New Year! New Goals!

With 2020 in our hindsight, we are looking to the future.

Last year gave us many challenges that we needed to overcome.

Our students not only survived, but they thrived. With their dedication, discipline, and focus, they made it through.

2021 gives us the challenge of still continuing our hybrid classes of both in-person and virtual. With online fatigue growing, enthusiasm waning, and overall health and mental wellness declining, we are making sure we address all of these issues.

We are making sure that we get our students moving more. This includes more cardio exercises, more focus on technique, more focus on discipline and more attention to mental health.

We are excited and know that there is nothing we can’t do…..

ReOpening Soon!!

With Governor Abbott releasing Gyms to reopen on May 18th, we plan on reopening for modified in person classes on June 1st. We will also be continuing our virtual classes for the near future, for those students and parents not quite ready to come back to in person classes.

We have been diligently coming up with a plan to reopen safely. Some of the steps are listed below. We will continue to monitor the situation within our county and state. And will follow all CDC and State mandates.


  1. All floors, equipment and hard surfaces will be completely cleaned with medical grade disinfectants prior to re entry into the school.
  2. All Staff members will be attending full training on procedures prior to reopening.
  3. All Staff, Parents and Students will be required to have temperature taken upon entry to school.
  4. All Staff, Parents, Students and Visitors will be required to use hand sanitizer upon entry and exit of building.
  5. All Mats, equipment and hard surfaces will be disinfected prior to next class coming in.
  6. All Instructors, Students, Parents and Visitors will need to adhere to the 6ft Social Distancing Mandates, in and out of the school.
  7. Masks and Gloves will be available for anyone wishing to use them.
  8. All students will be required to use their own gear and weapons, no students will be allowed to borrow gear or weapons, until deemed safe to do so. There will be disinfecting available if needed. Students are encouraged to clean all gear daily after class.
  9. The water fountain will be closed until further notice. Students are encouraged to provide their own water bottles and keep these in their bags.
  10. All offices and Kids rooms will be off limits to all students and parents.
  11. Bleacher seating will be available, but all social distancing mandates must be adhered to.
  12. All weapons and gear must be carried into building within a sparring bag or other bag, to maintain exposure.
  13. Students will be allowed to wear socks on the mat.
  14. We will be modifying the schedule to allow for a 15 min. space in between each class to allow for disinfecting mat, equipment and hard surfaces. Students are encouraged to practice social distancing when waiting or wait in cars.
  15. We will have limited parent visitation during classes to maintain occupancy restrictions. Parents of juniors are encouraged to drop off and pick up students. Parents who drop off need to make sure that they are waiting for their student at end of class. NO Students will be allowed to wait in the building after classes to allow for disinfecting and occupancy restrictions.

We will continue to monitor and adjust any procedures daily, to make sure that we are providing a safe and healthy environment for our Staff, parents, students and visitors. Safety is paramount to all of us to be successful.

We deeply appreciate everyone’s continued support. Through this we have maintained about 70% of our base. This has allowed us to pay rent, salaries and other operating costs. We are blessed to have been able to do this. Without your continued support, this may have not been possible. We are so grateful to each and everyone of you for standing by us. We love working with all of you. We have missed seeing all of you in person over the past couple of months and are excited to offer in person classes again. We are being extremely cautious, as each of the staff has some underlying condition that makes safety and health imperative to all.

We know some students and parents will not be ready to come back to in person. We understand this and will continue to provide our virtual classes. We welcome feedback and comments to help us make sure we offer a positive, productive and value service to each of you.

Again, we can’t thank you enough for all you do.



Classes During Covid-19 Pandemic

Dear Students and Families;

We want to take a moment to let you know what and how we are handling the current emergency situation with Covid-19.

First, starting three weeks ago we moved all our classes online into our virtual academy. With a few hiccups here and there, things are now going very smoothly. Students are engaged and doing a wonderful job adapting to our new format.

We are also working on making recordings of our live classes and posting each day for those who missed their class that day.

We are working on posting more and more training aids and videos to our private facebook group page, as well as our youtube channel under our unlisted section.

We thank you for your continued support and continue to find and explorer ways to keep all of our families and students safe and interactive during this time.


