I was emailing with a friend of mine recently and we were discussing the importance of keeping our families a priority in our lives, and one of my thoughts was that “Way too often the discipline we have as martial artists only keeps us training and at the dojo, instead of causing us to be more disciplined in the most important areas of life.” He said that would make a good blog – so here we go!

Martial Arts training is intended to do so much more than simply teach you to defend yourself, and sadly a lot of people miss the most important part. Like I was telling my classes a couple weeks ago, “We don’t want to train students to only be better fighters, we want to train them to be better people.” Through the rigors of training we learn all the disciplines like self-control, courtesy, respect and on and on, and those things are intended to help you live in such a way outside of class that hopefully you’ll never need to fight at all.

But as I emailed to my friend, way too often those most important parts of our martial arts stay in the dojo. And when that happens we, and those around us really miss out. Because when tough times come, and they do – we need so much more than just a good back stance to get us through. We need our families, our faith and all those disciplines.

And really, all those disciplines that we train so hard to develop should help us in every other area of our lives too. So for example, we should never be neglectful to our families, because we have the discipline and self control to manage our time wisely and make good choices that allow us the time to spend with them. At our jobs we should be the best employees on the payroll because our training instills in us the benefits of striving for excellence. We should be the most generous givers at church because God is always first in that important area and all those same disciplines help us manage our finances properly.

You get the idea – my point is that our training should help us with so much more than just the physical parts of martial arts. Those important personal disciplines should make us true champions at everything we do as we follow God’s leading and use our skills to be the very best we can be.


clockMy dad was a musician. In fact as a kid my family spent much of the time traveling around the country as he would play and sing in different places. So naturally my brother and I got the music bug too. Dave is a sax player, a jazz professor at the university level and just released an amazing new CD. (In fact if you like jazz, check it out! Click here) I’m a drummer. Started playing in 1968 and eventually made my living playing in bands and stuff for a lotta years. Still play in church all the time and had a band up until just a couple years ago. Anyway, in college I remember talking to another drummer friend of mine and he asked, “Have you been practicing?” I said, “not much, haven’t had the time.” And I’ll never forget his answer, he looked right at me and said “No one has the time, you make the time.”

Each of us has the same number of minutes every day, no one has any more or any less. So why is it that some folks develop such amazing skills, and others don’t? It’s what they do with their time.

My brother is 1000 times the musician I’ll ever be, and that’s because while I was out goofing around doing other stuff, he was practicing scales and learning his craft. He didn’t have any more time than I did, he just used that time to focus on and improve his skills.

I see that all the time at Whole Armor. The students who practice their Karate outside of class really stand out, and those who don’t, well, don’t. The students who practice don’t have any more time than the other students, they just make that choice to practice their martial arts rather than watch TV or do something else. And the end result is that they enjoy class more because they are ready, practiced up and can then improve at class rather than have to try and catch up again.

God cares about how we use our time too. Ephesians 5:15 tells us, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” It just does take time to read our Bible, pray, go to church, youth group, small group or whatever, but that is time well spent as we find ourselves growing in our faith and learning more and more how God wants us to live.

So let me encourage you to think carefully about the choices that you make and the things that you let occupy the minutes and hours of your day. Some you can’t control like work and school, others you really can, and often a lot more than you might think. And let me also encourage you to put God first in those choices every day, remembering like my friend told me a long ago – “No one has the time, you make the time.”



Do you remember the excitement of starting something new? We’ve been blessed here at Whole Armor Martial Arts to have some new students join our school the last couple of months, and what a blessing it is to see them get started. Nervous, intimidated, overwhelmed, maybe even a little scared but also totally and super excited!

If you’ve been with us for a while, do you remember how that felt? It’s really easy after you’ve been doing anything for a while to get pretty comfortable and lose that initial wonder and excitement of being a part something so completely new and seemingly amazing. Think about it – you have a new group of people to get know and train with, in a new place and surroundings, and a new uniform to wear too. There’s a bunch of new terms to learn, seemingly endless new techniques and movements to try and figure out and a completely different set of rules and etiquette to follow – kinda like going to Mars or something! But all really thrilling too!

Sad truth is that after you’ve been around for a while and you have a pretty good handle on all that stuff, it can seem to lose the wonder and fascination that you found at the start. Sound familiar?

Now has anything changed about the classes or the environment? No…. Has the uniform or the training changed? No….. so what happened? Well, we just get too comfortable and forget what got us all excited about it in the first place.

