Martial Arts Round-Up – Mar 18, 2011

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at

Here’s a round-up of the best martial arts-related news stories and blog posts that we came across this week.

How Do Your Assumptions Hold You Back?
When it comes to self-defense, one of the most dangerous things you can do is hold false assumptions about martial arts styles, or about your own physical capabilities. In this post, jiu-jitsu instructor Lori O’Connell explains why we must “be willing to challenge our assumptions and accept that reality can unfold very differently from what we expect, regardless of what we’ve trained in, learned, or experienced.”

What Should I Be Focusing On? A Karate Dilemma
Karate blogger Jesse Enkamp responds to a reader who wrote in asking what aspect of karate training he should focus on the most. Enkamp’s advice? “Keep focusing on everything; if you want to become a true expert you can’t cherry pick anyway.” There are peaks and valleys in training, and sometimes pushing through periods where progress seems slow is what sets one martial arts student apart from another.

Deadlift! Deadlift! Deadlift!
If he had to choose only one exercise to do, MMA strength and conditioning coach Rob DeCillis would choose the deadlift. Why? Because it strengthens everything from your glutes to your grip, and if you do it right, it can reduce the risk of injury. DeCillis also shares a couple videos that can help improve your deadlift technique.

Suggesting an Attitude
Martial arts author Phillip Starr shares a story that demonstrates the power of the mind. He convinced his student that a simple pine board was made of an unbreakable material. His student should have easily broken the board, but couldn’t because he was held back by his beliefs: “The wrong word(s) at the wrong time can have dramatic and even disastrous effects.”

Take Up More Space
“Have you ever seen someone demonstrate kata and seem larger than life regardless of their physical size? They take up space with their presence.” Martial arts instructor and blogger Michele shares that and 3 other tips on how taking up more space can benefit your martial arts training.

Personal Development Reader – Mar 16, 2011

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at

Here’s a round-up of the best blog posts and articles on personal development that we came across this week.

Why Creating Reading Lists Jumpstarts Self Improvement Success
It’s no secret that reading is one of the easiest ways to enrich your life. But if you leave choosing books up to chance, you could be missing out on a lot of learning opportunities. In this post, blogger Nea Joy shares why you might consider creating reading lists based on upcoming events or goals you’ve set for yourself.

The Little Habits
Making big improvements in your life doesn’t always call for dramatic changes. Sometimes, when you start doing little things here and there, and those little things turn into habits, it can be life-changing. In this post, blogger Leo Babauta gives 8 examples of little habits he finds beneficial and tips on how to develop new habits like these.

Let Go of Control: How to Learn the Art of Surrender
Are you the type of person who tries to plan and control for every possible situation? As it turns out, things often run much more smoothly when you allow events to take their natural course. In this post, psychologist and coach Dr. Amy Johnson offers tips on how to transform your inner control freak, and why you should consider learning to surrender.

How to Stay Positive Even When You’re Surrounded by Bad News
For the past few years, we’ve been bombarded day in and day out with news stories about homes going through foreclosures, businesses shutting down, and people losing their jobs. When you’re surrounded by so much negativity, it’s not easy to stay positive. In this post, blogger and strategy coach Jonathan Wells offers tips on how to reject the negative noise and stay optimistic.

Early Rising: Falling into a Rhythm
If you read interviews with successful people, many of them will talk about the benefits of getting up early, whether it’s allowing yourself a headstart on getting work done at the office, avoiding traffic jams, or squeezing in a morning workout. But becoming an early riser isn’t as easy as it sounds. In this post, blogger Farnoosh Brock discusses her struggle and shares what finally worked for her.

6 Ways to Build Confidence in Your Child

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at

Is your child shy or withdrawn? Does your child lack self-confidence? Do you wish your children would believe in themselves just as much as you believe in them?

Dr. Robyn Silverman is the child development expert who created Powerful Words, our brand-new character development curriculum here at Urban Martial Arts.

In this video, Dr. Robyn gives advice to a parent who wrote in because she’s noticing that her kids are losing confidence as they enter their pre-teen and teen years:

Here are Dr. Robyn’s tips for parents who want to boost their children’s confidence:

1. Highlight your child’s gifts
Every person is good at something. Make sure your children know where their talents lie.

2. Praise effort over results
Encourage your child to set goals and work for them. Failure to achieve a goal doesn’t mean they should quit. Instead, they should use perseverance to try again.

3. Don’t go overboard with praise
Over-praising can be just as damaging as under-praising. If you tell your children “good job” after every little thing they do, they’ll realize you’re being phony and won’t take your opinion seriously.

4. Be a positive role model
If you’re not confident, how can your kids learn to be confident? Make sure you model the kind of behavior you expect to see from them. Don’t engage in negative self-talk in front of your kids.

5. Don’t label your children
Parents have a tendency to introduce their children to others by labeling them, e.g. “this is my shy teen” or “this is my go-getter kid.” Avoid using labels like these, as they can often become self-fulfilling prophecies.