Ms. Jackson, Mrs. Emily, Miss Katie, Mr. DJ, Mr. Trace and Miss Paige


Dear Students and Parents,

We are monitoring the coronavirus news closely, and we want to keep all of our students and families safe.

Here are the current recommendations for reducing the risk of transmission:

1. Wash hands diligently. Make it fun! Wet your hands, apply soap, and recite both parts of the student oath (which takes about 20 seconds) before rinsing. ATA Tigers should recite the Tiger oath twice.

2. Don’t touch. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth in public. If it’s unavoidable then wash your hands before doing so.

3. Practice good respiratory hygiene. Cough and sneeze into your sleeve, not into your hands.

4. Avoid shaking hands with people. For now, we will not be shaking hands in class. Fortunately, we have another way to show respect for our partners and instructors: the traditional bow.

5. Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
We have hand sanitizer at the front counter, and we are working on getting more of it. (As you probably know, supplies are low everywhere.) We also have disinfectant wet wipes. We already clean our school often, however we will be making sure we do it a bit more vigorously.

The local schools are taking their guidance from the state health department. As long as the schools are open, our classes will continue as usual. If the schools close due to a heightened concern about coronavirus transmission, then we will offer live video instruction (by Zoom, Skype or a similar platform) until schools re-open.

We will be keeping everyone updated!!

Winter Checklist


How to Stay Off the Sick List this Season

Because everyone’s lives seem to move in fast forward when winter is in full swing, the likelihood of getting the sniffles—or something worse— is inevitable.  Just because colds and flu rev up in the wintertime, it doesn’t mean we all have to hide under the covers and watch the season pass us by.

The last thing families want to do is miss out on special holiday gatherings, that upcoming Taekwondo seminar or the Class A Tournament Series event.  That’s why staying healthy is key.

Here are a few tips for keeping your family healthy this winter!

Drink The Good Stuff….Water!

We all know that drinking plenty of H20 is very important for staying hydrated, especially during those intense sparring drills.  It also helps with digestion, circulation and transportation of nutrients throughout your body.   But, if you’re drinking out of a reusable sports bottle, it can be not so healthy.  Just like any wet surface, bottles can harbor some harmful bacteria.  Jenny Sugar, Fitness Editor of says if the bottle is dishwasher-safe, toss it in the machine.  If it isn’t, rinse thoroughly with warm water and soap.  Invest in a bottle brush that allows you to scrub deep inside your bottle, particularly if it has a narrow mouth.  Don’t forget to clean the cap and straw, too, and allow it dry overnight.

Lather Up!

Wash your hands often!  Adults get close to three colds a year on average, and some last up to a week or two. For kids the number per year is much higher.  Whether you are at home, in the car, at school or in martial arts class, remember to wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap and water for 20 seconds.  For kids, a great tip is to sing “Happy Birthday” twice while scrubbing the back of the hands, between the fingers and under the nails.  Not around soap and water?  Carry a portable bottle of hand sanitizer that contains 60 percent alcohol.  Keep in mind, though, these gels can build up on hands which prevent it from getting to germs.  It’s always a good idea to add “real” handwashing to your routine.

Steer Clear of the Germs

Sharing is not caring during cold and flu season. Try to limit exposure to people who you know are (or have been around) someone infected.  And vice versa.  If you are sick, please limit your contact with others.  Remember, it’s okay to miss school and even Taekwondo, to keep yourself and other’s out of harm’s way. 

Disinfect Away

One sick kid or parent can infect the whole family and pesky germs can live for hours on inanimate objects.  Grab a can of disinfectant and get to spraying those toys, doorknobs, remote controls, computer keyboards, cell phones, hand rails, faucets, toilet handles, etc.  It’s also a good idea to keep the sick party’s laundry from the rest of the family and also keep toothbrushes and other items like that separate.  Use hot water and the highest dryer setting for laundry.

Have Weapons to Fight

One of the first lines of defense against illness is having a strong immune system. Having a balanced diet, combined with a probiotic and regular multi-vitamins can be just the right recipe for a healthier winter.  In “Stay Healthy All Winter” from Parent’s Magazine, Michelle Crouch says to make sure the family eats lean protein and a medley of colorful fruits and veggies, which are rich in antioxidants and vitamins, and cut down on sugar.  That might be difficult at holiday get-togethers, but try to watch portion control and “eat to fill satisfied” rather than overindulging and you will likely make smarter choices.  This will also keep you from feeling too weighed down for that martial arts workout!

