Once upon a girl. A teenagers journey into the Wild World of Martial Arts!

For most of us, at some point in our lifetime before discovering the Australian Martial Arts Academy, we have all heard the words ‘martial arts’ and probably thought, “Well, that sounds tough. Better not mess with people who do that thing.” Like me, most of us probably assumed it was a tough, sweaty, male dominated sport filled with big muscles and lots of testosterone induced fighting. Definitely not a hobby for a 40kg, 20 year old who faints on a hot summer day; silly silly.

I discovered AMA through my little sister’s friend when she was in primary school, whose mother talked about a ‘fun Karate school for kids in Auburn’. I was not buying it. Eventually though, my little sister’s friend had joined and so had she. It was much later, during her green belt grading to be specific, that I discovered AMA taught Taekwondo, and it was not just a fun school for kids, but also teenagers and adults.

I am sure at this point you are thinking, so did I join too? And if so, what made me join? Well, to anyone who has visited an AMA centre the answer is obvious. From being greeted with warm and welcoming smiles from Miss Sehle or Miss Busra at the front desk, to seeing the bright and vibrant Red Team instructors and hearing the laughter of energetic children in their class lines; the entire hall is filled with a lively, positive vibe that in a simple word could be described as ‘magical’. I felt happy and warm and safe. This was exactly where I was meant to be. Without a word to any of my family and friends of my intentions, I asked for an enrolment form, made my first payment, bought my first ever white dobok and officially joined AMA. I had no second thoughts, no doubts in my mind and felt no hesitation.

Since my first nervous lesson and with the help of my now black belt sister, I have come a long way. I now have a purple belt in Taekwondo, I am learning how to do a ‘tornado kick’, I can do at least 15 pushups instead of 2 before falling on my face and I feel confident about myself. As a final year university student from a home with three teenage girls and a single parent, I speak from experience and with honesty when I say that Taekwondo has unknowingly helped me in almost every facet of my life. My final semester of my teaching bachelor’s began a week ago, and as I hear many other students complain and groan about uni stress, I am beyond excited and ready. I cannot wait to apply the values of determination and confidence I learn each day at Martial Arts, to my uni timetable and kick a pad at the end of a long day. The same also applies with my chaotic home life. My mum is an academic, a uni lecturer and tutor who works over 12 hours most days and heavily relies on teamwork and patience at home. To add my personal life and a pet cat to the mix, most days are hard. But having an outlet such as Martial Arts helps me stop, unwind and realize that life is just that, life. Some have it more difficult than others but the secret, as Mr Hakan says, is to keep bouncing and keep your hands up.

Diverting slightly from the major aspects of my life, as I sit here writing this blog, for the first time I realise all the little changes in my life as a result of Martial Arts. Reflecting back now, when I first joined I had no idea of the impact it would have on my daily life. I feel a little less scared when I am walking home from uni in the dark. I am more confident with approaching people and making friends. I eat better and take more care of my physical well-being. I like to spend more time outdoors. I am stronger, harder around the edges and more flexible. After a long day at uni or in front of a laptop writing an assignment, going to class allows me to unwind and regain my focus. Even my posture has improved, although sometimes I still look like a little spider hunched over a laptop screen….like right now. Each day, I wake up a more motivated and determined person ready to tackle all the obstacles of my day and utilise the values instilled in me through AMA to remain calm and focused in any situation. But most importantly, Martial Arts has helped me become a happier and more confident person, it has helped me learn to love and embrace who I am. They’re absolutely serious when they say “Martial Arts is a way of life”.

To those who have stuck with me until this very last paragraph of my story, I say thank you. To those who have learnt something new and reflected on their own life as a result of my words, I am humbled. Most importantly though, to those who have not yet made up their mind about joining the Australian Martial Arts Academy, in the words of inspirational author Kobi Yamada I say to you, “Sometimes you just have to take the leap, and build your wings on the way down”.

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Overcoming the bored, tired and lazy habits in our kids

Mrs Sarah and Mr Hakan Provide 5 Useful Tips and Strategies on How to Prevent the bored, tired and lazy habits that could potentially be formed in our kids.

1. Tackling the issue before it gets too large
2. Positive reinforcements of the benefits of training
3. Maintaining the Discipline of Attendance
4. The value of routine
5. Instilling the importance of goal setting

Hakan: Hi I am Mr. Hakan.
Sarah: And I am Miss Sarah.

