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  1. --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Balancing the Art with the Business

    Balancing the Art with the Business
    By Christopher Stollar

    Charlie Webb, 7, (center) practices tae kwon do with fellow classmates at Martial Arts America on Wednesday. The studio is moving from its Main Street location to a building in the Gateway area with a larger studio space in May. SAM KARP / The Springfield News

    Starting work at night, they bow, tighten their belts and fight men, women and children until the sweat falls from their faces.

    Bill Xiaihos and Gary Martin are the martial arts masters -- and businessmen -- of Springfield. While both have observed an increase in students and revenue, the masters daily battle the balance between teaching an ancient art and running a business in a capitalist world that demands efficiency.

    "The primary motivation can't be money," said Bill Xiaihos, the second-degree black belt master of Eastgate Kenpo Karate at 4404 Main St. in Springfield. "But it's always a balance. We need to provide a valuable program to our students to not sacrifice quality while keeping the doors open."


    Xiaihos has taught at Eastgate Kenpo Karate for four years. At age 15, he began training under other masters at the school, and he received his black belt nine years later. Xiaihos's 140 students meet regularly, up to six times a week, learning the art of grappling, kicking and weaponry.

    Over the years, Xiaihos has watched his studio expand, but he strives to keep the art alive. The master requires all of his students to meet set standards of form and technique before advancing to the next belt. Xiaihos worries about schools that care primarily about money, testing their students once a month and churning out black belts within a year.

    "It's greed," Xiaihos said. "Like any industry, you see the good and the bad. Many provide outstanding service, but I know people who are not able to manage (the balance). Quality and consistency suffers as a result."

    Jesse Soto, a 19-year-old brown belt instructor who has studied at Eastgate Kenpo Karate for about 10 years, respects his master's philosophy of business.

    "At Kenpo, you won't see black belts until they've been training for six to 10 years," Soto said. "(Xiaihos) is very good at ... the business side of it, affecting all personalities and types."

    The parents agreed with Soto.

    "A 6-year-old black belt doesn't mean anything," said Lisa Gagnon of Springfield. "Here they have to work for it. The quality is excellent."

    Cory Earley, a first degree blue belt from Springfield, also appreciates his instructor's teaching.

    "(Soto) is a really good instructor and good at everything," Earley said.

    Two blocks down the road lies Martial Arts America, home to Master Gary Martin.

    As a student, Martin primarily trained under Tae Hong Choi, a grand master from Korea who taught at a school in Portland. With a fifth-degree black belt in tae kwon do, a first-degree black belt in karate and more than 25 years of training, Martin now teaches 553 students in three different studios, including one in Eugene and Harrisburg.

    Like Xiaihos, Martin has also watched his school grow. The increase has prompted Martin to relocate his Main Street studio to a larger building in the Gateway area by May 3. Martial Arts America held its final class at 4660 Main St. Wednesday night.

    While capital has expanded, Martin believes the rising pressures and financial demands have not distorted the art. The master requires all of his instructors to receive education in training and an internationally certified black belt before teaching.

    The students themselves must meet set time and skill requirements before advancing to a new belt. Their parents must also attest to their grades and attitudes at home. A student will typically receive a black belt after four years of consistent training.

    "My goal is not just to make a high quality black belt," Martin said. "I look at character ... (Martial arts) is more than just kicking and punching. It's about improving confidence, self-control and humility. You can't do that in six months."

    Martin believes that the time, skill and character requirements ease the tension between art and business.

    "It's possible to maintain high quality and be able to manage our business effectively and efficiently," Martin said. "People assume we're a belt factory because of the number of students. But we have systems in place that ensure we can have a lot of people on the mat while maintaining high quality."

    The parents praise Martin's philosophy of business.

    "I've been impressed with the teaching," said Nancy Alaneda of Springfield. "The brown and black belt (instructors) are good. They have to pass criteria first. (They) teach respect and fun with encouragement."

    The students have also found value in the classes.

    "(Martial arts) gives you more self-confidence during tests," said Eric Thompson, a 14-year-old brown belt from Springfield. "The instructors are very good. They push you hard."

    Andrew Arens, a 13-year-old brown belt instructor from Springfield, agreed with Thompson.

    "I love the fact that it's not easy," Arens said. "It's not very fun if it's easy."

    With comments like these, neither Master Martin or Master Xiaihos could imagine teaching any other art -- or running any other business.

