Monday, August 21, 2017

The Stigma that Martial Arts Encourages Fighting?

What is up with the current stigma that teaching Martial Arts to kids will encourage them to fight?

I am consistently hearing parents say they don't want their kids to learn Martial Arts because they don't want them to learn to fight.  And I am constantly hearing from kids, that their parents won't let them do Martial Arts for this same reason.  But these same kids do baseball, football, and soccer.  I am very confused why Martial Arts teaches more aggressive behavior than these other sports.

I though Martial Arts taught you how to defend yourself so that you don't have to fight.

I thought Martial Arts was about finding and developing Self-Control.

I thought Martial Arts helps develop your confidence so you can let bully insults fly by.

I thought Martial Arts teaches you de-escalation techniques so that you can prevent a physical altercation.

I thought Martial Arts develops your strength, balance, coordination, mind skills, life skills, and helps prevent Alzheimer's in Adults.

I know I have had students stand-up to their peers when they have been bullied.

I know I have had students stand-up for a friend that was being picked on physically.

I know I have had students improve their listening and focus in the academic classroom.

In 24 years of teaching Martial Arts, I have never been called by a parent or principal because one of my students got into a fight.

I know I have had students come to me or my coaches and ask tips for dealing with early bullying and teasing.  And I am happy to say these students have come back to class proud that the tips helped and the bullying and teasing diminished.

I know we have strict rules for our students about fighting and using their Martial Arts for anything other than defending themselves.

So, where is this stigma coming from? Why are parents so hesitant to put their kids in martial arts and especially self-defense focused classes?


Would you like to learn more about us and our philosophy?
Please visit, like, follow and share:

My Martial Arts Community Facebook Page - Flying Tiger Self Defense
Facebook – Kid Wisdom
Pinterest – Sunny Jones - Education
My Store: Also, for additional learning resources – lesson plans and curriculum please visit my store on Facebook  @sunny.jones.MEd 

Monday, August 14, 2017

More on Martial Art Styles

There are so many Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools popping up all over the place. And it's hard not to get wrapped up in the my style and my school is the best battle.

If you know or follow us, you know we don't get all caught up in that silliness.

However, our students do talk to their friends at other martial arts schools and sometimes this causes confusion. So let me clear up what we focus on.

What do we teach?

As our name says we are a self defense school. That means we teach self defense skills first and sport or tournament skills second.  Also, we do not require students to compete to promote levels. However, if you do want to compete we will help you prepare and encourage you whether it be for a BJJ tournament or Karate tournament.

What is the difference between sport and self defense martial arts? 

Curriculum design and what you learn in what order.

For example, a self defense school will teach you how to defend yourself from white belt, but a sport school may save self defense skills until you are a black belt or you may never learn self defense skills.
Image result for self defense jiu jitsu
From Pacific Wave Jiu-jitsu (a self defense based school)
 A sport martial arts school will teach you the skills you need to win a tournament.
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Most self defense schools will teach you sport martial arts as well, but usually not until you are a higher belt.

Image result for self defense jiu jitsu
Honestly, with good sound self defense skills, you can win tournaments, be it karate or BJJ style tournaments. You just may not win them as a white belt or intermediate belt, since your training focus is on self defense. But as a higher belt, you will start seeing how your skills as just as "good" as the tournament competitor's skills.
Image result for self defense jiu jitsu

However, all quality black belts look, perform, and resemble the same style when you reach the top (aka advanced black belt). As we like to say, the body only moves in so many ways.

Image result for martial arts belt ladder

Our Curriculum is good for:

  • You, if you want a self-defense focused skills whether it be striking martial arts based, grappling martial arts based, or strictly women's self-defense based.
  • You, if you are not too interested in tournaments or just want to occasionally complete.
  • You, if you are not interested in the fighter mentality or MMA training facility.  We are a family Academy where no one gets hurt, and everyone goes to work the next day.  
  • You, if you like a family atmosphere where you can train with your kids.
I hope this helps answer some questions you may have.  If you have additional questions about what we teach and if your system is for you please reach out to us.


