Case Study 314: What makes a Daddy?

by Jeremy Roadruck on March 19, 2012

This past week, I had the rare and COMPLETELY unexpected opportunity to experience a paradigm shift about 26 years in the making…

One of my students had a heart-attack after class last week. It was interesting seeing the skin above his eyebrows all grey. I asked if he was feeling okay, and he said “No. I’m having a hard time catching my breath. I’m going to go sit down for a moment.” He’s one of my assistant instructor candidates and usually helps with a couple of classes that night, so we moved forward to start the next class. About a minute later he comes back over and asks me to call the paramedics, says he’s going to lie down, and then apologized. One of the dads who’s also a student saw what was happening and got involved, got a pad to support the other student’s head while lying down, and then covered most of class while I dealt with the situation.

I called 9-1-1 and was redirected three times, then after being given to the right people, hung up at 8:10pm. Officer on scene at 8:14pm. EMTs on scene at 8:18pm. Student on his way to Kettering Medical Center at 8:24pm (14 minutes from call to transport!). I was very impressed with the officer, and EMTs – very professional and direct, but not heartless or rude about what needed to happen. Officer didn’t reach the ex-wife, didn’t want to leave a message of this type but asked her to call. Everything wrapped up well, officer and EMTs gone, 8:25 called my ER doc student and let him know the situation (he’s in the Kettering network) – he called into the hospital, gave them a head’s up on who/what was coming in, 8:40 called the ex-wife myself and left a message asking her to call me ASAP. Hear from her at 8:51, she’s off to the hospital. Heard from the daughter at 8:59pm, she’s upset and scared. I let her know the situation, how it went down – her daddy left talking and being a wiseacre… classes were done for the night, closed the school, grabbed some food and headed to the hospital to be with the family.

Student had a double-bypass in the past, and hasn’t had any trouble for 6 years – but ended up with a two stints that night. The doctor said he’s doing everything right in terms of diet, exercise, and health practices but we’re still learning about heart disease every day. Given the surgery, they were going to keep him for a day or two. I stayed until he was in his room for the night, and here’s the surreal part…

My student is 60. Ex-wife is older than me, student’s brother who was there is also older than me. I was in his room, with his family – 2 kids, ex-wife, his brother… and I’m looking at my 60-year-old heart attacked student lying in bed, surround by his immediate family, and the love and concern and compassion I had for them all at that moment, the bond with him… I felt like a daddy and there’s my boy, out of harms way…

It was a surreal moment… because, when I was 9, I decided I wanted to be a daddy and have my own kids instead of becoming a Franciscan Monk because I reasoned that a man can’t be a Father in any real sense without experiencing what it’s like to have those instincts turned on by having biological children… and Wed, Mar 14th at 11-something at night, I was proven completely, utterly, and categorically wrong through my own experience.

Only took me 26 years to understand and KNOW (not just think) that being a father is something in the heart, something in the connections with others, something powerful and not reserved for blood, or instincts… it’s a love that comes from within and flows outward. I was humbled that evening in a way I never imagined possible – humbled, and honored. And my student’s still alive – which means get get to grow through more seasons together. I’m a lucky guy. He actually saved my life once upon a time, but that’s a story for a different time.

And I must have an allergy to my laptop b/c my eyes are sweating, again…

Case Study 001: On choosing a good martial arts school near you

by Jeremy Roadruck on February 14, 2012

I was recently asked “How do you choose a good martial arts school in your area. How do I separate the ones that are good and passionate like you from the ones that are just doing for the money and giving away belts easily?”

Here’s my answer:

To find a good martial arts school isn’t too difficult:

1) go in for more information – calling is useless and meaningless other than to find a good time to visit. You can’t get a good feel for the place just by calling – or a good feel for the attitudes of the other students/families without going in yourself. Professional schools will most likely set an appointment with you so that they can spend some time getting to know you, your family, and the unique reasons you’re interested in the martial arts and improving your life.

2) Ask for a trial membership if they don’t offer you one – I offer two free weeks, most good schools do. The trial should include some 1:1 time with an instructor plus some time in group classes. If it’s a professional school, they’ll give you an offer to enroll on your 2nd class (sometimes the first class, with a 30-day or 60-day money back guarantee) that has a deadline generally in the first week – so, for example: come in today for a semi-private lesson and back again Wed or Thur, with a deadline to enroll with some savings by this Saturday. Some parents call in and want to know prices right away – meaningless question without knowing what you’re buying. More on pricing below.