    "I've never looked at what I do as a job," Martin said. "It's my life ... Martial arts changes lives. It does things for people that nothing else has ... I love seeing a 10-year-old kid come in, having trouble with school and problems with peers and completely change. I can't think of anything else a person could do that would be more rewarding."
    http://www.springfieldnews.com/artic...business01.txt



    Looks like a promising school, then I seem comments from "young" brown belts?

  2. manchuria is offline

    lord of the glen

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    Posted On:
    6/28/2004 9:42pm

    supporting member
     Style: Kung Fu

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    first school sounds ok, second one, hmm....
    CLICK THE ADDS ROMO!

    This chapter will also show clips from a high-speed video in which Master Bristol conceals a Swiss Army Knife inside his buttocks. -from "The Magicians Code" by Hans Bristol
  3. pst is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/15/2004 5:44pm


     Style: WC, etc.

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I live near Springfield. I have good things about the Eastgate school but nothing about the TKD school. It seems common for the TKD schools to have the younger instructors. It is interesting the enrollment difference between the two. TKd schools always seem big. There is another TKD school nearby that has a huge facility and a lot of students. I think this may attract people for some reason.
  4. Osu is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/15/2004 5:56pm


     Style: BJJ

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    "Andrew Arens, a 13-year-old brown belt instructor from Springfield, agreed with Thompson.
    "I love the fact that it's not easy," Arens said."

    Prosecution rests...
  5. CrimsonTiger is offline
    CrimsonTiger's Avatar

    RAAAAAAR! Fear the Tiger!

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    Posted On:
    7/15/2004 6:12pm

    supporting member
     Style: Karate/Muay Thai

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    *shrug* He may stay at that level for 3 years...maybe he's been in it since he's 5? Just means he does kata well. :p

    The fact that anyone gives a damn about rank at all kinda bothers me...it's all arbitrary until they're old enough to step into a ring or truly throwdown.
    Regards,
    CrimsonTiger

    "Na'h, they should go to old school rules.
    One guy gets sword and sheild, the other gets a net and a trident.
    Lions eat christians between rounds." - Strong Machine
  6. m4949 is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/16/2004 7:03am


     

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    "internationally certified black belt"
    In my experience, International certifide BB are not any better than ones promoted at bobs karate.

    I see nothing wrong with kids getting Brown belts. I see nothing wrong with resonably aged kids (12-14) getting Jr. Black Blets. I do have a problem with 6 year olds having black belts or kids having 3rd dans.
  7. pst is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/16/2004 2:18pm


     Style: WC, etc.

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I agree. Kids should have their own category. The 13 yr. old might be an assistant with the kids classes. How much are the belt requirements tied in to kata requirements in TKD?
  8. ATAMAN is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/21/2004 12:40am


     Style: TKD, soon BJJ JUDO

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    well i have to be honest with you all the paper gets thing wrong all of the time. the kids who are in the leaderhsip program in ATA are there to help hold pads, set up mats, and help out in the kids classes. in my experience they are not involved in the teaching of adults. you cant be a trainee instructor untill you are at least 16 years old and you cant be a nationally certified instructor untill you are at least 18 and even then they are far and few between. you cant run a program untill you are a nationally certified instructor. you can teach classes as a trainee instructor but only under the close watch of a nationally certified instructor. when it comes to the media and the martial arts they just get things wrong all of the time. it seems to me that they both are doing their jobs well and keeping money as little a part of it as possible. we need to understand that all arts are not created equal each ranking system is different and we should understand that. many arts only go to black belt and thats it there are no degrees and such. i for one am involved in MA for improvment not for the belt. yea the belt is nice but that is not why i teach MA. i teach MA because it changes people it is a medium that all throughout its history has had values linked to it. values such as respect, confidence, persistence, service and so on. if all you want to do is hurt people or things buy a gun or pick up a stick. but if you want to improve yourself, your family, your comunity, and learn how to protect those things at the same time then do MA.
  9. Warhogg is offline

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    nor cal
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    Posted On:
    7/21/2004 12:56pm


     Style: Law of the Fist

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I want to know what having a bb has to do with teaching?

    I have interacted with plenty of great bb ('great' meaning they can fight), that couldn't teach their way out of a paper bag.

    "Oh, I have a Black Belt. I know how to teach now."

    Good programs are ones that have a separate teaching program that teaches people how to be INSTRUCTORS, not just MAs.
  10. ATAMAN is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/22/2004 5:48am


     Style: TKD, soon BJJ JUDO

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    AMEN warhog
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