In the Bible that’s talked about as “Losing your first love”. And sadly it happens in faith too. Once we’ve been around for a while we get kinda comfortable with the lingo and the people and it becomes real easy to forget that amazing, wonder-filled experience that we had when Jesus first saved us.

And that’s why it’s so important to remember.

That’s one of the reasons we have our students keep a notebook and write down the things they learn at each class. It’s not only a valuable resource to help you remember all the techniques, tips and lessons that happen during your martial arts journey, but it also helps you to remember the way you felt as you learned them. In that sense, to remember your first love.

And that’s also why its so important to stay close to God in all the ways He’s provided for us. Reading His Word every day, plugging in to our local church for growth, fellowship and all the other things it provides, spending precious time in prayer, and – remembering. Recounting all the things that God has done for us so that we never forget how amazing and wonderful He truly is.

Maybe for you that’s your own “Faith notebook” where you write those things down. Or maybe it’s just spending time alone and un-distracted, recounting God’s blessings in your life. However you do it, my prayer is that none of us will ever forget His amazing grace, and the true joy of living with Him.

Don’t Give Up!








Hard to believe, but 34 years ago today I attended my first class in the martial arts. Who would have thought that first class would have started a journey that resulted in our school Whole Armor Martial Arts, and thousands of students having the experience of training in Christian martial arts. I am truly humbled and blessed that God has taken me on this amazing ride, and honestly I hope that we’re just getting started!

The Bible tells us in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” In other words, God is going to finish what He started and it’s important that we don’t give up!

I was talking with a student recently who was very discouraged and wanted to quit training. As I listened to them share their feelings it was apparent that they still really wanted to do well, but were just stuck spinning their wheels and not making any progress anymore. So I encouraged them not to throw away their years of investment, and try to make a fresh start with a new focus on having fun again. We moved to a different class for some change of scenery and I think they are going to do real well. And I’m so glad because I don’t think that anyone is in our school by accident – God is doing a work in each of our lives and I would hate to have anyone leave before its done.

So what is it that God has started in your life, but you’ve kind of given up on? It could be a talent, interest or dream that has just been sitting on the shelf, maybe even for years. Could it be that God would love to make something amazing come of that if you’d just get back in the game and let Him continue what He started?

There’s an old saying that “God don’t make no junk.” And that’s true about each of us. God has invested something very special in you that he wants to develop and grow and use to do extraordinary things that only you can do. So how ‘bout it? Don’t let another day go by without diving in and being part of the wonderful and exciting adventure that God created you for!










It’s amazing all the hoops you have to jump through to keep a website going and make it “findable.” There’s Google of course, which somehow became the intergalactic ruler of the world wide web, so everything has to be geared so that it works best with their search engine stuff. Then there’s dozens of others search engines that you need to keep feeding and make happy too. And of course we can’t forget social media. Yikes, you could spend all day every day just trying to keep up with all the different sites and their various likes, posts or whatever everything is called. All to try and make your website “findable.” So that in our case when someone types in ”Martial Arts”, our school will be somewhere on that first page of results that pop up on their computer screen, phone, pad, tablet or whatever their device of choice. I spend hours working on this stuff, and it really makes me crazy sometimes, having to jump through everyone’s hoops in order to “market” our school. Too bad we just can’t teach Christian Martial Arts and call it good!

A lot of martial arts schools have hoops you need to jump through too. Of course every dojo including ours, has rules and etiquette as we have discussed in other blogs, but sometimes it goes beyond all that. Often there’s different equipment you need to buy at each new level, new uniforms with different colors to purchase as you progress, added programs and clubs to join that keep you paying more and more.

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t do any of that? He doesn’t require a green light on your SEO analysis. He doesn’t make you have enough photos in your text, or meet a bunch of criteria before you’ll show up on His page. There’s no new equipment or uniforms required, in fact He doesn’t ask you to buy anything ever!

Romans 6:23 says it best: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Notice it says the “Gift” of God is eternal life. If there’s one thing we all know (and love) about gifts, it’s that they’re FREE. If you want to have eternal life, you don’t need to do anything but receive it. No hoops to jump through, nothing.

Isn’t it funny that we all strive and stress over all kinds of things that don’t last and don’t amount to anything, and the very most important, lasting and marvelous thing we could every want doesn’t require anything – except to say “Yes!”