Free Martial Arts Instructor Tools & Parent Tools for Educating Your Kids

For other free martial arts instructor tools, please like my professional Facebook page - Sunny Jones - Education, like my martial arts community Facebook page - Flying Tiger Self Defense or follow this blog.  

Thanks for your support!


Please subscribe, follow, and visit the following:

My Martial Arts Community Facebook Page - Flying Tiger Self Defense
Facebook – Kid Wisdom
Pinterest – Sunny Jones - Education
My Store: Also, for additional learning resources – lesson plans and curriculum please visit my store on Facebook  @sunny.jones.MEd 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

My Warrior Stripe Martial Arts Curriculum Guide

Martial Arts Instructors, I have a tool to help you boost your classes.  It has really helped boost mine. 

Check out this guide to my Warrior Stripe program. 

If you like it, you can find customizable Warrior Challenges in My Store

Also, for other free martial arts instructor tools, please like my professional Facebook page - Sunny Jones - Education, like my martial arts community Facebook page - Flying Tiger Self Defense or follow this blog.  
Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

What Martial Art Style is the Best?

Last night I was listening to a BJJ Black Belt. He was trying to convince a potential student that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is so much better than karate. He told the kid to go watch some Royce Gracie fights from the 1990's and this would prove how much better BJJ is than other styles.
Image result for master ken
I too used to have the "my style is best" attitude. I now realize that I was an influential teen being told this over and over again by my instructor, who needed to promote his school and keep students.

In 2007, as a 2nd degree Black Belt in a mostly Kenpo based style, I discovered the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors (AWMAI) and the Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists (PAWMA). Through these organization, I was introduced to the benefits of many martial arts styles and my view started to evolve.

The Current BJJ is Best Trend
BJJ is the current hot martial art.  10 years ago it was Kung Fu.  Before that it was Kenpo and it's siblings (at least in the west U.S.). And somewhere in there was Krav Maga.

BJJ schools are popping up everywhere, and these instructors need to make money, so yes, they are going to sell their art as the best. Most of these instructors are very skilled in their art, but have not explored many other arts.

So, let me tell you a secret.  BJJ steals from other styles! Yes, it is true.  BJJ instructors are okay with their martial art continually evolving, so when they see a technique that works in other styles, they steal it and use it. When it works in a tournament, they name it, and it becomes branded as BJJ. BJJ is full of old school Japanese Judo, current Judo, Karate, Aikido, and many other styles. Where do you think all those joint locks and submissions came from?

The simple fact is the body only moves in so many ways and as you climb the pyramid of martial arts to the top, all the styles start to resemble each other.  At the bottom of the pyramid, they all look very different, but this is only because they value different primary skills. As you continue up the pyramid, the techniques and moves all start to look similar.
Image result for master ken bjj

So what is the best Martial Art?

The best martial art is the one you enjoy, brings you peace, friendship, fitness, and makes you happy.

Image result for master ken

But what is the best Martial Art for Self Defense?

Like I said, eventually all martial arts lead to some self-defense application.  But, if you don't want to spend 20 years to finally have skills you can apply to self-defense, then here is my recommendation.

Find a school that is well-rounded in these areas:

  • Solid Stand-up skills against punches, kicks, and grabs. You need to know how to throw basic self-defense strikes like kicks to the knees and heal palms to the face.  We call these stunning strikes or bonus shots, so that you can stun the person and get away. (Note: Many BJJ schools only teach a few of these skills or none. Look at Roger Gracie. In the past few years, he has really had to go learn "other styles" to approve his stand-up game for MMA. His ground game was, of course, awesome (he is a Gracie), but his stand-up was frankly, horrible. Now, he at least looks like he won't fall over on his feet when he throws a kick.  You need to know more than what most BJJ's schools teach you -not just one or two blocks.
  • Solid Clinching and Trapping from Standing.  Think current JKD trappling, Judo clinching, and set-up takedowns in BJJ. I haven't had these skills for 20 years, and every time I was trapped, I would panic.  You need to know how to "Bridge the Gap" with larger opponents when you can't beat their attack with blocks and you need to do the clinch. 
  • Takedowns - Once you are in the clinch you need to know what to do. You need to know how to get away, how to avoid being taken down, and when and how to do a takedown on the other person. 
  • Solid defense against weapons - standing and on the ground
  • Solid ground game. You need to know how to break an attack from the ground and get back to your feet.  You need to know how to block punches from the ground and control an enraged attacker.   
  • Other - There are a few other areas that a well rounded black belt needs to know, but for beginners, the five above are what I believe to be most important.