Hakan: Are we are both head instructors and managers here at the Australian Martial Arts Academy. Today we are shooting a video to provide you all with some tools and strategies you can implement at home with your child.

Sarah: We are going to be looking at the five steps to overcome your child becoming lazy or bored or tired when going to activities.

Hakan: Absolutely, now personally, doing martial arts for over 25 years, I remember starting as a young child and working through the days and years coming to class. And for those that don’t know, the master happens to be my father as well, so we had this back and forth consistently. I remember being a young kid, showing that resistance to coming class. And I would look for every excuse to ensure that I would not come to class because I wanted to choose the easy way out, so whether it be staying at home, watching TV, sleeping, playing sick, pretending to sleep, any excuse, you name, I have tried it. But looking back, I am very happy my father instilled those positive strategies and applied the tools we are going to go into today.

Sarah: Perfect. I guess it is really normal then for everyone.

Hakan: Absolutely.
Sarah: We work with children, although if you have children, I am sure you notice it is not just martial arts classes, it could just be at your school, getting ready for school in the morning, going to supper on the weekends, swimming lessons, tutoring…

Hakan: Yup.

Sarah: And it is not necessarily something that they like or dislike but today there is a lot of resistance to get kids to actually to do things that even that they enjoy and I guess it is hard because children these days, they have so much entertainment at home and some comfortable with their home time, yet they still do not have enough time to do exercise and to take care of their body and their mind and focus their energies,

Hakan: That is very important, health factors, exercise and basically forming the positive habits they need going into their teens and adults years as well. So the first issue we are going to talk about is tackling the issue before it gets too large, so we want to ensure that, that first negative vibe that we get or that first bit of resistance, we want to ensure that we prevent it then and there.

Sarah: That is it. So what a lot of parents I see do is that they recognise that oh the child doesn’t want to come in today or they don’t want to do something, they say, “oh this hasn’t happened before, okay we will listen to the child and we just won’t go.” And I find that almost doesn’t teach the child how to overcome any obstacles or resistance. And so it is really important that we can make sure that from there, and then we find out if there is an issue and help them how to overcome it rather than just giving up and staying at home.

Hakan: Fantastic. So we are going to go now into the second point which is positivity and reminding them of the fun times and the benefits martial arts training or any activity applies to their lives.

Sarah: Positivity is so important and your child really needs to hear from yourself as well as the instructors, that what they are doing is great and to get a little bit of feedback that they are doing really well. So reinforcing how far they have come, so we have members here who have been here for one week and we have members who have been here for 10, 15, 20 years. So it doesn’t matter if they actually have got an opportunity to get a black belt and be amazing at it yet, but what is important that we teach our child that when they did this, they improved, they got better and they enjoyed it or they learnt something from that experience and children will read through your energy levels and how you relate it. So if you got a negative vibe about getting them ready or dressed, they are going to pick up on that too.

Hakan: Yeah, let’s face it, sometimes you know we can be having a busy day and it could be, it could be that we just have a couple of hours off by not bringing into class. However, that could have impacts further down the track, so we want to really avoid that negotiation phase between.

Sarah: Almost bargaining time, right.

Hakan: Bargaining with them, that’s it. So you want to try and tackle the issue before it gets to that.

Sarah: That’s right and I guess when we start bargaining with children, what it does is it devalues the positive message that it has and it also almost becomes something that is not good for them…

Hakan: it becomes a chore.

Sarah: That’s right it becomes a chore. And so you want to reinforce, this is a great thing, let’s get excited to go and see where you go from here.

Hakan: Now there may be times where you know, the kids may have had a busy day at school, they could have a sports carnival, it could be a very hot day, and issues like this, I think it is important to do back to the discipline. Now one of the benefits martial arts has to offer is that discipline and it really has to be enforced by all support networks, through the academy, through parents at home. So in these instances, where they are tired, where they can have a minor injury, what we really encourage our parents and kids to do is just to show up to class and try and do the best they can. If it is only the stretching they can do, then get them to do that for the first part of the class. If it is reading the curriculum, then I think that is what is important also. That discipline element is an area that we most reinforce both as parents and as instructors as well.

