Saturday, 30 June 2012

What Should You Expect Of A Martial Arts Teacher?

What should you expect of a martial arts teacher?

Yes, what SHOULD you expect from a martial arts teacher?

You should expect -- and get common courtesy, yes? Of course. You might even expect uncommon, beyond-the-norm courtesy I would think? After all, isn’t a good deal of the martial arts about learning and practicing respect?

You should expect the teacher to be in good -- to excellent -- physical shape. An exception to that rule might come from a teacher who has an unexpected health condition or who suffers as a result of a disabling accident. Stephen Hawking, for example, is still without question a brilliant theoretical physicist, despite his physical limitations. But, in most cases, your teacher should be an example of the benefits of the lifestyle that the martial arts promotes.

You should expect your teacher to be knowledgeable, beyond his or her art. It takes more than a knowledge of kicks, punches, grappling, or sparring, to be the kind of teacher one imagines a “Master” of the martial arts to be. It takes some life experience, some mistakes, some losses, and some mileage on one’s life odometer to accumulate a little "wisdom" (common sense).

In the group of instructors I am a part of, The One Hundred, each of us is listed on this site: Each member listed there maintains a “project portfolio,” a record of the things we have done -- or are currently doing -- that, as the head of the project, Tom Callos, says, “Shows how we take our martial arts out of the dojo and put it to work in the world.”

Some of The One Hundred members are new teachers, so their project portfolios are just getting started, while other teachers on the team are veterans of dozens of remarkable community-based projects.

“In the future,” says Tom Callos, “all martial arts teachers will be judged not only by their physical skills or experience, but by how they’ve applied their ‘mastery’ to things in the world that lives outside of their schools.”

One thing you should definitely expect from every cognizant martial arts teacher is a chance to try his or her classes before making any kind of commitment to attending regularly. Ask for an introductory course (we will provide you with one free of charge), to try some classes before determining whether the school is a place you would like to spend time at.

If and when you’re ready, call, write, or stop by our location, here:

085 870 8885  or email

Friday, 29 June 2012

Alan Ellis -

Alan Ellis -

Obvious And Not So Obvious Benefits Of Martial Arts

There are some obvious benefits that young and old alike garner from taking martial arts. The first one is the exercise involved.Exercise if tailored for the age and the ability of the participant, is good for the body, the mind and yes , for the spirit too.
A not-so obvious benfit of studying the martial arts is the often unspoken requirements to be present in the practice."When you're dealing with kicks ,punces and arm bars" says veteran  martial arts teacher Tom Callos of Hilio Hawaii "You sinply have to stay in the moment to kep from getting socked in the nose. Awareness of what I call the here and now is something that you can instantly take off the mat and put to work in your every day life"

With exercise and mindfulness  comes a third component that is not a benefit you'll find in every martial arts school, but is something we are deeply involved with. Its about food and its connection to fitness and health. The Diet Chronicles is a project where a group of martial artists are starting to document on video, what they eat and how its prepared-in an effort to eat more mindfully.
Some of the video journals are being posted to an on-line community based around the book

Savor( Savor is co-written by Havard nutritionist Dr Lilian Chung and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

To see one of the Diet Chronicle videos click this link: RvY
"What we consume is as important and relevant to self defence in to-days world" says Callos, "as any kind of martial arts technique."

For more information on using martial arts to improve the body , mind and diet contact Alan Ellis on
 085 870 8885 or email aemartial

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Wicklow Martial Arts Project

