Q: How do I take lessons?

Step 1 review the disclaimer at the bottom of every page on the site.

  1. Using the drop down menu above, select Distance Learning -> Lessons -> White Belt (10 Kyuu)
  2. Scroll down to the first lesson (Lesson 1) and click on the link
  3. Follow the easy step by step instructions to complete your first lesson
    • Watch the video
    • Read the accompanying lesson material
    • Watch the video again
    • Practice, practice, practice
  4. When you are ready to move on, follow the same steps as above and select lesson 2 to continue.

Q: Are Online Lessons an effective way to study a martial art?

Online lessons by themselves are just another tool in your martial arts training tool kit. You need to incorporate practice with a partner, consistent practice, and feedback from an instructor. We provide the lessons and feedback for free, but it is up to you to both practice consistently and practice with a partner. It is also your responsibility to send us your videos for review so we can evaluate your performance and provide feedback. Online lessons should never be the first choice for training in a martial art – you are best served taking in-person lessons from an instructor (we offer in-person lessons as well). However, there are many scenarios where this is not feasible (in an area without an instructor, financial or scheduling difficulties, etc…), and for these students we provide the valuable instruction that they are seeking. In addition, we see ourselves as a valuable additional resource that any student can use to augment their current training regimen. When in doubt – find an in-person instructor to train under. If none are available, we can fill in that need until you do.

Q: How do I study CMATOS?

If you are new the the system or to the martial arts, start out with the white belt lessons. Each belt level consists of a core curriculum of lessons detailing all the material and information you need to successfully pass the ranking test for the next belt level. When you have mastered the material in the White Belt Lessons, go on to the next belt level lessons. You can link to the lessons page from the following locations:

  • Under the Distance Learning Menu Above under Lessons.
  • On the Belt Ranks and Title Page, the links for the Under Belts goes directly to the lesson page for that particular rank.
  • On the Under Belt Requirement Page – look for the heading with the “LESSON”. This will take you to the lesson link on the page.
  • You can use the search button at the top to search for “white belt lessons” (or whatever rank you are studying for).
  • You can use the Category browser at the side of the page and click on the “White Belt Lessons” link.

If you are reviewing material you can either go back to the main lesson pages, or click through to the technique directly from the underbelt requirements page.

Q: What do I need to do to study CMATOS?

Review the material on the site and study at your own pace, find a certified CMATOS instructor in your area, or sign up for distance learning lessons from CMATOS.org.

Q: Do I need any special gear or uniforms?

The only thing you will need is a training partner to help you out with the testing (if you choose to do so). We highly recommend training with a partner, as your experience and skill will dramatically improve. If you wish to purchase a uniform, any white karate gi is suitable for under belts, and any heavy weight black gi is suitable for black belt ranks.

Q: If I wish to wear a belt how do I properly wear my belt?

See this video here. Underbelts, when training under an instructor, you should wear the knot of your belt to the right as a sign of respect. Black belts who are not teaching the current lesson should wear their belt to the right as a sign of respect. If you are training on your own, you can wear the belt with the knot in the center.

Q: Is there a proper way to bow and respect your instructors?

You can review the video here on proper bowing and salutations. As for how you address your instructor, it comes down to your instructor’s personal preference. We have several titles we use within the CMATOS system, but there is no hard and fast rule as to what you should call your instructor – ask them for their preference. As a sign of respect you should address them as Mr/Mrs/Dr and their last name during lessons.

Q: How do I address you, Soke Salaka?

In my signature here, and as my username on this site, I use Soke Salaka. All this is being used for is indicating that I am the founder of this system – there’s no magical powers or honors in that title. In some of my videos I introduce myself as Master Salaka – simply because there are a dozen of other instructors introducing themselves as “Master” in their videos (its a marketing thing). But you want to know a little secret, there are thousands of people out there in the martial arts calling themselves master who really have no claim to the title. Sure I’ve been training in the martial arts for over 3 decades now, and I would say I am reasonably proficient in many different styles, but Master is a title of respect that needs to be earned. You can call me Mr. Salaka, or Mr. S if you want to, or even informally as Stephen (never Steve). But you know what, when I think of “Master” I think of these guys – some 90 year old kung fu priest – not some martial arts instructor with only 30 years of training experience. So if you want me to feel really old call me Master. Otherwise Mr. Salaka, Mr. S, or Stephen is just fine. If you really, really want to, and think I’ve been deemed worthy of your respect and consider me a master of the arts, then by all means feel free to address me as Master Salaka. Once I turn 70 I might start demanding students call me “Great Supreme Grand Master” or something ridiculous like that, but until that time just stick with the Mr.

Q: I’ve been studying martial arts for XX years can I get ranked in CMATOS?

Students of kenpo can translate their rank directly to CMATOS – black belt ranks may have a bit of catching up to do in order to be promoted further. For students of other styles, you will need to learn the CMATOS material before getting ranked, but because of your experience, most of the techniques and skills should be pretty quick to pick up. Please see this page for initial ranking fees.

Q: I want to study, but I don’t have a lot of money. Can you work something out?