6. Put your children in activities that foster confidence
Activities that are goal-oriented, like sports and martial arts, are excellent ways for your children to improve their physical skills and boost their self-confidence.

Martial Arts Round-Up – March 11th, 2011

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at

Here’s a round-up of the best martial arts-related news stories and blog posts that we came across this week.

4 Tips for Preventing Illness at the Dojo
Since many martial arts styles call for close contact with your training partners, it can be easy to pick up cold or flu bugs. In this post, jiu-jitsu instructor Lori O’Connell offers some ways you can avoid getting sick.

“Body Type Karate” And Why It Doesn’t Exist
Many people believe you should choose the kata you practice based on whether you’re stocky, thin, fat, strong, tall, or slim. Karate blogger Jesse Enkamp disagrees and explains why he thinks this misses the whole point of karate training.

Kids Self Defense: When is it ok to fight back?
Many martial arts instructors tell their students that karate is not to be used at school. But does that mean a child shouldn’t fight back if he’s being physically bullied? In this post, Australian martial arts school owner Matt Klein explains when it is and isn’t ok for kids to fight back.

The real meaning of Black Belt
Martial arts schools put so much emphasis on the goal of achieving one’s black belt, that sometimes students may think that once they earn their black belt, that’s all there is to it. In this post, martial arts school owner Kevin McGeary explains that “reaching black belt isn’t the end of a journey, it’s the beginning of a deeper and more meaningful one.”

Mirror, Mirror on the Dojo Wall
When you think of martial arts training tools, what comes to mind? Probably items like kick targets and WaveMasters. But what about mirrors? In this post, martial arts student and blogger Michele points out that mirrors are an indispensable tool for martial arts training, for both the student and the instructor.

Surviving a Home Invasion
If you were the target of a home intrusion, would your martial arts training help you? It’s hard to say, but martial arts blogger John Vesia points us to 10 self-defense tips from a woman who survived being robbed at home. First on the list: always keep your head up so it’s clear that you’re paying attention to your surroundings.

Our Students Share Their Thoughts on Dedication

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at

Over Midwinter Recess (February 21-25), we held a week-long Dedication Camp here at Urban Martial Arts. Our students received not only intensive martial arts training, but
in-depth character development lessons as well.

In this video, our students share what dedication means to them, and how they believe their parents show dedication:

As you’ll see, our students worked hard, but had a ton of fun as well! There was plenty of time for games like hot potato, steal the bacon, and even a game of “football” that they invented, using a focus mitt as the ball! Gotta love their creativity!

Martial Arts Round-Up – March 4th, 2011

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at

Here’s a round-up of our favorite martial arts-related news stories and blog posts that we came across this week.

Martial Arts 2.0: How to Download a Black Belt
Can you really learn martial arts just by watching videos online? Himanshu Ojha, a student at the Columbia Journalism School, sets out to answer this question.

The Plight of the Armchair Trainee
Martial arts blogger Matthew Apsokardu gives us the outtakes from his interview with Ojha (see story above). In this blog post, he argues that video can be a great tool in martial arts training, as long as you’re able to distinguish good advice from bad advice.

Gi Washing Tips for Double Weaves
Here’s something we don’t often talk about on the Urban Martial Arts blog: doing laundry! If you’ve got one of those heavy Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gis, what’s the best way to wash it? In this blog post, Jiu-Jitsu instructor Lori O’Connell shares her tips on getting your uniform clean without destroying your washer and dryer.

Bear Crawls in the Snow
Do you live in a cold area? If so, put that snow to use in your martial arts training! MMA strength and conditioning coach Rob DeCillis shows us an innovative spin on bear crawls by doing them in the snow.

Karate Tournament Rules; How Many Points for a Kick?!
The rules of point sparring in karate tournaments have evolved over the years. In this blog post, martial arts blogger John Zimmer wonders if awarding more points to high kicks, jumping kicks, and spinning kicks has been done simply to promote a flashier style of fighting.

The Importance of Confidence

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at

We’re excited to debut our brand-new character development curriculum this month, called Powerful Words. It’s designed by one of the nation’s leading childhood development experts, Dr. Robyn Silverman.

Every month, we’ll focus on a different Powerful Word, or concept around character development.

In March 2011, we’ll be working on the concept of “confidence.” All our discussions and activities will aim to help our students understand what it means to feel “sure” of themselves, their skills, and their worth, and how to demonstrate to the world that they are confident in who they are.

Here’s a video from Dr. Robyn Silverman in which she introduces some of the concepts we’ll be covering this month:

Confidence is a combination of trust and assuredness. Confident people embody a feeling of inner certainty that everything will work out as envisioned. They believe in themselves, their abilities, and in those they trust. Read the full article →

Martial Arts Round-Up – February 25, 2011

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at

Here’s a round-up of our favorite martial arts-related news stories and blog posts that we came across this week.

MMA: Sport or Spectacle?
A co-worker recently asked martial arts blogger John Vesia if he thinks MMA is a sport. The underlying connotation of the question seemed to be that MMA couldn’t possibly be a sport, since it doesn’t seem to have any rules and is filled with gratuitous violence. Despite the efforts to “clean up” MMA, it still has a bad rap and is banned in states like NY. What will it take to change the public perception of MMA?

