All posts by Andrew Green

The Cycle of Success

This image is on the first page of our Instructor Training manual, and it is one of the key pieces of our teaching philosophy.

The basic idea is when people are more confident they apply effort in a more meaningful way, greater applied effort leads to success, and success leads to a increase in confidence.

As coaches & instructors our job is to create and feed that cycle, meaning create opportunities for our members to feel success, which leads to a increase in confidence.

One of the great things about martial arts is that pretty much everyone can achieve success to some level as it is a individual sport, accomplishments are individual.

Success is something every child needs to find, and as the adults our job to make sure that they are able to find that success.

One trouble is often when the child’s primary area of success doesn’t match with adults.  In those cases the adult can often attempt to push the child towards that particular area, and in some cases pull them away from the area that the child has actually been seeing success in.

Confidence gained through success tends to bleed out into other areas, so when a person achieves a high level of success in something, anything really, it can boast their confidence and therefore increase their applied effort in other things.

This is the basic idea behind how students often start in martial arts, or other activities, see some level of success and recognition and the result is a increase in grades and focus in school or other areas of life.

On the flip side one thing that we see that doesn’t work that is all to common is taking something away from a child that they are good at in order to try and redirect their focus to something that they aren’t seeing as much success in.

The truth is not all people will be good at all subjects, however most students can find success in something.  If a student is lacking in school, taking the things that they are good at outside of school away will not help their school, it will only cause the cycle of success to break and can end up hurting their confidence and their level of success.

As a martial arts school we also believe we have a distinct advantage over many other extra-curricular activities.  Our program is set up with the idea of progressing through ranks in a mixed rank environment.

After a few months in the program just about any kid will be able to demonstrate a level of competence over any beginner.  After a year or two they will be able to start assisting beginners in learning basic techniques. A few years in and they will be well on their way to being leaders within the class.

Contrast this to a team sport where the team progresses along as a unit, and in most cases the top players remain the top players and the weaker ones remain the weaker ones.

Their is also something very real about the martial arts when done right.  The confidence that comes from knowing that you can effectively pin / control / submit another person is a very real confidence.  It’s unfortunate that so many martial arts schools have drifted away from reality to choreographed routines and “self-defence” where an attacker throws a punch or does a grab then freezes while the defence does 8 return hits against a opponent standing still…

Anyways, whatever your child is good at, encourage them to that and recognize their success in it.  Success in one thing and recognition for that success will bleed into all other areas of their life, even if the thing that they are seeing success in isn’t what should be the top of the priority list.

Success & ADHD

I was watching Shark Tank last night and one of the pitches was for a fidget toy (not a spinner) designed to help with ADHD and other learning disabilities.

As it turned out the majority of the sharks had grown up with a learning disability that led them to doing poorly in school, and all obviously went on to become massively self-made success stories.

We get a lot of kids at the gym that struggle in school and are looking for a outlet, and some of them are amazingly fast learners capable of being great leaders… unless you asked their school teachers from what I’ve heard.

When you have a child, or are a person, who learns differently it’s very important to remember that success in school does not always translate to success in life. Yes, it’s important, but with the children who struggle in school it is absolutely vital to help them find something they can succeed and do well at.

“There’s a great freedom to being dyslexic … if you can avoid labeling yourself as a loser in a school system that measures people by A’s and B’s.” — Barbara Corcoran

I also don’t think the Sharks are unique in their stats, a very large chunk of self-made multi-millionaires where people that did poorly in school do to one learning disability or another.

The message kids that struggle need to hear is that they can succeed, despite their struggles, if they find the right thing. Instead they too often here things like this:

“When I was in 11th grade I was diagnosed with ADD,” Burns says on the episode. “The woman who diagnosed me said that my ADD was so severe that I would never be able to survive at a four-year university, and I shouldn’t try to pursue a job that required any type of education.”

But good grades in school are only one path to success, and education can come in many forms. When you have a child with a different learning style it is important to help them find there “A-Game” instead of focusing only on the areas of struggle.

“If I were to make a list of my top, say, seven or eight entrepreneurs I’ve invested in on ‘Shark Tank,’ I would say all but one have a learning disability,” she says.

Confidence is a big element of success, and when you have someone that struggles by traditional measurements in school it is very important to help them find the things that they can succeed at. Having one or two things that you can not only succeed at, but excel at can build that confidence that will help in all areas of life, and confidence can possibly turn D’s into C’s in way’s that yet another extra hour of struggling through reading text books can’t.