Don't be a Blind Follower

Take a look at the list above.  If your school or instructor doesn't value all these areas, then don't jump on the "My style is best" band wagon.  This doesn't mean your instructor is bad or his style is bad.  It just means that if you want to have well-rounded self defense skills, then you need to seek training in a few additional areas.
Image result for master ken

Embrace your style, but don't be an elitist snot!

I love my standup skills.  I am long and tall, and these skills work best for me.  This doesn't mean they are the best for everyone though. And ironically, because of a damaged back (from being an airline pilot, and not from martial arts), I can no longer spar in stand-up. But I can roll in BJJ with soft training partners, so the "best art" for me is slowly changing.  In years, maybe internal arts like Tai Chi will be the arts for me. And when I was pregnant, it was the best art for me.

In the past 10 years, I have really had to work hard to become a more a well-rounded black belt. I have had to also work hard on my school's curriculum to embrace all areas of self-defense and make sure my beginning to advanced students are all learning well-rounded self-defense. This is a continually evolving process.  As my dad says, "if you get old and stinky, you die." In martial arts terms, this means you need to keep you self defense skills current with the times. Most places in the world don't fight with swords anymore.  This is cool to learn, but it doesn't make you awesome at current world self-defense.  

So when your instructor starts the "My Martial Art is the Best" business.  Don't be a snot.  Keep your mouth shut, but don't jump on that band wagon. 


Here are some recommendation of materials from "well-rounded" martial artists instructors. These contain affiliate links.  By clicking on the links and purchasing from these links, I get commission on your purchase.  This is one way, I support my family and can provide you with free materials on this blog. Please support me by subscribing to this blog and sharing this blog.

DAVE-KOVAR-A-Dad-039-s-Toolbox-for-Better-Parenting-Like-New-Mint Dave Kovar (aff link) 
Master-Fariborz-Azhakhs-Hapkido-Series-Title-DVDsFariborz Azhakh (aff link)

No-Pouting-in-the-Dojo-by-Cathy-Chapaty-Hardcover-Book-English Cathy Chapaty (aff link)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Can Kid's Really Learn to Defend Themselves?

Image result for kids defending themselvesI was listening to a YouTube video last night discussing the reason why Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu doesn't award black belts to youth (under 18 yrs old).  There were several comments I agreed with in the discussion, such as not awarding a black belt to an 8 year old. But there were a few point I didn't agree with, and one that worried me immensely. It was the belief this instructor had that kids are incapable of defending themselves against larger opponents or attackers.

The instructor in the video commented that kids can't be black belts in Brazillian Jiu-jitsu because they aren't big and strong enough to defend themselves until they are a minimum of 18-21 yrs old. Say what??? I am okay saying they can't be black belts until that age because they are not mature enough or because their bodies are not physically developed to complete all the techniques, but to say they can't defend themselves until this age is crazy! (Now, I know not every BJJ instructor or program has this belief.  For example we don't, and the school I came up with didn't have this belief).