Take these preventative measure during this cold weather season and make sure your winter is packed with happy, healthy holidays that are germ-free.  Cheers!

Author: Lauren James (edited by Jenny Wolff) 


Give It to Get It

Respect, as they say, isn’t given.  It is earned.  But to earn it, you have to show it.

Respect is one of the six life skills taught in the ATA Leadership Program and is also the life skill for July and August.  Like the other life skills, respect is developed and shown in different ways and is comprised of different principles.  But the primary thing, as with most important goals in martial arts and elsewhere in life, is that to develop and earn respect you have to work at it the way you work at perfecting your technique on the mat.

“Just like we teach martial arts forms, we teach our students how to properly kick and punch with practical applications,” said Master Nathan Carroll from IXL Martial Arts in Lees Summit, Mo.  “We also teach practical applications for the life skills like respect for our students to demonstrate with their parents, teachers and in all parts of their life.” 

The ATA Leadership manual explains that “Respect is not what you know, it’s what you do.”  It’s nine principles include trust, caring, courtesy, acceptance, kindness, confidence, listening, loyalty, and adequate communication. 

Not surprisingly, those principles overlap with some of the other life skills taught in the ATA Leadership Program.  Complementary principles comprise the building blocks of a good leader’s character.

“The ATA Leadership Program provides instructors and students with excellent guidelines to explain the life skills, because everyone learns a little differently,” said Carroll.  “It’s great because the parents and students can stay engaged.  We, as instructors, explain our message and then the materials from the Training Division magnify what we are teaching.” 

Each day a person experiences numerous opportunities to actively show respect for themselves, for others, for society and for the world. 

Respect for oneself is seen when an individual makes decisions that are good for them, taking care of one’s physical well-being and making good choices.  Keeping in shape through martial arts and learning the mental disciplines of the sport help to enhance that self respect.  A person with self respect takes care in their appearance, expressions and eye contact and will also make choices that reflect the teachings of parents and mentors rather than easily giving in to peer pressure.

“We are the bridge between the parents and the students,” Carroll said.  “We take what we teach and apply it to everyday life.”

Carroll also explained how great it is to see students demonstrate this life skill in every way from obeying laws to helping out in class. 

Respect for institutions is a demonstration of respect for society.  Knowing the rules and obeying them, especially when visiting other places, following cultural traditional and being courteous are all ways to show respect for one’s society and creates a habit that can be carried over when approached with different situations.

This leads to an understanding and respect for our world.  To become a leader is to take the initiative in trying to make the world a better place.  Whether picking up litter, taking part in a food drive or volunteering at a shelter, a good leader learns about the world around them and finds way to be respectful of it. 

“As an ATA student, you are learning how to respect other people and how to get that respect back,” Carroll said.

Sometimes Carroll said students are more willing to learn life lessons from their instructors because “We get to be cool!  We’re the guys who wear ‘pajamas’ and are ninjas who kick and punch.”  But he said, if respect is going to be learned, student have to take their lessons home and demonstrate respect far beyond the ATA classroom walls. 

“To be a great leader, practice your life skills everywhere you go—even at home too,” Carroll said.  He says that just by being a martial artist, you are showing a willingness to improve yourself.  “When teachers and parents are on the same page, respect is going to happen.”

“As instructors, we get to have a little bit of influence.  But when parents repeat what you say, that’s the best environment and will make respect an easy task to accomplish.” 

Author: Todd Traub

Belief “Yes I can”

Building ‘Yes I Can’ Confidence 

As children, we have big dreams about doing and becoming anything our heart desires.  I mean, who hasn’t thought about going to the moon or becoming a Ninja Turtle?!  The older we get, however, the more reality sets in.  It’s not that you can’t do everything you dreamed of.  But it’s certain that there are steps you have to take in order to achieve those goals and often times, the road to get there is paved with some pretty insurmountable obstacles.   

Interestingly enough, the biggest challenge we face when striving to achieve our dreams is ourselves.  Often times, we let society beat us down or we’ve created an unhealthy environment that doesn’t support the “big picture” ambitions we aim to achieve.  