Announcing the Parent / Child class!

We’ve been working on something cool for a while now, and it’s time :)

For years we’ve had younger siblings in our 3-4 year old class wanting in, and occasionally we let them in for pieces of the class or to come in and play a game with the “big” kids. And they do amazing…

Even at 18 months we have had kids out running obstacle course… balancing on punching bags, jumping off bosu’s, clearing hurdles and vaulting over bags. They’ve taken me down, pinned me, escaped, passed guard and more!

But obviously at this age they need a little more attention then they can get in a class working with other kids and often have some anxiety around new people such as instructors.


We are extremely happy to announce that we are launching a parent & child class for those under 3!

Here’s what this class is going to look like, and what the kids will get out of it:

It will start with a warm up. You will be doing this with them, they will run, jump, backward run & jump, log roll, bear crawl, and other basic movement exercises. This is going to teach them gross motor skills, balance, strength and get them used to moving with a group in a structured way.

We will teach them (and you) how todo basic martial arts techniques. We will show them how do basic escapes, takedowns and pins, as well as teaching you how to ensure their safety and how to get them doing it most effectively with you.

They will do “obstacle courses” stressing agility, strength and balance. Picking up medicine balls, vaulting over punching bags, jumping hurdles and balancing on our balance training equipment.

They will play games emphasizing helping each other and interacting with the other kids.

The primary goal of this class is to build gross motor skills, to have fun with your child, to build their confidence and get them used to a structured class environment. We’ve seen the amazing progress some kids in this age group have made watching sibling and occasionally participating for bits and pieces and are very excited to see how they progress with a full class!

So now the important questions…

When does this class take place?

This class takes place from 2:00pm-2:30pm on Mondays & Wednesdays.

What is the cost?

The cost is $69 / month.

What are the ages?

This will be 18-36 months. That said every child develops differently. For our class a couple milestones we’d like to see before they join are running, climbing stairs, kicking a ball, throwing a ball overhand and the ability to follow simple 2 step requests. (ex come here and sit down, take this toy and put it away, go get your ball and bring it here, etc.)

Kids in this program may have the option to advance into our 3-4 year old class a little early if they are showing good progress as well.

Will the parent’s get a workout?

Parents will be active, however the focus will be on the kids. Parent’s will be racing their child, getting up and falling down a fair bit, doing some basic movement exercises with them, etc. But it will not be a intense workout for the parents, but you will be involved and active.

I’m interested, what now?

Go to this page:  to get registered

Birthday Part Price Change

In the last 6-months I’ve personally run well over 50 birthday parties for all ages, 3 year olds to 12 year olds.

Since the summer our birthday parties have exploded… the reason? around that time we made a big change to how we ran birthday’s. Instead of doing what everyone else was doing, providing an hour of fun then leaving the rest to you we decided to do everything. Order the food, provide the plates & napkins, serve the food, include a stuffed pinata for treat bags, take care of all the clean up. Everything.

This seems to have gone over rather well, the kids leave happy and wanting to hold their party with us, the parents have the least stressful party they ever ran, and we have a lot of fun running these parties as well.

100+ Birthday parties later, our parties run like a well oiled machine, not only durring the party, but in getting ready for it.

So after a party the kids leave happy, the parents leave happy and we leave happy.

The truth is we love doing parties, and we feel that are parties are at the top end of the tier. It’s not simply access to a place to play, it’s a structured experience designed to leave the birthday child feeling like a star and leaving with thier confidence through the roof. It’s designed so that the parents simply need to show up with a cake and then sit back, relax and maybe take some pictures without having to worry about if they forgot anything.

So after some thought we decided that everyone that wants a party with us should be able to get one, and that while our experience is worth more then the 299 we charge (we’ve been told we should charge more by people after the party) we are going to lower the price, and hopefully open this experience to a few more people where 299 might have been hard to budget. So effective today, all-inclusive parties are only $247, this might change in the future obviously, but right now,

Chech out this page for full details:

Transparency in Pricing

I’m not going to lie, we did listen to this advice once upon a time, but to be honest it felt wrong then.

But there is a “standard” practice in the martial arts and other related industries to not tell you the price until you give them something. Whether it is coming in to talk in person, a email address or something.