3) You should be allowed to ask questions, meet with other students, see/hear testimonials and results from current and previous students, and watch a class – generally after your first 1:1 class or semi-private class. In my school, my Basic Orientation classes are what we call “organized chaos” with lots of things happening – designed to help focus and refocus the mind on learning and being engaged, being able to stay focused while lots of things are going on around you. Just watching it without a context can be a bit intimidating for young children with insecurities so I always work 1:1 or semi-private first, and then bring the student to a group class the 2nd time so they can experience for themselves (think: try before you buy)

4) Interview the instructor – what’s his/her mission? How does he/she feel about “belt factories” in the martial arts? (testing on a regular schedule and passing with an A, B or C and As only at Black Belt level is not a belt factory. A belt factory is when you are rushed through the ranks with no understanding, no development of confidence, whenever there’s a challenge they just gloss over it to move you forward, there’s no long-term relationship with the students. No qualification process to commit to higher level training…. it’s all $ first, quality second type of atmosphere but you won’t pick that up over the phone). Is there a difference between self-defense and fighting skills? (yes – self-defense is about staying safe and personal protection; fighting skills is about doing damage and understanding/developing the skills to stay in danger – self-defense is relatively quick to learn compared to fighting skills… self-defense should  train you to reach a position of safety, leave the danger; fighting skill and submissions take a longer time to develop – skill in self-defense or fighting does not necessarily translate 1:1 from one to the other)

5) Do you get a good “vibe” from the place – clean, open communication, there to serve you, focused on taking care of your concerns/issues, involved in the community, other parents are happy/excited to talk to you, other students happy/excited to meet and train with you, good peer group for you/your family/your child, no interpersonal issues on the training floor or in the “peanut gallery” (where the parents sit)

6) Plan what you can reasonably budget for a professional martial arts program. Realize that a well-run program helps children get off ADD/ADHD medication, can help to remove the need for therapy/counseling, improves grades, improves self-image, provides a great workout for the body/mind/emotions (need all 3 running well to be happy in life), improves confidence, improves communication skills – and can even revitalize family relationships…

Factor all that and consider this: a good personal trainer is ~$65/hr and might give you a discount for a packaged deal… say $50 a session for 8 sessions a month… that’s $400/mo for personal training and I have yet to met a personal trainer that is focused on transferring all their knowledge into their clients (if the trainer did that, no more clients). A professional martial arts program should give you the knowledge and skill to know what you are doing and why you are doing it. That’s part of the Black Belt training process. And getting a tutor can cost anywhere from $20 an hour to $1,500 to raise a letter grade.

A professional martial arts program should run in the neighborhood of $150 to $300 a month for a basic program for an individual and $300 to $600 for a family – once you factor in equipment, uniforms, testing, intramural tournaments, and workshops/seminars. Now, you can save some $$$ by looking for a guy who’s teaching at a church, or his basement/garage for close to free – or go to the rec center for a little more than free, but I have yet to meet world-class, highly educated anybody who does anything for free or close to free. I’ve seen high quality, high price; low quality, low price; and low quality, high price. As for the “I don’t want to get my child excited and then find out I can’t afford it” concern that many families have – that’s why I wrote #6 – consider what you’re willing/able to budget. If you’re at the point where it’s pay rent/gas/food or take martial arts – you probably have bigger issues to address first like the financial stability of your household – so a rec program or a free church program might be appropriate as a temporary solution.

If you just don’t want to pay “too much” – continue reading:

Truth be told – learning the martial arts in a professional setting is about the most cost-effective thing you can do for you and your family, hand’s down.

