The Black Belt Fraternity

In 1989 I got my first degree black belt (shodan) in Shaolin Kempo Karate. I remember the culture in those days, when you got your black belt you entered into a brotherhood. Of course non gender specific brotherhood, although woman black belts in our group at that time were rare they shared the same respect and comradery. My challenge here is describing a feeling, the members of the black belt fraternity were a group of people you could count on to look out for your best interest. Our organization has schools all across the country so there were many members who shared a bond yet never met. When meeting a black belt from across the country or neighboring state the connection (trust, respect, familiarity) was instantaneous. The instructors were the  upper echelon, the elite of the club. A good instructor serves the students, so becoming a member at this level was a responsibility not taken lightly. The non instructor members understood that and would go out of their way to assist the instructors in any capacity they could. This created a paradoxical relationship because, in the martial arts and life we are all students from our first day to our last.

In the 27 years since the day I was initiated, I have seen a dilution of this bond. There are those who abuse the culture with their inflated ego’s. Forgetting that it’s their place to serve subordinates, not to be served. Even the ugly face of greed has found it’s way into the mix. Many stop training and plugging in to the group, isolating themselves. This just fosters discontent and becomes part of the problem. Because of the nature of the admittance there has been is no method to ostracize the abusers of the culture. How do we move forward? How do we rekindle the fire of the brotherhood? Is this bond a thing of the past?

Last weekend I took one of my assistant instructors to the Utah tournament. Besides judging he would be fighting in the instructors division for the first time. During the 5 hr road trip to Sandy Utah form Las Vegas the discussion focused on his inexperience fighting in that elevated division. I explained to him not only was he ready for the challenge but at his level it’s not about the outcome it’s about being a part of something much bigger than a plastic trophy (the brotherhood). On the trip home he started the conversation, with an excited tone he said “I get it, I just met those guys and I feel like they are my brothers”.

Is it that simple? Is all we need to do is move forward, continue to do the things the way we’ve always done them? I believe the answer is in the Shodans. Give them the same opportunity’s we had. Guide them to get involved with group workouts, tournaments and clinics. That elusive culture comes from the common sacrifices we made on our individual paths that lead us to the start of the path after black belt. That’s the bond that created the fraternity, all we need to foster the culture is to be in it.


Martial Arts And Fitness


What is the core?

The core muscles consist of the lower torso region including the abdominal, obliques and lower back. Developing a strong core prevents injures by providing stability in the lower back and torso (relating to the , bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons and spinal discs). Core strength adds power to a variety of movements, jumping, twisting and everyday activities. A solid core is the starting point for any fitness program including bodybuilding, weight loss, team and individual sports.


Learn more about the muscle groups involved in your core training:



Core developing exercises

Does Martial Arts Develop Core Strength?


Martial Arts by its very nature develops core muscle strength. As the body stabilizes itself during a sequence of movements, be it kicks punches or kata, it utilizes the core muscles to do so. Core strength brings power to punches, kicks, throws and adds protection during falls and slap outs. Competence and coordination in any given exercise is directly connected to core strength. This being said, it could be concluded that martial arts training doesn’t need additional core developing exercises; nothing could be further from the truth. Martial arts training teaches us to break down and focus on the specifics. To truly develop a overall fit body requires focus on the components that determine fitness. Core strength and Stamina being at the center of that focus.


Learn more about our core developing exercises:


Greek marathon runner

Stamina and Cardiovascular health


Will Martial Arts Increase My Endurance?



When discussing stamina you will find reference to mental and physical stamina and how one or the other may be developed. I will argue you can’t separate the two. When your running a marathon and your lungs are burning, legs are heavy and your cardiovascular endurance is spent your mental attitude plays the key role in your successful completion of the race. If your studding for finals and surviving on little to no sleep for days at a time, your mind struggles to focus because your fatigued body continues to require more attention just to stay upright.

Cardiovascular Endurance is Your Choice With Every Workout

Developing endurance is all about attitude, it’s putting in full effort. I’ve seen two people participate in the same workout, at conclusion one is drenched with sweat and completely spent wale the other has had a mild workout. I’m not saying you should put every once of energy, in every move you make during a workout; oh wait a minute, yes I am! Now, I will proceed that statement by saying if your just starting a program to get into shape, start slow. The biggest mistake beginner instructors and practitioners make when starting a fitness program is attempting to jump into an advanced session. This subjects the beginner to two main problems, 1) discouragement, inability to complete the routine with good form puts the focus on failure. If we feel we failed at a task over and over it’s difficult to stay motivated. 2) Injury,   when the body is not prepared for the exercise to much strain could be put on the joints, ligaments and mussels causing injures. Success comes from small consistent achievements, start you fitness program with 30 to 40 minutes of moderate activity and build from there.

Check out our fitness curriculum