How to choose the RIGHT martial arts school for YOU?

We originally published this is 2015!  After some recent discussions with parents, we decide to revisit this topic as we want students to LOVE  the martial arts.  Getting off on right foot is crucial to a proper martial arts education.  Do your homework!  It will be worth the extra effort in the long run.

How do you choose?  Taekwondo, Karate, Hapkido, Jui Jitsu……it can all be a little overwhelming.  There is certainly no lack of martial arts schools out there.  If you are in a big city, there is literally one on every corner.  However, not all martial arts schools are created equal.  It is important to do your research before committing to any school.  You’ll be happy you did.  This is especially true when children are involved.  Choosing the wrong school can turn the child off the sport forever.  With that said, there are many reputable schools out there that practice what they preach and have an excellent program in place.  Here are a few tips when looking for a martial arts school.

1) Decide what you would like to gain from learning martial arts.  Are you to improve your physical fitness?  To learn Self Defence?  Would you like to compete in Tournaments? Are you interested in the philosophy/character building part of martial arts?  Or go the long haul and get your black belt? These are all important considerations when deciding on a school. Writing down your goals can help you tremendously when searching for the right school.  When you call/email for information, have these ideas in mind and ask questions.  It is important to know this up front before committing.

2) Shop Around.  Look at a number of different schools in your area, if possible.  If the school offers a free trial class, go check it out.  Was it fun and enjoyable for you? Also, check out reviews online.  What are people saying about the school?  Do they participate in social media – check out their pages.  The school that most closely aligns with your goals and values is your best bet.

3)  Find a qualified instructor.  Take the time to read about this person’s credentials.  Ask questions:  how long have they been teaching?  How long have they trained in the martial arts?  How often does the head instructor teach? Just because the head instructor is an accomplished martial artist themselves, it does not mean they are a good teacher.  A great instructor takes time to explain why and how the techniques they are teaching are important.  Moreover, how those techniques can be applied in real life situations.   One key point is to make sure the instructors correct improper technique.  This is especially true in the case of children.  If you are going to pay for someone to teach you, make sure they teach you right the first time.  Sometimes paying a little more or driving 5 minutes longer are worth it.  You come away being a better and more well rounded martial artist.  Quality instruction is worth it.

 

4)  Does the school have metrics for progress?  Do they have a written curriculum?  Are there belt grading guidelines?  Do they participate in mandatory belt grading?  Or is it earned through mastery of skill and attendance?  Does every student who grades pass regardless of their proficiency?  A martial arts journey should be unique to the individual.  A school who is invested in teaching proper technique will not be handing out belts simply for showing up.  Ultimately, martial arts is about protecting yourself.  Giving children a false sense of skill by handing out belts only does them a disservice.

5)  Some final things to consider:  take a look at class size – is the class size capped? what is the student to teacher ratio?  Do they use student assistants?  Do they have age appropriate classes?  Take a look at the students in the class.  Are there a number of intermediate and high ranking belts?  This may indicate that the school motivates students to stay. If the students are all beginners, that may say something too. Or are there an unusually high number of black belts?  Or Dan rank black belts under the age of 12?  This could speak volumes about the program.

6)  Goal Setting.  A good instructor invests in YOU and is interested in YOUR goals.
Watch a class, is the instructor motivating?  Or preaching? Sit down, talk about your goals, ask questions.  Find out if they have a written curriculum. You deserve the best instruction available.

These are some general tips on how to choose the BEST school for you and your family.  The RIGHT school is out there – do your research, be diligent, don’t be afraid to ask questions.  It’s your money.  It’s your time and effort.  You deserve to get the most out of your martial arts education.  It’s a great sport for the entire family.

Meet Mr. Max Stronge – Instructor

Meet Kyo Sa Nim Max Stronge

Black Belt – 1st Dan

Mr. Stronge started training in the martial arts in 2004 after being inspired by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Mr. Stronge has been with SMA since 2014, shortly after our opening day.  He has been training in the martial arts for 14 years in various styles and has competed in countless tournaments. In July 2016, he was chosen as CTV Athlete of the Week for his Outstanding Performance and Athletic Ability. Later that July, Mr. Stronge competed at the 2016 WOMAA World Martial Arts Games in Essenbach, Germany, bringing home two silver medals in the point and continuous fighting divisions.

Mr. Stronge graduated from the SMA Junior Instructor Training Program in September 2017.  Mr. Stronge has spent several years under the direct supervision of Master Shane Morris, honing his teaching skills and assisting in tournament training.