Case in point:

A ) my mom feel and hit her head b/c she didn’t know how to fall safely, suffering brain trauma and was unconscious for 3 weeks. She was in her mid-60s at the time. After 2 years of physical therapy (total cost: $500,000, plus her personality shifted a bit) she will still never be able to drive because her brain can’t process her body in motion and moving targets like other cars around her. =/   However, because of her injury, I developed a Falling Safely Workshop (featured on channel 2 news twice, in fact). I’ve taught that Falling Safely workshops to people and can tell you that a family friend in her 60s has fallen 4 times since I trained her, and once from a 3′ ladder in her kitchen… she tore a small hole in her leg from the ladder but got up and finished making dinner, no injuries. (based on my mom’s experience, this family friend owes me 8 years of her life and $2,000,000)

B ) I’ve been at a multi-sport event and watched a coach reduce a competitive cheerleading team member who was 6-year-old to tears because the 6-year-old was “an eighth of an inch too fat to compete” – and after doing some research found out that competitive cheerleading (and dance and gymnastics) can cost upwards of $6,000 to $8,000 a year, most young ladies compete for an average of 3-5 years (so that’s $15,000 to $40,000 total investment) and many end up with eating disorders, a value system based on external validation and the approval of others. Oh, and once a young lady’s hormones are messed up, it negatively impacts ability to conceive children and long-term body density. To me, that is expensive. Plus, some of the parents have horrible attitudes, too – do you want to pay to have them influence your children (and their children put social pressure on your children to conform to “the program”? Peer pressure has more influence than parenting skills, especially as children mature).

C ) If you had the opportunity to learn the skills to protect yourself or your family, and you didn’t… what’s the life of your child worth to you – an abduction, a rape, a murder but you saved $50/mo, or $100/mo…? I’ve had students drop out of the program because the families couldn’t figure out how to save any additional money… but the parents still smoked, still had their wine, still had their Starbucks.. *shakes my head* With the families I help, I know the answer to question as to the value of their children is a resounding VALUE BEYOND PRICE and in the families I serve, the parents would give up their own lives to protect their children. There is a difference between learning Self-Defense and learning Fighting Skills – self-defense is about doing whatever is necessary to get to a position of safety while fighting skills are developed to stay in danger. You want to find a program that understands that difference and does self-defense training in a safe, but sometimes unexpected way.

I have students who started as children and are now adults – in college on massive scholarships, students who were anti-social who are now well-adjusted missionaries, and I know I personally transformed from an angry, manipulative, resentful, arrogant teenager into a leader, a motivator, an encourager, a person who loves to serve and expand and light up everyone he meets. Now, I’ve been training for almost 17 years (16 years, 11 months in fact but who’s counting?) – throughout the US and internationally including China, Hong Kong, Korea, Brazil, and Canada. I’m a national and international champion, a published author, have multiple certifications, and have spent close to $250,000 on my education in the martial arts… but so what? That’s what I’ve done to develop myself and dig out of the hole I was in for about 20 years. What’s more important is this: can I (or someone like me) add value to your life and the life of your child/family, help you to achieve the goals you have for yourself and your child/family , and do you like the way I plan on going about it? Personally, my life is about about helping others to be Happy, Healthy, Safe, Wealthy, and Wise. I’m on a mission to light up the world three ways, one family at a time.

Find an instructor who’s more than willing to spend the time and sit with you and explain what he does and how his school operates – you should be able to feel his passion, his commitment, his vision. Maybe he even writes a blog to help educate people, and has a youtube channel with more information as well (like KungFuGuyJeremy *hint* *hint*)

I trust that helps to give you some ideas on how to choose a good martial arts school in your area…

*steps off soapbox*


*air guitar!*

Case Study 396: Taking Responsibility & Strong-On-The-Inside Leadership

by Sifu Jeremy on October 28, 2011

Kid’s Nite Out is something I offer at my school typically during the school year on the 2nd or 3rd Friday of the month, set from 6p-10p, $20 per child for four hours – with pizza included. This is a GREAT way for parents to have a ‘date night’ and the young ladies and gentlemen can learn some important life lessons at the same time – oh, and make some new friends, have fun, and get some exercise. I may be biased, but I think it’s so much better than just sitting around watching TV with some teenager watching your kids at home… *hint* *hint*

This is a case study report from August, 2010.

