Thursday, September 11, 2014

A story of a Happy Martial Artist - How Martial Arts Classes help me achieve a true happiness

Martial Arts Classes in CummingHappiness, like all things, is a skill that you get better at with practice.  I get the feeling through many conversations I have with people that they view happiness as something that happens to them when certain external circumstances are in place, and that it is something that will just come to them and they can enjoy.  In my opinion, this is the wrong view about happiness.  Happiness is a skill, and your external circumstances only control your happiness if you let them.  It  takes hard work and effort to be skilled in the art of happiness, and it is not easy.  I believe that because being happy is not easy, so many people find excuses for why they are not happy, and they bury themselves in misery because they are not willing to put in the work to be happy.  They claim that they cannot be happy because they do not have a certain car, or that once they reach a certain status or pay level at work then they will be happy.  I think all those types of things are just excuses people make because they do not want to admit that the only thing they have to blame for not being happy is themselves.  Below I would like to talk about how I develop happiness, and then how being a martial artist has given me the skills I use to develop my happiness into a state of being that keeps a smile on my face and in my heart!

Working for Happiness:

Be Disciplined - Being happy takes a shift in the average person's thought process.  To some people thinking in a way that fosters happiness is natural, but I would say in today's society that is unfortunately not the norm.  If you wish to be happy, then you must discipline your mind to control your thoughts.  On a daily, moment to moment basis, you have to think positive yet realistic thoughts.  Express gratitude freely and often, for even the smallest almost insignificant things. One day be grateful that it is sunny, and the next be thankful for the rain.  Thank people for the things they do for you, and most importantly thank yourself.  In order to keep these kinds of thoughts, our minds have to be very disciplined and we have to have constant effort to stay positive, if we let our guard down even for a minute, things like the media and negative people will be quick to drag you down into the depressed thought pattern that is so common these days.  Guard your mind!

Martial Arts Classes Suwanee GaBe Physically Healthy - Your health can play a huge role in your happiness!  Workout on a regular basis and your body actually changes chemically to being happier!  Eat healthy foods, real foods, not all this processed junk that most of the world is eating.  The more natural the food the better it is for you, and the healthier it will make you.  Also, make sure you are getting enough sleep!  A lack of sleep will make you physically and mentally less healthy, leading to a greater risk of not being happy!  Exercise, eat healthy, stay active and work on the body you want to have, this alone could be the key to happiness for some people!

Be Around Happiness - Last but definitely not least, be around much as possible!  If you surround yourself with people who are negative, unhappy and not seeking to improve, then you are in the wrong place!  Get around people who are happy, and you will be happier.  There are a few ways to do this.  One is to find happy people and spend time with them, and another is to create happy people; there is a lot of joy in helping others be happy!  Helping people be happy and surrounding yourself with happy people will most assuredly increase your own happiness many times over :)

How Martial Arts Helped Me:

Martial Arts Classes teach people discipline, you learn to control your emotions and your thoughts.  Traditional Martial Arts Classes are based on respect and honor, and in the practice of these things you will develop the discipline that it takes to be happy.  

As I am sure you all know, martial arts classes are also an incredible workout.  Classes will get you in great shape and lead to a healthy lifestyle.  I have known many people who when they started martial arts they were overweight, smokers, and had an awful diet.  When they decided to become martial artists they made changes in the way they lived their lives, the results of which made them much happier!

Martial Arts Johns Creek

Another great benefit of taking Martial Arts is that in a martial arts school you are surrounded by people who are working on achieving the same things you are!  They are looking for happiness and peace, and will be excited to have you as a partner on their journey!  You will be able to be around people that are happy, and as a martial artist you will be able to help others find happiness as well!  

Martial arts teaches discipline, work ethic and an indomitable spirit, all of which will help you on the journey to being the happiest person you can be!  This new found happiness will improve your friendships, relationships with family and loved ones, and will give you a self culture that is much more conducive to a great life!