Have you said “Yes” to Jesus? If not, it’s the most important thing you’ll ever do, and will change your life in amazing ways that you can’t even imagine. If you have, you know the joy of life as a Believer in Christ. If you haven’t, if you’re really honest with yourself you know that something’s missing. Well that something is a relationship with Jesus that starts the moment you say “Yes” and receive His gift of eternal life. Still have questions, not sure what to do? Ask away – we’d love to help.

But for me – time to get back to work on the website…..   🙂

“According to Hoyle”







When I was a kid my family played a lot of card games. Gin, Rummy, and that kinda thing. It was a lot of fun, and helped us learn strategy and how to follow the rules. Of course every card game has rules, cuz without rules no one knows what to do and there can’t be a winner. And in case you’re wondering, Hoyle was a man who wrote a lot of the rules for various card games, and the phrase “According to Hoyle” has come to refer to the way things should be done.

At Whole Armor Martial Arts we have a lot of rules too, although we usually use the term “Etiquette” instead. And if you’re not sure about that word, etiquette is simply using the right behavior for whatever setting you find yourself.

Truth is, we all act differently in different settings don’t we. We act one way when we’re at work or school, another way when we’re hangin out with friends, another way at church etc etc etc. Now that’s not a bad thing, each environment simply has a different set of rules or etiquette, and once we know what those are, we know how to act and can relax be comfortable.

So in the martial arts it’s a lot of bowing and using proper titles and things like that. And those are very important, because following proper etiquette makes you always think about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, and that keeps you focused, and that keeps you safe. For me, etiquette is also the glue that holds everything together and puts the “art” into martial arts. Without etiquette you just have “martial” and resulting chaos.

It does get funny sometimes too. For example, a parent will sit and watch as they bring their child to class for months or even years, until they finally decide that they want to get in on the benefits of training so they join as well. That’s great! However that also often means that as a beginning student, now their child is higher in rank and the parent bows to the child and calls them “Sir” or “Ma’am”! Talk about awkward!  Ha ha!

It even happens to me too. Recently I’ve had two students join who are friends of mine outside of class. And one of the things I have to help them with is getting used to a new “dual-relationship” that we need to have in order to maintain proper etiquette. So when in class or talking to me about Karate stuff they need to call me “Sir” and use all the proper respect. And that can be kinda weird and difficult for them to get used to, but it’s all part of what makes our training work.

Ya know God has rules and etiquette too. In 1 Corinthians 14:40 we read, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” The Bible tells us all kinds of things that help us understand the way God wants us to act in different settings. And its only as we learn and apply them that we can experience everything that He intends for each of us.

So in your training be sure to know and follow the etiquette, even when sometimes it’s awkward or uncomfortable. Because you can bet that there is a purpose and it really is helping you to grow.

And much more importantly, spend time in Gods Word every single day learning His rules and etiquette. Because as you live His way, no matter what’s going on, you can have that peace that passes all understanding in the middle of this crazy world of ours, and what a blessing that is!

“Location, Location, Location”









A few years ago a mom was talking to me about classes and while she really loved our Christian centered program, she wanted something closer and easier for her to get to – so she enrolled her son in another program that cost twice as much, was not Christ centered, but was 10 minutes closer. That lasted a few months and they quit – which was no surprise at all.

One of our new brown belts is also a Pastor at a church in Sandy Oregon. Sandy Oregon! You guessed it – that means that each week he drives almost an hour each way to train with us at Whole Armor Martial Arts! Wow…..

Do you see the difference in those two examples? One was only concerned with convenience and the other sacrifices for something more valuable. One didn’t last, and one is still growing and learning amazing things and I have no doubt will be one of our Black Belts one day.

Now don’t get me wrong – location and convenience can be very important considerations. But they’re not the only considerations either.

My wife has MS. It’s a nasty disease that really plays tricks with you from day to day. Sometimes she has real difficulties, but she always gives it her best. Especially when it comes to ministry, which for her is playing piano at church. She walks with some effort using a cane, or a walker on bad days, and sometimes it’s a real struggle just to make it to the car, let alone to church and then up on stage to play. But she makes what sometimes is a heroic effort, blesses a lot of folks with her talent, and I’m pretty sure God is real proud of her too. And she is always blessed immeasurably.

So when I hear people say that they were just too tired to get up to go to church, or just didn’t feel like coming to Karate class – I think of my wife and our brown belt from Sandy. And I remember that the greatest blessings often come as a result of our greatest efforts and sacrifice.

Matthew 7:13-14 tells us: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

As Christian Martial Artists, lets be one of those few – willing to drive the extra miles, make the extra effort, or do whatever it takes to live lives that experience all the amazing things that God has in store for us!