The night started with a few ground-rules, as always… and I asked the parents to stay for a few minutes just to hear the opening of the event. I covered the concept of Self-Control (when my mind controls my body and my emotions), plus the ideas of positive energy (when you feel warm and big inside) and negative energy (when you feel small and cold inside). I started by having everyone sit up nice and tall and say, “I feel terrible.” Then I had everyone sit all smooshed down and say, “I feel wonderful.” Finally, I had everyone sit up nice and tall again and say “I feel wonderful.” Then I asked, ‘which felt like it belonged together?’ (C – sitting up nice and tall, saying I feel wonderful). I explained that when they were sitting up nice and tall, they were feeling something called Positive Energy, which is when you feel warm and big inside. When everyone was sitting all smooshed down, they were feeling something called Negative Energy, which is when you feel small and cold inside.

Then I asked, “Do you like like feeling small and cold or warm and big inside?” Everyone agreed that they liked feeling warm and big inside. So then I asked, “If you make someone – like your parents, or your brother or sister, or a teacher – ask you four or more times to do something, do you think they feel warm and big or small and cold inside? (small and cold) So, if they feel small and cold inside, what will they share with you, warm and big feelings or small and cold feelings? (small and cold feelings) And do we like feeling small and cold inside? (No) Me either. So how can we help other people feel warm and big inside – by making them ask use four or more times, or what if they only have to ask once (ask once!) Great! And if they feel warm and big inside, what are they doing to share with us? (warm and big feelings) That’s right! So, to make that easy, we have to work on developing something called Self-Control, which is when my mind controls my body and my emotions.”

“The way you show me, your parents, your teachers, brothers, sisters, and friends that you’re working on your self-control is by using something called Magic Phrases. Repeat after me. The first four are: Yes Sir (Yes Sir), Yes Ma’am (Yes Ma’am), No Sir (No Sir), No Ma’am (No Ma’am). So, for the rest of the night, we’re all going to practice using our Magic Phrases with each other. Does that make sense? (I heard a few yes sirs, a few yeahs, and had a few nodding heads). Ok, I don’t speak head-shake, so let’s try that again. Does that make sense, Yes Sir or No Sir (Yes Sir). Great!”

I followed that with talking about Cooperation versus Competition. I asked the young ladies and gentlemen for ideas of what those two words meant and Isabella and Demi both gave some very good answers. I then gave them my two-word definitions, which made it easy for everyone to understand.

Next was a short overview on being a strong-on-the-inside leader, which is someone who doesn’t always have to be first, can share, and makes sure he or she includes everyone in the activities.

Then I explained

  • We were going to have some free time for about 30 minutes
  • What equipment that was available to use
  • One of the crash pads had to be under the hanging bags so if anyone fell off a bag, they’d land on a thick pad
  • Only one person should be on the other crash pad at a time so no one gets bonked
  • Everyone should be practicing being a strong-on-the-inside leader and share equipment
  • Big ladies and gentlemen should look out for medium and small ladies and gentlemen
  • Small ladies and gentlemen should look out for medium and big ladies and gentlemen

And then I asked: “If someone gets knocked down, is that because of one person or two people? The right answer was two people – if I get knocked down, it’s because I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on around me but the other person wasn’t paying attention to what was going on around him or her, either. So, we both have to cooperate so everyone can have fun and feel warm and big inside.”

With no questions, I turned the ladies and gentlemen loose for about 30 minutes.

Then I spoke with the parents for a few minutes – reviewing what I covered with the young ladies and gentlemen, the idea of a First-Line Success Coach and a Second-Line Success Coach (covered later in this review), helping the young ladies and gentlemen continue to develop their Self-Control at home, and the basic structure for the evening.

This month we’re covering Good Habits as part of our Character Training and Development. I shared some information with the young ladies and gentlemen:

“It takes a conscious, deliberate effort to develop good habits. It is hard to develop self-discipline. It is hard to stay focused and not get sidetracked. It takes courage to always be responsible for your actions. It takes effort to learn to be non-judgmental. But if you can develop these habits, life will be a whole lot easier, more fun and more rewarding.

On the other hand, it is easy to be lazy and sloppy and not try hard. In the long run, these bad habits will cost you a great life. In this cycle, you will be learning some strategies that will help them develop good habits.”

Then I covered two pieces: Self-Discipline and Dinner Before Dessert.