After almost a decade in the tournament scene, Mr. Stronge has now found a new passion – teaching. His greatest accomplishment has been passing on his love of the martial arts to others.  He is dedicated to learning and improving his skills both as an instructor and a student. Mr. Stronge hopes that everyone he has the pleasure of instructing can find the same joy in the martial arts that he does.

Mr. Stronge earned his first degree Black Belt on Saturday, June 2, 2018.  In his essay what it means to be a black belt, he wrote:

“I’ve come close to the black belt twice before. When I was ten or eleven, I became a junior black belt at the first school I ever trained at. When I was thirteen, I was a black stripe at a different school, and my black belt test was within reach for the second time. Looking back on where I was, and what I was, I wouldn’t have measured up to our green belt standard. That’s why this black belt, and this organization, is so meaningful to me. When you test for a belt, you know that you have earned it. The level of prestige associated with the black belt is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in my martial arts experience, and I’m glad that this is where I’ve chosen to spend my time.”

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“To me, the black belt is the difference between training in the martial arts and being a martial artist. When a student is a red belt or black stripe, it should be expected that the fundamental, physical aspects of the discipline are mastered. The black belt test, the one I’m about to undergo, is the last true test of physical aptitude. After that, once the black belt is attained, the journey becomes more of a mental one. It is the end of one part of the journey, but the beginning of another. A black belt embodies the tenets of taekwondo, their own personal code, not only on the mats and in training, but in every aspect of life. They are courteous – kind and respectful to everyone they encounter. They have integrity – they operate with truth, and honor, and hold themselves to a high personal standard. They persevere through any challenge or obstacle. They possess a sense of discipline, of self-control, of both their actions and their emotions. And they refuse to let their unbreakable, indomitable spirit be defeated. In my view, the difference between a red belt and a black belt has nothing to do with kicking and punching. The difference is in those tenets. We learn them on the mats, but we adopt them in endeavors unrelated to martial arts too. We develop the ability to regulate our emotions, our feelings of anger, of recklessness, of doubt, of fear. We interact with our peers with a sense of respect, and of fairness. We refuse to give in easily when faced with adversity. That is what makes a black belt a true ambassador of the martial arts.”

“Over the last year, I’ve caught another martial arts bug, and learned more about a whole other side of all this. I had the opportunity to start teaching kids. I never thought that I would be much of a teacher: the idea of standing in front of a class of students and talking to them terrified me. But as I’ve watched them grow and improve over time, I’ve realized that I’ve wanted to do this my whole life. It’s not a cliche to say that teaching is the most fulfilling job you can have – the sense of pride I have in my students when they break through barriers and improve is unparalleled by any other feeling I’ve felt. I’m going to keep chasing that feeling as long as I can find students that want to learn from the experience I have.Teaching martial arts is what I was meant to do, and I hope I can give back to the organization that has given me so much by continuing to be a part of training the next generation, and I hope I can do that for a very long time.”

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Mr. Stronge is an integral part of of the SMA Team.  He brings a level of excitement, energy and passion for the martial arts to every class!  Our students come out of class with big smiles and enthusiasm for learning – what more could we ask for!  Thanks for being an awesome part of the Team Mr. Stronge.

Jr. Instructor Highlight: Bo Kyo Sa Mikko Bernardo

Meet Bo Kyo Sa Mikko Bernardo

Mikko started his martial arts journey when he was just 6 years old.  He has been with Summit Martial Arts since it’s inception in May 2014.   He completed his Junior Instructor Team training in 2017 and has been assisting in our children’s classes for 2 years. To Mikko, martial arts is not just a sport, it’s a way of living. Mikko believes strongly in conducting his life according to the 5 Tenets of Taekwondo – Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-control and Indomitable spirit. He works hard to apply these principles to his daily life. The Bernardo’s were featured on Global News as they prepared for their World Games.  Check out their story.   When Mikko is teaching, his greatest joy is seeing kids smile.   That alone makes his day.

 

Mikko’s proudest accomplishment was earning his Black Belt in May 2017.  He is the youngest SMA student to bestowed such an honour.  When asked what it means to be a Black Belt for his essay, Mikko said:

“A Black Belt isn’t just a rank or a belt it is yourself, your life. A person with a Black Belt should bring good to our world. We all got our white belt, orange belt, yellow belt, so on so forth to reach a new beginning. The tenets of Taekwondo: Courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit are not only what a person with a black belt holds but also what a true martial artist holds. Master Morris has told us many things but the one thing that I can’t forget is that “A BLACK BELT IS A WHITE BELT WHO NEVER GAVE UP”. Discipline is also a big part of having a black belt because without discipline you will not be able to control yourself, you will just do whatever with the title of a person with a black belt. When Master Morris asked me what a black belt means to me and what I will do to give back to the community… I had to think… a lot.”