If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to train in martial arts this is your opportunity. Thee are lots of martial art, schools  , clubs, teachers, and groups in our community. All are doing good work. Each art ,any of them ,will have some thing good to offer. While saluting these groups and their work. I’d like to offer you another perspective on martial arts.
You see there are a group of martial arts teacher ( leaders) who inspired by individuals such as Tom Callos ,  promote and develop martial arts in a very holistic manner.
Most of us have heard that martial arts are not just about kicking or punching right? What then , do they (the arts) also offer ? Well , you might have seen martial arts  advertised as offering confidence , self esteem , fitness , real self defence. Usually,in terms of children’s lessons one might see added to the blurb the following : anti - bullying , discipline , respect , healthy eating. Really ?
Next time you make inquiries into martial arts lessons for yourself or your child do ask the instructor what they mean when they say they teach or offer the above benefits. Perhaps you might ask them to show you examples of their work.
My point is this. If you commissioned a painting wouldn’t you want to see some of the artist’s work ? Would you allow a contractor to commence work on your home without seeing the plans ?
By examples of work I don’t mean photographs on the wall portraying teachers/students clutching trophies. Nor do I mean a parade of  pre pubescent junior black bets. Nor do I mean a display of their martial prowess or that of their students.
Can the teacher show you how he/she has inspired the students to attain , live, understand and be educated in the benefits that the school advertises. Could the teacher explain to you how he/she has encouraged students to become leaders in their communities. Perhaps you might ask how the teacher has engaged with and actively become involved with the progression and development of each student.How does his curriculum allow for this? Can you see evidence.Real proof.
The martial arts community, with a few notable exceptions, has failed to live up to its billing. Yet it still bills its students. The  yearly tuition cost  in the average martial arts school here in Ireland ranges from € 600 - € 1500 . This doesn’t included belt testing fees  which could add another €100 - €300. Lets add in equipment purchase , on average , € 100 p.a. , then lets say association fees of  € 30 - €50 , then we have special events such as seminars or club competition , lets say another € 50 - €100. So at these conservative figures you could be paying € 880 - €2050 yearly for your participate at your club. Now I haven’t taken into account club merchandise , t-shirts , hoodies, caps , badges etc , lets not forget special programs ( black belt clubs) , private tuition , guest events etc. It all adds up to a considerable investment on your part.
Now I don’t know about you but to me € 1000- €3000 per year is a lot of money, particularly in these days of austerity. If I’m paying this out I want to get value , real value for my buck.
Now let me be clear there are many  teachers who work hard for their salary. They are trying to provide a good service and are doing so with integrity. I don’t begrudge any individual the right to earn a crust. However , if what is advertised in terms of benefits falls short of what is actually delivered then the teacher is short changing the students and letting himself/ herself down also.There should be an expectation on the part of the student that what was promised to be delivered will be. Likewise there should be a commitment on behalf of the teacher to provide this service.
Merely taking a student to black belt or coaching a student to win a tournament is not enough. These are transitory things. Remember the promise of confidence , health , fitness , self esteem, discipline , good diet ? I know black belts and tournament champions who display few if any of these qualities. What of compassion , empathy , activism , tolerance,  sense of justice , responsibility ? Rarely are these benefits advertised yet alone delivered.
I am offering an opportunity to a small group of individuals for a time to take lessons free of charge , no financial cost , to see what martial arts can really do for you . This is your time to invest in your self. If martial arts speak to you then you have found a great vehicle to inspire great change in your life. Let me explain to you also that I will never refuse tuition to anyone due to lack of ability to pay.
These classes will commence shortly in the Wicklow area. If you are interested then contact me on 089-4567533 email
If you need assistance locating  inspirational martial arts outside the Wicklow area please let know as I can connect you with some excellent instructors.

Friday, 15 June 2012


This morning as I sit here seeking inspiration I'm inclined to wonder wheterI've hit my intellectual wall? I mean, I'm familiar with the concept in regard to marathon runners and I've transversed many plateaus during my years training. But right now my colossus of brick seems to by those formed in my mind.

 Perhaps my neural pathways are clogged with too much traffic or outside  stimuli. The upshot of it is that despite my best efforts here I cant seem to grasp an idea or thought. I guess that they are there . Floating in the ether somewhere. But like elusive quicksilver they are just out of my grasp. Perhaps the environment here doesn't help. Currently I'm sitting in my home with  the rhythmic dripping of water bouncing off the tiled floor. The result of a slipped tile. As its bucketing down , a nod to my plastic receptacles dotted around the kitchen floor, take a bow lads, I can't at present ascend my roof and aligning the offending tile. Oh and yes, I forget my leg is recovering from a severe break.So I'm not going to give my best rendition of my spider man impersonation right now.