Sarah: Definitely. I think discipline is about turning up and the best thing we can teach our child is not that we have to necessarily fix their problem, if they are tired, they don’t need to go home to bed straightaway, maybe they turn up but they ask for help. And something that we do really well here at the academy, if there is a child in need of help, you bring them straight up to one of the instructors and they can ask for some help but sometimes all your child needs to hear is, “you are a little bit tired, do you want me to keep an eye on you today?” And they know okay, I do have a bit of support and if I do get too tired, I know where to go for help.
Hakan: Yeah.

Sarah; I think that is a great message for children.

Hakan: that’s right. We have had children who have come in with particular injuries and we have been able to alter that training curriculum to make sure that it is tailor made for their situation.

Sarah: And that they are safe obviously.

Hakan: Going on to point number 4, and I think that’s a routine. Be it a routine before class, weekly routine, daily routine, I think kids thrive off this weekly schedule and I think we sometimes forget how important it is in their lives because they you know, they remember what they do every day and going back to the previous point if we kind of break that routine, it could look like a win or a ticket in their column so reinforcing that this is something that they committed to, so keeping up with that routine is going to really help them to develop positive habits going into the future as well.
Sarah: Remember we like things when we are good at them, it is human nature. So when we are going to the gym every week and we see ourselves getting better, we like it. We haven’t been in a while and it is hard work to get motivated and kids, they are just little humans
Hakan: Absolutely.

Sarah: So we really want to say, “Okay, well what are we doing to get you into a routine. Do you have regular days that you attend your classes? Do you have something that you do to get them help and prepared for their session?” So for example, if they are coming straight from school do you have a little lunch box ready for them after school, do they maybe only have on their martial arts day so other sports days. Is there some time to have a sit down and watch that or do they get to come straight and get to play 5-10 minutes before class? Some areas that I find is that especially if you got lots of children, it is not easy these days, they are coming in rushed, there is no rule in our academy that says they can’t come in late, what is really important is that we create that routine and that we teach our child if we break routine, if we are late, if we are doing something, what are the rules and how do we follows them?

Hakan: Absolutely, great points there Sarah. Going on to point number five we are going to talk about instilling the value of setting goals into our children.

Sarah: Very important.

Hakan: So here at martial arts we have those goals set out for them to get their next belt, the next technique, the next pattern, the next weapon, whatever it may be to get them excited and motivated to continue their martial arts training. However, it doesn’t end alone here. We need the parents; we need adults to instil the importance of goal setting and that rewards system into our children as well. And I think this is a great way to wrap up the points we spoke about earlier and bring it all together. Because once we do that, that goal setting is going to really help them see what is ahead. Sometimes, other activities can have that one figuration where you are not really able to measure your progress…

Sarah: You are a little bit faster

Hakan: That’s it.

Sarah: If everyone else is a little bit faster, that kind of thing.

Hakan: Yeah, so I think with martial arts the curriculum that is set out of them and I think if we remind them, practice with them at home, it will really help them.

Sarah: I think when parents can reinforce, “well, actually you could not do these kicks or punches when you started.”

Hakan: It means a great deal to them.

Sarah: Yeah. “You could not be that flexible, actually you didn’t practice at home when you were going to be a white belt, now you are going to be a black belt, you are practicing.” Those kinds of things and pointing them out are important and often because you see your child all the time, maybe you forget to notice them and it is really hard these days to take that time and actually say, “Hey, yeah you actually couldn’t do this before.” And even if it has taken your child 6 months to get it or a 1 year to get it or 2 years to get it.

Hakan: It is just that positive reinforcement.

Sarah: You are actually getting better and when we have that goal to work towards it is always a little bit more fun, it motivates us to try a little bit harder and to really do our best.

Hakan: Hopefully those strategies have helped you and you can start implementing them. We want to ask you, what strategies do you implement to get your child to class? Hopefully you guys have enjoyed that video and we look forward to seeing you all soon.

Sarah: We look forward to reading your comments down at the bottom.

Sarah & Hakan: Thank you.

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Belt System at AMA and their Representation

At the Australian Martial Arts Academy, there are a total of 9 Belts Before Black. Starting with white going through to Black. Students attain their next level once they perform their required techniques for that specific rank at the Belt promotions, which occur 4 times a year. Lets get into their order and definition.

In accordance to their colour differences, the belt system at AMA also has references to nature. The white belt represents the purity of the innocence of a beginner with out knowledge. The yellow belt represents the emerging sun, the green the growth under the sun, the blue as the sky as we grow towards the sun, the red is the heat of the sun, and the black as the universe, and knower of all things.