First, let me set my standard on defending an attack.  I believe it is the ability to break the grab attack, block the strike or weapon attack, and then get away! Isn't getting away the real goal? And I don't believe you need to be a black belt to do this. I start out day one with all students teaching them how to defend themselves. Realistically, it take about a year of training to have enough knowledge to defend most attacks, but I believe students who only take one month of classes from me are better prepared to defend and attack then someone who hasn't taken any self defense. Of course, a black belt is going to be more prepared to defend themselves, but that doesn't mean white belts can't defend themselves.
Image result for kids defending themselves
Second, let me tell you my standard for awarding a black belt (adult or junior black belt), so that you know I stand for my belief that kids can defend themselves. In my opinion a truly skilled black belt must have "the ability to defend oneself against any attack thrown – grab, weapon, ground attack, etc.  Defense skills used must be effective [and one must demonstrate the] ability to defend oneself, escape, and never give up." There are additional requirements such as time in training, good moral character, fitness etc., but I hope this cuts to my point that I believe kids and adults have the ability to defend themselves against an attacker.

FYI - In our school, it takes about 8-10 years for an average kid to achieve Junior Black Belt and 1-5 years more to earn full Black Belt. That means a kid who starts at 6 year old (our minimum age to start teaching actual self defense skills) won't be qualified to earn a junior black belt until a minimum age of 14 yrs.  And yes, I know my 14 year old students can defend themselves. That doesn't mean I am going to throw them into a group of gangbangers and say, "defend yourself."  It means that if they use all of their abilities to avoid an attack, then if one does unfortunately arise, I know they will do everything possible to survive that situation. For full Black Belt I do not have a minimum age, but 16 years old is about the youngest most youth are prepared for the responsibility of being a Black Belt and have the maturity to complete all the requirements for full Black Belt. This is my standard and those who don't agree or like this standard can seek training from a different school, but I believe this sets a high standard for Black Belt that is reasonable and obtainable. But I am getting off point....

Back to why I believe kids can learn to defend themselves.

My Reasoning behind my Belief

  1. I have seen it first hand over 24 years of teaching youth. It only takes one good strike, kick, or putting up a strong fight to distract an attacker long enough to get away. Remember, getting away is the goal! 
  2. Watch the news. About once per year, I see a kid who defends a kidnapper, attacker, etc. If this isn't enough proof than nothing I can say will change your mind, and we will just have to agree to disagree on this point.
Bad things happen. You can do everything possible to avoid them, but they may still happen.  I teach kids to defend themselves in case something bad does happen.  And I believe 100% that a child under the age of 18 can defend themselves.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Goals of Our Children's Program

This picture shows some of the benefits your kids will develop through their martial arts training with us.

It is easy to say our program achieves these objectives, but what is the proof that makes us different than other martial arts school in your area?

Develop Life Skills

  • Monthly Warrior Challenges - One way your kids will achieve these skills is through monthly Warrior Challenges. For example, this month (June) is Fitness. By completing this warrior challenge your kids will develop a lifelong attitude to good health, but they will also develop the discipline to complete the task and dedication by sticking to a goal.
  • Mat Chats - Another way your kids will develop these skills is through Mat Chats. These are short 3-5 minute discussions about our Martial Arts Principles and Values, such as discipline, respect, confidence, focus, integrity, and self-control. During these chats, your kids will learn ways to apply the life skill at home, school, and work.  We will also discuss how to use these skills in social situations, family interaction, and, of course, in the martial arts classroom.
  • Bully Situations - Your kids will first develop self-defense skills and then will develop the "cool" martial arts skills. Self-defense is our first priority and focus. This is the reverse of many martial arts schools that teach this in reverse and have students who can't really defend themselves until they are black belts or beyond. Your kids will learn how to deal with "bully" and "bad guy" scenarios from day one. Your kids will learn how to deal with a bully without having to create a physical altercation, but if needed they will have the skills to defend themselves against a physical attack. Your kids will learn a variety of skills from stand-up defense and ground defense.  They will learn skills to defend an attack without kicking and punching through wrestling and grappling, but they will have strong striking skills to use if needed against a "bad guy."

