Monday, March 21, 2011

How To Choose The Right Martial Arts School

Our towns and cities are littered with martial arts schools.  Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Tang Soo Do, Kung do we choose between all this?  Most just pick the closest to their home, the cheapest, or even worse the first they come across.  Martial arts is one of the most important decisions you can make for yourself or your child, similar to choosing where you go to college.  Would you choose your local community college if you had the chance to attend Harvard?  Probably not.  Therefore you want to be sure to carefully choose who will be guiding your path, as it can have lasting effects on you for many years to come.

The two most important factors in choosing a school are the instructors and the facility.  If one or both of them are not excellent, your instruction will suffer and the quality of your skills will not reach their full potential.  Not only will your skills be diminished, but when you reach the Black Belt level and choose to pass on the art to your own students, their skills will suffer as well.  Therefore make sure you choose wisely in the beginning, it will pay dividends in the future.

First let's analyze what it means to have a good instructor.  Far too many times people make the mistake that high physical skill translates into effective teaching abilities.  While there are plenty of individuals who excel as both practitioners and instructors, never let their physical prowess be the sole determining factor when judging an instructor's performance.

The ability to communicate knowledge in creative ways, influencing through charisma, and an ability to interact with people at a high level are the marks of an excellent instructor, not the amount of medals and trophies he or she has amassed.  If you are searching for a teacher for your child, observe how he or she acts with the children in their class.  Typically someone who acts emotionally extreme is not effective with children, such as an ultra-militaristic drill sergeant or a soft push-over.

Once you have found a few teachers who fit your mold, take a look at the facility.  You definitely want to train somewhere that is clean and safe.  Look for facilities that have large training area, mirrors, mats, and plenty of equipment that aids in training.  Avoid places with concrete floors and hard surfaces that are not friendly your knee and hip joints.  Make sure the place is regularly cleaned to avoid athletes foot and ring worm.  Keep on the lookout for jagged metal and other potentially dangerous elements that your child encounter.  In the end you are going to just feel right when you find the right place.

Martial arts can have far reaching positive effects on your life.  Be sure to choose a place to study that is professional and fits your needs.  Do not jump at the first place you encounter and do not fall into strictly price shopping.  The most inexpensive schools are usually not the best.  This decision could be one of the most important decisions of your life.  Make sure you come educated and prepared.


Tom Yahner is the Head Instructor at the United States Karate Academy in San Diego, California.  He has been studying martial arts for 23 years.  He is also a sales and marketing consultant for To The Point Gaslamp Acupuncture and James Patino, Artist Consultant and Motivational Speaker.

United States Karate Academy
2590 Truxtun Road, Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92106

Friday, March 11, 2011

How to Choose the Right Martial Art

You've heard all the benefits that martial arts can have and you wonder where to begin.  Searching the web or the yellow pages leaves you with a magnitude of choices.  Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Jiu Jitsu, Kung Fu, Muay Thai, MMA?  It may all sound like gibberish to you, so how do you choose?

Let me first say that all martial arts have enormous positive benefits.  There are many martial artists out there who will argue to the death about how their style is superior to all others.  This is as silly as people arguing with each other over genres of music, it is all purely subjective.  In a fighting situation, there is no art that can 100% of the time prevail over all others.  It comes down to the fighting skill and the fighting will of the individual.

That being said, martial arts are some of the best systems in the world to teach self-defense.  There are seemingly hundreds of foreign sounding names to sift through.  Let me give a basic breakdown of some of the major styles.

Karate (which includes Kempo, Shotokon, Ishin Ryu, etc), Tae Kwon Do, Tang Soo Do, and Kung Fu, are traditional stand up styles that are dominated by blocking, striking, and kicking.  These arts usually include a highly structured curriculum, ranking system, and a rich character-developing philosophy.

Jiu Jitsu and Judo are grappling arts from Japan and teach physical fitness and gear towards competition.

Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Boxing, and Mixed Martial Arts are fighting styles suited for inside-the-ring combat for sport.  Practitioners in these arts train to either learn how to fight, get in shape, or make money in the ring.