That is why the Leadership Life Skill Belief is such a critical part of your journey as a martial artist, and simply, as a human being trying to navigate life.  John Addison, Leadership editor for Success Magazine, wrote that “To get what you want in life, you have to build belief in yourself!”  Sometimes it’s hard to dig deep and discover that “Yes I can!” attitude, so we talked with some experts to help get you started. 

Just Do It! 

When you have a goal, one of the first steps you must take is to own it!  Want to open your own business?  Maybe you want to start competing toward a World title for the first time ever.  Regardless of what it is that gets your heart pounding, you have to embrace it and then, just go for it!   

Addison explains, “Life is short.  It goes by so quickly.  Most of the things you worry about don’t really matter.”  So, take the leap.  Your goal will require some planning and preparation, but the only way to get started is to, well, get started.  No one ever accomplished anything sitting around thinking about doing it.  They actually did it.  And you should, too. 

Be Aware of Your Surroundings 

What you see, feel and hear are all contributors to your mindset.  As Addison explains, “Who do you spend your time with?  What do you listen to?  People often surround themselves with people who drain their battery, who are negative and don’t build them up.”  Instead, “Surround yourself with people who are positive, build you up and who help you create belief in yourself.” 

Master Monica Smith, 6th Degree Black Belt and member of the ATA Headquarters Tournament staff, says that being around positive energy will have an effect on how you view yourself.  “Negativity is contagious and it can spread quickly.  The people I hold close to me are people that support me.  If you surround yourself with people who truly care and want the best for you, you will begin to see a positive change in yourself.” 

You should also be careful about what you watch on TV and listen to in your earbuds.  These messages can influence how you think and how you feel.  Just like you do with people, expose yourself to positivity and let it radiate around you. 

Break It Down 

Some of us rely on checklists for mundane daily tasks or work projects, but you need to take that same approach when it comes to your goals.  Smith, who is currently training and preparing for her 7th Degree testing at this year’s Worlds explains how she practices this process. “Long-term goals aren’t achieved overnight.  As I prepare for my 7th Degree test, I have little milestones throughout my journey.”  And there’s a few tips she uses to keep her on track.  “One thing that helps me stay motivated is telling people my goal.  That holds me accountable for my progress.  I also write down my goals, my long-term goal and the milestones to get there.  As Emmitt Smith said in his NFL Hall of Fame speech, ‘It’s only a dream until you write it down, and then it becomes a goal,’” Smith says. 

Breaking things down is also a great practice for any time that you start feeling down on yourself, Addison explains.  “Doing something you said you were going to do makes you feel better about yourself.  It doesn’t have to be anything bit.  Be a daily goal setter and a daily goal hitter…Remember, inch by inch it’s a cinch to get things done,” says Addison. 

Pass It On 

Having self-worth and belief in yourself is tremendously important to children.  Smith, mom of 6-year-old Nila (an ATA Tiger Brown Belt) tells us that teaching her daughter that she can do anything she sets her mind to is a priority in the way she parents.   

“Every day, I tell her what she is; she is strong, she is kind, she is smart,” Smith says.  But she’s also very careful about what she says about herself and others, because that can also have a damaging effect on youth.  “I have to be careful about what I say when I talk about myself around her.  I must use positive language.  I grew up with very low self-confidence, which is one reason I started ATA, and I never want Nila to feel that way about herself,” Smith adds. 

Little ears are listening and little eyes are watching.  When you say you are going to do something and a child sees you do that, there is true pride in that moment.  Strive to be a leadership example around others and you’ll find that positive belief with catch on.  

As you can see, having belief in yourself is huge, but don’t let it all go to your head.  Addison has this to share.  “I always tell people they need to be boldly humble.  I realize this is a tricky thing, having a healthy self-esteem but not having an out-of-control ego.  It can feel like a contradiction.  But you have the ability to find a healthy balance between the two.” 

It’s not as hard as it seems.  Approach your goals with confidence but do so with humility and grace.  Then, you can, in fact, make it possible. 

