A Paradigm Shift in the Martial Arts





For years, the martial arts industry has provided a safe and disciplined service to build confidence in children and adults.


I went to the now Legendary, Jhoon Rhee Institute, in Washington, DC in the mid-80’s. The Jhoon Rhee Institute was one of the biggest organizations in Tae Kwon Do at the time. It was there that I witnessed something new and interesting to me.  They were focusing on providing martial arts to the students who were shy; displayed low self-esteem; considered non-athletic; those who had issues focusing, etc. My first thought was martial arts is not for that group of students.  Martial arts is for the strong, focused and disciplined students. It was very confusing and going against everything that I had experienced and been exposed to. Fortunately,  I was there to sharpen my professional kickboxing skills, not to teach non-disciplined students martial arts.  However, each day before training, I would go and help out in class to see why so many parents were signing their kids up in something that was going to get them injured and maybe destroy their self-esteem.

Then (the late) Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee – The Father of American Tae Kwon Do – gave a speech to the students & parents at the school and I listened very closely to every word.  Out of what felt like a 2-hour speech, the message was very clear: “We Are Here to Build Up Our Students’ Confidence – Not Break It Down.”

His mantra was:  “To build true confidence in the mind, honesty in the heart and strength in the body”

Because of his vision, the martial arts industry is now one of the biggest confidence builders of children and adults in the world.  Mission Accomplished!

While teaching in martial arts schools up and down the East Coast, there was something I always felt was still missing.  The one big question that still wasn’t answered for me was how students preparing for their Black Belt could go through a 2 to 4 hour test of kicking, punching, blocking, sparring drills and katas and still not demonstrate a high level of confidence after 3 years of training.  This was also something that I started to notice with some students in my own school. 

 Martial Arts schools were focusing so much on making the students feel good, instead of building a real sense of confidence because of the fear of losing students.

When I started Competitive Edge Karate, my vision was to help students overcome their fears so, they could develop and have the competitive edge.  Martial arts training changed my way of thinking.  We all fear something and that’s going to be a lifetime challenge. The real challenge is to not let it stop you from trying to give your best efforts because of the fear of failing.  Our failures can become learning experiences to improve ourselves.

One of the biggest reasons people are afraid to study martial arts today is the fear of getting hit and it was, without a doubt, one of mine. But once I finally talked myself into conquering my fears instead of letting them control my emotional state of mind, I found myself trying harder in everything I attempted. It was then that failing became part of my learning process, not simply my personal downfalls.

A New Paradigm to Making a Difference…

Competitive Edge Karate’s martial arts training system is now about teaching students how to defend themselves and to be in the best physical and mental shape possible. Having the knowledge to protect yourself and being in the best shape of your life is a positive movement toward a better you.

CEK takes the very best practices of performance-based competitive martial arts from the ring to the mat to the masses.

By combining the mindset of a champion with a meaningful message-based approach designed to enhance a student’s overall life skills, Competitive Edge Karate cultivates a student’s sense of self-discovery through self-defense skills.

From self-defense to self-discovery, uncover the competitive edge that lasts a lifetime.

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It is our goal to raise the quality of life for all of our students in every way possible.

Benefits of Martial Arts for Other Sports

Benefits of Martial Arts for Other Sports

Playing sports as a kid gave me some of my fondest memories growing up. The thrill of competition; the camaraderie among teammates; and, the reward of self-improvement are more often found in sports than not. I grew up participating in basketball and football games. I ran. I jumped. I caught. Still, I have yet to find an endeavor as physically and mentally rewarding as martial arts.

I’ve been in a karate uniform since I was 14 years old. I started off in karate, then Tae Kwon Do, Kali and etc. Practicing martial arts has not simply made me better at kicking and punching. The endurance, mental discipline, balance & flexibility, and the strength I’ve gained from martial arts have tremendous carryover to my performance in other sports. Endurance is important when practicing martial arts. In practice, in competition, and in self-defense situations, having the endurance to execute techniques is vital to safety. Martial arts emphasizes endurance with cross-training and technique drills.

