What We Teach
At Rib Mountain Martial Arts we tend to focus
on pragmatic defenses against real-world 21st Century attacks. Occasionally
we do practice historical techniques involving outdated technology
such as Japanese swords, the Hanbo (three foot wood staff) or wearing
armor. These outdated technologies can generally be related to a
modern equivalent. A Hanbo can be an ice scraper, a Kusarifundo
short chain could be the belt around your waist, for example.
The classical training does serve a purpose
in allowing us to learn timeless principles. Most of our training,
however, is focused on common armed and unarmed attacks you might
face today. Perhaps just as importantly; the training also includes
methods for developing a positive and useful mental attitude towards
life; and offers a set of philosophies and strategies to engage
the "battles" of everyday living that we all face.
A dojo such as ours can become a place where
you take a moment to leave behind the chaos, negativity, and technical
isolation (too much time spent with computers, email, and cell phones,
anyone?) of the outside world, and after training - you walk back
into that same world with a renewed sense of calm, happiness, and
feeling more resolved to live a better life and to have a more positive
impact on the world around you.
I'd appreciate it if you'd contact
me letting me know a little bit about yourself and why you're
interested in training. Feel free to ask any questions you want
and I'll answer over email to the best of my ability.
Or just show up when we're having class sometime
and talk to one of the instructors. My caveat there, if you just
want to show up without making contact, is that very rarely a class
time might have changed, been cancelled for a holiday or inclement
weather, or moved to another locatio
Absolutely. Just contact me first
as noted in the above answer, please.
While I (Mike) can't answer
for everyone that trains with us, I would
say that our primary goals in martial arts training are these
1) Feeling better
- through engaging in a challenging kind of fun while learning
in a positive atmosphere
2) Improved ability
to avoid danger, and when necessary; better preparation for
handling a violent confrontation
3) Long-term enrichment
of life through martial arts training
If those are the reasons you'd
like to train, you'd probably be a good match for our school and
should try dropping by to watch or train sometime.
There is a detailed breakdown of courses on
the Schedule page.
our physical protection methods we practice intelligent technique
and strategies combined with an emphasis on realistic physical performance.
Training for new members begins cautiously and we always emphasize
safety. Eventually students learn to successfully apply techniques
against a variety of attacks and varying levels of resistance from
opponents. The comfort level of the training members is always our
In our mental development methods, we learn
secular exercises and viewpoints for centering awareness, applying
energies for accomplishment, and understanding and changing our
own limiting mental and emotional habits.
Our training is non-religious and thoroughly
secular. Though we may talk about interesting ideas from a variety
of religions and philosophies in class - it must be stressed that
we promote no particular religious viewpoint. Training members are
encouraged to offer their own experiences and ideas in post-class
The training we offer is not focused on preparing
students for tournaments or art for its own sake, but for developing
powerful self-protection skills as well as encouraging personal
development. Stop by and watch a class on any training day... or
contact the email addresses on this web-site for more information.
Our goals as a training group are very serious,
but our classes are both friendly and fun!
All 'belt color' ranks in any martial art sense
are arbitrary and only indicate a persons 'degree belt grade' within
a particular organization or school. Ours is intended as a way to
break up the technical levels of the curriculum and to provide the
training member a clear path for improvement and a logical progression
belt rank structure is as follows:
This is a trite thing to say, but if someone
is obsessed with what color belt they are wearing, they're probably
not interested in martial arts for the same reasons we are.
It can actually prove quite productive to put
on a white belt and visit someone else's martial arts school. Many
self-protection and combat instructors don't use belt ranks at all;
and I assure you, they hit just as hard and choke just as quickly
as someone wearing a black belt as an indicator of rank. Sometimes
even more so.
That said, there
can be some utility to a step-by-step progression with specific
guidelines for improvement and training.
We focus on modern applications of classical
weapon systems, working on both protection against and using such
everyday tools as short and medium length sticks, knives, flexible
weapons, thrown items, and improvised weapons such as ice scrapers,
chairs, pens, and more.