 

White Belt

White signifies a birth, or beginning, of a seed. A white belt student is a beginner searching for knowledge of the Art. The white belt is the beginning of life’s cycle, and represents the seed as it lies beneath the snow in the winter.

 

Yellow Belt

Yellow signifies the first beams of sunlight which shines upon the seed giving it new strength with the beginning of new life. A yellow belt student is given their first ray of knowledge, opening their mind, from the instructors.

 

Orange Belt

Orange represents the growing power of the sun as it warms the earth to prepare for new growth in the spring. The orange belt is starting to feel their body and mind open and develop.

 

Green Belt

Green signifies the growth of the seedling as it grows from the earth, reaching toward the sun and begins to transform into a recognisable plant. A green belt student learns to strengthen and refine their techniques.

 

Blue Belt

Blue signifies the blue sky as the seed sprouts from the earth and begins to grow up. A blue belt student moves up higher in rank just as the plant grows taller. The light feeds the plant so it can continue to grow. The student is fed additional knowledge of the Art in order for their body and mind continue to grow and develop.

 

Purple Belt

Purple represents the changing sky of dawn, as once again the student undergoes a new change and prepares for the transition to advanced student. A purple belt begins to understand the meaning of the black belt.

 

Brown Belt

Brown represents the ripening of the seed, a maturing and harvesting process. A brown belt is an advanced student whose techniques are beginning to mature, and he is beginning to understand the fruits of his hard work as a beginner.

 

Red Belt

Red signifies the red-hot heat of the Sun as the plant continues growing toward it. As a red belt student acquires more detailed knowledge, just as the plant grows slowly toward the Sun, so the red belt student learns to be more cautious with his knowledge and physical abilities. Red is a sign of danger, and the red belt is beginning to become dangerous with their knowledge and abilities.

 

Cho Dan Bo

The Cho Dan Bo Belt is the Pre-curser to the Black Belt. It represent the calm before the awakening. Students experience part of the the black belt through their similar testing in preparation for the elusive Black Belt. They are to demonstrate the determination, will power, discipline, skill and focus of a Black Belt.

 

Black Belt

Black signifies the darkness beyond the Sun. A black belt seeks new, more profound knowledge of the Art. In this pursuit, the student plants new seeds which helps them grow and mature. His students, many whom will form roots deep into the Art, blossom and grow through the ranks in a never-ending process of self-growth, knowledge, and enlightenment. The Black Belt Belt is likened to graduation from education, from which the student will determine their individual specialty/Focus.

 

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June Belt Promotion 2016

We have just wrapped up our Gradings for June 2016 and what a fantastic week it was. On of the most gratifying elements of being an Instructor at the Academy is witnessing the growth, development and maturity of each and every one of our students. Nothing more satisfying then seeing our members achieve their next goal. This grading was a particularly special with many individuals achieving their Black Belts or Dan Levels. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our Parents and Families for shaping AMA into the positive and supportive community that it is. Your input is greatly appreciated.

Black Belt Dan Grading

Black Belt Level Grading

Teens and Adults Belt Promotion

Yellow Belts

Orange Belts

Green Belts

Blue Belts

Purple Belts

Brown Belts

Red Belts

Red Two Belts

Red Three Belts

Cho Dan Bo Belts

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How to best prepare for our next belt promotion

In this Video Mrs Sarah and Mr Hakan provide some strategies and tips on how to best prepare for your next Belt Promotion. These Include
1. Attend Regular Classes
2. Be familiar with your curriculum
3. Ask Specific questions
4. Maintaining a Healthy Diet
5. Instilling Value on to our Short Term Go

Hakan: Hi I am Mr. Hakan.
Sarah: And I am Miss Sarah.

Hakan: And we are both head instructors and managers here at the Australian Martial Arts Academy. Today we are going to be providing you with 5 crucial strategies you can implement at home to help best prepare your child for their next belt promotion.

