Category Archives: Goal Setting

Martial Arts Culture pt 5: Effort and Achievement

Participation trophies get a bad rep, and perhaps rightly so. Participation in itself shouldn’t really be cause for reward. But, it does have one idea right in concept, and that is that winning is not everything, especially with kids.

Even if the ultimate goal is to be the best, winning isn’t everything.  It’s something we can’t control, all we can control is ourself and our own effort.

The thing is, in the long run effort, attitude and persistence will always win over talent when those things aren’t there.

When we have a talented white belt that is great, but, the unfortunate thing is a lot of talented white belts do not follow through to becoming talented black belts.  And a lot of untalented white belts turn out to be very talented black belts.

Attitude, effort and determination decides who gets to reach  high level of skill, because even the most talented white belt is still a white belt.

Martial arts training is not a sprint, but a marathon and who is ahead at the 1 mile mark doesn’t matter as much as who actually finishes the race.  Same as everything in life, effort and persistence will win over the person that got a early lead.

While we will give awards for winning, the awards for attitude  and effort are equally important.  Those are the things that determine long term success.

We can’t control our natural talent, we can’t control our opponents talents, the only thing we can control is the effort we put in, that’s what we should encourage and recognize in kids.

Martial Arts vs Seasonal Sports

As a martial arts school it might not come as a surprise that we prefer martial arts and other similar pursuits over team sports as a primary pursuit, but perhaps what is not as clear is the reasons.

Year Round

Martial Arts is a year round activity, just as health and fitness should be. Fitness needs to be part of day-to-day life, not a seasonal thing but part of your routine.

The other aspect of this is that in order to reach a high level of skill in anything you need consistency. It can’t be something that you do for 3-4 months of the year, especially as kids. In that time their bodies change so much that by the time the next season starts they will have taken a step backwards from where they should be.

And finally with a big lay off it is very easy to decide not to go back. Seasonal sports participation drops off pretty severely as kids get older and tends to retain mostly only the top tier of players. This makes sense, after not playing a sport for 8 months going back to a team is going mohave some anxiety that comes with it. Not to mention it is no longer part of their routine.

Individual Accomplishment

Martial Arts is a team effort, you can’t train on your own.  You can’t be selfish in training and expect to get far.  You can only get better through the help of your “team”.

But the accomplishments are individual.  When a student earns a belt it is because of their hard work, because of their knowledge and because of their skill.  It is not because they have a couple star players that carried them.  It’s not because the other team choked.  It’s because they did it, on their own.

When the goal of any sport is not really the sport itself, but the fitness, confidence, and other character traits that come from participation this is a big deal.   Every accomplishment they reach is because they did it by themselves.

Clear Goal Setting

There is a path from white to yellow belt and on.  It is very clearly laid out so that they know exactly what they need to do to reach their goals.  The only one in control of their actions to those goals is them.  It doesn’t matter it the team skips practice, or if their goalie quits the team mid season.

Every student is in charge of reaching their own goals, yes, they need their “team” to do it.  But the control over reaching those goals goes to them.

They earn their belts, they are not given to them.  They don’t choose to sign up for “orange belt”, they earn that belt.

Scheduling Freedom

I know from talking to parents one of the hardest things about team sports can be the schedules.  Missing a practice or a game means letting the team down.  You can’t go a different day to “make up” a missed game.

And if it’s not you, it’s someone else on the team missing that causes problems.

In martial arts if you have to miss a class it’s ok, we train 6-days a week and it can be made up if you like.  You don’t let the team down because they are then short their goalie because you where on holidays or had a cold.

Leadership & Starting Skill

One of the other interesting things about martial arts over team sports is you can start at any age and be fine.  Differing skill levels is part of the culture in most classes.  They more experienced students help out the newer ones, which in turn develops their leadership and understanding of the techniques and concepts to a higher level.

Starting a lot of team sports at a later age can be a tricky thing, if everyone else on the team has been playing for 5 years already joining the team as a beginner is a hard thing to do.

Part of what makes a martial arts class work is that the experienced members help the newer ones.  Leadership is a built in feature of the higher level belts.


In the end every kid is different, and every parent needs to make the decisions that they feel best suit their kid.

Sports aren’t their to teach the child to just play the sport.  They are their to teach them confidence, to teach them to keep going when they are tired, to teach them to push themselves, to teach them to work together, to teach them not to give up, etc.


14 tips on getting hired as a teenager

I’ve gotten to hire multiple teenagers, and for what I would consider pretty good jobs.  I am in a industry that tends to hire teens frequently, and have discussed the matter with many others that employee teens many times.