Mikko also competed in the  2014 TAFISA World Martial Arts bringing home Gold in Forms and Pt. Sparring, Silver for Continuous Sparring, and Bronze for Bo Staff for Team Canada and taking home Grand Champion from the 2018 Calgary City Championships. Mikko competes extensively throughout the year and is dedicated to continuing his own training.  He was selected as a member of our Tournament Team in 2018/2019 and represented our school with pride.  We are very proud to have him as an integral part of our school.

Jr. Instructor Highlight: Bo Kyo Sa Marcuz Bernardo

Meet Bo Kyo Sa Marcuz Bernardo – Black Belt – 1st Dan

Marcuz began his martial arts journey at the age of 7.  He has been with Summit Martial Arts since it’s inception in May 2014.   He completed his Junior Instructor Training Program training in 2017 and has been assisting in our children’s classes for 3 years.  

On May 27, 2017, Bo Kyo Sa Marcuz along with his brother and cousin tested for their Black Belt.  In his essay, what it means to be a black belt he talks about what the 5 tenets of Taekwondo mean to him:

“practicing those tenets, were commandments to helping me push through no matter what the outcome was going to be. I showed courtesy for those who taught me. I showed integrity by doing my training even at home. I showed perseverance by never giving up on my mind and on my body, but pushed further. I showed self-control by controlling my actions, emotions and thoughts each test, so that I wouldn’t be fussy and give up on myself. And I showed my indomitable spirit, by saying in my head, I will get this belt, I will excel in this test. I can do it!. So with all of these tenets, I know I’ve shown the courtesy for my instructors, integrity in my hard training, perseverance in getting this far, self-control over myself, and the indomitable spirit, knowing that I can excel this test. When I get my black belt today, I will know that I did my best, and that I earned it.”

After 4 gruelling hours of push ups, crunches, forms, kicks, self defence, hand techniques, warrior crawls and sparring – he came out a certified Black Belt in our organization.  A lifetime achievement.


Marcuz believes that being in the martial arts has helped him be a better person. He tries to make sure that everyone has a positive learning experience, while having a little bit of fun. I can also relate to kids in a matter where they understand me, and can follow my lead. 

Marcuz’s most treasured moments were earning a Gold for Forms and Silver for Bo Staff at the 2014 TAFISA World Martial Arts Games and taking home Grand Champion at the 2019 41st Annual Western Karate Championships. Check out their story on Global News.   Being a black belt, Marcuz feels honored to serve our school and help grow our community.  He is a top member of our Tournament Team, competing extensively throughout the year.  Bo Kyo Sa Marcuz represents our school with pride and the utmost sportsmanlike conduct.  Always willing to lend a helping hand and support SMA in what ever way he can.  Marcuz is an wonderful example to all our students.  

We look forward to having him around SMA for years to come.

What’s on for June SMA

Here’s what is going on for June

1.  Our 5th Anniversary Party is Saturday, June 1 from 6-8pm.  This is a casual drop in event.  Join us for some cake and a look back at the last  5 years.  Click here to RSVP

2.  T-shirt season starts JULY 1.  Students may wear an SMA official white t-shirt for the summer months beginning July 1 – August 31. No sooner!!!

3.  Escrima Training – Saturday, June 9 from 1-3pm.  This class is open to all students age 9 and up and all tournament team members.  Click here to register.

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4.  Bootcamp – starts Saturday, June 8!!!  Don’t miss out – limited spots available.  See Mrs. Morris for more details or book online today.

5.  SMA Sweatshirts are available for pre-order.  Zip and Regular Hoodies in youth and adult sizes S – XL.  We do not order extras so if you are interested please see Mrs. Morris.  Sweatshirts can be customized with the students name.

6.  SMA Beach BBQ is confirmed for Saturday, August 24 from 1:30-5:30pm at the Mahogany West Beach.  This is a Pot Luck Event – invitations to follow.

7.  Fall Tournament Schedule is available on the website under “Detailed Schedule” if you are planning to compete next year.

What’s on for May at SMA

The year is going by in a flash!! We are wrapping up our tournament season at the end of May. It’s been a busy season!  On April 6, we competed at the 2019 Calgary Open Martial Arts Championships at Bearspaw Christian School.  This was a tremendous tournament – over 300 competitors – the top martial artists in Alberta were out and it was spectacular!  Team Summit did an amazing job!  We are so proud of each and every one of you.

