May 1st is a pretty special day for me, each year.
Three years ago, after 20 years of training and 16 years of instructing, I finally made the jump from being “instructor/employee” to becoming an ATA School Owner. Three years ago, I bought the Keizer location from Master Ireland. We signed the papers on May 1st in 2016, and then May 2nd was my first day teaching classes as the new owner of Keizer ATA.
Now, three years later, I get to look back. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do. I’m thankful to the team members, past and present, who came alongside me to help us accomplish it. And I’m thankful to all of our students, parents, and families, who have believed in us and our school and have trusted us to instruct and guide.
We’ve gotten to tie on first and second degree black belts. I’ve gotten to see a lifelong friend and training partner join our school, finish getting his third degree black belt, and set the goal for a martial arts career and Mastership.
For the first time in my career, a student of mine has opened his own club and enrolled his own students. For the first time, I have “grand-students” at Ascent Martial Arts in Wilsonville who kick high, yell loud, and seem to be always smiling while training. I am so excited about Mr. & Mrs. Mauro and their school!
I am excited about the new opportunities that have happened in the past year, and I am excited to see more.
Grand Master Clark said that a school figures out what it is after 3 years. I had an idea of what I wanted us to be…but now I’m seeing it come to fruition. And I’ve also realized…many of you, students and families, haven’t heard me tell you what I want our school to be!
Last year, I formulated our vision statement (desired outcome). My wife, knowing what I wanted to accomplish and what was important to me, came up with our mission statement. (George Barna said that one’s mission statement should be simple, and one’s vision statement should be detailed and specific). Everything that we do actually centers around this vision.
Our “mission statement” is:
“To empower families to live their best life through martial arts.”
Our “vision statement” is:
Ingenum Martial Arts exists to use the physical and mental training in the martial arts to develop the character and skills of our students. The ultimate reason for this is to create more opportunities in life (and prevent any threats to those opportunities, physical or otherwise) for all involved: Students, parents, instructors, and the community we’re connected to.
It is not our goal to “make our students successful”. We literally can’t. And even if we could, then it would be our victory…not the student’s. Our victories are when the student creates their own victories. Not when we “make them victorious.”
We must point the student out to success, but the student has to walk the path and do what it takes. So really, we are not about “making” our students anything, but rather, creating opportunities and pointing out the path. Beyond that, the student is the active agent. We tell them how to front kick hard, we encourage them, we push them, but they are the ones who throw the front kick.
This way, it is the student’s victory. And those victories will continue, even when the student moves away or moves on. Even in 100 years when we are gone. If we are the ones “making” the student successful, then the success will only happen when we are there, and the successes will end when we are gone. We want the successes to happen no matter where the student goes in life.
And that’s what I’m excited about…we’re doing it.
Students who didn’t believe they could kick head level are kicking head level.
Students who didn’t believe they could become black belts are becoming black belts.
Parents are surprised when they see their kid accomplish something they didn’t know they could do. I have seen my daughters accomplish things I didn’t know they could do.
People who didn’t believe they could become instructors are becoming instructors.
Instructors who couldn’t believe that they could become school owners became school owners. (Well, one. But it’s only been 3 years. We’re only getting started!!!)
Tournament competitors are starting to get fired up. Some have won State Champion titles! Some are realizing that District Champion is a possibility for them, and maybe even World Champion.
If this is what we can accomplish in 3 years, then imagine what we can accomplish in 6 years? Or 9 years?
Our 1st and 2nd Degrees could make it all the way to 3rd Degree Black Belt.
A part-time instructor could provide for his family as a full-time professional instructor by helping hundreds of students build their confidence, discipline, respect, and focus. By helping students learn healthy exercise habits, and good self-defense habits.
A teenager could work his way through high school and college by setting the example and mentoring younger kids to become the best versions of themselves.
A tournament competitor could push themselves to their highest level and demonstrate how competitive excellence is possible through hard work and perseverance.
A parent could have a better relationship with their child because the two-way frustration that happens as a result of arguing and whining could be replaced by a one-time “Yes, Mom! Yes, Dad!”
We know it’s possible.
We’re just getting started.
So to the students, parents, and families of Keizer ATA: Thank you so much for your belief and your support. I am thankful for each and every one of you and for the opportunity to train you/your child. I really mean it when I say that for each individual one of you, the school would not be the same without you.
To Mr. Gould, Mrs. Bickle, and Mr. & Mrs. Mauro: Your passion and charisma, your interest and care for our students, and your dedication to their betterment does not go unnoticed. My own family and the students that we share are greatly enriched by everything you have brought to the table, to our school. You each have been an incredible blessing to all of us, and to me.
To the people in our North Salem/Keizer community who have never been to Keizer ATA: I’m biased, but I’m right…come see what you’re missing. We’re awesome.
I mean, the last class of the day, I saw Alex, one of our 8 year old Green Belt girls, give Samara, one of our 10 year old yellow belt girls, a big hug, just because she enjoyed training with her so much. Or did Samara give Alex the hug? I don’t remember! I also saw four moms (one of them was a grandmother, too) helping each other to punch and kick better and stronger today in our family class.
Something special is happening. I am enjoying being the leader of the ship…but more and more, it’s YOU guys who are making the magic happen.
Thank you all. For everything so far, and for everything the future holds because of your involvement! See you on the mat!