Strive on toward happiness!!

 RJ LoPresti

3020 Old Atlanta Rd
Cumming, GA 30041
(678) 513-5436

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Community Service - Why it is important for Martial Arts....and everyone else! you doing enough to serve your community?  Is your life set up in such a way that you are able to work toward your goals, live the life you want to live, and help make the world a better place at the same time?  In Martial Arts Classes we teach the importance of helping others, improving ourselves and our community at the same time.  As an instructor I strive to teach my students that the reason we learn Martial Arts is to make the world a better place, and I encourage them take the skills they learn in the school out into the "real world."  By the time you are done reading this short post I hope to explain why it is important for martial arts students to serve the community, and why everyone (even those who do not practice Martial Arts) should make some changes to their lives in order to help others more.

In today's society, Martial Arts Classes are thought of as a great way to get some exercise, learn self defense and to gain character traits such as respect, honor, humility, confidence and self-discipline, to name a few.  But when thinking about the role martial arts plays in the community, and why community service is especially important in martial arts, we have look back to where traditional martial arts comes from.  Traditional Asian martial arts, the kind that most of us think about, was originally practiced by a warrior class; we think about samurai, Shaolin monks, stuff like that.  These were highly trained warriors who lived by a very strict moral code.  It was their place in society to look after the people, and make sure they were protected against threats such as foreign attack, bandits, etc.  These warriors held a high rank in society, usually right below the status of the royals.  Now fast forward to modern day America.  The chance of a bandit attack in our home town is not something that the common American has to fear, and although the modern day Martial Arts Warrior may be forced to use their fighting abilities to defend themselves or others, the chances of it happening are not what they were back in the day of the Samurai.  But this does not mean that warrior's place in society is gone!  The threats have changed, but they have not vanished.  Instead of fending off bandits armed with swords, now we must fight off the bandits of apathy and selfishness.  People who have no regard for human life or suffering.  The battlefield is now everyday life, and as a Martial Arts Warrior our mission is to help people learn to have compassion for the suffering of others, and one of the best ways to do this is through teaching the importance of community service.  The warrior's mission should be to look after the welfare of the people in our community, and although the techniques we now use may be different than it was a few hundred years ago, the skills martial arts requires still helps us to serve the greater good.

Modern day martial arts instructors and students need to step up into the role of a warrior in society.  We need to attack issues that are plaguing society with the intensity we would attack someone coming at us with a sword trying to cut off our head.  Society needs people to step up into this role; and it is a perfect fit for the martial arts warrior. 

Now you may be saying "But I don't do Martial Arts..."  that is ok.  Although I strongly believe that Martial Arts can improve anyone's life, I understand that not everyone will become a Black Belt.  That being said, anyone can attack the issuing causing our community to suffer.  If everyone made it a priority to design their lives so that they were able to help others in some way shape or form, the world would be a better place.  Try to find ways, no matter how small, to give back.  If you are a business owner, then design systems in your business that will give back to society.  You can give back with time, money, services, smiles, or guidance for people in need. Parents, make sure you are providing your children with an example that teaches them the importance of community service, give them the lessons about the value of helping others.  If possible, follow a path that allows you to have a profession that enables you serve.
Here are a few things that I think everyone can do:

1) Set a certain amount of time every month that you dedicate to helping others.  Here are a few examples, it can be volunteering at the local food bank, leading a class at your school or church, picking up trash, or planting trees in a local park.
2) Be conscious of how your actions affect others.  Are you living in a way that will not harm people and will help better society? 
3) Are you maximizing your potential?  If you are a teacher, business owner, parent, coach, or anyone with a sphere of influence, are you influencing people in a positive way?
4) Spend time on yourself.  If you are unhappy it is very difficult to help others.  Make sure you do what makes you feel good about yourself.  Spend time to improve yourself, exercise, learn, meditate, do some yoga, and don't forget to SMILE!!