So why post this on a martial arts blog?  Well, we train with and hire teens, and we want the best employees we can get 🙂

So, how would I recommend a teenager get their first (or second) job?

1 – Personality matters.  More then anything else in a lot of cases.  In the business world this is called being a “culture fit”.  It is easy to teach a person technical skills, much harder to teach them to be a good and motivated person.  When in a group do you tend to elevate the group or slow it down by being a distraction?  If something needs done do you do it, or ignore it until someone else does it?

2 – Any job pays you for the value you bring.  If you bring more value, you can ask for more money in return.  If you need to be constantly managed and given direction, you’re not going to get very far.  In any business a employee has to be worth more in value to that business then they get paid.  Otherwise you aren’t a good investment.

3 – The ability to work with anyone on anything is a huge value.  Someone that bickers and gossips with others… they are a poison to a workplace and won’t get very far.

4 – Your network is important.  Jobs often come as a result of who you know, not just what you know.  Again, technical skills are easy to teach, but a being a jerk is a hard thing to fix.  Most employers will choose to hire someone they know, or someone that is recommended by someone they trust over a unknown.  References on a resume are there for this reason.   But a personal recommendation from someone trusted will carry more weight then most references.  It’s just the way we are wired, people will look at reviews for a movie, but a critics reviews will fall second to a friends recommendation.

5 – Everything you do matters.  We live in a social media world, and employers will check you out.  If we pull up your profile and see something we don’t like, that’s a hit against you.  If you’re friends list looks like a bunch of drug dealers you’re not getting the job.  On the flip side, if you’re profile is good that’s points for you.

6 – Have hobbies.  Seriously, have hobbies.  And Call of Duty and flipping water bottles doesn’t count.  School is important, but if all you do is what everyone else does you are just like everyone else.  No one wants to hire a boring person.  Every job I’ve gotten from the time I was 16 has been because of things I did outside of school.  Between about 11-16 most people drop out of things, Be the one that doesn’t and you’ll be thankful you didn’t and possibly land a great job as a result.  Even if it’s completely unrelated to the job, I got a software job  and one of the differentiating factors was that I did martial arts and the “other guy” had no active hobbies.

7 – There is nothing wrong with working at McDonalds or other big chains.  In fact, it’s a great idea.  Big Chains have something important down.  Business systems.  McDonalds is basically the text book case for developing solid business systems.  Spending some time learning how companies that can scale to that size manage day-to-day operations is a great experience.

8 – If you want a good job, go for it.  If you want a job that requires specific skills and is more rewarding, go for it.  Earn that job.  Just because you are young doesn’t mean you can’t get a job that makes you feel valuable.  The youngest I’ve ever hired someone was at 14, and that was to help teach.  They didn’t show up with a resume out of the blue one day, they’d been training with me for a few years, they’d come early to work with the younger kids regularly.  Get out and be involved in things and more skilled jobs are there if you look for them.

9 – Sales is a universal skill.  From selling yourself as a potential employee to selling products or services to selling a proposal in a office job, sales skills are universal.  If you understand sales you can succeed in most environments.  If you want to sell anything you have to be trustworthy, likeable, helpful, professional and know what you are talking about.

10 – Know your strengths and weaknesses.  A job will go well if it is both something you like doing, and something you are good at.  It needs both to work.  A job that is a bad fit for you isn’t going to do you or the employer any good.

11 – Go after the job you want.  There is a time to plaster your resume out everywhere you can find, but make sure it’s positions you actually want.  And the ones you want, make sure the employees knows you want “that” job, not just any job anywhere as long as it pays you.  For me if I am hiring a instructor, I don’t want to hire someone because they just need a paycheque.  I want to hire someone that wants to teach martial arts, loves working with kids and believes in what we do and how we do it.  Same goes for any employer.

12 – Develop skills in the area you want to work.  It’s never too early. So many successful people started on the path that got them to that success when they where really young.  It’s just like having hobbies, if you want to stand out as the best person to hire, you have to bring something that goes above what everyone else does.

13 – Don’t be easily  replaceable.  If you do get a job and want to keep it, don’t be easy to replace.  Some jobs take a couple hours training and you’re in action… if all you bring is the minimum required you can be replaced as easy as changing a lightbulb.  Going above and beyond the basic expectations makes you much harder to replace and is what leads to advancement and promotions.

14 – Be reliable.  One of the biggest concerns a lot of employers have regarding younger employers is reliability.  Showing up late for a shift, calling in sick regularly, showing up with other things on your mind that interfere with doing your job.  Pretty much every reference call I’ve done for someone their potential employees asks about their reliability and attendance.  This might mean hitting deadlines, or simply being at work, ready to go and on time overtime.  If you work for a business that business depends on you.