Still back to the task at hand . I'm kinda stuck. I have a lot to say. But what? What gems can I find lost in my distracted mind? I have opinions, views , information that I think someone may like to hear , share comment on. So what have I got to do to get them in order, and then out into the world.

OK . This is a challenge. This is now an opportunity to grow. If  I were  mentoring  a student how would I go about inspiring that person.? Hard to know. When someone is stuck what do we do to get that person moving again. Perhaps we recognise the potential for movement, for growth, for expression. But how does one ignite the spark.

Let me think. ........

This is how I see it. In order for me to move forward I need to look at the principle of inertia

The term "inertia" is more properly understood as shorthand for "the principle of inertia" as described by Newton in his First Law of Motion. This law, expressed simply, says that an object that is not subject to any net external force moves at a constant velocity. In even simpler terms, inertia means that an object will always continue moving at its current speed and in its current direction until some force causes its speed or direction to change. This would include an object that is not in motion (velocity = zero), which will remain at rest until some force causes it to move.

OK got all that...............?

So I guess my velocity is now zero..........mmmm  so now I need some force to move me!

OK so I'm going to use force , borrow it even ( thank you Kenpo) , but either way I will move. In what direction I know not. But move I will. I 'll pick a thought and chase it down with all the vigour of a mental predator ( sounds scary to me though!) Still nothing ventured nothing gained. Ah, a chink of light in the darkness. Inspiration! A remembered conversation! A beacon in my mindful mind. Now. I can move. I can think. I can do. And you can too. Pick a subject. Quickly! Anything! Take it , run with it,  pursue it, develop it, own it. Now . Your doing!

So am I.

May your force be with you.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Adults Martial Arts

OK, so you've come this far. I guess then you have some interest in what we offer.Either you're a member, in which case you know the philosophy and your working it! Or, you are a guest or you've been recommended to have a look here.

Well this is the section dealing with Adults. Naturally of course, I'm going to treat you like one, an adult that is. I'm going to tell you how it is and how it can be. I'm not going to lie to you, deceive you or try to pull the wool over your eyes.

You've found your way here for a reason. You have a want. You want to be fit. You want to learn defence. You want to be more confident. You want to find a hobby or sport.
Well in this regards I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that I'm not here to give you what you want.The good news is that I can show you how to get what you need.

You see if I give you what you want then I become an accomplice to your inertia. I become a jailer ( albeit I hope, a benevolent one) to your prison of self defined limitations.  Can I even , actually give you anything?

Well to a point I can, but, I will not.

Here's the reasons. If I spoon feed you with the superficial attributes of martial arts then you become like so many others who try out the arts. The reveal here is the word "try"

My friends there is no try ,only do.

Now what I can "do" is to show you how you can educate, engage, inspire, articulate , build, create, define and follow your "Way".
I can and I will commit as a teacher to fully motivate and engage with you in fulfilling your needs. Those deep rooted desires that secretly motivate you. I will also promise you this,  you will not fail through lack of my effort.
You are in control of your own destiny and ability as a person and as a martial artist ( or potential martial artist)

Your curriculum will not be just about kick, punch, block and lock. I am a 50+ year old teacher. My journey has brought me down many roads. I have been up and down, in and out and all degrees in between. I have been there done that , worn the t shirt and carry the scars, literally, of a life hard lived.
So I offer you this:

An opportunity to train, physically, mentally, spiritually. To engage with yourself, your family, your peers and your community.To fully develop your potential , to be an educator , a leader, an activist in your community.

You will learn:
Self defence,real self defence, the kicks, the punches,  the strikes, the locks ,the diets (yes the diets,actually you'll learn to create the diets), the illness prevention , the 10 most common attacks ( and they are not kicks and punches etc).

You will educate:
Yourself, your family, your peers, your community.