We understand the financial hardships that many face when deciding on studying a martial art. This is why we offer all of our lessons and material FREE through this site. If you wish to become a distance learning student, or gain official rank certification, we charge a modest fee for testing and reviews. If your financial situation does not allow for even this limited cost, we can work out a deal with you to defer some or all of the cost of the ranking, please contact us for more information. The other option is for you to refer 10 paying students to us who sign up for annual distance learning memberships, through which you will be eligible to train with us and rank with us for free during the next 12 months.

Q: I am a martial arts instructor and want to use your material in my school. Can I use your material in my classes?

By all means – FREE means FREE. We would like if you would give us credit as to where you got the material from, but this is not necessary. You could also consider joining as an affiliated or charter school so we can help with cross promotion.

Q: After I pass my rank test, when will I receive my certificate and belt?

Rank promotions do not automatically include belts or rank certificates, but they do include listing of your rank within the CMATOS family tree. If you would like a rank certificate or embroidered belt you can order one at our CMATOS store.

Q: Affiliation membership fees are through the roof? How come you charge such a large amount?

Affiliation fees, affiliation rank certificates, and affiliation rank recognition are all paid directly to the organizations we are affiliated with. Ranking with the organizations, or membership in there affiliations are NOT required for rank recognition or training with CMATOS. They are required, however, if you wish to be a certified instructor or affiliated/charter school. If you wish membership in any of the organizations you are free to join individually or through CMATOS – the fee structure remains the same.

Q: I’d like you to come teach a seminar at my school.

We’d be more than happy to come teach a seminar at your location. The fee is a flat $250 per day (for an unlimited number of students) for the training (1 day $250, 2 days $500), plus all supplies and travel expenses (room, board, and airfare/gas, etc…). Your school or organization can make the arrangements for the travel and we’d be more than happy to stay over at someone’s house and share a meal with your students. Please contact us for scheduling and availability.

Q: What’s the difference between the FREE reviews and the formalized reviews?

Free reviews are done on a first come first served basis when the bandwidth becomes available. They are limited in scope and coverage. Formalized reviews get a higher priority in the queue, include a written report on what you need to work on, and possible creation of an additional explainer video to help you focus on the areas you need work on.

Q: What does the Annual Distance Learning membership include?

With your annual distance learning membership you will receive one CMATOS patch, and some pretty significant discounts on your ranking reviews, formalized reviews, personalized coaching sessions, and testing fees. We charge this fee to ensure that students are committed to the 12 month course of study and expect that the students will submit weekly technique videos for review, and participate in at least one coaching session per month. Students in the distance learning program can usually complete 4 beginner belt ranks per year, 2-3 intermediate ranks, and 1-2 advanced ranks per year with this system.

If you figure in all the costs – $20 for the technique reviews per month. $10 per month for the coaching session. $25 per rank test. You are looking at somewhere on the order of $700 per year to study with CMATOS via our distance learning curriculum. This comes out to around $60 per month. Again, we want to work with all students, and if this financial burden is too great, please contact us for options.

If you were to do these “ala-carte” you would be looking at $120 per month for technique reviews, $75 per month for the coaching session, and $50 per rank test – coming out to around $2,500 per year for the same level of training and coaching.

Q: You look like a fat slob and have no martial arts skills. I challenge you to a fight to prove your skills in mortal combat!

Sure. Give me $100,000 and I’ll meet you next February 31st at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue, Albany, Virginia 12345 at 13:78 pm. I’m not in the business of having to prove my skills via fighting random challenges on the internet. I hope the CMATOS material speaks for itself. You can take the lessons as an opus, and understand that there is 32 years of training history behind it. If you want to come train with me, or want me to come train with you I welcome the opportunity to help each other work on our skills. Want to spar? Sure that’s fine too. Want to fight for fighting sake – go join the UFC or MMA – that’s not what I’m here for.

Q: Aren’t you a little young to be an 8th degree?

Aren’t you a little old to be a white belt? It wasn’t until very recently that organizations such as the JKA, WKA, ITF, WTF, started attaching age limits on their upper belt ranks. At first it was just time in rank, and then they said, you know what, let’s make it an old man’s club and only promote people past 5th once they reach 40, past 6th once they reach 50, etc… because they had a lot of students who started at a very young age (like myself) who would qualify for the upper ranks based on the time in rank criteria. If you look at the corpus of the American Kenpo System, new material requirements stop off after 3rd degree (5th degree with Tracy), and you start getting into time in rank advancements beyond that point. The key with the advancements to upper ranks is really time spent training and contribution to the martial arts in general. I’ve trained tons of students over the years (American Kenpo), and as the founder of the CMATOS system it’s important to ensure I have enough buffer to promote students accordingly – and the affiliations we’re currently attached to all to agree. As far as ranking within Kenpo itself – I just made 6th degree in 2015, so it won’t be until sometime in 2022 that I’ll be eligible for 7th, and 2030 for 8th (unless someone wants to bestow that rank on me before that time). During that time I’ll be working on advancing through the JKA, WKA, ITF, and WTF ranks based on their age restrictions (but that is a story for another day).