Muscle Memory & Confusion for Building Technique & Strength
Jiu-Jitsu instructor Lori O’Connell continues her series on the role of muscle memory and muscle confusion in martial arts training. In this post, she demonstrates three different sets of warm-ups that capitalize on muscle confusion. The first is a ground warm-up combination of shrimping, bridging and rolling, and turtling. The second helps strengthen the ab muscles by absorbing hits from a medicine ball. The third works the core by swinging your arms and legs in opposite directions while lifting your hips, causing you to move across the floor.

Should I Put Karate On My Resume?
Martial arts blogger Rob Redmond poses a compelling question: “You have been doing karate a long time, and you have achieved significant success in it. You have earned your first, second, third, or higher dan rank. You finished instructor training. You are qualified as a referee, examiner, and instructor. You are licensed by seven different organizations and are even trained in CPR. Why shouldn’t you list these achievements on your resume?” His answer may surprise you!

Knee Defense Against Jab and Cross
MMA strength and conditioning coach Rob DeCillis shares a video that shows you how to defend against a jab and cross using a knee defense. If you try it out, here’s a tip from DeCillis on getting the technique right: “Make sure you apply a decent amount of pressure when grabbing the neck, as it hits a pressure point while you grab.”

Sanchin & The 4 Secrets of The Skill of Strength
Is strength a skill? Karate blogger Jesse Enkamp thinks so. He argues that strength is “the skill to tense one’s muscles harder.” And because it’s a skill, there are shortcuts you can use to take your skill to a new level. In this post, he outlines four techniques you can use to improve your strength: irradiation, bracing, successive induction, and power breathing.

We’re Teaming Up With Dr. Robyn Silverman

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at

We’re always looking for ways to enhance your learning experience here at Urban Martial Arts.

When you join Urban Martial Arts, you don’t just learn how to kick and punch. You deserve a well-rounded curriculum that enhances your personal development, not just your physical abilities.

That’s why I’m proud to announce that we’ve partnered with internationally acclaimed Child and Adolescent Development Specialist, Robyn J. A. Silverman, PhD!

Dr. Robyn, as many call her, has developed a comprehensive character development curriculum called Powerful Words that will give our students the strength to explore and the foundation to succeed.

Dr. Robyn has written this curriculum specifically for use in our academy, so now you will actually be getting two world-class programs for the price of one!

We’ll be launching this new program in March and will share more details in the weeks to the come. In the meantime, you can read more about Dr. Robyn on her website.

Martial Arts Round-Up – February 18, 2011

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at

Here’s a round-up of our favorite martial arts-related news stories and blog posts that we came across this week.

Martial Artists Perform with Justin Bieber at Grammys
If you caught the Grammy Awards on Sunday night, you saw martial artists Matt Emig, Jeremy Marinas, Sammy Vasquez and Rudy Reynon perform with Justin Bieber and Jaden Smith to the song “Never Say Never” from The Karate Kid soundtrack. Missed it? Don’t worry! We’ve got the video for you. The martial arts performance starts around the 1:00 mark but you’ll have to sit through some pre-roll ads first.

Kata Tells a Story
Mississippi martial arts instructor Patrick Parker shares a fascinating perspective on kata, or forms. He argues that if they’re well-constructed, kata should tell “a real story about strategy and tactics with protagonist and antagonist and dilemma and climax, often divided into chapters, and often encoded with a table of contents or an index or map key so that you can understand the story better.”

Half Guard Guillotine Choke from Standing
Punch Kick Choke, a blog about MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, highlights a variation on the guillotine choke. Instead of flopping to full guard, you flop to half guard. What’s the benefit of doing it this way? “It has the chance to catch the opponent off guard and it may force him to think about how to react, giving you those precious couple extra seconds to cinch and finish the submission.”

Front Kick as Hard as a Side Kick
Australian Taekwondo instructor Colin Wee challenges us to get as much power out of our front kicks as we do out of our side kicks. The mistake that many martial artists make is that they focus only on the leg that’s doing the kicking. Wee says: “You can’t think that the kicking leg is doing all the work. You’re learning a system aren’t you? Well, this is the system. Everything is connected!

The Scandals of Sumo
Martial arts blogger Dojo Rat points us to a fascinating series The New York Times has published about the relationship between sumo wrestling and the Yakusa, or Japanese mafia. As the influence of organized crime comes to light, “sumo may lose its status as a national sport, a status that has given it government backing, tax exemptions and guaranteed coverage by NHK.”

“You Know Too Many Forms”
Dan Djurdjevic is an avid martial artist who studies karate, Chen Pan-Ling internal arts, kobudo, arnis, qin-na and the Shaolin Forms of Hong Yi Xiang. In this blog post, he responds to people who question his approach to training: “I’m not interested in just learning a new skill. I train in multiple arts precisely because I want to improve my existing skills – not because I’m desperate to learn new ones.”