You will advocate:
All that is good in martial arts, fitness, defence, health, community, endeavor, spirit, loyalty, respect, brotherhood and sisterhood.

You will exude:
Confidence, good health, self esteem, kindness, empathy, compassion.

You will achieve:
Contentment, health, calmness of spirit,  the joy of giving, the satisfaction of a job well done, the company and respect of many fine people.'ll learn what it is that you need , and how to get it.

For free advice on martial arts training, lessons and related topics feel free to contact me on 089-4567533 or email me on

Monday, 11 June 2012

Immediate Need!

I have often been contacted by folks in "Immediate Need" . Part of what I do is address those needs. What I mean is that many people are prompted to contact me because they have had an event in their lives which require my services. Oh before I go any further I guess I should explain what I do. I teach self defence. So you can probably guess what I'm contacted in relation to,right? That's it , you've got it in one!

Well most of my "customers" are in want of my immediate service.Let me explain. I 'll use a real case scenario to illustrate what I mean.

Dan was a local barman. He came into my school one evening looking to take self defence classes. Dan's immediate need was to learn to defend himself. As usual I enquired as to why this was. It transpired that Dan had, in the course of his job been humiliated by another staff member. Although not physically threatened Dan felt that his co worker had alluded to the threat of violence and Dan felt that "no one would ever speak to him again in that manner".

Now, of course Dan does need self defence, though not in the way he initially thinks. However Dan's perception of his "Immediate Need" is clouding his view of his "Long Term Need".

OK so, how does this relate to anything? Well, I can fulfil Dan's "Immediate Needs" . Dan , can achieve his immediate goal.Though it would be remiss of my as teacher to do so.I have to show Dan that his "Immediate Need" is detrimental to his greater good. Its my job to show Dan that. If I succeed and do my job properly and if he engages with me then we both get something of great value out of our time together.

When you feel that you want to satisfy an immediate need in your life try to step back, relax a little , take time to look at the problem/want/ situation from another perspective.In most case you'll find that your immediate needs are in many cases not in your best interest.

Ask Dan.....

If you are struggling with life's demands and you need some direction feel free to call me on 089-4567533 or join our digital dojo at  Motivational Martial Arts

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

What would you do if you knew you could not fail? I wonder just how much one's life could  change for the better by living that mantra?

For many of us a daily struggle for true direction is the omnipresent thought.

Our fears like dark shadows hold us captive. After all what we have is OK ,right? Why rock the boat? Perhaps we have a good job, a happy relationship, a nice life.

Or maybe we struggle each day to grind out another twenty four hours of survival, going day by day, week by week, to the next paycheck or dole handout.

In the words of Jarvis Cocker are you " watching you life slid out of view"

Society has a place for us.I guess that place is where we are NOW.  Move to another place, wherever that is, languish there for a while and that place becomes your domain.

You can stay as long as you like at that your place. Good or bad , its your choice.

I wonder if you can remember a time when the world was yours?

When anything was possible. No matter how incredible it may seem now, we once believed that we could be what we dreamt of being.

Then what happened?

I wonder , well I know.

Somehow, someone, something, somewhere along your way convinced you that your dreams, your ambitions, your wish could  not come true.Then you, took that advice and believed it.

Most of us have travelled so far from our dreams that we don't even remember them.We simply can't recall what we dreamt of and why we stopped.

Life has convinced us to stop living and to simply exist. And like an a boat slipping its moorings we drift.

But no one said it had to be that way.

You CAN rewrite you dreams.

Its easier than you'd imagine and harder than you'd think but its inside you.

You  know it can be done.


Well , your going to go on  journey of self discovery. You'll face challenges, obstacles. You'll push true barriers and you'll face fear, learn to know it, respect it and control it.

You'll change mentally , emotionally and physically and you will meet others who will help ,encourage, educate and advocate,

Oh and you 'll most certainly meet that someone special

I can promise you this. If you move with purpose, intent, integrity, honesty and discipline you will achieve , advocate, educate and respresent your true potential.