Achieving Goals

  • Sharpen Mental Focus - Goals don't have to be things that take your kids weeks, months, or years to achieve.  Goals can be simple. We teach your kids to break down a larger goal into smaller goals to make the larger goal easier to achieve. For example, one of our students has ADHD and is working on improving his focus. We consistently work with him and his parents to find ways to give him tools to help improve his focus. It may take years before his focus is equivalent to a student without ADHD. If we compare him to other students and set a goal to this standard, it would not be fair to him or the other students.  Instead, we set micro goals to help him learn to control his focus. We have found music is one way that helps him, so we turn on a very rhythmic beat in class to help direct his attention. He also has done amazing when asked to balance on a bosu ball and do kicks and punches. This requires hyper focus on this balance and allows him to filter out other distractions and concentrate on the task at hand.
  • Developing Discipline to Stay on a Task - There are many tools we use to teach your kids self-discipline. Each belt and level have specific requirements and skills that must be learned and practiced. Many times there are "Warrior Challenges" (see explanation above) that must be completed in order to earn the next belt. These requirements are always manageable and appropriate for the age of the student.  By meeting these requirements, your kids learn how to set goals and develop the discipline to complete tasks towards a goal.  Some tasks are more simple than others. Some may require a few days where others will require a few weeks of work to achieve, which will help your kids "develop the self-discipline to stay on a task."
  • Shaping a Generation of Leaders - Ultimately, our goal for your child is not for them to achieve black belt, but to develop the skills to be successful in life.  The path to black belt is a tool to help develop these life skills. Through the steps to black belt, your child will learn how to "plan and obtain long-term goals."   Here is what one parent said about our approach. "We just wanted to thank you for your martial arts approach and philosophy of ‘creating a generation of Leaders’.  [Our daughter] was one of 25 students that got invited to interview for the highest [college] scholarship awards. All three scholarships are looking for ‘leaders’."  -Parent of two Black Belt Students.  There daughter went on to be awarded this college scholarship.

Physical Skills

  • Practical Self Defense Skills - Developing self-defense skills is the priority in our physical skill curriculum. Your kids will walk out of every class with one more self defense skill in their tool box. Unlike many martial arts programs, our curriculum is constantly evolving, so that your kids will learn the most practical self-defense skills from modern martial arts.  (See "Bully Situations" above for a description of skills your kids will learn).

  • Coordination, Strength, & Balance - Your kids will naturally develop these physical skills in their classes. We tailor activities to develop these skills to your kid's abilities and age.  Younger students primarily develop these skills through balancing on our beam, crawling through the tunnel, and playing games that encourage running, jumping, stepping, balancing, and wrestling with parents. Your older kids will develop these skills through more advanced games and activities as well as through the practice of martial arts skills like kicking, blocking, and grappling.   

These are just a few samples of ways we will help your kids develop Physical and Life Skills and help them Achieve their Goals. With a Master's Degree in Education, you can believe that we have the knowledge and skills to help your kids blossom.

Thank you, Kovar Systems for developing this poster and Mr. Fariborz Azhakh for sharing.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Sexual Jokes have no Place in the Training Hall

I know my audience is small for this blog post, but I feel it is important to write. If only for my benefit...
Image result for sexual harassment in BJJ

Sexual harassment, sexual discussion, inappropriate comments, etc are no place for a martial arts classroom. Be it women teasing or joking about men or men teasing and joking about women.

I have been studying martial arts for 24+ years. I get that it is a male-dominated sport. I get that when guys get together in a group, locker talk happens. But I also know that men know when it is inappropriate.

So for the record, in the middle of an organized class, with or without women present, this is inappropriate, and will not be tolerated in my academy.

I have been a pilot for 16+ year. I was a professional female airline pilot for 6 years. There was a no tolerance rule for sexual harassment, and so it didn't happen. Let me restate that another way. 4000+ hours alone in a locked room with most often a male, and sexual harassment didn't happen! The only two incidences I had, in 6 years, were with a customer service agent and mechanic, and those were with other people present.