New Years Resolutions


It’s time to start thinking about them again, and what you want to do in the next year. I know there are a fair number of people that don’t believe in setting them, or believe they fail so why bother?

So here’s a couple things to consider:

Every business that does well sets annual goals. Why? Because goals work, but you have to do them right. If a business said “double sales this year” and that was it, they probably wouldn’t do well.

Goals need to be broken down, and a plan for reaching them set out. Their will be annual goals, quarterly goals, monthly goals and often weekly goals. As well as a plan that to get their, and regular check ins to change course if needed.

Personal goals are no different, if you want to lose 25lbs this year and that’s all you set as your goal… well come December 2017 you may realize you need to lose 30 more to reach your goal…

Instead break it down, that’s 2 lbs a month (far more manageable) or 1 lbs every 2 weeks (even more manageable). And mark that in your calendar. Start with your current weight, and then every 2 weeks for the next 3 months fill in your goal.

If you miss a 2-week mark, concentrate efforts and hit the next marker. If it is measured and monitored it will get done.

Next you need a plan, it’s great to want to reach a goal, but without a plan it’s not going to happen. Think of a plan like a map. Look at where you are, then where you want to go and then you can map out a path on how to get there. Every now and then pull out the map, make sure you are still on course, if not figure out where you are and plot a new course.

So set the goals, break them down, write out the plan and then track them. When they don’t work it’s most often because we didn’t do those things.

Curriculum Structure

In the last couple posts I’ve been talking about what is important to us in our school. We touched on age appropriate classes and safety. To continue that theme this time I want to talk about curriculum.


In any school the curriculum is the product, it’s the main focus of what we do. For that reason we believe it should be well structured and everyone should know exactly what they need to work on and are expected to know at each step of the way.

For this reason we developed a system where each student has full access to the curriculum requirements they are expected to learn at their current level. This is visible to them every day when they sign into class, along with their full attendance records (which are also assigned a A to F letter grade based on frequency… if your attendance is getting a low grade, chances are you’re falling behind on curriculum as well and we need to work together to make things up)

In addition everyone can access this information from home, showing exactly what techniques they are expected to know for their next belt along with video tutorials for those techniques.

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This is our own software powering this, unfortunately we couldn’t find anything like this in the market already, but our name says “Innovative” so we had to live up to it and develop the software powering this ourselves. Something we will be releasing to other schools in the future 🙂

Bottom line is we are a school, and as such we feel that all martial arts schools owe it to their students to have a well defined curriculum showing them exactly what is expected of them and when.

This all ties in with goal-setting and transparency.  You can’t set goals without set requirements and seeing day-to-day progress towards completion of those requirements.

Sometimes stubborn is all it takes.

Until May 1954 the 4 minute mile was largely considered a impossible barrier. Once it was beat the record holder only held it for 2 months before 2 more had beat it.

So much of what our bodies can and can’t do is all in our heads, if we don’t believe we can do it, we aren’t going to be able to. As soon as beating the 4 minute barrier became something achievable, people started achieving it. What was once considered impossible is now the standard for high level racers.

Can you get that one last rep in? or hold that plank another 30 seconds? Probably, but you got to refuse to not be able to.

Input => Output: Who you spend time with matters

One fundamental concept when working with just about any sort of processor is that input controls output.  The numbers you put into a calculator lead to the numbers you get out of it.  The ingredients you put into a recipe control the finished product.

We aren’t much different, our inputs control our outputs as well.

This covers diet, if you eat low quality food you’re going to have low quality energy and feel poorly.  If you eat high quality food you’ll have more energy and be healthier.

It covers our fitness, if you exercise right you’ll end up strong and in good shape, if you don’t exercise you won’t.

And it also covers our mindset, which is going to lead to all those other things.  A person that grows up surrounded by people that are out of shape and complain about those “health nuts” that eat vegetables and exercise is most likely going to end up in a similar situation.

“Garbage in, Garbage out” is a common concept in software.

A person that is surrounded by people that don’t value education is most likely going to end up not getting one.

A person that surrounds themselves by people that love to learn is going to likely end up doing the same.

A person that is surrounded by people that take care of themselves through diet and exercise is likely going to end up healthy.

If you don’t have the right inputs in your life it is going to be very hard, if not near impossible to get the results you want.  The people we surround ourselves with make a huge impact on the way we see the world.  As does the media we consume, the books we read and the activities we do.

