Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Years Resolutions are BS (Bologne Syrup)

Hello all!

I'm sitting here in my office, and the school is as quiet as it ever gets. Wendy, as you know, is on vacation. I am here by myself. The phone is unusually, almost eerily, quiet - a sign that the holiday season is about to descend upon us like a warm, fuzzy blanket.

And what always follows the warm fuzziness of the Thanksgiving - Christmas stretch?

New Year Resolutions!

I project that approximately 92% of us here in the Northville area will be making a resolution this year. I guess we can all look forward to a thinner and more attractive population, who doesn't smoke, who "takes time for the little things", who reads more, who travels more, who saves more. Yes, I imagine that round about March the city of Northville will be COMPLETELY transformed as the New Years plans of our 200,000 neighbors come to fruition.

Or... maybe not?

A quick google search told me that about 8% of people who make new years resolutions actually say they keep them. Why do I point this out? Because I wanted you to consider two ideas for your January resolving:

1) That a five year plan is the best and easiest way to create and keep goals, and

2) That if you are not a five year plan kind of person, you might try this instead (and instead of making another fragile New Year's resolution) --

If you know that you are going to only see your new goal through to February or March, I feel you NEED to think this way:

"What can I do in the first month of 2009 that will "set me up" for success in the rest of the Year?"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What makes a successful martial artist?

Martial arts has many roads, my friends. Consider how many different styles of martial arts there are - and how even the varying styles have variations! Within each variation of the variations there is a multitude of paths one can take to “success.” Because of this, we must have a broad view of what it means to be a successful martial artist.

If you were to ask a group of martial artists from different disciplines what they thought the “purpose” of martial arts is, you are likely to get a number of different answers. “Self defense,” “Fitness,” “Spiritual growth,” “Life skills,” “Self expression,” may be things you’d hear. Really, all of these are true to an extent - but what do I think the ultimate goal is? What do I think the PURPOSE really is in all of these things? Happiness!

Whether you are looking for self defense, life skills, internal or external fitness, what you are ultimately after is a happier, more fulfilled and empowered life. So in this way we could say that a “successful martial artist” is one who finds happiness in the way they practice martial art.

I think there are 6 key factors in being a successful martial artist.

1) Experience/longevity

2) Appropriate physical skill.

3) Understanding of technical concepts.

4) Understanding of the philosophical concepts.

5) Inner strength/character.

6) The ability to apply all of the above to ones every day life, in order to create a happier, more fulfilled lifestyle.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How do the martial arts work? Part IV

A good friend and mentor of mine, Nicklaus Suino, says that the martial arts school is a “laboratory for life.” We talked about the martial arts school as being a place to stretch your comfort zone. This is a similar idea, let me explain.

Martial arts has a fantastic way of exposing your weaknesses. The physical ones are easy to see. One day the teacher says, kick up here, and holds the target near your face. If you are inflexible, that weakness is quickly exposed.

Your mental and character flaws are also exposed, though perhaps not as obviously. For instance, if you are easily frustrated and brought to anger, this is going to rear it’s ugly head in the School sooner or later, isn’t it? Probably about the time your instructor is asking you to kick that high target - and you can’t.

This “laboratory for life” concept means that we are working on our exposed weaknesses all the time. This is a powerful life strategy. A successful martial artist seeks to expose, confront, and overcome his weaknesses. Indeed, he is hungry for it!

If you are angry by nature, or if you are fearful, or if you lack self confidence, these personal weaknesses will become exposed while training. The successful martial artist will overcome them first while on the mat, and then over a period of years learn to master them in the outside world as well.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

How do the martial arts work? Part III

Why are martial arts so good at teaching life skills? We know that have been for centuries, don’t we? Martial artists have always been prime examples of good living, patriotism, and ethics. Values are an intrinsic part of martial arts study. It seems to teach it better than nearly any other method.

If you were a student in my school, you’d often hear me talk about self image. Self image is a powerful tool. Like any tool, it can be used for sabotage or for construction. A successful martial artist understands this, and utilizes their self image to live a happier, more fulfilled life.

My favorite example of the power of self image is the Marine Corps. These men are incredible! They are the picture of discipline, organization, inspiration, respect, courage, perseverance and adaptability. Long after they leave the Corps these traits stick with them.

Why? Because Marines believe that “the change is for life.” Those values are an intrinsic part of being a Marine. Being a Marine is like a mantle that, once donned, carries with it certain qualities.