Before the next physical portion, I covered an important concept… I started by asking: “Do you ladies and gentlemen want to know the secret to being invited back, wherever you go? (Yes Sir) Okay, who knows the secret? (hands went up from the Kid’s Nite veterans) I called on a student (he said: ‘leave it better than you found it, Sir’) Exactly right – always leave things at least 25% better than you found it. We’ll practice that a little later, when the pizza gets here.”

Then I passed out pads, mitts and noodles to everyone and we practiced our self-control and balance by standing things and not falling over. Once the equipment was put away, we pulled out one of the crash pads and everyone worked on monkey rolls.

And then the pizza arrived, yay pizza! We went with Donator’s pizza – 3 large cheese and 3 large pepperoni… pizza was good but at $72, a might bit expensive… it was more like $10 a pizza last time I ordered from them… (note to self: gonna have to look into more cost-effective pizza, but must be yummy and not Papa John’s ’cause they won’t deliver inside the business anymore which is a non-customer focused policy as far as I’m not concerned.)

When the pizza arrived, we relocated to the PlayCare (which is the child care areas of Club51, my immediate neighbor, and great place to work out… if you’re looking for a new – no pressure – fitness facility, let me know and I’ll hook you up with the Sales Manager. He’s a personal friend and he’ll take care of you extra special! Did I mention the ‘no-pressure’ part?)

Everyone headed to the PlayCare and sat down in the middle of the room. Then I asked, “Remember what I said about leaving things better than you found it? (yes sir) Awesome answer, Ladies and Gentlemen. Ok, we’re going to see what we can do in here, eat, and then straighten up again before we leave. So, ladies and gentlemen, please look around the room. Could it look better? (Yes Sir). Excellent… make it happen. When you think it looks good, have a seat back in the middle of the room.” And with that, 13 young ladies and gentlemen, ages 4 to 11, with no instruction, guidance, direction, input…. or even conversation, got busy and made the room look great. Ms Rya ‘runs’ PlayCare and keeps it clean and pretty well organized but my young ladies and gentlemen went through and straightened all the stuffed animals, pulled out the blocks and toys hidden in various places and them in the bins, stacked books, stacked bean-bag chairs, and generally made the room nice and tight. I’ve found that when you communicate your expectations clearly, and state what you want to see, young ladies and gentlemen can do some pretty amazing things. I was very proud of everyone and thanked them for doing such a quick, thorough, and good job.

Oh… and did I mention we’d been running around and doing stuff for about 2 hours by this point. AND… I was un-stacking 6 fresh, hot, wonderfully smelling pizzas while the ladies and gentlemen were cleaning… the whole PlayCare smelled of pizza and NO ONE was asking to have pizza… they were all focused on tightening up the room. Which is all kinds of awesome – about +1 million there, even *air guitar*

I couldn’t figure out how to work the TV so we sat quietly and ate pizza, had juice, and no spills. Also, although I did have to issue a few reminders – no one messed with PlayCare’s stuffs. The standing rule is: not mine, can’t touch it/play with it/break it. Break it – you buy it.

Noah’s mom and sisters hung out with us during the evening so they are my witnesses that everything I’ve said is true! And, after most everyone was done eating, Ms Angel (that’s Noah’s mom) played the Concentration Game and hot potato with everyone while I waited for everyone’s stomachs to settle.

Before we headed back to the school, everyone washed hands and faces again, then straightened up the room – leaving the vacuuming and wiping down surfaces for me after Kid’s Nite ended. And, again, I complimented everyone on making the room look fantastic. Once back in the school, I reminded everyone about being a Strong-On-The-Inside Leader and being willing to share and cooperate. I also talked a little about responsibility – I asked, “Who would like to borrow the car when you’re 16? (almost everyone’s hands went up) So, is borrowing the car a small thing, medium thing, or big thing? (Big thing!) Great… so, does it make sense that before your Parents trust you with a big thing, they need to be able to trust you with a small or medium thing? (yes sir) Is cleaning your room a big thing, medium thing, or small thing? (small thing) Small thing, Sir? (small thing sir!) Very good. And exactly right… so, is your room clean and organized? (some said yes, some looked at the floor). Does it make sense that if your room, which you said was a small thing, isn’t clean – that your parents won’t feel comfortable trusting you with a big thing? (yes sir) I mean, after all, a car is like a 2,000 lbs death machine in the wrong hands!”