The logic is reasonable in some sense, or at least it was at one point.

The basic idea is people are often price shoppers, so unless you are the cheapest you have to show them the value of what you do before showing them the price. And unfortunately if you are the cheapest it is impossible to deliver the best product and trying to do so will put you out of business fast. There is no product or service where you can deliver the best option while being the cheapest. The best car is going to cost more to make then the price of a cheap car by far.

In other words if I call around and ask a bunch of places the price of a tv and they all give me prices but nothing else I’ll go with the cheapest. But, some of those tv’s where 13” CRT’s and others 60” LED’s and everything in the middle with good brands and poor brands all mixed in.

But something changed, and that was the internet.

Back when the only information you could find on a school was the yellow page ad without actually going in this practice made a little more sense. Now however you can find videos, blogs, reviews, in depth websites, and more on pretty much any school.

You can find out a lot about any school without speaking to anyone nowadays. The schools themselves lost control over the information that goes out about them. This is a good thing for everyone, it makes us up our game and it put all the places that hooked you into long term contracts with shady sales tactics and collections enforcement out of business.

Our prices are all available publicly, as is pretty much anything else we get asked about. We aren’t the cheapest, we couldn’t do what we do if we tried to be. And we are also trying to put as much public content about our school and what we do out there as well.

It’s not about the person at the top, its about the people at the bottom.

One thing I’ve noticed with a lot of people in my profession is a dislike of teaching beginners. I suppose I get it, it can be a little repetitive teaching the same basic concepts everyday. It doesn’t really challenge your technical knowledge or force you to improve your own technical knowledge in the same way as teaching adult students.

I’ve also noticed a correlation between those people, and the schools that have the top person of the school or the organization plastered everywhere, right down to the school name. The website is all about them, everyone bows to them and addresses them as “sir”, or “master”, and treats them as something special.

The unfortunate thing is that while martial arts schools claim to teach humility, the culture of many schools seems to do the opposite.

Beginners are in many ways the most rewarding to teach. Someone going from 0 to 6 months training makes a huge and noticeable improvement. Someone going from 10 years to 10.5 is a much less noticeable change.

As instructors / coaches our job is to serve our students, not the other way around.

One of the most dangerous things in any activity is when the instructor begins to think the students serve him / her rather then the other way around. Whether is in the martial arts, team sports, academic or anywhere else, as soon as that switch gets backwards it is a open door for disaster.

Our school culture is very intentional, there are elements of “traditional” martial arts that we will never allow in our school. No one here will ever be called master. Instructors will never be on a pedestal, but always expected to speak to everyone, from the 3 year old beginner to the 20 year veteran with respect and to serve their needs, not the other way around.

We believe that one of the most important lessons you can teach a child is that leaders serve others.

Happy New Year!

2018 – Where we are and what’s coming

2017 is over, and it’s been a great year. So let’s start with a little review…

We where given the Top Choice Award for best martial arts school in Winnipeg for 2017, and in a few days we hope to get it again for 2018

Our Birthday Parties exploded… We did more parties in the last 3 months of 2017 then we did in all of 2016. Why? Because we decided to take the birthday party experience to the next level.

Our spring / summer camps ran more weeks then ever!

We changed our kids membership options to “all inclusive” memberships based on feedback from our parents. This meant all equipment, special events and more was included in the monthly fees keeping things nicely balanced for easy budgeting.

Our adult program, which has been a heavy no-gi (uniform) grappling program for years brought in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ranks and uniforms to allow a more in depth program.

Lindsay has moved from coming in to help out with events and camps to full time… oh, and we got engaged

We’ve built some great relationships with local schools, business and even the Children’s Museum

So looking into 2018… what’s coming?

Our adult BJJ program is going to explode. Seriously, every program we’ve focused on from preschoolers to camps to birthday parties we’ve exploded. Adult BJJ is one of the big missing pieces and 2018 will put that program up their with our other offerings.

Our kids program is going to relaunch a leadership program in a completely new and improved format. We’ve had so many graduates of our kids program move on to do amazing things in leadership roles, including becoming some of our top staff members over the years. Coming soon we will be inviting several of our top performers into a new leadership program to teach them our approach to leadership and coaching.

More public content. Social media is something we want to start pushing even more content too. We are very proud of what we do, and while we probably have put out more content through our Facebook, instagram and blog then most schools, we want to really blow it up. So make sure you keep your eyes open, we have some really cool stuff coming down the pipe.

