Becoming What You Do

I was taking in some much need couch time the other day after a long work day followed by a tough training session and while I was flipping channels I came across “The Karate Kid” movie. I was feeling a bit nostalgic so I watched it and it got me thinking about what it was like for me when I first started learning martial arts compared to how things are now. I can vividly remember my early days of my martial arts training being so exciting. Anytime I would learn a new “technique,” I felt like I just learned something that was directly passed on to me from ancient martial arts masters. (Yes, I did watch too much Kung Fu theater on Saturdays). It felt amazing and magical and it really helped me believe in myself in a way that nothing else ever had. I was quickly hooked and like most everyone in martial arts, I started competing in karate/grappling tournaments and I placed my value as a martial artist on what tournamet I won or how I fought in class against this person or that person. Those were good times and pretty soon everyone that I spent my time with were martial artist/grapplers (that hasn’t changed very much) and that really had a effect on the man I was becoming.

When I first started over 25 years ago, I was just some kid who was “taking karate lessons” and all I cared about was my next belt or what grappling tournament I won and now I am a man who teaches and trains in the martial arts because is it who I am. These days, I just like training and I don’t care if I get hit or tapped because I just like putting the work in. Why? Because that is what martial artists do and I am lucky enough to have become a true martial artist. The excited feelings that I once felt about technique are now replaced with the joy that I get from seeing my students get excited about learning something new. I enjoy watching them progress and I enjoy spending time training with high level friends and teachers. So, as I look back on those early days, I smile because all those years of training – the bumps, bruises, blood and broken bones have helped me become the man I am today. I am no where near finished learning or growing because the more I have learned, the more I realize the less I know.

So, looking back I must say thank you to all the teachers, instructors, training partners and coaches because you all have shaped my life and I now hope that I can help my students grow into the people they wish to become.


Guro Brian Brown
Owner/Chief Instructor
Atlanta Martial Arts Club

Letting Go

Letting Go

I spent several days over the holiday skiing up in the mountains of NC and I had a very surreal experience during one of my runs that I would like to share.  I guess I should start of by letting everyone know that this is only my 6th time skiing in my life but with most things I do I tend to do them with….lets call it zeal. :-)  Anyhow,  being me I do what I usually do and that is bite of more than I can chew and in this case I just happened to get on the wrong ski lift.  I was skiing on blues (intermediate) slopes all day along with helping my soon to be wife learn to ski on the green (beginner) slopes.    However, somehow I found myself at the very top of Sugar Mountain  on a black (advanced) slope.

Did I mention that I basicaly snow plow when I ski?  :-o

Well, here is what happened.  I am on the ski lift that I think is taking me to one of the intermediate blues that I have not yet done that day.  I am just talking to another guy that I am sharing the lift with and we are just shooting the poop when I happened to notice that we keep going higher and higher.   So,  I asked him if he knew where the next stop was.  His response was,  “The top. Why do you ask?”  As you can imagine a BIG O-SH*T went through my brain!

So as we get off the lift I look down the mountain and on this particular day it was very foggy so I could not really see how far up I was and in this case, it was definitely a good thing.  So, now it is time to make a decision.  I can either take my skies off and walk down to a place I feel comfortable  at or just go for it and see what the heck happens.  Of course I went for it :-)
As the run started out, things were ok and I was thinking to myself this is not so bad.  Well, that didnt last long because pretty soon I could not control my speed and a bit of panic started to set in.  Of course, as soon as the panic hit me wiping out immediately followed.  Not too bad of a crash minus the aerial 180 and my skies/poles flying off like projectiles being shot from a bazooka.  I am still at the very top so I shook it off and got up and started back down again and the speed was quickly more that I was prepared for and even faster than the first time.   

And that is when it happened.

I had a very surreal sensation come over me and just then I realized I was trying to hard to control what was happening and I was not giving into the experience.   It was like I could hear my matial arts teachers telling me to relax and feel what was happening and go with it.  So, I let go of the panic and the fear and, as the speed picked up, I simply focused on feeling what the mountain was giving me.  I turned left, then right, back left again, o wait snow plow here and now go back left again..o crap watch out for that lady who just wiped out in front of you.  In that moment nothing else existed in the world to me.  I was 100% focused on feeling the mountain and giving in to the experience.  To my surprise, I made it down the entire mountain without crashing again and it was a very amazing experience.  I have experienced a zen-like state during my martial arts training many times but this was the first time I have ever experienced it outside of martial arts.

That of course got me thinking about how the lessons that I have learned on the mat translate into so many areas of my life.  I must honestly say that after 20 years of training, some of the most valuable lessons have been this:

1) Don’t be afraid to push yourself physically, mentally or emotionally to do things you would have never imagined that you would, could or should do.

2) When things in life get stressful, scary, uncomfortable and sometime even painful, the best thing that anyone can ever do is to relax, breath and feel what is happening and respond calmly, smoothly and thoughtfully.

Easier said than done and I am sure there are other methods other than martial arts that can teach these lessons but I know on this occasion and many others my training on that mat has helped me so much off the mat.  I can only hope that I can continue to learn and grow and to apply more and more of what I learn to what I do in life.   Now that I have learned this lesson from my teachers is it now my responsibility to pass this knowledge and wisdom on to my students.


Brian Brown
Owner/Chief Instructor
Atlanta Martial Arts Club

Goal Setting

Goal Setting

It is that time of the year when we start to reflect on where we are in life and compare that to where we want to be.  I am a big believer in setting goals in all aspects of my life (personal, professional, financial and emotional)  and I know with me at least, if I don’t make myself accountable for those goals then many of them never get done.  I like the approach of writing things down and presenting it to my mentors, my peers and my students so that on all levels I am held accountable.  For some reason there is something about the mental process of writing something down that has a unique effect on me.  Maybe it is the mental process of organizing my thoughts into a structure so that when I do write them/type them they are more real and if it is real then you must deal with it.

Another thing I do is that I have my goals posted in my office, in my car, on my i phone/i pad and basically anywhere that I will regularly see them.  I do this to remind myself that I need to be taking action and moving forward a little each day, each week and at the end of the month. If I do what I should then a little progress can be seen.  A little trick that I learned about this is that after a while your brain will not even notice that you have them in all the various places so what I do is every time I see them I take a minute and read them throughly and I read them out loud to myself.  Basically using the idea of incantations.  

I am a big believer in leading by example so, below are my 2013 goals that pertain to martial arts and personal growth that I would like to acomplish this year.  

As a Owner/Chief Instructor Of ATLMAC

Listen more talk less

Grow ATLMAC 15%

Conduct free women’s self defense/rape awareness class for the public

Conduct a seminar on CTS/CDP

Attend 3-5 seminars outside of my BJJ, CDP Escrima & CTS families

Remember to help my students achieve THEIR goals and not the goals that I would like them to achieve

Continue to put myself out there in the local Atlanta martial arts community and develope relationships with other leaders with different backrounds and skill sets.

My Personal Martial Arts Goals

Spend 1000 hrs of mat time (333 hrs training CTS, 333 hrs training BJJ & 333 hrs training CDP.

Improve my touch/feel/sensitivity with all of my martial training

Spend at least 75 hrs of private training with my CTS & CDP teacher Master Zach Whitson (

Spend at least 100 hrs of private training with my BJJ/ground and pound teacher Professor DJ Wegesin

Obtain my BJJ brown belt by Dec 2013

Obtain my handgun combatives level 3 certification

Continue to work on my Yoga practice

Well there you have it.  My 2013 goals pertaining to my martial arts growth and the growth of my club.