Sarah: This is a really exciting time this, is that point where you can say that you get to achieve the next belt, one step closer to black belt or the next belt you are working for. But also you can see what you can do now but what you couldn’t do before you got that belt or before you got started.
Hakan: Fantastic, so let’s get right into it. The first thing we need to do is attend our regular classes. This is going to form the foundation necessary in order to progress, you are going to be working on the curriculum, all your techniques, hand techniques, kicking techniques, as well as the values they will be learning through the match chat that they need to do in order to move on to their next belt level.
Sarah: That’s right, each week the curriculum will make sure that you are able to learn all those steps that you discussed Hakan. That is why it is really important for not to just catch up classes at the end but to attend regularly.

Hakan: Yeah, fantastic. Now where can we get access to this curriculum so that I can practice at home for my next belt?

Sarah: Fantastic. So you can get access to the curriculum from behind the front desk, just ask for the hard copy, you can take a photo on your phone, you can practice when you are the academy. The second way is you can go online. So you can go on to the members section of our website and you can print out or access on an iPad everything that you need to be able to do in order to achieve that next belt. And finally you can also watch our curriculum DVDs, some of the instructors demonstrating exactly what it is. This is a great way to be used for children who like to watch home and do 5-10 minutes of practice in front of the screen and they really have that opportunity just to think about it outside of the academy.

Hakan: Fantastic. I think it is important to note that all these tools actually complement their training; number one is attending and getting that one-on-one feedback.
Sarah: Definitely.

Hakan: Now we are very fortunate that we have a fantastic team of instructors here at the academy which brings me on to our next point and that is asking specific questions.
Sarah: Exactly right. What I find is children often don’t know what task or they just have these nerves because maybe they can’t perform one or two moves. So if you are able to go through that curriculum and it is all provided for you so you go through with the child, ask them which ones they are not happy with and need a little bit of help. That way the teacher can help them with their confidence and their skill level if it is not up to scratch so they can prove those in times for their grading. Often, it is not the time that is going to make it better, it is just more practice or a little bit of extra support. And for a lot of children it is really just that confidence boost and if it specific to that one technique they are worried about or a couple of techniques, then that is something that can really be helped by just talking to the teacher.

Hakan: Yeah, fantastic. Then what the teachers will then do, they will look at that specific area and say it is just adjusting the technique, the shape of the foot, execute the correct technique, we will then provide specific tailored drills and techniques they can practice at home to address that, that area that they need to work on. Now, how important is diet going into?

Sarah: I think diet and taking care of your body is really important. You want to be able to perform at your best, especially as it starts get, the curriculum starts to get a little bit harder, it is really important to make sure that you are eating regularly, that you are fueling yourself properly before your section, that you are drinking enough water and that you eating the right food because let’s face it, kids are the same as adults, in fact they are probably a little bit more sensitive, if they are not eating the right foods, they are not going to perform at their best.

Hakan: And have the required, consistent energy throughout their day.

Sarah: Throughout their day, their training and their grading day.

Hakan: Great, now going on to point number 5 and that is instilling value onto the next belt. So I think this is required from all support networks, that next level, that next belt, is an important part of the process. So we are enjoying that process, enjoying the journey, if the journey or the goal is to achieve that black belt, we want to ensure and remind our children that we are one step closer to that. Once we do get our black belt, there are other goals to set for them beyond black belt curriculum as well.

Sarah: I guess that is reinforced by the values, so not just the fact that the belt, but improving up from a purple say to a brown belt means hey you are actually a little bit faster, you are now able to do self-defense moves that you couldn’t do before.

Hakan: Yeah and you demonstrated that consistency and determination to get to that point….

Sarah: And stick at it.

Hakan: To overcome all the challenges, all the time we may have not felt like coming to class, I think that is an important issue to remind to our children, how great and how determined and how they were able to persevere during those times…

Sarah: And actually learn something.

Hakan: Fantastic. So hopefully those tools and strategies have helped. If there are any other tools that you applied with your kids, please feel free to share in the comments below, we would love to hear from you and I think that would really help.

Sarah: I think it is exciting.

Hakan: Look forward to seeing you all soon.

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How Stretching will increase your Quality of Life

Stretching is a fundamental component in martial arts training however, stretching and improvements in flexibility have many benefits in our day-to-day lives. In its simplest form it is a natural and automatic reaction to long periods of inactivity and is something we do instinctively. However, with age, muscles tighten and the range of motion in these muscles and joints are minimised. This can have detrimental impacts to our lifestyle and our daily activities. A regular stretching regimen can help lengthen your muscles and make daily living activities easier.