We have a name to live up too, and the entire martial arts world has been flipped on it’s head in the past few years. In 1994 Royce Gracie choked out Dan Severn in a triangle choke from guard (bottom) and no one knew what had happened. Now “Triangle Choke” returns 159,000 results on youtube including instructional content from 100’s of instructors. 20 years ago most instructors viewed our knowledge as secret and privileged, advanced stuff taught behind closed doors only. Those days are over… not just in the martial arts but in everything.

Now, thanks to the internet knowledge is free, its everywhere. You can learn anything for free at any time. Our roles have changed, we are not sources of information anymore, but sources of curation and coaching. Martial arts instructors can no longer hide behind mysticism and lack of knowledge of their students, we have to be better.

Not just in our classes, but everywhere. 20 years ago the biggest yellow page ad won in a community. Instructors controlled all the information that came out about them and what they did. Now google and Facebook reviews can tell a story that can’t be controlled.

Join us in 2018, we are going to keep stepping up our game and shaking up the martial arts world.

And keep an eye our youtube channel: We have some cool stuff about to go down there

Top 6 New Years Resolutions You Should Make

1 – Be mindful of your environment. This is a simple thing, but one that can have a very powerful effect. But what we take in determines a large part of what we will put out. If you spend most of your time with people that are unhealthy, chances are you will be too. If you spend all day listening to negative news stories, chances are you will have a negative outlook on the world.

One of the most powerful ways you can change your life is by changing the information you take in. This includes people, news sources, podcasts, the sort of movies & shows you watch… everything.

Our mindset determines a huge part of our successes and failures in life, and a healthy mindset requires positive inputs.

2 – Love the journey, not the side-effects. Lots of people want to look a certain way, or make a certain amount of money, or have certain things… but that can never make you happy, those are side effects of the lifestyle that gets you there. If you want to look like you are in shape, you have to live a healthy lifestyle. If you want to make lots of money you have to work hard and smart and continue to educate yourself constantly.

People that start a diet & exercise plan with a goal of looking a certain way are destined to fail. The aesthetics are a side effect of a lifestyle, if you don’t love the lifestyle it won’t last. You might get that motivational boast as long as you are seeing results, but eventually those results plateau.

The fitness industry has become a steady stream of before and after pics, progress pics, and fad looks that are unhealthy and unrealistic. There is nothing wrong with getting a lifestyle you enjoy and a level of fitness you are happy as it gives you the energy and ability to have the quality of life you want and then living it that way without worrying about your next Instagram progress pic. At the end of the day being able to run around and play in the yard with your grand kids in 30-40 years is more important then having super defined abs.

3 – Learn a skill, or pick up a neglected one. As we get older it is easy to stop learning what we don’t need to. Part of what keeps us feeling young is learning though, and it is never too late to learn something new or take existing knowledge and expand on it.

So pick up that instrument that has been untouched in years, spend some time learning new cooking techniques on youtube or in a class, go get that black belt you stopped at green belt on the way too, whatever suits your interests, do something that makes you learn.

4 – Do something that makes you uncomfortable. Comfort is the enemy of progress in just about anything. As we get comfortable in where we are we stop going outside of that. Find something that makes you uncomfortable and do it until it’s no longer uncomfortable to do.

Whether it is as simple as door-to-door canvassing for a cause, speaking to a room, haggling a price, posting a video or picture of yourself, starting a new class or talking to someone that you’ve always wanted to talk too. Do something that makes you uncomfortable, you’ll probably surprise yourself by getting good at it.

5 – Make memories, not purchases. Listening to people talk is part of the holidays, one thing that I think stands out in how most people talk is that when they tell a story about something in their past or from their childhood the “things” of the story don’t matter all that much. It’s what happened and what everyone did and who was there that do.

I know all of my memories of Christmases are about the people and the places, never the things I got as gifts. Take the time off to make some memories that will last a life time. Doing the same things you do all year but for longer periods over the holidays will be quickly forgotten. Playing the latest shooting game that will be obsolete in 6 months will be forgotten quickly. A fingerling… that looked so much cooler in the video will be forgotten in no time. Building a giant back yard snow fort painted with spray bottles & food colouring for a afternoon… that will be remembered for a lifetime.