Perhaps the worst offenders are the complainers… complainers are the people that always have something to complain about.  Complaining is a terrible input to have because it shifts responsibility away from the things we can actually change.

Now I’m not talking about legitimate complaints.  Things like “I bought this tv and it doesn’t work”, things like that are a different sort of complaint that has a resolution.

“I have bad genes, I can’t lose weight.”

“Rich people got lucky, and exploit the poor.”

“I can’t afford to eat healthy”

“I have no time to exercise”

Now in some cases there may be some level of validity to the complaint.  But focusing on the complaint shifts your mindset to “It’s not my fault, I can’t do anything” away from finding a solution, which is where it should be.

Consider the things that matter to you in life.  Health, finance, family, work, relationships, etc.  What are the inputs are you surrounded with in those regards?

Do all your friends and co-workers creed going to work and spend the whole week avoiding doing as much as possible while complaining about not earning enough?  Probably won’t like your job either.

Do your friends spend much of their time complaining about their significant other… chances are you’ll end up unhappy in your relationship too.

Do you eat lunch with people that eat junk food and make fun of the health nuts that eat salad?  Chances are you’ll have a hard time with your diet.

Garbage in, Garbage out.

Choose who you surround yourself with wisely, and choose who you listen too.


5 Steps to reach your fitness goals this year!

iStock_000016811504MediumEvery year at this time countless people set a goal to eat better, lose weight and get in better shape.  And by mid-February are back to their old habits…

I’ve been training clients for a long time, I’ve trained 100’s of people over the years and I’ve seen the difference in the people that succeed and the ones that fall flat.  So here it is, these are the top 5 things you need to do in order to maximize your chances of success.

1 – Be consistant and committed.  By far the biggest challenge for a lot of people is staying consistant.  But it’s the people that set a schedule and stick to it that get the best results.  If you plan to train Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays stick to that.  It’s very easy to find excuses to skip a day, and even easier to find excuses if you let it happen once.  Sometimes things come up, but if your health takes second seat to everything you won’t get far.

2 – Fight through the first couple weeks.  In any fitness program the first couple weeks are the hardest.  Your body isn’t used to doing it, and it’s going to object… strongly.  This is called “Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness” or “DOMS”, it is the pain you get the next day after starting a new workout.  Once your body adjusts it won’t come back in the same way, but it will take a week or two. The best thing you can do to cure it is to get moving, get the big parts of you moving, if you need inspiration, this blog post has practical advice for hip thrusts and bridges to get the circulation going again and don’t let your muscles tighten up.

3 – Make it social.  Peer pressure is a real thing, and it works for good habbits as well as bad.  A group class will help hold you accountable once you are a part of it.  “Friend” your workout partners on Facebook, get active in online groups, don’t put up a wall that seperates your life from the gym, it needs to be part of your life.

4 – Commit to the next class, every class.  At the end of every class all you need to do is commit to the next time you will be there and stick to it.  A verbal “See you Wednesday” to someone can go a log way to keeping that commitment.

5 – Excercise & Diet, you need both.  Nothing will encourage you more then seeing great results quickly with help of flexx labs usa. To get that you need both diet and excercise.  Fad diets tend to fail, and the trick is to make it a lifestyle change, not a 30-days and done plan.  Sit down with a fitness instructor or nutrition coach to look at small changes that can add up to big results.

If you are not sure where to start consider taking advantage of our New Years Special.  We will set up a one-on-one consultation to help you work out a plan for training and improving your diet.  We will also walk you through some of our excercises and movements to ensure you don’t feel lost and can safely join in with our classes.  We will include a pair of boxing gloves so that you can safely do the pad work we incorporate into our classes.  You will then have 6-weeks to train as often as you like, and if you follow the plan we set up for you in the consultation we guarantee you will see results.

To take advantage of this offer fill out the form located here and we will look forward to helping you get in the best shape of your life.

Here’s what some of our clients have said about us:

This is a great gym. After going to fitness classes for 6 months my endurance, my strength and my flexibility have all greatly increased and the pounds have come off.
– Sylvia


My fiancé and I have now been members for almost a full year. In that time, I have lost weight (gotta fit into that wedding dress!), made new friends and discovered that I really enjoy the MMA elements. I am continually seeing improvements in my endurance, strength and confidence. 

– Andrea

I’ve been a member of this gym for 2 years and thanks to the owner and main instructor Andrew Green, I am in the best shape of my life at age 38. When I first started I had been training at home and at some of the larger gym’s. At that time my motivation to train and fitness progress had plateaued and I didn’t know what I needed to do in order to make the changes to drive my progress.