So because the soldier has donned this “mantle” of being a Marine, he automatically takes on the inherent qualities thereof.

I admit, it isn’t a perfect science, but the essence of what I’m saying is true. So it is with us as martial artists. There are certain things that we know successful martial arts will and will not do. Because we have donned the mantle of “Martial Artist” so have we also donned the qualities that our lifestyle espouses.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

How do the martial arts work? Part II

Why are martial arts so good at teaching life skills? We know that have been for centuries, don’t we? Martial artists have always been prime examples of good living, patriotism, and ethics. Values are an intrinsic part of martial arts study. It seems to teach it better than nearly any other method.

The classroom provides you an opportunity to stretch your comfort zone - but with a safety net. This is what I mean…

Let’s talk about the life skill of self-confidence. It’s an important one to develop, isn’t it? It is vital for us when we want to get better jobs, to meet our spouses, to begin new endeavors. Your capacity for success in any of these things hinges on self confidence.

In life, when we stretch our self-confidence outside of our comfort zone we are often in a position of risk. If I want to go for the big promotion at work it requires that I march in to my boss’ office and ask for it! Is there a risk there? Sure! I’m risking ridicule, rejection, maybe even my job.

In the martial arts school it is different. I am in an environment of friends and support. My teachers will require and encourage me to do things that push me outside of my comfort zone - things that stretch my self-confidence.

The beauty though, is that there is a safety net. If I stretch my self-confidence and I fall flat on my face, what have I lost? Nothing. Ultimately I am at no risk whatsoever. So I am able to exercise my confidence, my discipline, my focus, my athleticism, my courage… without real life's painful consequences.

As I go along I am constantly pushed outside of my comfort zone, and this enables me to grow as a person. Not only do I grow, but I do so in a safe and supportive environment. This gives me a competitive advantage in life.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

How do the martial arts work? Part I

Why are martial arts so good at teaching life skills? We know that have been for centuries, don’t we? Martial artists have always been prime examples of good living, patriotism, and ethics. Values are an intrinsic part of martial arts study. It seems to teach it better than nearly any other method.

When you were young, perhaps before you can remember, you touched something hot. After the first (or maybe second!) time you were scalded you learned a valuable life lesson. Don’t touch hot things!

In fact, you learned it so well that to this day you never deliberately touch anything hot. These physical lessons have a way of sticking with us forever.

So it is with the martial arts. We learn lessons about flexibility in our physical bodies, that relate to adaptability in our thinking. We learn about strength in the body that relates to strength in our hearts and minds. Leveraging our core to create more powerful kicks, punches and throws, teaches us about leveraging our skills in life to create greater “power.” Each physical lesson has its spiritual and mental equivalent.

A good martial artist should always be on the look out for these parallels between the dojiang/dojo and our outside lives. A successful martial artist will become skilled in their application.

- Master Vigil

Friday, May 23, 2008


I'm sure your all wondering why there is so much "karate" on the School's new website.

No, we have not abandoned our beloved Taekwondo, nor have we added any Karate into our curriculum. (Although there is a little there now.)

In this day and age many people refer to all martial arts as "Karate." It's kind of like referring to all soft drinks as "Coke."

When folks go searching for a martial arts school on the internet they often using "Karate" as a keyword - even though what they are actually looking for is "martial arts."

Additionally many people go looking for "Karate" (meaning to look for "martial arts") and then find Taekwondo/Judo/Kung-fu or whatever... they often don't know they have found what they are looking for.

In an effort to reach these people we have added some content to our site that involves Karate.

I hope this clears up any confusion.

Please subscribe to the blog! I'd love to have this be a regular place for us all to come and chat about various things going on in the martial arts world, but also in the Northville, Novi, Plymouth, Livonia, Farmington Hills area.

Next post up: How the Martial Arts work, and why they are so good at developing a persons internal strengths.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Hi Everyone!

Thanks for checking out the new blog! This will be a place to learn more about Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and Martial Arts attitudes and philosophies. A place to learn about what we teach in our do-jiang, and how that applies to our lives as parents and martial artists. I'll also talk about community events in the Northville, Novi, Plymouth and Livonia areas that apply to us.

Please email me pictures to include here at

If you'd like me to address specific topics, feel free to email as well.

I encourage all of you to comment on topics so that we can all share and learn together.

-Master Vigil