Alisha – GRAND CHAMPION (age 8 and under) AND Gold for Forms, Silver for Sparring
Team Summit – Bronze for Team Forms
Zosia – double Gold for Sparring and Forms
Oliver – Gold for Forms
Jayden – Bronze for Sparring
Rylan – Silver for Forms, Bronze for Sparring
Sebastian – double Silver for Sparring and Forms
Brody – Silver for Continuous Sparring, Gold for Sparring, Silver for Forms
Chaney – Gold for Forms
Mikko – Silver for Forms, Bronze for Sparring
Aidan – double Bronze for Sparring and Forms
Marcuz – Gold for Forms, Silver for Sparring
Finished the day with an EXCITING Team Fighting Division where TEAM SUMMIT TOOK HOME THE GOLD!

 

We would like to congratulate Bo Kyo Sa Bernardo for being promoted to 1st Dan. You have shown your true dedication to the martial arts.  You have shown that the journey is not over when you get your black belt, it is just the beginning.

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Our final 3 tournaments are PMA Tournament of Champions April 27, the 2019 High River Martial Arts Championships on May 11 and the 2019 Western Canadian Karate Championships on May 25. Please join us and support your fellow SMA athletes at any one of these tournaments – more details can be found on our FB page

SMA will be celebrating our 5th Anniversary on May 13th!  Stay tuned for celebration plans once tournament season comes to an end.

Private lessons are now available on Fridays and Sundays for those wishing to get in a little extra practice  You can book online or in person.

 

2019 Top Martial Arts School in Calgary- Official Nominee!

Fall has been a busy time around SMA. We are heading in to official tournament season, training has started for students on Friday nights, a new JIT team is well underway and we have been officially nominated as 2019 Top Martial Arts School in Calgary. We are thrilled and humbled to accept this nomination 3 years in a row!  Thank you to all our loyal and dedicated students and their families, you have shown us such tremendous support and love over the past 5 years.  We can’t thank you enough.  Please take a minute to click HERE and vote for SMA!  Please share with all your family and friends.  Let’s show them what our little school is made of – ALL HEART!

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Check out our Tournament Team sporting their new pants……….new uniforms to be unveiled at the first tournament at the end of November.

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Congratulations Master Morris!

As many of you know, Master Morris flew out to Halifax, Nova Scotia in August for a weekend long training camp with Grand Master Clark and the members of Martial Virtue Alliance.  It was a weekend filled with seminars on weapons disarming, Bo Staff, sparring, cardio kick boxing and review of our entire curriculum.

The members of SMA and MVA believe strongly that the journey does not end when you get your black belt, it is just the beginning.  All our instructors are committed to life long learning.

The highlight to the weekend was Grand Master Clark (Master Morris’ instructor for the past 28 years) honoring Master Morris with his promotion to 7th Dan.  We take our Black Belt promotions very seriously.  Even our instructors have to demonstrate they have earned their rank with hard work and dedication.  Master Morris trained for 7+ years in between promotions.  His knowledge, dedication and commitment to the martial arts has remained strong for the last 26 years.  He continues to inspire and ignite passion for the martial arts in his students.  Congratulations Master Morris.  We are all very proud of you.

Fall Registration, Bye Bye Summer!

Well, summer went by in a flash!!!  Thank you to all our students who submitted pictures of their summer practice!  We loved seeing you working on your techniques all across the world!  There is still a few days left if you have not been featured, you can email or text photos and videos until the end of August.

A few exciting things for fall!  We are pleased to announce the formation of Team Summit – our very first official Tournament Team.  As with our Junior Instructor Program, we hand selected our team based on the following factors:

  • adherence to the 5 tenets of Tae Kwon Do
  • student must be of sound moral character
  • student must exhibit self-discipline, respect and a level of maturity when faced with adversity or defeat
  • proven track record of consistency in tournament training attendance
  • proven track record of commitment level to training
  • prior competition experience

We encourage students to compete as it is a valuable experience. ALL SMA students can compete in any tournament, you do not have to be on the team to compete. There will be several opportunities throughout the year starting in November.   Please see Mrs. M or Master Morris for more details on competition and training.

Starting in September, we will have a brand new JIT Team!!  We are excited to welcome the newest members of the Team.  We welcome Mr. Cutlan, Mr. Zeller, Ms. Bravo, and Brody.  We are happy to have you as part of the SMA Instructing Team.