Author: Jenny Wolff   

Good Friends are Good for Your Health

Good Friends Are Good for Your Health

Every single day, Sr. Master Janelle Gleisner talks to good friends she’s made in ATA.  Now that she is a member of the ATA headquarters staff, she has the luxury of talking to even more.  But it’s not just about doing her job.  She says the personal relationships she’s developed in her over 28 years in martial arts have created a global network of colleagues that has led to true camaraderie and friendship that reaches numbers far too great to count.

“I think that’s one of the strongest benefits of ATA,” says Gleisner who is the Vice President of Licensing and Sales for ATA’s international headquarters.  Whether Gleisner knows it or not, that benefit of ATA is also a benefit to her health!  It turns out that friendships are not only good for emotional well-being, but also for physical health.  Studies show that friendship can help keep your brain healthy, reduce anxiety and stress, and boost your immune system.

Looking for the fountain of youth? A study published by Personal Relationships in 2017, surveyed more than 280,000 people across nearly 100 countries about their nearest and dearest, along with their happiness and health, and found that people who placed more importance on friendship and family tended to say they were happier, more satisfied and healthier than those who didn’t.  And when it comes to the buddy system, it’s better to have a few great friends than a ton of mediocre ones.

Spending time with close friends, especially when sharing a passion such as with ATA, can even have physical effects.  The journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reported an article in 2015 that showed groups of people who had strong social connections had lower blood pressure and lower body mass index.

What’s more, those close friendships can support you in your Taekwondo training.  “It helps motivate you for the next testing or tournament,” Gleisner says.  “You have a group of people that you only see at ATA events, but it’s great because you come back to the next event and feel like you were just with them yesterday—socializing and having fun.”

For Sr. Master Sean Smith, time with ATA friends goes well beyond competition and the classroom—for him it went all the way to the altar!  Smith’s been a groomsman for ATA friend wedding and even had a Songahm buddy serve as best man in his own wedding.  He even met his wife through Taekwondo, traveling the tournament circuit.

“Regardless of when you start training, whether you’re a kid or an adult, the people you see at tournaments are going to be people who will follow you through your training all of your life.”  Smith says, “I tell my students to make sure they meet someone their rank, especially at Worlds or Nationals, so that you have a friend in this with you.”  Next time there’s a buddy event in your school, think hard about inviting someone to join you on this journey.  Do your health a favor and kick start your friendships!


So, what are some specific ways science has shown that friendships can help your health?  Here are a few:

  • They help you live longer and enjoy your time more.
  • Keep your mind sharp.
  • Gain confidence and learn valuable social skills.
  • Boost your immune system.
  • Challenge you to improve and try new things.
  • Lower stress levels and lessen depression.
  • Get through tough times.
  • Laugh, which has been linked to blood vessel functioning.
  • Adopt healthy behaviors. (A study by Current Opinion of Psychiatry showed that people who have a good network of family and friends tend to have healthier lifestyles, including eating more fruits and veggies, and even quit smoking.)


So how can you be better friend?  Here are some suggestions!

  • Celebrate! Compliment your friends when they do good things or achieve their goals. People want to be around people who make them feel good.
  • Try New Things. Invite your friend to Taekwondo!  It’s great to have a buddy in class.  Inversely, try something your friend has been asking you to do.  It will create mutual respect and a stronger bond.
  • Stay in Touch. Yes, you can send “HBD” when Facebook reminds you of a friend’s birthday.  But don’t lose sight of the power of a phone call or a card.  Keep connections personal.
  • Don’t Keep Score. You’re bound to compete against your buddies in ATA, but focus on the friendship—not the medal count.
  • Live Your Oath. The Songahm Spirit encourages us to use courtesy, loyalty and respect in our friendships.  Show these to your pals and expect the same in return.



Author: Anna Belfort

How to Build Endurance


Expert Tips to Improve Your Training Stamina

Whether you are attending your Monday Taekwondo class or chasing a toddler around your house, we can all use a little more endurance to get us from point A to point B in our daily routines.  Then you add in competing at tournaments and giving your all during the ATA Fit test, and now you’re really needing that extra boost of energy.

No matter your age, it’s important to add endurance training to your workouts.  We sat down with experts to give you the scoop on getting the most out of each ATA class!


What is Endurance?

