group and individual levels, but too often instructors spend too much time with the GROUP and not enough with the INDIVIDUAL.

A good coach knows each of his students, their strengths and weaknesses, what they need to work on and how they receive and interpret information. An instructor in the context of this article, tends to communicate on one level and if the student fails, it’s their fault – not the instructor. But a coach tends to look at the situation differently. If a student isn’t up to standard, the coach is willing to share some of the responsibility for the student’s shortcomings and looks for new ways to improve their skill sets.

So which are you?

Instructor, Teacher or Coach?

And which would you rather be?

Until next time…

The straw that broke the camel’s back…

We have a rule at our dojo that if you’re late to class then the penalty for class interruption is 50/50/50.

That means…

  • 50 pushups
  • 50 situps
  • 50 jumping jacks / star jumps

before you can join the class… and it’s not negotiable.

(For the kids classes it’s 30/30/30)

So I was a little annoyed last week when I had a junior student show up to class 10 minutes late, expecting to be admitted to class without penalty. He didn’t look like he wanted to do class and his dad said, “You know he doesn’t feel well so I don’t think the pushups are going to help.”

“I’m sorry he doesn’t feel well.”, I said, “but rules are rules. If Brett wants to go on the training floor then he has to do the 30/30/30.”

I turned to my student and said, “Your choice pal. You’re either well enough to do class in which case you have to do the pushups, situps and jumping jacks, or you’re not well enough to do karate today. I don’t mind which one you choose, but the rules are the rules…. what’s it going to be?”

He stood there in his gi looking sheepish and replied, “I don’t think I can do it today.”

“Ok, that’s fine. Rest today and get better. I’ve go to get back on the floor. Have a nice weekend and I’ll see you next week,” I said.

3 hours later….

Ring, ring.

My phone rang…

“Hello, Jason speaking.”

“Jason, it’s Mark,” said the voice.

“Hi Mark. How’s Brett doing?”, I answered.

“Well, he’s decided that his heart isn’t in karate anymore. And I don’t want to push him if he’s not into it. We initially got him involved because he was getting bullied at school, but that’s cleared up now, so we’re pulling him out of class”, said Mark.

The conversation finished soon after and I knew full well that the straw that broke the camel’s back was the fact that he didn’t want to do the hard work. Clearly this student gets what he wants at home without much resistance, and when it didn’t fly with me he quit.

It’s a shame because he was quite good technically. He was athletic and showed great potential. But at the end of the day, all the talent in the world isn’t worth anything if they quit when it the going gets tough.

Some may think that I should have made an exception and permitted him to join the class because he was a good student?

Noooo! What’s the point of having rules if they’re allowed to be broken? If you allow yourself to be pushed around by puppy-dog-eyed students and parents, you’ll lose credibility and respect in a heartbeat.

I lost a student on Friday because I stuck to my guns… and I’ll do the same again to preserve the reputation of the school, and mine as a credible karate instructor.

Do you stick to your guns too?