If you have any other good ideas on how to better serve the community, please reach out to me.  I am always looking to learn how to do a better job :)  We have to all step up, the time is now!  Lets create a warriors class that rivals that of the Shaolin Monks of old..... Society is longing for people to fill the void and be warriors for good.  Do you have what it takes to be a modern day Martial Arts Warrior?

RJ LoPresti

3020 Old Atlanta Rd
Cumming, GA 30041
(678) 513-5436

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Leadership is a results oriented practice - Thoughts from an Instructor of Martial Arts Classes in Suwanee GA

Suwanee Ga Martial Arts Classes for LeadershipIf you look for guides on what makes a good leader, you will probably find thousands or maybe even millions of different traits, techniques and methods to make a good leader.  Some of these are good, some are great, and some probably guarantee your failure.   I believe it is good for people to study leadership, it is an art that has to be learned and practiced, but I think the most important thing for leaders to remember is that the number one trait, the only thing that truly matters in a leader is their ability to produce results.  No matter how flawlessly a leader uses the techniques taught by the leadership gurus, if they don’t create results then they are not an effective leader.  Now don’t take this to mean that to be a good leader you have to always succeed the first time, or that you have to get the result you set out for the first time.  What I mean by getting results as a leader is that you have to successfully create a positive change for the people you are leading, and you have to be able to do this consistently.  

A leader is someone who takes people from one place they are, to a place they should be.  This is sometimes a physical place, other times it is a mental or emotional place, and many times it is an achievement such as an assignment at work or winning a sports game.  No matter where the leader is leading people, a great leader always makes sure that the people being led are being developed along the way to make sure that not only do they get from one place to the next, they are improving along the way.  This is how you can get results even when you do not reach your goals.  This is a very profound idea and goal to me because when I think this way, I know that no matter what happens the people I am leading are moving forward; whether successful or not in our initial goal the people I am leading are improving and becoming better.
An example of a good leader from my past that got results even in failure is a football coach I had when I was younger.  I was about 11 years old and played on a team that was let’s say not full of future NFL stars.  We played many games and we only had one victory all season long, and that was because the other team didn’t show up….  We kind of sucked to be honest :)  Throughout this far from stellar year, the coaches kept us practicing hard.  They keep us giving our best effort in practice, we showed up and gave our all at every game.  Even though we quickly discovered that we would not make the playoffs, the coach taught us about the importance of trying our best in spite of the grim future.  I remember our last game, it was against a team called the Mustangs; they were the top ranked team.  I have a vivid memory of the coach sitting the team down before the game and talking to us.  One of my teammates said something to the affect of us having no chance.  The coach turned to him and said that if he felt that way he should just go home, because the rest of us were going to go out there and play our hearts out win or lose.  I think it was the best game we played all season.  We lost, badly, but we played as hard as we could, we pushed ourselves farther than we thought we possible could, and when the game was over we were proud, even though we lost.  That coach got results in spite of the team not winning; he took a group of young boys and taught them the importance of never giving up, and taught us to see things through even if the outlook is bleak.  I think that lessons like these are invaluable to our success.

As a leader at Choe's HapKiDo Martial Arts in Suwanee GA, I hope to be able to instill in all the students traits and skills that will better their lives.  My goal is for all of my students to stay with martial arts their entire life, get their black belt and continue to train and improve forever.  But I know that there is no way every one of my students will train HapKiDo Karate from now until the day they die.  A handful of students will be with me forever, but especially since the majority of my students take kids karate classes in Suwanee I know that they will grow up and may or may not even live here is Suwanee, GA when they are adults.  So basically the goal of having every single one of my students stay and train at the Suwanee Martial Arts School is an impossible one, but in the effort to be the best Martial Arts Leader I can, I will get results from each and every student.  If they come for one class, or for 30 years, I hope to give them some sort of result from them training with me that will improve their lives and make them a better member of the human race.
Suwanee Martial Arts Classes Leadership 
Here is my challenge to you.  If all the leaders in society (and EVERYONE is a leader in society so I am talking to you) strives to get results in every second of every day, the world will be a dramatically different place.  It will be full of growth and improvement in all areas of our society and our lives.  We will be able to reach beyond what we thought was possible as a community and soar to heights unimaginable!  Call me a dreamer, but I believe that if we all commit to becoming a leader in our daily actions, we can change the world.  WHO IS WITH ME?!?!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Consistency is a key trait for Black Belts ..... and any successful person