Fall registration is almost full!  We are happy to see all our continuing students sign on for another season which left only a handful of spaces across ALL our programs.  We have enjoyed watching all of you learn and grow as martial artists.

Bootcamp has 3 spots left for the September 8 start date.  This is a high intensity, MMA style interval class.  All fitness levels welcome.  Open to everyone – bring your friends!!  See Mrs. Morris for more details on how to register.  Can’t wait to see everyone out!!!

REMEMBER:  we are back to full uniforms on September 1.  Enjoy the rest of your summer!!

A Black Belt is a white belt that never gave up……..

On Saturday, June 2, 2018 our very own Mr. Stronge tested for his 1st degree Black Belt.  For those of you new to our school, our black belt tests do not come around often.  A student must show their dedication, tenacity and mastery of their martial arts techniques to even be considered for this opportunity.  Is it hard?  YES!  Do our black belts feel satisfaction and pride knowing they EARNED their belt?  ABSOLUTELY!  As a part of their journey to Black Belt, potential students are asked to write an essay about what it means to be a Black Belt.  Here is Kyo Sa Nim Stronge’s essay:

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The Black Belt

I owe everything I am to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

When I was four years old, I watched that show on TV every chance I got. I was drawn not only to the action, and the ninjas, and the monsters, but to the quiet moments. When the turtles sat in their lair, and practiced. They trained. They honed their techniques. They meditated. They lived by a code. That television show exposed me to a side of the martial arts I’ve never let go of – these arts aren’t just a fighting style, but a lifestyle.

My mother signed me up for a martial arts class that same year, and I’ve been hooked ever since. In that whole thirteen year period, I’ve never taken more than three weeks off. I’ve been to more tournaments than I can count. I have no memory of what my life was like before I was a martial artist. Training has sculpted me, physically and mentally, into the person I am today, and I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone that has ever supported me in this journey.

I’ve come close to the black belt twice before. When I was ten or eleven, I became a junior black belt at the first school I ever trained at. When I was thirteen, I was a black stripe at a different school, and my black belt test was within reach for the second time. Looking back on where I was, and what I was, I wouldn’t have measured up to our green belt standard. That’s why this black belt, and this organization, is so meaningful to me. When you test for a belt, you know that you have earned it. The level of prestige associated with the black belt is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in my martial arts experience, and I’m glad that this is where I’ve chosen to spend my time.

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To me, the black belt is the difference between training in the martial arts and being a martial artist. When a student is a red belt or black stripe, it should be expected that the fundamental, physical aspects of the discipline are mastered. The black belt test, the one I’m about to undergo, is the last true test of physical aptitude. After that, once the black belt is attained, the journey becomes more of a mental one. It is the end of one part of the journey, but the beginning of another. A black belt embodies the tenets of taekwondo, their own personal code, not only on the mats and in training, but in every aspect of life. They are courteous – kind and respectful to everyone they encounter. They have integrity – they operate with truth, and honor, and hold themselves to a high personal standard. They persevere through any challenge or obstacle. They possess a sense of discipline, of self-control, of both their actions and their emotions. And they refuse to let their unbreakable, indomitable spirit be defeated. In my view, the difference between a red belt and a black belt has nothing to do with kicking and punching. The difference is in those tenets. We learn them on the mats, but we adopt them in endeavours unrelated to martial arts too. We develop the ability to regulate our emotions, our feelings of anger, of recklessness, of doubt, of fear. We interact with our peers with a sense of respect, and of fairness. We refuse to give in easily when faced with adversity. That is what makes a black belt a true ambassador of the martial arts.

Over the last year, I’ve caught another martial arts bug, and learned more about a whole other side of all this. I had the opportunity to start teaching kids. I never thought that I would be much of a teacher: the idea of standing in front of a class of students and talking to them terrified me. But as I’ve watched them grow and improve over time, I’ve realized that I’ve wanted to do this my whole life. It’s not a cliche to say that teaching is the most fulfilling job you can have – the sense of pride I have in my students when they break through barriers and improve is unparallelled by any other feeling I’ve felt. I’m going to keep chasing that feeling as long as I can find students that want to learn from the experience I have.Teaching martial arts is what I was meant to do, and I hope I can give back to the organization that has given me so much by continuing to be a part of training the next generation, and I hope I can do that for a very long time.

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Thank you.

THE JOURNEY IS NOT SIMPLY ABOUT KICKING AND PUNCHING OR PUTTING YOUR TIME IN, IT IS A WAY OF LIFE.  CONGRATULATIONS ON THIS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT KYO SA NIM STRONGE.