Thursday, 7 June 2012


OK so, what are we about? Well mostly we are about change. Change of perception, change of attitude, change of oneself. Now, to some people change is not good. Too scary. Uncomfortable. Ed Parker, that bastion of Kenpo once quoted" To live is to change, and to change often is to have achieved perfection"
 So how can we change ?

What is it you want? A new you? A more confident you? A new hobby? A fitter you? Self defence? Self esteem. None of the previous?

Sometimes, very often in fact, we really don't know what we want.Our lives are open to so many different influences that we become distracted , confused, unfocused.
When discipline, self or imposed is required we buckle under the weight. Mostly because, despite our innate yearnings for change we are "content" in our own comfort.

Martial arts offer many things. Self defence. Self confidence, Self esteem. Fitness. Good health.Social interaction. Social inclusion. The list goes on.But the key word here is offer

Well, my friends. We can do better than offer. Martial arts is one of the most potent life changing ,life affirming tools ever devised. It is rich in history, philosophy, art, music, medicine,poetry and much more. Offerings are not good enough. Results are what count.

Our mission, your mission( should you choose to accept it) is to effect great change in your life through following the lessons of martial arts.We will not and do not however confine those lessons to the dojo. You will be encouraged to take those lesson ( and no, its not just kick and punch)  you'll take what you learn out of the dojo and into the world.

You'll become an activist in your community. Change will become a way of life. Great change that will not only affect you but those around you and in your community.This is what true martial arts are all about.
When you learn to engage, commit, interact, advocate, and do you will become the change that you want to see .At our school we will commit 100% to helping you help yourself and others.

What to do next
Interact with others. Check out or classes. Look for upcoming events
Call me on 089-4567533. I look forward to hearing from you, or email

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


"Everybody's looking for something" Annie Lennox wasn't far off the mark when she belted out this anthem way back in the day. You know I'm often taken aback when I hear that immortal line "I don't want anything" or "There's nothing I really want". What a melancholic world we'd live in if those two affirmations we true. Imagine a place so devoid of ambition, yearning, struggle and seeking.

You see,today, I heard of a lady who, to many folks, wants for nothing. She has it made. Nice house. Loving husband, Blue eyed baby boy. Enough of the green backs to sail her ship quite contentedly from here to ..well..eternity." I don't want anything " she told a friend. Now this same soul, a good soul, a soul who despite her own mantra is a soul in seeking means no harm. Not an ounce of it. No malice to herself or others. Yet, she is unbalancing her own cosmos and causing disharmony to those she would befriend.

They say money can't buy you love. Well, it can buy you perception and deception. It can buy you plaudits. It can buy you hope...false hope. For today a lost soul stepped into the world of illusion. A world where smoke and mirrors are regal lords. The wizards of this world are most skilled. Its not for nought that  the sages proffered " A fool and her money are easily parted". But money is only a passport. A ticket for the boat ride to the wizards kingdom.Your golden ticket to Wonka's grand tour.And, like all tours undertaken in search of false bullion it leaves your soul yearning.

Yes, we all want to take the magic carpet ride. To rub shoulders with the glitterati. To satisfy our soul. A noble and honourable pursuit it is too. Our own pilgrimage, our camino. After all the good book tells us seek and ye shall find. But, where to seek?. Ah, He also said to us "why do you seek the living amongst the dead?"
That , dear friends is our journey's map. Our north star. Set your compass by those guides and you will surly find your way.

For if only our dear friend could find hers. She would know that in order to know that she wants for nought but needs so badly, she would swim with those who are brave enough to enter the storm waters of life. Don't look to guru's or wizards to tell you that you want nothing. Instead ask of the seekers. Those whose battered dreams and shattered illusions are testimony to their continued quest. Then, and only then will you and our lost soul realise that she wants nothing but needs....everything.

Real Self Defence

Real Self Defence, is a term that's very much in vogue these days. When I started out in the martial arts some forty years ago the term "REAL" wasn't really coined.Mostly, martial arts schools or "clubs" as they were more commonly called , advertised themselves by the title of their art. So in my locality we had "Wado-Ryu" , Taekwondo, Shotokan etc.