“Cardiovascular endurance usually refers to aerobic fitness, or how the lungs and heart deliver oxygen to the muscles,” says John M. Martinez. M.D., a board-certified sports medicine physician and a team physician for USA Triathlon.  If your muscles don’t get enough oxygen, they can’t function effectively, and you’ll have a hard time performing any kind of physical activity.

Having the proper martial arts technique is always important, but “endurance, speed and strength are also key components to be successful in a sport,” says Martinez.  It all goes hand in hand.

“Increased endurance can prevent fatigue during sparring matches and, more important, athletes with better endurance tend to maintain proper technique longer, because of lack of muscular fatigue,” he says.

Think about it.  In competition, endurance may be the difference in you scoring that last point on your opponent.  In testing, it could be the difference in a pass or a fail.


Training with Intensity

Combining high and low impact activities to your weekly training regimen can help you build endurance.  Martinez recommends one workout per week focusing on high-intensity intervals, such as heavy bag kicks, with a recovery time about twice as long as the actual activity.  Activities that take less effort, such as walking, should be done for longer periods.

Chief Master Al Dilegge, 8th Degree Black Belt and ATA Headquarters staff member, explains that many athletes get into a comfort zone with their workouts which can lead to hitting a plateau if you aren’t careful.  “If you want to increase your conditioning, you need a higher intensity level,” he explains.  “You can be ‘in shape’ but not have the endurance you need to complete your form smoothly or do the ATA FIT Test.”

For a greater challenge, Dilegge suggests:

  • Timing Your Drills. Increase the intensity level by using a stopwatch and trying to beat your previous time.
  • Changing It Up. Alter your training every six weeks by adding something new or doing something completely different, so that your body doesn’t get into a holding pattern.
  • Finding Your Threshold. Know what your limits are, then challenge yourself to improve during each training session in some way.


Breaking Down a Martial Arts Workout

This may sound obvious, but when you’re trying to build endurance for martial arts, you should utilize your martial arts skills!  Wavemaster drills, using padded targets and even shadow boxing (though hitting an actual target is recommended) can help you practice your technique while also building your stamina.

Mr. Mark Cancino, a 5th Degree Black Belt and ATA World Champion, agrees that building endurance while building martial arts skills can be an effective approach.  “Training in XMA builds quite a bit of endurance through extreme kicking and flipping,” he says.  “For me that really has helped my endurance in all aspects of my martial arts.  When I do my Xtreme form, I’m pushing my body 100 percent every second.”

Cancino also says he likes to break forms into segments and perform those segments repeatedly.  “If you don’t break it down, you won’t get the technique down,” he says.  The repetition of a certain strike or kick combined with an increased physical ability to do it well makes it a win-win situation.

“Take a punch and a block, and practice that several times,” he suggests.  “Practicing segment by segment also builds muscle memory, so that when you go to the actual competition, your body already knows how to do the technique which will also save you energy.”  Once you feel strong with each segment, you challenge yourself more by doing the form as a whole.  You’ll build up to the endurance required for a powerful performance.

Grand Master In Ho Lee agrees that this type of exercise can be pivotal in building endurance.  He believes workouts should be “consistent and with intense effort in each Taekwondo technique.”  He adds, “As you move through the ranks, the forms will have more moves and you will be required to do more things, like the ATA FIT test, to progress.  Start building your endurance early in your training and you will establish a foundation that will become even healthier in your pursuit to the next belt.”


Pushing Your Limits

“In competition, you go all out.  In training you go further than that,” says Cancino.  “You push your limits in practice.”  That’s how you build endurance and become a fierce performer or competitor.  “Be smart about it and know when to stop, but also don’t be scared to reach for a new level.”

With the new ATA FIT test, having this type of understanding of your body in imperative.  The FIT test is “an assessment intended to be relevant and repeatable throughout the ATA community and is divided into five different rounds with one-minute rest in between each round.  Each round has a specific objective and structure to help gauge the overall fitness of ATA athletes.”

As Grand Master explains, “During your FIT test is not the time to finally hit your goals in each round.  You start practicing that long before your testing approaches.”


Thinking Big Picture

Chief Master Dilegge encourages students to continue pushing to build endurance no matter what level they’ve reached.  Cancino believes the same and adds that you should also think long-term.



Author: Jennifer Lawler (edited by Jenny Wolff)