So what exactly is stretching? Stretching is purely the act of extending or lengthening to the complete length or extent that our body is capable of, or, sometimes just a single body part. Stretching involves straightening or lengthening your complete structure, muscles, and limbs.

Stretching has profound benefits to the body and mind. According to Tony Robbins, the world renowned motivator/peak performance strategist, in order to change our mental state into a positive one, we need make changes to our physiology. Stretching sets you up for just that. I know personally, if i have a good warm up and stretching routine, i almost always have a successful workout. Stretching truly helps set you up for your day.

Overall Flexibility and Range of Motion will increase. Aches and pains that can be caused from physical or muscle imbalance can be re-adjusted.

Improved range of motion in your joints is simply another good thing about stretching exercises.  With a decent range of motion you’re better balanced and cut back risk of falling and injury. This is often particularly vital as you get older. An increase in flexibility is accompanied by improved balance and coordination.

Chronically tense and tight muscles can also contribute to poor posture. Stretching helps to ensure correct posture by lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body away from their intended position. Stretching the muscles of the lower back, chest and shoulders can help keep the spine in better alignment and improve overall posture.

While relaxing and lengthening the muscles, you will be increasing blood and nutrient supply to that muscle group. This increase will help you increase energy levels, exercise for longer, burn more calories, prevent muscles soreness and aid in recovery.

A study at the University of Illinois found that when elderly people followed a stretching programme they experienced a boost in their self-esteem. “Stretching releases dopamine which helps you feel happier and more positive about the world,” says Dr Simon Floreani, chiropractor and Ambassador for Allied Health and Prevention.

Even a short amount of time (10-15 minutes) of stretching can calm the mind, provide a mental break, and give your body a chance to recharge, providing the you with meditative benefits.

High levels of Stress can cause your muscles to contract, becoming tense. This tension can have many negative flow-on effects to just about every part of the body. As with all forms of exercise, stretching and flexibility exercises can have powerful stress relieving abilities.

Witnessing your improvements in flexibility will boost your self confidence and will provide you with a sense of accomplishment and drive in this particular area. The sense of satisfaction derived from moving with ease is one to be grateful for.

There are two major type of stretching, static and dynamic. Dynamic stretching is ideal prior to exercise to prepare the joints for movement and muscles for optimal activation. Static sustained stretches are designed to hold a position for a joint or a muscle that is minimally challenging. It is highly encouraged to do a form of both dynamic and static stretching.

Everyone can learn to stretch, regardless of age or flexibility. Stretching should be a part of your daily routine, whether you exercise or not. There are simple stretches you can do while watching TV, on the computer, or getting ready for bed. If you are doing strength training exercises, stretch in between sets. It feels good and saves time from stretching at the end of the workout!

Implementing a stretching component to your weekly routine will have a profound impact on your mind and body. the success of your workout, your level of consistency in your workouts, allow for improvements through longevity as well as help get you in the correct state by changing your physiology. Be kind to your body and your body will be kind to you.

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Setting Goals, Savouring Rewards by Jessica Stewart

A HEART-WARMING, INSPIRING, WONDERFUL PIECE BY JESSICA STEWART. ONE OF GOAL KICKING MUM’S HERE AT AMA WHO STARTED HER MARTIAL ARTS JOURNEY AT 41.
I’ve never been sure about ‘Mother’s Day’. It wasn’t a thing where I grew up and my own mother was ambivalent (‘every day is a mother’s day’). But I’ve decided that if the world wants to offer you a day, take it. Use it in whatever way you want. Maybe think about what you want to do and how you’re going to get there. Starting martial arts at 41 was a turning point for me in thinking about my goals and setting my sights high.

I was hardly an exercise junkie. The physical and emotional intensity of parenting small children meant that the couch was usually my preferred surface for spending my downtime. And I just didn’t see the importance of making time available. Hey, I walked everywhere, kicked a ball around the yard, pushed swings… But I wasn’t fit and I was constantly tired. My rational brain knew that exercise would give me more energy instead of drawing on my last resources, but I couldn’t make it happen. Gyms bore me, I’m not big on team sports, yoga was either too intense or too benign. Fitting a schedule into work, home and commuting was too hard and I resented it taking up my family time.

I started training at 41 and this month makes the fifth year since I started taekwondo at the Australian Martial Arts Academy in Marrickville. My daughter, now ten, had taken to Little Dragons like a duck to water. Her enthusiasm was infectious and I realised, in that parent-induced joy at being able to kill two birds with one stone, I could exercise and spend time with her.