Consistency is a crucial trait to have for success, not just in martial arts but in business, school, relationships, and all other areas of our lives.  As a professional Martial Arts Instructor I am constantly teaching my students to demonstrate respect, to have focus, to practice humility and compassion...the list goes on and on.  But I feel that all of these character traits do not truly become useful until they are backed with the Self Discipline of Consistency.

30041 Martial Arts BusinessTake for example a math problem when you were in elementary school.  You could guess a random number, and maybe it is the correct answer.  But can you repeat your success?   Being able to repeat your positive action or behavior is where true success lies.  In fighting we all keep in the back of our minds what I call the "punchers chance"  which is the chance that even someone with little training can take out a champion with a random blow.  The odds are very low that this will happen, and if it did the chance of it happening again are even less.  This person wont become a world champion because they cannot consistently repeat their success, even if they did something amazing one time.  Now we all want to be champions, not necessarily in fighting, but a champion in life in general.  We do not want to just have a minute of glory that came from us getting lucky one time, we want to be able to consistently reproduce our success so that we can take it to new levels each and every day.  

To be consistent we need to have right effort.  We have to be always watchful of the results we are producing and analyzing how and why we are getting those results no matter if they are good or bad.  If we are not getting results that are exceptional on a consistent basis then we need to change, improve and push forward again.  That being said, I have had students and staff members tell me "No one can be perfect every time, we are all going to have our off days."  I agree with that one hundred percent.  Life will always have its ups and downs, good days and bad days.  People of mediocre success will use this as a crutch to have "off days" but successful people take this as a challenge.  How successful people think is that if we know we will have some days that are worse than others, we need to train ourselves to make our worst day better than the best day of everyone else.  Think about that....  Your worst day is better than others best day.  Is that possible?  If you really want to be as successful as you possibly can be then you know that it is.

So how do you practice consistency in our every day lives?  Be relentless on yourself!  Don't let yourself do anything less than amazing.  Is every aspect of your life at a level of awesome that is head and shoulders above everyone else?  If not, correct it now, immediately and completely.  Surround yourself with people that hold you to this level of success, not people who drag you down below what you are capable of.  If you are able to do something right, then there is no excuse to do it any other way!  It amazes me the multitude of excuses people come up with as to why they could not do something as well as they could.  "I was in a hurry." "I didn't think about it." "It was hard."  And on and on.  To me, all these lame excuses are just another way of saying "It is not important enough to me."  And that is fine, not all people are cut out to be successful, but these people have absolutely no right to complain about not being where they want to be in life.  Like the expression goes, you sleep in the bed you make.  If you want to be on another level, then you have to get yourself there!

When one of my students earns their Black Belt, I feel like they have shown that they have the ability to demonstrate the character traits and physical skills needed to be a Black Belt.  At this point it is now the mission of the New Black Belt to demonstrate consistency in their actions.  They have what it takes to be a Black Belt, but now the test is to actually live like one, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  This is why I feel Black Belts can be so productive and successful in whatever endeavor they take part in, they are attempting to have all the traits that a Black Belt should have in every thought and every ounce of their being. 