Martial Arts classes will typically start with about 10-15 minutes of exercises to increase heart rate and warm up the muscles. Endurance is also improved through technique drills. Hitting pads and shadowboxing for prolonged periods increases heart rate and, over time, improves overall endurance. This endurance translates well to sports that require lots of footwork such as soccer, basketball, and tennis. Martial arts teaches mental and physical discipline.

In most schools, students are discouraged from picking fights, abusing drugs, and bullying others. Students are rather encouraged to be humble, to live a healthy lifestyle, and to work hard. Competitive Edge Karate had its own honor system, with rules that emphasize the values of good character and good work ethic.

The values and discipline learned through martial arts follow students to school, work, and other sports. Martial arts training requires focus inside and outside of the dojo. Being attentive and obeying instructors is crucial to martial arts education. Success only follows consistent hard work and focus towards one’s craft.

The discipline gained from martial arts makes an athlete more coachable and disciplined in other sports. Athletes will be able to pick up techniques more quickly and have greater focus on the court or field.



Many of the techniques in martial arts require great balance and flexibility. Both of these skills are often emphasized in schools with drills, and static and dynamic stretching. Static and dynamic stretching is a key part of every warm-up. Front kicks also require great flexibility to bring the kicking foot to appropriate height. The consistent repetition of techniques like this will improve flexibility and balance over time.

Another benefit of martial arts training is strength. In martial arts, core strength is the base of every technique. The power generated for every kick, punch, and throw goes through the core. The core is also responsible for keeping proper posture and breathing. Many classes will emphasize core strength by doing core workouts such as planks and crunches.

While the core is the primary focus of martial arts strength training, the rest of the muscles are not neglected. Drilling techniques make the body more efficient at channeling its own strength. For example, an inexperienced martial artist may only throw punches using their arms. But a more experienced artist understands how to use the entire body to punch. Core strength is important for any sport, especially ones requiring a repeated exertion of force. Martial arts core training will help anyone’s performance in kicking a ball, throwing a ball, etc. Martial arts will also improve an athlete’s efficiency in using their own strength. Being more efficient will conserve energy and increase output in any sport.

Martial arts is one of the most challenging and rewarding sports there is. Training requires a serious amount of focus and athleticism that will not only make a better martial artist, but a better overall athlete. The passive skills such as endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance cross over to almost every sport. The mental discipline will help out in sports, school, and every activity in between.


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It is our goal to raise the quality of life for all of our students in every way possible.

Martial Arts Fitness

Children are full of energy and we have to find ways to channel that energy in a positive manner. We try to involve them in activities to keep them occupied, as well as to socialize them. Martial arts provide activities that do both, and so much more.


Children’s emotional well-being is just as important as physical fitness. Children are inundated with so many negative occurrences in the world. Many places, once considered safe havens, are now full of violence. The physicality of martial arts training releases endorphins, which then acts to improve mood and relieve stress. In addition, certain forms of this art promote emotional wellbeing by combatting aggression. Breathing exercises and meditation are performed during some routines, and they have a very calming effect. Many children have unresolved issues that result in bottled up feelings of anger. More and more children are being bullied or otherwise experiencing difficulties in their life.


Setting goals is another important lesson learned while training at the various levels. Your child starts from the bottom and works their way up. They are awarded every step of the way with stripes and belts. They learn that hard work pays off in the long run and that you have to apply yourself and practice daily to achieve your goals. It’s a huge boost to their self-confidence. They feel a sense of pride when they achieve their goals, especially the 1st and 2nd Degree Black Belts. These lessons carry over to other areas of a child’s life.

Lessons in self-defense should be mandatory. Consider all the dangers that children face in the world today. It’s pretty frightening. There are so many threats to a child’s safety. Smaller children are very vulnerable in every way. Older children sometimes have to deal with bullies or fighting at school. The discipline also teaches the art of nonviolent conflict resolution, which is the real goal in any given situation where there’s a threat. It’s always a good thing to be able to defend oneself–a lifelong lesson.


It’s up to us as parents to guide them in the right direction, and encourage them when they try to take the easy way out. Martial arts can be a fun learning experience for children. We all want the best for our children and sometimes they need a push in the right direction. There are so many different activities available and they may not always pick the right one. Even when they do, it may be for the wrong reasons. These lessons are long-term commitments, where they will have to practice and work hard to progress. But the rewards are tremendous if they stick to it.