Crashing in defense against
a short stick
We do train with a classical emphasis in some
Classical weapons training topics include:
Hanbo (three foot staff)
Kenjutsu (Japanese sword skills)
Bojutsu (six foot staff)
Kusarifundo (flexible chain weapon)
Kusarigama (an integrated weapon of stick, blade, flexible, and
In addition to the Japanese weapons training,
we do sometimes practice Filipino martial arts (Kali / Escrima)
including stick and knife skill sets.
Classical Japanese weapons training:
Mike (left) grapples Steve (right) with a three foot staff
Among people who don't train in martial arts
in our Western culture, a black belt is often viewed as a sign of
'expert level' or at the very least as a sign of 'graduating'. Among
experienced martial artists, a black belt is usually more equivalent
to graduating from high school; a black belt has the basic tools
with which to actually begin learning.
This is all relative of course; in some styles
or organizations the learning beyond black belt consists only of
more complex kata and more gymnastic kicks, so in those schools
a black belt is in fact akin to "expert" level, as there
truly isn't that much more to learn. At our school, black belt is
more like a high school graduation.
feel it is important to stress that belt rank systems are arbitrary
and unique to each martial arts school or organization. Ranks between
styles or even schools/organizations are not equivalent. A 4th degree
black belt in one style may be only equal to a brown belt level
in another style, for example.
This is not to say that ranks
and "testing" on material isn't important; it's just that
your rank is only important in relation to yourself.
As for time to first level shodan black belt;
anywhere from three (rare) to five years seems to be a good estimate.
This depends more or less on your own level of interest, time, and
seeking of information from our training and from other sources.
How you spend your time determines
what you value in life.
That said, as Tim Peterson has stated, we should
"Train to live" and not "Live to train". Training
should enhance your life, never obstruct it.
Our costs are very competitive
to the area. The scope of information and the diversity of training
we provide is, I would say, fairly unique to the area.
Contact me and I can give you
the current tuition rates.
While some people enjoy the idea
of a strict drill-sergeant instructor, that's not what we're about.
Any yelling we do is purely in jest or is part of a training scenario.
We strive to maintain a positive,
co-operative training atmosphere.
Unbelievably in America in the year 2009,
this still needs to be said; but given some things I've seen in
this community in the past few years, I'd like to emphasize that
as an organization we will NOT discriminate against students for
race, creed, gender, political affiliation, religious or non-religious
status, sexual orientation, whether you prefer Kirk over Picard,
Gimli over Gandalf, or who your favorite Powderpuff Girl happens
If you promote violence or hate in your free
speech, I'd rather not ever meet you - but if you are a serious
student with a non-criminal and especially nonviolent background,
we welcome you to train with us and improve your life.
If you have committed a felony at some point
in your life, we'd like to know about it sooner rather than later
(Is it something serious? Was it simply a mistake you made as a
kid and have now matured beyond?) We do have law enforcement
officers train with us sometimes and for their safety and peace
of mind (and ours) do not want criminals involved in our training.
If you fight anyone for reasons other than
self-defense or the rightful defense of others, we will ask you
to leave our school. If you have anger management issues, don't
train with us; see a counselor.
We reserve the right to expel any training
member at any time.
We attempt to make them comfortable and welcoming
for new folks.
After you have developed the skills of safe
training, your experience can scale up to being quite intense and
progressive, and a lot of information will be presented at you in
a given class.
We also practice some scenario training at
the Intermediate and Advanced levels of class. As An-Shu Hayes says,
many times before someone attacks you physically, they will attack
you verbally or emotionally; either to test you, or to weaken and
distract you. It is through scenario training that we seek to prepare
for these sorts of attacks as well.
In that sense, later training will sometimes
include moments of more intense engagement. The emphasis, however,
is always on safety.
Absolutely. If you're just trying our class,
there's no reason to arrange a special uniform or risk ripping some
old favorite clothes. Some folks wear their old uniforms for a month
or so until they decide to join us for longer, and only then spend
the money ordering a new uniform. It's really not a big deal to
us. You can also study our martial art concurrently with another
style; we have no antiquated and limiting rules such as "A
Student Can Have Only One Master". We actually encourage you
to study in other styles when the opportunity arises! To steal a
phrase from Stephen K. Hayes, little needs to be said about the
obvious value of intelligence gathering in martial arts.
Any other questions you'd like
to see answered here? Write to us.