My Influences in the Martial Arts
….I gave him that look like the dog gives you when you ask if he wants to go outside, my head rotated to the side and I gave him a stare, “What did you just say ?”…
I started my dojo/ teaching my first real classes in 1999, I say “real” because before that I taught private lessons that prepared me to teach, but everything changes when all your students are under the age of 10. Plus being my first time out on my own I had questions, and there were a lot, “I did not know, what I did not know.” For example: Bringing in students, keeping students and operating a school, talking to parents. Like a beacon from above, I was reading Black Belt Magazine and discovered an article about the National Association of Professional Martial Artists (NAPMA). Little did I know how it would change everything, I thought, I knew about martial arts business. When I found out NAPMA was headquartered on Florida’s west coast, just across the state from me that took it up a notch. I am not writing an ad for the company but it helped me out in many aspects of opening and running a school. After some research and actually visiting their offices, I made the investment in the World Conference or better yet “a gathering of martial arts geeks.”
I then signed up for the conference that was held in Clearwater, Florida. My first time there I discovered two new padded weapons programs that blew me away, because it was the first time weapons training could be taken to a sparring level without the fear of broken bones and bruises. Call me weird but injuries do nothing for retaining a student or continued practice. Another aspect of the conference there were marital artists that wanted to network and make friends and increase their knowledge of the business, unlike old school karate guys, I am sure we all have those stories. NAPMA showed me you could make a living teaching karate.
Aside from the new padded weapons and the networking they even had the old school karate people, real masters of the arts. I met several of the greats Fumio Demura, the great nunchaku master, to me. I bought his books to learn how to use the nunchaku, thanks to NAPMA 14 years later I would meet Master Demura, take a nunchaku class and have my picture taken with him. I met and had a picture with Jhoon Rhee, the Father of Tae Kwon Do, at the time he was in his 70’s and knocked out 100 pushups on stage then stood up lifted his leg straight up, parallel to his body while playing the harmonica, AMAZING ! The man is incredible and inspirational. Who else did I meet ? Joe Lewis, Kathy Long, and John Graden and some other not so famous martial arts people that impressed the hell out of me.
NAPMA opened my eyes to a new world of martial arts one that would bring students to teach and ideas to help everyone grow. NAPMA has been a BIG influenced in my martial arts career. Only second to a friend of mine who said to me, “Why don’t you teach karate ?” I gave him that look like the dog gives you when you ask if he wants to go outside, my head rotated to the side and I gave him a stare, “What did you just say ?”