Ready to Sign Up for Your First Class?

Sign up today for your introductory course and start making a difference in your life!

It is our goal to raise the quality of life for all of our students in every way possible.


Why Teach Boxing in Youth Martial Arts classes?

Reason #1: They Will Get More Active.

This is the obvious reason kids should do martial arts in this day and age – to get active and moving. In case you haven’t noticed, we have an epidemic when it comes to our nation’s obesity problem. We’re also increasingly unfit in addition to being overweight. The problem is particularly alarming as it relates to our kids. Youth sports and physical education programs are great, but not every kid is an athlete and many schools no longer offer PE. The martial arts offer many benefits, but when it comes to fitness, becoming a true martial artist means becoming a supremely fit person. Because of my professional kickboxing career, practicing boxing and kickboxing on a daily basis has kept me in the best shape of my life. Martial arts along with boxing training can help your child get fit and healthy.


Reason #2: They’ll Learn to Take (Encouraging) Hits.

In martial arts and boxing, your child will learn what it is to take a hit, whether that hit is a literal blow or a disappointment like failing a test.

Part of life is learning that we all take hits. The key is in learning how best to take that hit and get back up. Unfortunately, this lesson seems to be lost on many in our every-kid-gets-a-trophy culture. In the martial arts, your kid will learn to fail – in a positive way.  Martial arts training is about learning how to block and avoid getting hit, while learning how to take a hit.

While I didn’t find getting hit to be a fun experience, I came to learn that accepting I would get hit enabled me to relax and better protect myself. That acceptance led me to be able to better respond, maneuver, and anticipate. Ironically, learning how to take a hit is perhaps the best way for your kid to learn how to avoid it.


Reason #3: They’ll Gain Self Confidence.

Confidence building is something I’ve witnessed firsthand over the last 20 years at Competitive Edge Karate. Students gain confidence while participating in the martial arts from being able to successfully advance in belt levels to using boxing techniques while sparring to combat bigger opponents.

Every martial artist ultimately learns this sense of respect and true confidence. Your child will learn that confidence in yourself and respect for others comes from a deeper sense of self-knowledge.



Reason #4: They’ll Connect Their Mind and Body.

Before they learn to mask their feelings, children demonstrate how the body and mind integrate in perfect synergy. Shrieking screams, tears, red face and flailing arms and legs clearly express their feelings of anger and isolation.

To listen to your body is to also see your thoughts and have heightened awareness of your emotional construct.

A martial artist is taught to see, feel, and listen – both internally and externally. Tapping into intuition, fear, and courage are examples of being able to put the physical together with the mental.  Martial arts teaches us how to combat these things.

The Take Away

Any child can and will benefit from participation in the martial arts. As to what martial art, it’s honestly not very important. The main focus at this point for a typical six or eight year old is to just get them moving and focused.

What are the keys to choosing a school or teacher?

  • Do your homework when it comes to how and where your child will be training in a martial arts program.
  • Choose a prospective instructor or coach whose program caters to your child’s needs.


Ready to Sign Up for Your First Class?

Sign up today for your introductory course and start making a difference in your life!

It is our goal to raise the quality of life for all of our students in every way possible.

3 Top Reasons Why Fitness Kickboxing is the Right Activity for You

Spring into Summer with New Fitness Habits? Don’t Miss Out



As the summer begins, are you on the hunt for a new exercise routine? Do you want to try something new and exciting — but you also want to make sure you’re getting the most out of the time you put into your hour of exercise? Do you want to tone, trim and get strong?

If you’re ready to change your exercise regime, then look no further than a martial arts. Not only is martial arts training a precise and beautiful practice that will improve your balance and strength — but it has many health benefits, including boosting your self-confidence and helping you lose weight.

Don’t miss out on what training can do to elevate and push you forward this year. Here is why:

Reason #1: Get a Complete Body Workout

One of the greatest benefits of this ancient practice is that it works every muscle in your body. When you exercise this way and really lean into the moves — you’ll be engaging a total body workout that not only will make you sweat it out but will help you rest better at night.

Many people get hung up on exercise regimes that engage only one core muscle — like the legs in the case of running. But martial arts take a total-body workout to an entirely new level.

