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There was a time I had a conversation with another person who practiced a different martial arts discipline. We were talking about the terrible effects of martial arts politicking and how it tears down the community, how it tears down trust, and worse… how it tears down your vision.

The martial arts industry for school owners, is filled with obstacles, adversity, financial struggle, scrutiny, and it’s share of closed doors and NO’s. From the time you have opened your school, you probably have about 10 years of training under your belt. For an industry that teaches good moral character and an indomitable warrior spirit, it is surely going to require discipline to not get jaded and to stay on the path of avoiding a betrayal of what is right. IF YOU OWN A SCHOOL, BE DISCIPLINED in this facet of your life as well, no excuses.

Going back: He was expressing how it made him feel and I had only interpreted this as a sign of burn out and fatigue.

He was telling me his story, and the hardships involved  in his life. In his voice, you can sense that all he wants is to pay homage and grow the art of his craft but that does not seem enough and it is met with opposition from a small number of people in his community.

He asked me, “how do you do it? So much drama, and not get jaded?“

I had replied, “You have to find what fills your cup“

Fast forward. Here we are at a time where an industry reliant on human contact has been put to its knees and disabled. A decade and some of training won’t prepare any martial arts or self-defense school for this version of adversity and I find myself revisiting that last conversation to ask myself:


The Monday mornings cleaning the studio, and the conversations with Miss Melissa when she is in to help.

Friendly visits from Mr. Ken, Andy, Sal, Joon, or other members during their free time.

The bright faces of the children in the juniors program, especially seeing the students who have been with us since we opened. They started at the height of my sternum, now taller than me (but that’s not saying much).

The day class crew, and the occasional road trip to in and out. The homeschool kids, the explorers, the night classes.

The people who travel miles out of their way to come train, The people who hustle straight from work, the super moms and the super dads who pick up their kids, their homework, their meal prep, and camp out at the studio from kids program in the afternoon to adult program at night.

The people who want to strangle things and the people who want to hit things, the people who want to learn a new skill, and the people who like getting their conditioning butts kicked.

The off-hour training sessions with training partners, getting my butt kicked by my sparring mentors, the full day Saturday where I am on the mat from 9 AM till 2 PM.

The feeling of a long week or test cycle that worked me, and the feeling of getting to connect with the people who put their trust in me.

That is what fills my cup.

Do what is hard today, do the impossible tomorrow

-Mr. Noi

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