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March News: Cooperation, Take-downs, & Standing Meditation

Dear Parents, Guardians, AND Students,

Important News

  • Stripe Promotions are next week (Wk of 3/10)

  • The following week is Spring Break and there’s no classes at the studio (Wk of 3/17)*

  • The following week is belt promotions (relevant parents to be notified soon)

Teamwork (Social & Emotional Plane | What We're Learning)

This month students are learning how to engage deeply with teamwork & cooperation.

Q: How do we encourage cooperation? 

A: By holding a competition!

Q: But how does a competition support cooperation? Isn’t that the opposite?

A: Here’s how we’re doing it with the Big Kids (6-12) and Youth (9-17) age groups this month:

  • We break the class into two teams, and tell them that their team needs to work together to win a prize.

  •  (the prize varies; we started with M&Ms and Pokemon cards, and more recently the prize is getting to choose a class game)

  • The teams go to their sides of the mat and work together to make sure they all can perform the technique of the week. We hear them giving each other tips like, “Remember to grab the collar like this,” and “Don’t forget to lean forward.”

  • One team gets in front of the class while the other team and instructors watch, and formally request to present the technique (“We request permission to present Osoto Gari).

  • One at a time, each student performs the technique in front of the class while their team members quietly cheer them on.

  • Hearing an 8-year old say “Great job! You did that really well” is truly heartwarming :-) 

We can literally see and feel the students finding the joy that comes from working together to reach a goal.

Pictured: Teamwork—Cooperation Starts With Paying Attention

For the Minis (4-6) age group, cooperative competition happens through friendly games like “Starfish and Goose.” They start in “Starfish & Goose Position” with the starfish on the ground with their feet in the air as a shield or “guard”. The Goose walks forward until they are engaged with their team-mates “guard”. Then they try to run around the legs and touch their team-mate on the head to turn them into a “Goose” (a la “Duck Duck Goose”)

Pictured: Teamwork—Cooperative competition game, Starfish & Goose

Take-Downs (Physical Plane | What We're Learning)

This month, for Bigs & Youth age groups we’re learning “take-downs, " or how to bring someone to the ground when they’ve grabbed a hold of you. At the same time, we’re learning how to land gracefully and safely when someone takes us to the ground. Learning how to fall, or land, is a skill that has a lot of real-world applications outside of the martial arts, which makes it doubly useful :-)

While 90% of physical fights end up on the ground, 99.9% of them start standing, which is why learning take-downs, take-down defense, and how to fall is so important.

When students master the art of take-downs and take-down defense, they get to decide where a fight takes place, or if it takes place at all. 

Take-downs are so powerful that Judo, and its founder Jigoro Kano, spends nearly all of its attention on them…

Pictured: Perfect Breakfall being demonstrated by M*

Pictured: Osoto Gari being demonstrated by S* & D*

For the Minis age groups, we follow a physical techniques curriculum that repeats every 10 weeks, giving them a solid grounding in the fundamentals.

Pictured: Learning the fundamentals

Standing Meditation (Mindfulness Plane | What We're Learning)

The Buddha suggested that mindfulness can be done well in any of 4 basic postures: Sitting, Standing, Lying, and Walking. This month, we’re practicing standing meditation—specifically from the horse stance—which cultivates a special kind of awareness.

The horse stance has students stand with their knees bent and their arms out in front of them. Holding this position makes the leg muscles and arm muscles do hard work! And having to hold this position in stillness makes the mind do hard work! 

Doing both kinds of hard work together builds a special kind of active body mindful-awareness—and this is seriously useful for martial arts training!

Pictured: The man, the myth, the legend, Wim Hof, demonstrating Horse Stance.

History Lesson. Did you know?:

Ju-do (the gentle path) and Ju-Jitsu (the gentle art), are fundamentally the same discipline at their root. Judo is technically the style of Jiu-Jitsu taught by its founder, Jigoro Kano, who himself was a student of Ju-Jitsu. His style  was once more commonly known as Kano Ju-Jitsu. 

In opening his school, Kano decided to rebrand his Ju-Jitsu as Ju-do. Changing from Jitsu (art/skill) to Do (path/way; Do = Dao = Tao, as in Taoism), was to signify that his training was, at its core, a path for personal growth, and not simply a means for learning fighting techniques.

We give a deep bow of respect to Judo and its founder’s vision of martial arts training as a vehicle for personal growth. He is the first teacher portrayed in our school’s lineage—which we bow to at the end of each class.

Pictured: Founder of Kodokan Judo, Jigoro Kano

Pictured: Paying respect to the Teachers who came before


Stay Mindful,

Coach Gabe & Team


Take Special Note:

  1. *Months are defined such that you always get 4 weeks of classes each month, even when there is a 1-week break in the middle of the month. How do we do this magic? Visit our homepage and scroll to the bottom, or visit to view our calendar.

  2. We’re opening up more spots in the Minis Classes! We’re also starting a whole new class for minis soon (we’ve had a waitlist for Minis for the past 4 months!). So if you know anyone who’s interested in classes for their 4,5, or 6-year old, now’s a great time to book a free trial and get on the "Notify First" waitlist.

  3. I will be returning to teach at the studio on Tuesdays & Thursdays next week, just for a week, and then on a continuing basis starting in May. I’ve been away slightly longer than expected helping to launch our “satellite” locations at Montessori and Kula Elementary and am excited to be coming back.

  4. Our live-updated Class Availability is now online! Find it on our website’s homepage. Just scroll to the bottom or visit

  5. Classes resume at Montessori and Kula School on 3/28 and 4/2 respectively, and registration is open. Interested parties can visit or to learn more and register

Stoked? Forward this to a friend, or leave us a review!:

I respond to all our online reviews and deeply appreciate them. They're also great for prospective parents to understand whether our program is a good fit for their family.

Have a Concern? Contact Me directly:

Text Message: 808-400-4185, “Attention Coach Gabe”

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