“I come to you with only Karate, empty hands, I have no weapons, but should I be forced to defend myself, my principles or my honor, should it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong; then here are my weapons, karate, my empty hands.”
Sometimes when the day starts to wind down, and the lessons have all finished, I sit back and reminisce to my very first Karate lesson. There I was, in a little pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt, and standing across from me was this huge he-man-esque figure towering over the class – barking commands like a drill sergeant, and there I was, with two left feet and all elbows. Trying as I might to do something called a horse stance with no animals in sight. It was awkward, and after the first lesson I thought of never going back. But, something inside of me kept me going back for more. And even though I was only in the class for a short time before we moved away (Air Force transfer), I learned a whole lot about both myself, and what I wanted out of life. I wanted to be the he-man, and be the one in charge, teaching lessons like I had witnessed.
I want to congratulate you on taking your first step (or possibly millionth step), into the world of martial arts – as an instructor, I take great pride in welcoming new students into the world of possibilities martial arts offers. Many of you starting today won’t make it past the Orange belt level – the attrition rate for students making it past the Orange belt level is around 30% – people get bored, they move away, or they find something else that captures their interest. Of the remaining students, 30% won’t make it past Green Belt, of that 30% won’t make it to Black belt, and of that, only 30% really stick it out and make martial arts a fundamental part of their personality. The ones who make it beyond black belt to the higher dan rankings are truly the 1% of the martial arts world.
I’ve seen highly motivated students start off with a bang, only to peter off after just a few lessons, and I’ve seen students who had no desire to be in classes, make it all the way up to 5th dan. The martial arts is really what you put into it and what you want to get out of it. Some come for the prestige of earning a high ranking. Others do it for the health and fitness benefits. Still others do it for the self-defense development. For every student, there are a million and one different reasons why they want to start studying martial arts, and all are valid reasons.
After 32 years of study in a wide range of martial arts, I’ve learned a few key things:
- You don’t know anything. There is always a master out there who has better techniques than you.
- There is always someone out there better than you
- You are always learning
- No one style is better than any other style
- Exposure to multiple styles is a very good thing as most styles complement each other
- Never try to be a jack of all trades and master of none – focus on a single style until you reach at least an intermediate proficiency level before trying something else
- If something doesn’t work for you, do something different so that it does work
I designed the CMATOS system to be as simple as possible to advance through the ranks – there are only 8 self defense techniques per belt level, and only one form that is required. Four self defense techniques are designed for open hand combat, while the others are defenses against or with weapons. The material that you learn in the beginner levels will be repeated again (with extensions) during the intermediate levels, which all culminate with the final belt Jun Ichi-dan (red black stripe belt) – to show basic mastery of all the fundamentals of the system. The rest of the 750 plus moves from Kenpo Karate are left for the Black Belt levels to digest and absorb – the goal is that students in the CMATOS system will quickly reach a theoretical level of proficiency and be able to adapt to any and all self-defense situations rather than try and memorize 750 different moves and their infinite variations.
One thing that helps the students learning the system is keeping a training log of what they learned. For your first entry into this journal I would like you to write out what are your goals for learning the CMATOS system. If you would like, you can email us this journal entry so that we can see what our students are interested in and can start offering even more tailored lessons for you. It also becomes a point in time you can go back to and see how your goals evolve over time.
Learning the Martial Arts is really a lifelong commitment, but at a minimum, it requires constant practice and revision of your techniques. You could go through all the lessons on the site in a matter of a few days and have a good basic understanding of the system, but no practical knowledge of how it works. You could spend hours researching and studying the material, but if you never practice with partners, you’ll never get beyond the basic level of mechanical ability. We encourage all students to study at their own pace, but also encourage students to practice on a regular basis, as well as finding a training partner who can help you with the techniques. The best way to do this is to commit to a course of study, and provide your own financial motivation for continuing to advance through the system by committing to a distance learning course with us.
Once you feel confident with your material, you can send in videos for us to review and provide feedback, and if you have successfully mastered all the material in the white belt lessons, we encourage you to apply for yellow belt ranking recognition by sending in a recording of your demonstrations. Without these goals and motivations to study, and without a consistent practice and development, the material of CMATOS will be just that, material on a website.
You will only get out of the system what you put into it. You’re not going to do very well in a self-defense situation if all you have done is read instructions and watched videos – you need to get that muscle memory primed so that when push comes to shove you are ready to react and defend yourself.
But again, this is all dependant on what you want to achieve from CMATOS. I would encourage all students to read over this material carefully, as well as study the history of the CMATOS system to get some general understanding of what you have in store over the next coming years.
I look forward to working with each of you and hope your training is successful and you get out of it what you are expecting.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us for support.