Aikido and Hapkido are "soft" arts that focus on using an opponent's energy against themselves.  Aikido was popularized by Steven Seagal.

Krav Maga is a military-style art that is focused strictly on real-life combat situations.

Now this is a very basic description and listing of all the arts you will find out there.  In my opinion the best arts for children to begin with are the traditional standup arts like Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Tang Soo Do, and Kung Fu.  The primary goal is not to develop fighters, but to develop the overall character of the practitioner physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  These arts also do an excellent job teaching the student what it means to be a martial artist.

Once they reach the Black Belt level in one of these foundation arts, it is then appropriate for them to branch out and learn new skills while still maintaining their training in their original art.  Styles like Judo, MMA, or Krav Maga are excellent compliments to a traditional martial art form.  However, they are most appropriate for students over the age of sixteen.

All martial arts have their merits and it is up to you to find which is the most appropriate for you or your family.  In my next posting I will describe the two most important factors in choosing a martial arts school.


Tom Yahner is the Head Instructor at the United States Karate Academy in San Diego, California.  He has been studying martial arts for 23 years.  He is also a sales and marketing consultant for To The Point Gaslamp Acupuncture and James Patino, Artist Consultant and Motivational Speaker.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Karate Champ To Teach Self Defense to Women at the University of San Diego

Martial Arts Champion, Sal Convento, of the United States Karate Academy in San Diego will be teaching a women's self defense seminar at the University of San Diego on March 12.

A third degree black belt and the Chief Instructor of the United States Karate Academy,  he has over twenty-five years of martial arts experience and is a highly respected two-time World Champion. As a 1996 graduate of the United States Naval Academy and Naval Aviator, he took part in missions flying over Iraq and Afghanistan during "Operation Enduring Freedom."

Class Information:

Self-Defense for Women

10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Saturday, March 12, 2011
University of San Diego’s
Mother Rosalie Hall, Room 127

Appetizers Served

You Will Learn:

· Assault and Rape Prevention

· Street & Environmental Awareness

· Gun & Knife Attack Awareness

· Statistics & Information from Law Enforcement

· Practical Daily Self Defense Tips

· Practical and Easy to Learn Techniques

· How to Protect Yourself & Loved Ones

The event fee is $40 per participant. Students, Alumni and Groups of 2+ can receive a $10/person discount. Please write for this discount code.

Go to to register.
More Information on Karate in San Diego and Martial Arts in San Diego can be found at

Please contact Gina Fascilla at
or 619 260 4807 if you have any questions.

Also check out:

Acupuncture in San Diego at 
Motivational Speaker and Artist Consultant in San Diego at

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Karate and Martial Arts in San Diego

Hi my name is Tom Yahner and I have started a new blog entitled Karate and Martial Arts in San Diego.  The purpose is to share my experiences as a martial arts teacher and practitioner.  I have been training in the arts for over twenty-three years since I was six years old and currently serve as Head Instructor at the United States Karate Academy (USKA) in San Diego, California.

I have trained in many arts including Tang Soo Do, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Kung Fu, Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, Mixed Martial Arts, Savate, Ninjitsu, Aikido, Judo, Boxing, and Kickboxing.  My main art is a Korean Art called Tang Soo Do in which I am a Third Degree Black Belt.

In 2007, I was hired at USKA an began teaching almost 30 classes a week, a majority of which were large group classes.  The youngest group I taught were the 1 to 3 year olds, who were called Diaper Dragons.  Next came the Tiny Tigers who are between the ages of 3 to 6, then the Youth Class which consisted of 7 to 12 year olds, and finally Adults of all ranks aged 13 and above.  I have recently scaled back my teaching and now teach the Black Belt and Instructor class on Monday nights.

Thank you for visiting, I will be sharing my knowledge here on a regular basis.  Please check out our website at  Also, check out To The Point Gaslamp Acupuncture at and The Emerging Artist Workshop at