The atmosphere at Innovative is very welcoming to newcomers and other members are always willing to help people out if they need assistance.

– Steve

Once again, to take advantage of our New Years Special and get 6-weeks training, a private consultation and a pair of gloves, everything you need to start click here.

Getting Stuck in a Hole

We all get stuck from time to time, both in training and in life.

In training we may get good at a few things and then plateau a little.  In order to continue improving we need to try new things and experiment.  But doing so means we will go backwards a little in sparring, get our guard passed, get submitted, etc.

Often the only way to overcome this is to drop our current plan and try something new, something we are not as good at.  Something that is likely to leave us making more mistakes at first.

That old martial arts rule of leaving your ego at the door becomes very important in this sort of situation.  But training is not competing, if you only stick to your “A-Game” in training you won’t get very far.

Like everything in training this parallels real life.  Often people get stuck with jobs they don’t like that barely pay the bills, but feel they can’t afford to take the time to upgrade their education or start over in a new career that might mean a pay cut at first or a risk of not being able to do it.

It’s not easy, but sometimes we have to swallow our pride and take a step back so that we can take the next 5 steps forward.  In training this might mean losing more in sparring and getting put in bad positions.  In work it might mean tightening a budget for a while, or putting in the extra hours after work to upgrade skills.

There is a old quote that goes “An arrow can only be shot forward by pulling it backwards”, and sometimes we have to do that with ourselves.

Sorry, But You Have Crabs…

About 10 years ago I was working as an instructor with a college program. This was a off campus community based program for people that needed a little more attention then the typical student and got sponsored to be there. When I took over the classes I got the “second chance” group, that was the students that had not completed the classes the first time, as well as some that had been accepted late to replace drop-outs.

I had one student that was quite bright, he had come in from out of town to attend the program. When he was there he was getting straight A’s for the most part and completed everything quite quickly. Yet every couple of weeks he’d head home to visit family and friends, which led to everything falling apart every time. He’d get dragged back into the life style he was trying to escape and instead of coming back Sunday he’d not make it back for another few days after “have a beer with us” ended up as a 3-day bender.


The problem was that he had some very serious crabs in his life.

If you place a crab in a bucket it will escape fairly easily. However if you place a few crabs in a bucket they will grab and pull at any crab that starts getting up and as a group ensure that none of them can escape. This has been called the “Crab Mentality”.

We all have crabs in our lives, people that make it harder for us to reach our goals by excerpting negative peer pressure on us. Trying to eat healthy in a workplace where donuts and fast food are part of the culture is going to be hard, and in many cases teased. Trying to start a exercise program when your spouse isn’t can have a similar effect. When we where young we may have had friends that wanted to stay out and party constantly that caused us problems in school and jobs. If our friends started smoking we where more likely to.

The people around us, even though they care about us, will hold us back at times. It’s not intentional, it’s just the way we are.

It can however be countered, and peer pressure works both ways. If you hang around with a bunch of junk food eaters, you will likely do the same. But if you also hang around with people that eat healthy, you will likely end up doing that more often.

I’ve been fortunate to have worked in different capacity with people of a wide range of lifestyle. And the interesting thing is there is very little difference in potential between the very poor and the ones that have ended up wealthy. It’s mostly just mindset and environment. The people that succeed are the ones that see themselves succeeding and commit to doing so, they spend time with others that are of the same mindset. The people that fail, whether it is in health, career, fitness, or anything else are the ones that listen to the crabs in there life and let their environment stop them.

It’s very simple, most people have a lot of potential. But if they get told they can’t do it they won’t take action as often or with as much belief. If you don’t take action you get poor results. If you get poor results your belief drops. This leads you too less action and less results.

Those that succeed are the ones that kept taking action until something worked. Once it worked it reinforced their positive belief and led them to stronger and more focused action which got better results leading to stronger belief.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and a lot of it has to do with our mindset and the influence those around us are allowed to have on us. People with poor influences start with a lower belief in themselves which starts a cycle. People with stronger influences start with a higher belief which starts a different cycle. Most people though have a belief that is far less then their true potential which was shaped by people telling them they can’t or they belong somewhere else.

In fitness this is why before and after shots are so powerful. People who see others that are where they are get the results they want over and over again will start to believe that it is possible. It’s why one person in a group succeeding can influence the group, it shows the group that it is possible. It’s why when a barrier like the 4-minute mile gets broken once it is almost immediately broken again by others.

Watch out for the crabs in your life that will hold you back, and commit to taking action and spending time listening to the people that have done what you want to do!