6 – Do something amazing, for someone you have no reason to do so for, without any internal expectation of something in return. Better yet, do this a lot of times. The more good you put out the more will find its way back too you. But anytime you do good with the mindset of getting it back right away it will fail in the long term, even if it works in the short.

There is a famous quote that says you can get anything you want in life, if you help enough people get what they want.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is one of our favourite holidays at Innovative Martial Arts. We decorate, we throw a big zombie night party and the kids all love talking about zombies, witches and werewolves.

Halloween is not just about the candies though, it’s actually a holiday that fits very nicely with one of our core values, teaching kids confidence.

Letting kids be a part of creating scary things, being the scary thing themselves and getting out in the neighbourhood interacting with people is a great event for building confidence. Taking the scary imagery and creating it takes it from being scary to being fun. Going up to a door and yelling “Trick-or-Treat” is met with a reward for being confident enough to walk past the ghost and the coffin and yell at a strangers house.

The scary looking clown with a blood stained outfit is far less scary when they watched their friend put the costume on.

I’ve seen a lot of nervous and anxious kids that where able to put on a scary costume and then have a blast running around “scaring” everyone else.

If you have a child that is scared, don’t try to shelter them from the holiday, teach them their is nothing to be afraid of. If they don’t want to yell “trick-or-treat” at the door or ring the bell that’s ok, tell them when they are ready to do so they can start getting candy. Small steps are ok, but by the end of the night they might be yelling as loud as they can :)

If the time is right even flip things on them, make them hold your hand and tell you it’s only decorations to go up to a particularly scary house because you are too scared :D

Kids and Business

Business is one of those things that is a really relevant and useful skill, but is so often neglected in childhood education.

Kids can greatly benefit from learning basic business skills, and operating micro-businesses.

Learning the value of money, and how it is made are valuable life lessons that will help a lot in the future.

A simple thing like a freezie or Lemonade stand might be the first things to come to mind when it comes to kids and businesses, but there are other options.  That said, let’s look at what skills are necessary for that sort of business.

Inventory, they need to purchase it and prepare it.  Understanding that they can take some amount of money, add value and create more money is a important thing that teaches self-worth.

It also requires a understanding of value.  In order to produce income they have to make sure their costs are lower then their price.

Inventory also costs money, which they may or may not have.  If not then it is a loan that might get them there.  Now a loan should have interest attached to it, as in the real world that’s how it works.  The other thing a loan does is teach long term thinking.  If they borrow $10 for supplies, generate $25, pay back $11 (10 + 10% interest) they have 14 left.  If they reinvest they will make more next time… if they spend it they are stuck paying interest again next time.

Or get creative, buy in at $10 for a equity stake where you get a piece of the profits, however they can buy that stake back later if they want.  Again, delaying spending the money “now” in order to generate more in the future

In addition to basic money skills comes customer service & sales.  Again, hugely valuable skills when they are old enough to enter the workplace and to be able to understand how the service industry works.  Kids are blasted with ads constantly, what happens when they start thinking about those ads, how they work and trying to create their own sign?  I’d encourage them to not just look at their own ads, but to start paying attention to the ads they see and what those ads are attempting to influence.

Does it need to be a food / beverage stand?  Of course not, kids have all sorts of options available to them depending on their age.  Other standard kids jobs like babysitting, yard care, shovelling, dog walking, window washing, car washing, etc. are all options.

But kids are also creative, maybe they can come up with something new?  If they are obsessed with spinners maybe they can make them and sell them?  Maybe they can sell old toys or flip garage sale finds on kijiji? Maybe they can create something entirely unique to them and do something with that?

The next thing to look at is persistency, consistency and adapting.  A one day stand might do a little money.  But if they commit to every Saturday from 11-1 or any other consistent schedule they might start finding repeat customers and referrals.  If they shovel a driveway once that’s good, but if they commit to every snowfall they can get regular customers.  Things build momentum in any business or really any job.  And if things really aren’t working… why? and what ideas do they have to fix it?

Academic education is only part of the picture when it comes to building the skills that a kid will need to crush it as an adult.  If they have a interest in money and business it is never to young to start learning.

btw – if you feel odd taking interest, royalties or renting out your rake and lawnmower to your own child keep in mind the reason, the goal is to teach about money and those sorts of things are important in how money actually works.  Feel free to put it away and give it too them later, or buy them something with it.