school, started in tae kwon do and karate during college, boxing, kickboxing and Choi Kwang Do, among other styles, after college.
Instructors: The instructor during college that had the most influence on me was James Irwin (North Carolina Martial Arts Academy). The instructor who had the most influence on me after college was Grandmaster Kwang Jo Choi with Choi Kwang Do International. The instructor who currently has the most influence on me is Tom Patire, whom I train with in CDT Non-Deadly Force Training and LRT Last Resort Tactics, as well as the ITC (International Training Commission), which concentrates on working as a team. I am currently now studying with Marcos Santos in Brazilian Jujitsu.
Original Black Belt Test Date: June 22nd, 1987
Profession: I own and operate a martial arts training facility in Annapolis Maryland with a current student base between 450-500 active students. I am also the founder of Step-by-Step Systems Consulting Inc. (SBSS), which educates school owners on how to manage and operate their martial arts facilities in a more efficient manner. SBSS is a complete system consisting of manuals, CDÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and DVDÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s put together in a simple and easy-to-follow format for owners and staff alike to use for creating a more professional environment. I travel all over the United States and abroad consulting martial arts studios and giving lectures on martial arts business and teaching methods.
Why have you signed up for the UBBT?: The challenge and the sense of community. As an instructor, I am always telling my students Ã¢â‚¬Å“YOU CAN DO ANYTHING IF YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO IT AND COMMIT. IF YOU HAVE A PLAN AND FOLLOW IT YOU CAN ACHIEVE IT.Ã¢â‚¬Â I relish this opportunity to Ã¢â‚¬Å“put my money where my mouth isÃ¢â‚¬Â, so to speak, and lead by example. I have been so tied up with running my studio and traveling for my consulting company all over the United States and abroad that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been hard to train in anything other than sporadic bursts, instead of a solid, regular training regimen. And the ability, endurance, and flexibility I once had have suffered. Because of my specialized training under Mr. Patire, my confidence and ability to defend myself are at an all-time high, but my fitness level inside and out is not where IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like it to be. I have also signed up for the UBBT because I miss the camaraderie of training with a group of other aspiring martial artists toward a specific, common goal. My current specialized training with Tom Patire in CDT, LRT and ITC gives me that same sense of belonging, and now I am seeking the same feeling in my traditional martial arts training. This has been the catalyst to restart that training again with a renewed fervor.
What is your special, personal goal you will accomplish? My special personal goal that I want to accomplish is to get myself in GREAT physical and mental shape once again. I want to be in better shape 12 months from now, and of course I want to take my martial arts training to a whole new level. I would love to be in better shape and more proficient in the arts at age 40 then I was even at age 20. In the long run, though, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not really about me. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s about inspiring my students, instructors and peers. I want to be the catalyst to motivate others to rise to a challenge, take their training seriously and accomplish something they desire. My first step was to encourage Joe Van Deuren, one of my most loyal students and friends, to take the challenge as well. Although he is my student, he has inspired me throughout the years by taking his training so seriously and making special sacrifices to continue his quest for knowledge and perfection. He has probably studied more about martial arts philosophy and proper training regimens than anyone I know. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always gratifying when the student inspires the teacher. His selflessness in wanting to help others exemplifies Martial Arts to me. I am hoping that the two of us completing the UBBT will inspire others to become the exemplary Martial Artist that Joe has become.
What do you think the most difficult part of the test will be for you? The most difficult part of the test will be the amount of time I must set aside to accomplish the tasks set forth. My attitude and my abilities will come through, but the time that it will take with all of the other tasks I have already committed to will be challenging, to say the least. My past injuries will be another factor. Every time I started training in the past eight years, an old injury popped up. The past 4 years have been even harder. Whether it was my feet, knees, elbow, ribs, back, neck or whatever, it seemed that no matter how I started back training (martial arts, weight training, running), I would get injured. Ironically enough, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mostly been my downhill skiing injuries that have popped up, instead of my 31 years of martial arts related injuries. I guess the trade-off is that as you get older you get wiser and tougher, but you take longer to heal.
What are you most excited about, with regard to the UBBT? I am most excited about getting on a regular schedule and having my students inspired by watching me train and being able to log on and see what I do every day in my online journal. I will be excited to be working with the other 29 candidates and training with some of the top Martial Artists in the country. I also look forward to testing under Master Ernie Reyes, for whom I have the utmost respect.
What would cause you to drop out of the test? I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think of anything except an injury that didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t allow me to continue or a tragedy in my family that I had to attend to. Nothing short of those two circumstances will keep me from testing with my fellow candidates. I view the test itself as merely a road sign on this journey we have begun. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just like I tell my Black Belt students: graduating the Black Belt Test isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the important part; itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the challenges youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve faced, the sacrifices youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve made and the lessons youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve learned that brought you here that make you a Black Belt.
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