It didn’t take much for me to sign up too. With children and adults training together, or in adjacent timeslots, in an environment where my daughter has always felt safe, it wasn’t hard to fit in a few 40 minute classes each week. We talk about the techniques, train at home, take belt tests together and push each other when we’re not quite coping. We understand each other better because of our shared sport.

I am fitter and stronger than I’ve ever been in my life and as slim as my 25-year-old self. I can do push-ups and land a punch properly. Now that’s something that girls don’t learn by themselves! The self-defence component of martial arts is critical to my enthusiasm, for me and my daughter. Being able to confidently block an attack, fight back and get away safely is an integral part of all our training. Another aspect I love is that every move in taekwondo has a purpose. Thinking about how and when to execute a technique distracts me from the burning in my legs.

Working through the ten tests to get to black in June 2015 took a focus and discipline I had shelved for too long.

Don’t think it’s too late.

For more on Jessica’s Blog visit her website at www.yourseconddraft.com

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Grand Master Ridvan 9th Degree Black Belt!

Congratulations Grand Master Ridvan on achieving your 9th Degree Black Belt.

It has been a stellar 6 months for Grand Master Ridvan. From being inducted to the Taekwondo Hall of Fame in Croatia, to AMA winning the top single global martial arts school and now achieving his coveted 9th Degree Black Belt at the World Taekwondo Headquarters in Seoul, Korea.

Master Ridvan’s Taekwondo journey began many years ago in 1975 with humble beginnings starting as a 12 year old. 41 years on, he is still kicking, punching and inspiring more then ever. Currently at a youthful age of 53 years of Master Ridvan underwent a strict training and diet regiment to get into the best of shape in preparation for his grading

12 weeks out, he started his training camp with a strict 6 day training program, consisting of cardio training, strength, conditioning, swimming, taekwondo and patterns practice. Master Ridvan is in the top 3% of Taekwondo Practitioners in the world.

He went to Korea a week in advance to acclimatise to the conditions and trained for 8 hours per day leading up to the grading. It was gruelling but his consisting training leading up to this point had him well prepared. The judging panel consisted of board members of highly regarded 9th dan grandmasters who must uphold to a strict criteria. After the week long assessment, master Ridvan completed the grading in honours and was promoted to 9th Dan.

Furthermore, Mrs Semra, his wife was in a critical condition, which made the decision that much more difficult to make. She has been with him for 29 years of his journey and has dedicated his achievement for her.

Master Ridvan’s actions demonstrate that we must continually set and achieve milestones in life, no matter what stage of our lives we are in. Furthermore, it is important to mention that there will almost never be an ideal preparation. The toughest of challenges and road blocks will arise when you least expect it. Use them as motivation. We must continue to push through the mental and physical barriers in order to achieve our desired outcome.

Congratulations again Master Ridvan.

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Belt Promotions at AMA

Belt promotions are an integral part of the AMA system as we help guide you on to your path to your black belt and beyond. One of the many benefits of Martial Arts is its Progressive system of improvement through consistent training.

As with any endeavour, starting out is the toughest. However, our qualified staff will make this process smooth and rewarding. With the 34 year history of the Academy, we are proud to have all our instructors complete our curriculum and take part in our instructor development program, to ensure quality is consistent in all programs and that you or your child receive the best service possible.

Our Belt Promotions occur on a seasonal basis 4 times per year. All dates are set at the start of each calendar year and are uploaded to our website and on our ‘Calendar of Events’ poster at our Headquarters. During the term basis we encompass a wide range of training systems, including our rotating curriculum covering the many elements of martial arts and including practices from different styles. We also have our themes that coincide with the physical element of the class. For example, we concentrate on bully busting, focus, respect, following the rules, giving thanks, showing gratitude. These values will transcend into all areas of your life. Everything needed for belt promotion will be covered in class.

Each belt system thus has their own belt specific physical requirements, to which instructors monitor and report during classes leading up to the day. Each belt also has their own assigned kick that is focused upon. This term basis has enabled individuals to work at their own pace and provides the flexibility to achieve the necessary outcomes required by their belt curriculum.