Last week two of our students earned their Black Belts, joining 43 others in our history at Whole Armor Martial Arts who have accomplished the same honor. That reminded me of something I read a few years ago.

“For every 10,000 students who sign up for martial arts training, half will drop out in the first month.

Of the remaining 5000, half of those will keep training through their 2nd month.

1000 students will complete 6 months before quitting.

500 will study for one year.

100 will make it to their second year.

3 will make it to Shodan.” (1st degree Black Belt)

Think about that – only *three* out of ten thousand will make it to their Black Belt!

Now let me be quick to point out that that’s not at all because of the difficulty of training, or students inability to handle the pressure or anything like. It’s most often because they just get busy, or soccer practice started, or or or…. There’s lots of reasons why people quit, but I guarantee that if you ask any of our Black Belts they will tell you that whatever it took to stay was worth it when they put that belt on that very first time.

So let me ask you: will *you* be one of those three? Join us at Whole Armor Martial Arts, and lets get started!

Belts Are Fun!


Isn’t it a great feeling to earn your next rank?? Once you have that new belt in your hands and are walking back to your spot in line to put it on it seems like you’re on top of the world!

We’ve talked in other articles about the time and effort it takes to earn that new rank, but there’s another aspect of getting there that we often overlook. And that’s simply “trying”.

Sometimes students won’t get that next rank all because they just don’t go for it! Maybe they’re not very confident in that last kata, or they don’t feel like they’re ready. And ya know, that brings up another good point – “are you ready?” Many times across the years a student will decline to participate in Exams because they don’t think they are ready. That always strikes me as funny because in reality, how would “they” know? As students, their job is simply to train – our job as teachers is to determine when they are ready!

With that in mind I’ve often thought that we should throw the entire Exam process out the window and simply award new ranks when we see that a student has reached that next level. That would be great, but we would miss some of the important aspects of Exams. One is reading the written reports and getting to see how students are thinking about all this stuff, and another is the fear factor and seeing how students handle themselves under pressure.

All that said, a student will never get a new rank if they never try for it. It’s kinda like that slogan for the lottery that goes something like, “the odds of winning are a kajillion to one if you play, zero if you don’t!”

Many times I’ve awarded ranks to students who were not scheduled to test, but just showed up, did their best, and looked really good! (And I just love to see the shocked look on their face when their name is unexpectedly called!)

Colossians 3:23-24 tells us: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” God obviously wants us to do our best for Him too, no matter what it is we’re doing!

So whether its in your Karate class, Exams, at school, on your job, whatever it is, always TRY, do your best and God will be pleased. And you just never know where that will lead!

Hang in there……


Many years ago there was a show on TV that had an episode where the girls at a high school took Karate class to learn some self defense against a local bully. The funny thing is that it was portrayed much more like a dance class than a martial arts class! There was disco music with a light show going on and they were learning these “moves” that were all timed to the music and it all looked real exciting and fun. We actually had some gals come to check out our school right after that TV show, and when they saw that in reality there was no music or special lighting, and that they would actually have to do push ups and a little “work” to learn stuff, they weren’t interested at all and walked away.

Recently I got a call from a parent who was very upset that her son refused to come to Karate class any more. He was super excited to begin and so it was a real surprise to her when he had such a quick change of heart after only a couple classes. Ends up that he wanted to be able to do all the fancy stuff that he saw on TV, but starting at the beginning, going real slow and learning the very basics was much too boring and he didn’t want to put in the effort.

The unfortunate thing in both cases is that these folks really missed out! Too often in our “Fast Food” society we want everything well, “Fast!” If it’s gonna take too long or take some work we usually bail and go look for something faster and easier.

Martial arts is just the opposite – yes, there are many terrific benefits to be had right from the start, but that goal of earning a Black Belt simply takes a lot of time. And time takes perseverance, and lots of patience. We’re told in the Bible that patience is a “fruit of the Spirit,” a Godly character quality that we should see developing in each of our lives as we learn to live for God. And how cool that our martial arts training can also help us grow in this important area!

So when things get tough the last thing you want to do is quit, because that’s when the best things are probably just about to happen! And as you stick with it, even when it’s difficult, you WILL see rewards, you WILL see benefits and you WILL be proud and very thankful as you see everything come together. Whether it’s martial arts or really any other area of your life, remember that the really good things always take some kind of effort. So don’t give up! Stick with it! Realize that when it’s hard you’re on the very brink of something truly amazing – and hang in there!