30024 martial artsThese are my thoughts, this is how I feel.  When people come to me with excuses I smile, tell them Iunderstand and encourage them to keep going; in my heart though, I think that excuses are for people who are not strong enough with their discipline in consistency to practice being a Black Belt with every ounce of their being.  We all have the same 24 hours in day, there have been so many people with tons of different disabilities and disadvantages that have found levels of success beyond imagination.... So whats your excuse?!

RJ LoPresti

3020 Old Atlanta Rd
Cumming, GA 30041
(678) 513-5436

Friday, January 10, 2014

Failure, Success and being a Warrior

Do you find failure to be a scary word? A lot of people are terrified of failure, and I think this fear is unrational and prevents a lot of people from reaching the levels of success that they are capable of. In this quick post I hope to explain why the fear of failure is holding our society back, talk about some techniques to overcome this fear and talk about why in my experiences being a Martial Arts Black Belt I have found that learning the warrior mind set has helped me achieve my goals.
A quick Google search of failure will give us this definition: Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success. Why is that so scary to most people; we are scared of a "state or condition." Nowhere in that definition is there anything about this state being permanent, and as we know from our everyday life states and conditions are temporary. The only way failure becomes permanent is if we give up, so I think giving up is what we should be afraid of, not failure!
The next part I liked about the Google definition of failure is the fact that failure may be viewed as the opposite of success. Failure is the opposite of success,  just like hot is the opposite of cold, or night is the opposite of day. This is the Yin and Yang of life,  failure and success are counterparts, and one could not exist without the other. I like this so much because that means that within success there is failure, and within failure there is everything you need for success. Ask any successful person what they think about failure and I am willing to bet they will tell you that they are successful because of what they learned from failing. Successful people have a different perception of failure, and it is this difference that separates successful people from others. The greatest thing about this is that YOU are in charge of your own perceptions; you can control them!  There is nothing inherently bad about failure, it is only bad if you make it that way by giving up or letting the fear of it control your life.

This brings me to how you can overcome your fear of failure. You need to make a shift in how you think about failure, and life as a whole. There is a massive change that needs to take place in the way to think and how you react to the things that happen to you on a day to day basis. The change in the way we think needs to be from that of an unsuccessful person to that of the successful person. The biggest shift that needs to happen is in our perception of the things that go on around us. Of course our perceptions having to do with success and failure, but also with smaller things as well. An example of this is how you react to the small negative things that happen in your life. If it is raining and dreary outside are you sad, or do you think about the positive things that rain can bring like growth and health in nature. A few ways to change your perception and attitude towards things is to be more grateful, loving, respectful and helpful. If you cultivate these attitudes on a daily basis you'll be able to change your mind to that of a successful person. When this change occurs, you no longer fear failure because your perception of it will be different. You will realize that failure is an opportunity to learn and you become better from it and this will help you reach success.
This brings me to the warrior mindset. In the days of old, warriors lived and died by the state of their mind. If they went into battle assuming they're already lost, of course their thought would become a reality. It is because of this that they developed a spirit that was indomitable.  Nothing could defeat them, and it is this mindset that strengthened their spirit and will to always move forward in the direction of success. I understand that the majority of you reading this are probably not going to be heading into battle. But this does not mean that you cannot develop the warrior mindset. Me being a martial artist, the warrior mindset is something that we cultivate and develop on a daily basis, it is this mindset that will not allow a failure to prevent me from becoming successful in whatever I wish to do. It is all the failures that have made me who I am.  Sure they suck at the time but using the warrior mindset I move forward past any failure and I'm better off for it.

If you set the bar low because you are afraid to fail, you may be able to prevent yourself from failing but you will never reach a success that you are truly capable of.  If you want to reach your greatest potential you must continue to raise the bar until you fail.  Then try again, and again until you make it.  See, the biggest thing that you as a warrior understands is that the difference in success and failure is you.  Failure (and success) is just a state or condition that you are experiencing, so if you can control your perception (meaning if you can control your mind and emotions) then you determine if you will have failure or success.

failure and success


RJ LoPresti