I was a Federal Flight Deck Officer (Federal Law Enforcement Officer). In training, I was the only women in my initial and recurrent classes. No sexual harassment or joking was present. It was a professional environment and everyone treated it as such.
Image result for sexual harassment in BJJ

I have been a martial artist for 24+ years. Yes, I have been discriminated against because of my gender throughout my martial arts career, and this is mostly the reason I run my own martial arts school instead of being affiliated with a group of schools. But that is not the topic of this blog post. This blog post is about direct verbal harassment, joking, and negative statements made about sex and a women's body. In 24+ years teaching and studying stand-up martial arts (Karate, Kenpo, Tai Chi, Muay Thia, Kali, etc.), I have not had a problem with sexual comments in the dojo.

The only time I have experienced sexual harassment, joking and comments in a martial arts classroom in during Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training. And it has happened more than once, at more than one school, and with more than one instructor. I have been attempting to learn BJJ for the past 6 years. I have had attended two different schools, but because of sexual comments and lack of good, respectful training partners, I have been limited to train pretty much just with my husband.

Image result for sexual harassment in BJJ
So why do BJJs school allow this type of talk and disrespect to exist?

When I came home from my last group training session, I was furious. Not because of what was said, but more because no one stepped in to say the discussion was inappropriate, and after repeated requests, nothing has being done to curb the behavior. Worsley, two instructors joined in on the inappropriate joking that was started by a student. Several men look uncomfortable about the discussion and looked at me for some reason - for support, for me to take a stand, or for confirmation that is was inappropriate or okay to talk this way? I don't know why men do this instead of speaking up themselves. I had already that evening verbally requested the teachers to be more polite in the presence of a lady, and since that didn't seem to take effect, I choose to hold my tongue during the second round of inappropriate discussion.

Instead, of making a scene in the middle of class, I came home and had a discussion with my husband about the situation, who also practices with this group of men. I researched my feelings to find out what others have done in the past, and I reflected on my choices for the future.

This is an ongoing issue, with no final solution.  I did found this blog article that 100% sums up my feelings and frustrations.  Please read, Sexual Harassment is a Problem in Jiu-Jitsu, But you Don't Have to Accept it by By Averi Clements, Jujitsu Times, August 10, 2016.
Image result for sexual harassment in BJJ

In Summary and Most Importantly 

To my lady students, mom students, girl students, (and male students for that matter),

Please know that sexual harassment and joking of any kind has no place in our academy and will not be tolerated. We are a welcoming group that shows respect to each other. As an instructor, I will do whatever I can to make a student comfortable and feel respected in class.

I will do what I can to continue to advance my jujitsu knowledge, as long as it is beneficial for me. Luckily, my husband is pretty good at jujitsu, so I have at least one good training partner to work with. And, lastly, if you are a female student of ours, we will do everything we can to help you advance your jujitsu knowledge, skills, and rank.

Image result for sexual harassment in BJJ

More background info on my decisions:

Please, no hate or opinion on what I should have done. You were not there, and my choices were the best choice for the situations, at that time.  I could go on all day about the sexual discrimination in Utah. Yes, California, Texas, Washington, and other martial arts friends in the US, it is repressed here in Utah. I know what I am going up against every day as a woman who pushes the cultural norm, but back to the original topic of this post.

Many would recommend I quit studying jujitsu or go to another school. I do not want to quit, and why I desire to learn jujitsu is not the discussion of this blog post either. I have looked into other schools, but even my husband made the comment that they are all that way.

I did some research in my area to see if any of the BJJ schools have women BJJ Black Belts. Nope, nil, NONE. No pictures and no listings for female BJJ Black Belts in my area. There may be a female BJJ Black Belt hidden somewhere in Utah, but I couldn't find one. I couldn't find a Brown belt either, and I could only find two Purple belts listed (one who trains at her father's school). Actually, I am the second highest ranked female BJJ martial artists "listed" in Utah. I know there are several other BJJ women of my rank, but I tried and I could only find two females of a higher rank. Hum, I guess I know why...

The Stigma that Martial Arts Encourages Fighting?

What is up with the current stigma that teaching Martial Arts to kids will encourage them to fight? I am consistently hearing parents say ...