The Promotion days are split according to age and belt level. This is a great way to be with your peers from different programs. At the academy, we have over 110 classes, so coming together with all your fellow belts are a great way to build camaraderie, friendships and training partners throughout your Martial Arts Journey. At the judging Panel, there will be the Grand Master Ridvan, Founder of AMA, and the Head Instructors. Your regular class teachers will also be there to support you and help see you succeed! Place the dates in your diary, so that you have time to arrange how to get here and who will come and celebrate with you. We are a Black Belt School and we encourage all members to enjoy the transformational journey to the coveted Black Belt.

Belt promotions only occur 4 times a year, and are a fantastic occasion to bring your friends and family along to celebrate your growth and development. They are also a great way to improve your confidence in a safe environment, by getting up and performing in front of your peers. You can practice at home by downloading our belt curriculum through the members section of the website, or by purchasing our grading practice video through the hard copy dvds available at reception or online through our Vimeo account. As they occur once every three months, it is important to ensure that special arrangements are made to ensure you are present for your grading.

Please note that belt promotion applications need to be completed and signed by an instructor first. Our Academy only encourages students that we feel are ready to attend the event. If you are unsure about whether or not your child is ready, speak to the instructors as they are the professionals who can assess how they are tracking to do well at their belt promotion night.

Gradings require a small fee of approx. $50-60 which covers all of the testing, accreditation & certification, medals, belts and instructor fees for the event. This of course is on top of the benefits of improved confidence, motivation and recognition of improvement…which is priceless? If for some reason you don’t do as well as you hoped (we stress that we only encourage those who we feel are ready to attempt) and do not achieve your belt, this fee is credited to the following attempt and payment will NOT be required for the following grading.

AMA is a member of Taekwondo Australia, The World Taekwondo Federation…(any others here) and has also won the top Single Martial Arts School in World (4th consecutive year – EFC), so after your great achievements be sure to take photos, and let everyone know about your amazing success.

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10 tips to a healthier studying space

Having a practical and relaxing space to work is intengral to getting into a good study routine. Uncomfortable or distracting environments can be detrimental to any tasks at hand, as well as your physical and mental health, so it’s a good idea to spend a little extra time on making your studying space into something that you can work well in. Here are some recommendations to make your study life as comfy as possible!

Make it personal. Having something as simple as a small poster or something that you like can make your working space familiar and comfortable, which in turn makes you just that little bit more relaxed.

Keep it simple. Don’t overcrowd your space with things you like, or they become distractions! It’s also good to organise your work regularly.

Stay hydrated! Working for long periods of time can cause us to forget how hungry or thirsty we might be. Keep a water bottle at your desk so you always keep hydrated.

Get some natural light. Working in a space with only artificial light not only strains your eyes unnecessarily, but also gives your space an attic-like feel!

Keep your room at a nice temperature. Every Australian knows what it’s like to be in the heat. Make sure you have some ventilation, and keep your place cool. If you have a tendency to get hot, consider having a small desk fan nearby.

 Posture! If you work at a computer a lot, try to have the screen at eye level to avoid neck strain. Having a chair that allows you to keep your back straight and your feet on the ground is also important!

 Take regular breaks. Although this may be a little unrelated, make sure to take regular breaks when studying or working! Stepping outside for a single minute can help a lot— it takes strain off your eye and gets your body moving. It’s recommended to take a break every 45 minutes to an hour to ease up your body. You may want to have a small stretch, too.

Avoid the bed! It sounds strange, but working on your bed—no matter how comfortable it is — can be damaging to your mental health. You’re in the mindset that your bed is for resting, so working on it puts your brain in a completely different mindset, and this can actually make it harder to sleep at night.

Colour code your space. Having a range of colours in your working space can get you motivated, especially if you’re a visual learner. Different colours evoke different emotional responses— for example, red can get you excited, whilst blue can calm you down. This is called colour psychology, and it’s quite useful when organising your workspace.

Have a bit of green. Keeping a plant in your study space helps to relax your body. Nature, and the colour green, are both associated with calm and relaxation. It sounds like a hassle to have to take care of a plant, but you can keep something as small as a cactus, which only need a little water every once in a while.

Sources/extra reading: http://blog.opencolleges.edu.au/2015/02/08/top-5-tips-create-productive-study-space/

5 steps to a healthier, more productive study space!

http://www.kikki-k.com/blog/how-to-create-the-perfect-study-space/

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