The Influence of Martial Arts

By Professor Jason Lynch

Professor Lynch earning his brown belt

The other week we presented to our students a message about the new year – about getting fit physically, mentally, and emotionally. I told the class about a physical fight I saw between a man and a woman while their 4- or 5-year-old kid (presumably both of theirs) was watching. The kid was taunting them, saying, “the cops is gonna get you.”

What I shared with the class was this: it is easy to point out how mentally unfit these people are, but we also have to remember that they’re our neighbors.

So what does that mean for you and me? And what’s it got to do with your fitness?

Let’s start by understanding that these two people are influencing other people – maybe even our children, who could be watching this kind of thing.  So part of getting fit is creating a change in the world around us. Maybe we bring our co-worker in to train and they turn out to be this 4-year-old’s teacher one day and they can have a big impact on him. Maybe your sister comes into our VIP program and it turns out she’s the barista where this woman gets her cup of coffee and just because she’s nice to her, the woman is a little less stressed and takes her anger out on her family a little less. Or maybe your own child starts training and because of that he won’t fall prey to the influence of the other kids at his or her school who are growing up in a similar-type situation.

Our method of Jiu-Jitsu and Thai Boxing is based around exactly this type of thing – awareness and responsibility in daily practice.

Many of you know that we encourage friends and family to be a part of the work here. Our VIP program is not a guest pass at New York Sports Club. It’s about creating a change for yourself and for your environment. It’s about surrounding yourself with people who are working on these three types of fitness. We can’t isolate ourselves from the world but we can insulate ourselves to make sure we’re protected. You owe it to yourself and to the people you care about to take this responsibility seriously.

The woman that was smacking her husband while her kid stood in the street taunting them – she may not know there’s a better way. But you can’t plead ignorance because you know. As a martial arts practitioner, you carry that responsibility, and it’s something you’re expected to be working on daily.

So practice assiduously. And tell somebody about the training. The world – your neighborhood – needs more martial artists.

All About Uniforms

Save yourself challenges in the classroom..make sure that you’re wearing approved school uniforms. Here’s what to look for (and what to avoid!)

Happy New Year! We want to help you prepare to make 2014 your best year ever. Below please find some important reminders about the protocols for safe training and a healthy martial arts environment.

• All attire must be purchased through the dojo.
Everything from gis to rashguards are subject to rigid safety and quality guidelines…and we’ve seen enough to know what works and what doesn’t! Save yourself challenges (and embarrassment!) in the classroom..make sure that you’re wearing approved school uniforms.

• Only white uniforms for Basic students.
Only blue uniforms for Advanced students. Don’t mix and match tops and bottoms.

• All students must wear school t-shirts or rashguards underneath their gis.
Please make sure that you are only wearing school attire underneath your uniform.

• Know your uniforms.
Gi class = matching school gi top & pants, tshirt underneath, and a belt.
No Gi class = school rashguard or long-sleeved school shirt, pants, and a belt.
Muay Thai Kickboxing = shorts, long-sleeved school shirt, and a belt.

• All uniforms MUST be washed after EVERY class.
Although you don’t have to wash your belt, make sure that you wash your whole uniform every time you wear it. Don’t leave it in your bag over the weekend!

• Jewelry (of any kind) should not be worn on the dojo floor.
It can easily cause an injury. Please leave it in your bag.

• Always make a conscious effort to be on time for class.
If you are taking two classes back-to-back, you are expected to be on time for both.

• Due to insurance regulations, we are no longer able to provide “loaner” uniforms. 
Please make sure that you have everything you need for class (uniform, gloves, belt, etc.). If you need a new piece of equipment or a new gi, please speak to one of us before class begins and we’d be happy to help you.

• Please remember that personal hygiene is critical. If you sweat a lot, bring a small towel to class with you.
Be considerate of your classmates and bring a second uniform or rashguard if you are planning to take 2 classes in one night.

• Your uniform should be kept stain-free and rip-free.
If your gi is torn, it can be a hazard to you or your partner, and you will be asked to purchase a new one.

We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we strive to keep our school a safe and healthy place for everyone.

College Essay

We were immensely impressed by one of our student’s, Isaac, college application essay. A creative and inspiring account of his martial arts experience. Oss Isaac!

“Kankudai!” My arms shoot straight down with palms facing my body, fingers held tightly together. My eyes focus forward while both thumbs and index fingers connect to form a triangle. I am performing my favorite kata, or martial arts form. When I was ten years old I began studying Shotokan Karate. My father had shown my brother and me several martial arts movies, including Kung Fu and Enter the Dragon, that fascinated me. But as is my attitude, I not only wanted to see it, I wanted to do it. Now I am a first-degree black belt training for my second degree.

I slowly raise my arms; as my hands pass my forehead my eyes follow them, glancing at the sun through the triangle of my fingers. Here, I see my future standing in front of me, waiting for me to create it. My hands suddenly snap apart, forming right angles on each side of me. They slowly descend and reconnect waist-high. My feet are planted, a strong base, and my hands are open, inviting the outside in. Growing up in an Orthodox Jewish community with nurturing parents and an outstanding education from Yeshivah of Flatbush gave me the strong identity I need. However, my identity is not complete until I open myself up to the world, both gaining and contributing to its diversity. This past summer, I attended a class at the University of Pennsylvania with students from all around the world. One particular friend with whom I bonded was Raqan, a boy from Jordan. His background and beliefs seemed to clash with my own, but as we shared a motivation to learn, we challenged each other in a way that allowed us to grow. I yearn to learn more about other people and their cultures while I share mine with them. My strong foundation will enable me do to so.

Carefully keeping my back-stance, I chop high to the left and high to the right. Then I face forward, knees slightly bent for balance, and fluidly reach my hand out in front of me. I think of the way I reached out when I founded my school’s Martial Arts Therapy commission. One of the greatest accomplishments I had while working for the commission was organizing an event where over 20 autistic children came to the school after hours. They worked with me and 30 student volunteers from the 75-member commission, alongside the Sensei. We helped the children through basic martial arts techniques that assist in pain management while also being recreational. In this way, I used my martial arts as a bridge to overcome the gap between these mentally challenged children and myself. Now, I bend my knees, forcefully blocking towards both sides. I proceed through various chops, kicks, and blocks, reflecting on life, perfectly content in this mental and physical state.

I explosively jump up from a front stance with my right foot and kick in the air with my left, landing in a double block. With my inner strength I yell out a mighty “KIYA” as I stand confidently in a sturdy stance. I flash back to my visit to an anti-terrorism center in Israel when the head instructor, Steve, randomly chose me to face off against the unit’s Krav Maga expert. When he said “go” I sprang into a fighting stance. To my surprise Steve yelled stop—this was a test. He explained that there are two options to assume a fighting stance; ninety-eight percent of the people in this situation step back showing fright. I had stepped up.

A drip of sweat hits the ground below me. As I return from this meditative state, I stand up straight with two fists by my sides, into my Yoi position. “Yoi,” Japanese for, I am ready.