When you get done with your first class, you will have burned hundreds of calories in an hour that will completely smoke whatever exercise you had reserved for the treadmill or elliptical machine.

Reason #2: Build Muscles

Not only should you expect to lose weight when you incorporate a regular martial arts practice into your lifestyle, but you should expect to gain some back via muscles. You use your core body to build those muscles and to grow stronger every day through the practice — and you’ll begin to notice your arms and legs begin to show some definition over time. As you engage that muscle mass and tone it up — your metabolism becomes smarter and more efficient — and you begin to burn even more calories.

That gives you the chance to choose healthy, protein-rich foods to eat to replace those calories, which will further help build your muscles and keep your body super strong over time.

In addition, you’ll build your balance as you build your muscles and make your reflexes stronger as you face your opponent and develop the practice. All in all, all of these sub-benefits go back to the core you are strengthening via martial arts exercises — and that’s something few sports and practices can offer with the kind of targeted precision that a martial arts can!

Reason #3: Watch Your Self-Confidence Soar

This practice is both an individual and a group one — and that means you’ll be able to be both introspective when it counts and more social when you need to open up and build relationships and trust. You will be training in a community and be learning to set goals for yourself. You will be learning from those who have gone before you and getting better with your moves over time. You will have someone there with you all along the way.

You’ll be encouraged and supported by your teachers and classmates — and that will drive you to continue reaching high for your goals and getting that form right. When you finally reach your goal, you will look back and feel confident and empowered knowing you mastered and executed such beautiful, strong moves.

Martial arts practices also teach good ethics and morals — such as kindness and patience. As you practice these arts, you begin to adopt some of these practices and let them infuse your life throughout the day.

Ready to Sign Up for Your First Class?

From improving reflexes, to toning muscles to empowering athletes all over the world — martial arts becomes the conduit to a healthy lifestyle.

Learn more…. Sign up today for your introductory course and start making a difference in your life!


Does Your Child Know About Stranger Danger

Children can be very trusting of others, an issue that can lead to serious problems if a stranger’s intent is malicious. While many strangers are nice, a child needs to learn to recognize a situation to avoid stranger danger from those who aren’t trustworthy.

A parent can help a youngster by teaching and reinforce the following concepts.

Defining a Stranger

It’s important to emphasize that a stranger is someone not known to a child or to the family.

A common perception established through cartoons and other avenues is that a stranger looks scary, but this may not be the case in real life. Help a child to understand that a person’s appearance alone isn’t enough to determine whether they are nice or not.

Additionally, explain that being recognized or called by name by a stranger doesn’t mean that the child or family know that individual.

Good Strangers

It’s important to help children understand that not every stranger is bad.

Some strangers have jobs of protecting or helping others, and a child may need to approach safe strangers in instances of need. For example, firefighters and police officers are easy to recognize.

In work settings, school officials such as teachers and office staff may be strangers who can help. An employee in a store at a cash register or desk may be helpful, especially if a youngster is lost. Provide examples of situations and locations where help may be safely sought.

Understanding Dangerous Scenarios

Role playing or discussing dangerous situations can help a child who needs to better understand how to deal with strangers.

Warning signs of suspicious situations may include:

-An adult asking a child to disobey his parents
-An individual asking a child to keep a secret
-Any situation that makes a child feel uncomfortable

A youngster should be taught to deal with these situations as well. “No, go, yell and tell” is a simple mnemonic device to help a child remember what to do when in an uncomfortable situation.

-It is okay to say no to a stranger.
-It is important to go someplace else, leave the situation.
-It may be necessary to yell for help.
-It is important to tell an adult about suspicious individuals.

Safety Measures

Parents play a key role in keeping children safe from stranger danger by knowing where their youngsters are at all times.

Start making a difference today!

At Competitive Edge Karate, It is our goal to raise the quality of life for all of our students in every way possible.

Learn more…. Sign up today for your introductory course and start making a difference in your life!




Welcome To Our Blog

There are boundless activities in our community and there are many different martial arts schools, programs and styles available. The choice for a martial arts program should not be based on the style being taught but rather the applications and values that are emphasized in the martial arts program. Join us today and experience the positive impact Competitive Edge Karate in Richmond has on our students and their daily lives.