As fledgling martial artists,  myself and my peers often pondered ,discussed , wondered and argued as to the qualities and abilities of each art. To us , most of these arts were very similar. Each had its devotees wearing the traditional white gi. Each had various coloured belts and exotic sounding terms to describe their drills and moves. Gradually though, through magazine articles, we learnt a little about the differences. Some of these arts it seemed, favoured kicking, some had strong deep stances. One or two had movements that were somewhere in between.Growing up in, a town in north Wicklow I had little choice of martial arts clubs.

A Wado Ryu club had established itself and around the time of the Bruce Lee era had dramatically grow its membership, and a neighbouring town boasted a Taekwondo club.

  For me though the art that stood out was a system called Kenpo Karate. What made this different at that time was that the students ( at least the senior students) wore black gi. (uniform)  This was in stark contrast to the abundant white gi students in the area. Also, Kenpo did not use Japanese or Chinese terms. Instructors called out the techniques in English.Terms such as "horse stance" or "forward bow" conjured up images of regal martial arts mastery.

Though for me, the defining attribute that Kenpo possessed was in its presentation of itself as "The Ultimate In Self Defence". Now to a 12 year old learning the "Ultimate" art was quite something I can tell you. So I guess the marketing that Kenpo used worked quite well . It didn't hurt that Kenpo, was billed as an American system. Being brought up in an era when American, for all sorts of historical and cultural reasons, was to us in Ireland , a land of milk and honey, not to mention style and sophistication.

So Kenpo it was and I was quite content in my choice knowing of course that I was part of the "Ultimate" .
When I look back now of course calling any art the "Ultimate" was a liberal use of the what that word meant. Of course using the word ultimate wasn't a new concept in the arts. We had already witnessed "Supreme Ultimate Fist" or Tai Chi Chuan to you and me.

As the years progressed other arts queued up to join the ranks of systems who turn their students into the next Bruce Lee.Kick Boxing, Kung Fu, Ninjitsu all had their day in the sun.

Notably though none claimed to teach Real self defence? Kenpo still held its claim to be " Ultimate" though never quite venturing into the dizzy heights of  REAL!

I can't quite remember when I first heard the term REAL in relation to self defence or martial arts. Its seems to have permeated the vocabulary of  the community in the last decade or so. What is REAL?
What are we referring to as REAL.

In terms of defence,of hand to hand combat then REAL has a certain meaning.A great article on this can be found here 

Now to me if you want a REAL art to serve you in combat then you need to go to someone who has a had REAL experience in REAL combat.Honestly how many marital arts instructors can tell you that they have. No, I'm not talking about the drunken scuffle outside the fish and chip shop on a Saturday night.

SO I guess if we want to keep it real then unless we mean to get into a warrior mindset , and by the way , I don't mean some cooked up idea by a wanna be pseudo military systems guru,I mean you really want to keep the martial and the defence real THEN you have to SEEK the right people with the proper credentials. Most of us just don't. We accept as fact the self promoting spiel that is poured out in advertising blurb. No don't get me wrong there ARE "real" REAL defence /combat experts in relation to the MARTIAL aspect out there, you just have to find them.

Then if we don't wish to become fatigue wearing , warrior mindset, special forces commandos , what does REAL mean?

For me, it means REALLY engaging in your art. All of the arts that filled my mind as a young boy. were and are REAL.Those arts are taught by REAL teachers to REAL people living REAL lives,with REAL dreams.

I guess that in REALITY we as martial artists are engaging in pursuing our REALITY. Or, it may be said we are seeking a REALITY to pursue.

Its the ability or not of  any martial art in helping us to achieve our dreams/goals /desires and make those a REALITY that defines that art as REAL.

REAL is as REAL does.

Now how can you GET REAL?

 If you need any help regarding martial arts, self defence, personal development then please don't hesitate to contact me
Phone 089-4567533 or email me