Friday, September 3, 2010

USA Martial Arts Curriculum and "Kaizen"

The USA Martial Arts curriculum we practice was primarily developed from my lifetime quest of modeling the "Ivy League" of Martial Arts Academies from around the world.  I have always been fascinated in the distinctions in the schools that get extraordinary results in student quality.  I quickly learned that it was not style, rather the instructors and systematic training of basics, attitude and curriculum structure that yields student quality.
John Nottingham at the Shaolin Temple in Deng Feng China

When I began the journey I saw many differences.  After competing internationally, training at the Shaolin Temple, Korea's top martial art Universities, the Gracie Academy, and numerous other experiences such as serving in the Military, my point of view is quite different.  Today, I see more similarities than differences.

Success indeed leaves clues and the habits of great schools transcend style or personalities.  Where I initially saw technique, now I see principles, physics, concepts and philosophy.  Where I initially saw separation of styles, now I see connection of concepts and shared origins.  Excellence is a habit and it is what all great schools have in common.
The Oshima Shotokan Karate Dojo

Much of the influence of our curriculum, training structure and school culture is not from classical martial arts at all.  Instead, it is far more influenced from the educational model of higher institutions of learning such as Universities or immersion training such as the Army and other force multiplying military training.  These institutions are proven as among the most effective group teaching models in the history of the world.

In the end, the defining measuring stick of success in our school is a combination of factors:
1. Student value and utility
2. Graduation rate with ever increasing quality
3. Opportunities for growth and advancement
4. Impact on character, citizenship and student success in life & contribution to community
5. Are my students better than me when I was at their level?

These are just some of the criteria USA Martial Arts uses as a method to measure our success.  Each day I strive to lead by example and demonstrate a commitment to never ending improvement.  Perhaps it is best embodied by the Japanese expression of "Kaizen" or a 'change for the better' based on continuous improvement.

* Kaizen is derived from Chinese, and its characters appear without change in Chinese (gǎi shàn), Korean (ge sun) and Japanese (kaizen).

USA Martial Arts Phoenix
4731 E. Greenway Rd Suite 9
Phoenix, Arizona 85032
Telephone (602) 896-8721

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