Then I explained to our guests that they would be receiving a two-week guest pass but to be able to use it, they would need to show Mom and/or Dad that they were serious by doing two things: First, using the first four Magic Phrases (Yes Sir, Yes Ma’am, No Sir, No Ma’am) and Second, by either cleaning their room or finding something else to clean around the house without being asked. Then I turned the group loose to enjoy the floor and equipment in free play.

Around this time, parents started to arrive so I went up to speak with the parents.

One of the rules during free time was: only one person on the blue pad at a time. Another rule was: no squishing someone under the blue pad. Several of the participants got creative and stood the pad vertically, lined up behind it and then made it fall over with a loud smack. I thought it was a good use of creativity so I didn’t say anything and watched to make sure it was safe. Then, one of the students got partially caught under the blue pad – Noah’s legs were trapped and he had about 5 or 6 other young ladies and young gentlemen laying on his legs. I waited a moment or two to see what everyone would do. They stayed on top of his legs, laughing. I could see that he wasn’t in any pain or danger, but they weren’t being safe. I immediately stopped speaking with the parents and called the entire group to Focus, which is when you stand with your feet together and your hands at your side. I then explained, in my “Parent Voice”, what I expected to see: “Ladies and Gentlemen, are we supposed to be squishing someone with the blue pad? (no sir) They why did I see 5 or 6 people on the blue pad, squishing Noah’s legs and no one doing anything about it? (silence, a few looked at the floor) Eyes on me, please. (eyes met mine) Thank you. Is it safe for you to be on top of someone’s legs like that? (no sir) Noah could have had a broken leg, or a twisted knee and you’re just sitting there, on top of him, laughing. I don’t want to see that again. If you are on the pad, and someone gets trapped – even just part of their body, I want to you get off the made as quickly and safely as possible and make sure they are ok. Any questions? (silence) I can’t hear you. Let’s try that again, any questions? (no sir). Okay, great – have fun.”

And then I went back to talking to the parents. We were discussing 1+1 and the concept of integration.

A few minutes later, about 3-4 people were on the blue pad and Thunder had his legs getting squished. I waited a full minute before saying anything, and then I had everyone put all the equipment away and sit down in front of the bench.

Then I asked, “Why did I have everyone put everything away and sit down? (because it’s almost time to go and we should always put things away?) That’s a great answer and a really good habit, but that’s not why I did it tonight. (no more guesses) Okay… what happened earlier with the big, blue pad? (silence) Was everyone playing safely or did someone get squished? (someone got squished). That’s right. Was that safe? (no sir). Okay, so why did I see it happen again? (silence) Thunder got his legs trapped and everyone just sat on the pad and laughed. I watched for a whole minute. Was that Self-Control? (no sir). Right. So, let me share something with you. Remember when I said that the focus for the school this month is on developing Good Habits? (yes sir) Next week, we’re going to talk about ‘Taking Responsibility’. I shared a short story about playing with a friend who didn’t do his chores and gets in trouble with his mother, and then tries to blame you for him not getting his chores done. In a similar way, I told all of you what I expected when we started the event tonight. And I reminded you when someone got squished with the blue pad. When someone got squished a second time, that told me that some people weren’t practicing their Self-Control, so that’s why I had everyone put everything away. Because I saw a few people not showing Self-Control, how do I know that other people are or are not working on their Self-Control. So it’s easier to just have everyone stop, which isn’t fair to those that actually were showing me Self-Control. But that’s how life is sometimes. Plus, it’s almost time to go and almost all the parents are here.”

And with that, I had everyone face me and bow. Then we all faced the parents and bowed. I finished with, “Okay, I hope you had a great time tonight. You all did a really good job with listening, cooperating, and everything was smooth until something with the blue pad. Make sure you say thank you to Mom and/or Dad, give them a hug or high-five and make it a great weekend, ladies and gentlemen!”

And that was the end of Kid’s Nite Out

and in conclusion, I spoke to Ms Rya Saturday morning and she said the room looked great! Which made me very happy – I want to keep using the PlayCare so having Ms Rya happy with me and my students is important. Next, we need to work on how everyone walks through the building (instead of running because they’re excited after training).