Category Archives: martial arts monday

Martial Arts Monday: Acting on Instinct


Someone just jumped you; QUICK, what do you do?

The problem, of course, is that you don’t have time to think. Even if you did, you wouldn’t be able to: the body’s stress response will narrow your vision and shut down the higher parts of your brain. You will either flee or lash out wildly, with instinctive motions (i.e. the classic fight or flight instinct).

This serves as the chief conundrum in the martial arts. How do you improve students’ ability to defend themselves when they immediately forget everything they know when trouble (literally) hits?

The answer lies not with thought, but with instinct. Thankfully for anyone wanting to learn self-defense, humans can train their instinct through the martial artist’s best friend: repetition. It’s not enough simply to “know” a technique; students must practice that technique enough to be able to fire it off without thinking. Otherwise, it loses its effectiveness.

That’s why in Taekwondo we drill and practice everything so much–so our skills are accessible when it counts. That’s also why instructors put pressure on students in drills and tests. With this practice, Taekwondo becomes instinct.

Jr. Master Nathan W. Wheatley
5th Degree Black Belt
Owner/Chief Instructor /

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Martial Arts Monday: Your First Taekwondo Class

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Most martial arts schools (mine included) offer a FREE first lesson–but what can you expect at this class? I can’t speak to other instructors, but I can tell you what I offer.

First, I forcibly push you into the full splits. Next, I break a board over your head. Finally, I kick you through a plate glass window, to demonstrate the power of taekwondo!

Obviously, I’m joking. But, you’d be surprised how many people picture such a bizarre scenario. I’ve had questions ranging from “Do they have to pray to anything?” to “Do I have to get in shape first?” or even “Will my son have to fight anyone?” The answer to all those questions, of course, is no.

Taekwondo is about building people up, not tearing them down. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is contact involved (though we endeavor to keep it controlled and most of all safe). But, the first class isn’t more than you can handle. We will start with a warm-up and proceed to basic dynamic movements. Afterward, you’ll practice those techniques, hit some pads, and learn some basic self-defense. Then, you’ll break a board (though not over your head)!

I’m NOT kidding about that last part, but don’t be scared. Part of what we do is show you how much power you ALREADY have; we merely show you how to use it.

So, the first class will be fun and challenging, not something to fear; though you probably will be sore the next day!

Jr. Master Nathan W. Wheatley
5th Degree Black Belt
Owner/Chief Instructor /

Ready to break your board? Click here for your FREE trial.

Martial Arts Monday: Scenes from Fall Nationals

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This week, enjoy some photos from UTA Fall Nationals 2013 in Plano, TX. More photos coming soon!

I had a great time in Texas this weekend (though the drive was quite long). Thanks to Master Jason Wadley and the UTA for an excellent tournament!

I don’t know who many of these competitors are; I just like to take a lot of action shots. If you recognize someone, and want a full resolution copy of the image, just let me know!

Jr. Master Nathan W. Wheatley
5th Degree Black Belt
Owner/Chief Instructor /


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Ready to compete? Click here for our online special–5 classes for only $5. Ends soon!


Martial Arts Monday: Why Do Tournaments?


In the lead-up to our Olney rank testing, I noticed that a student’s form had vastly improved over last time. I immediately complimented him on how sharp it looked.

His reply? “It’s because of the tournament.”

This incident reinforced to me how the value of tournaments goes far beyond trophies and medals. My instructor, when encouraging students not to stress out over competition, always said that the point of tournaments was to have fun. But, it’s more valuable than just a good time (though having fun is certainly a chief goal).

Tournaments stand as a valuable teaching tool. They serve to reinforce everything that goes on in class. Students gain confidence with the first-hand knowledge that what they’ve learned works outside of class, among strangers. In the case of this student, he learned how to make his own form better by observing who beat him. Plus, the tournament stoked the fire in him, making him want to improve.

I’ve never been a big fan of competing myself, but it’s hard to argue with these results. Taekwondo isn’t “only” a sport, but the sport part refines and reinvigorates the art itself.

Why do tournaments? To get BETTER!

Jr. Master Nathan W. Wheatley
5th Degree Black Belt
Owner/Chief Instructor /

Ready to compete? Click here for our online special–5 classes for only $5. Ends soon!

Martial Arts Monday: The Face of OTC/PMA

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Instead of an article, I’d like to share some pictures today.

These are all pictures of our own Miss Nash in action. I took them in August before she returned to college in Boston. She has such nice kicks that I thought she’d make a good “Face of Olney Taekwondo Center / Princeton Martial Arts.” Expect to see these and more from the same shoot in marketing and advertising in the future!

For those that don’t know her, Miss Elizabeth Nash is a 3rd degree black belt and trainee instructor. She began her taekwondo journey 10 years ago at the age of 11 when Olney Taekwondo Center opened. She’s a wonderful example of what taekwondo practitioners can accomplish with a good attitude and hard work.

Jr. Master Nathan W. Wheatley
5th Degree Black Belt
Owner/Chief Instructor /

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Martial Arts Monday: We Can’t Do It Alone


We attended a tournament this weekend. I couldn’t help but notice the large number of family members that were present supporting the competitors.

I was no exception–my wonderful girlfriend Cynthia was a tremendous help to me. I didn’t compete, but as with all black belts, I spent most of my day judging. Cindy kept track of my students, and made sure they were in the right place at the right time. She also photographed all the action I missed. I don’t know how I could’ve done it without her!

Likewise, my students’ parents, brothers, sisters, and even grandparents filled the stands. It was great to see such support!

If you train in martial arts (whether here or elsewhere), make sure you thank the people who make it possible: the parents who take you to class, the siblings that support you at a tournament, your friend who makes sure you keep going when times get tough.

Remember, none of us can do this alone!

Jr. Master Nathan W. Wheatley
5th Degree Black Belt
Owner/Chief Instructor /

Ready to see what you’re capable of? Click here for your FREE trial!

Martial Arts Monday: Boards DO Hit Back!

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“Boards don’t hit back.”

That’s the classic refrain for other martial artists that don’t understand the importance of board breaking in taekwondo.

But, as someone who has broken countless boards over his taekwondo career, let me assure you that boards DO, in fact, hit back—at least in the physics sense. All the energy board breakers focus into boards is being returned at the time of impact. My hand is still sore from a board I broke at my rank testing a week and a half ago!

I do understand what these critics are getting at; is breaking a board truly practical? While I will never doubt the importance of dealing with a live, resistant opponent as in sparring, or the no-rules scenarios found in self-defense training, board breaking provides a unique opportunity to “give it all we got.”

In all other forms of martial arts training except board breaking, practicing control is critical to the safety of all involved. Even with styles that practice full-contact sparring, practitioners never fight with the same gusto that they would if their life depended on it. No one wants to hurt their training partners! Even when kicking pads and shields, some strikers hold back, if only a little, to ensure their partner’s safety.

Not so with boards! Martial artists don’t have to hold anything back when hitting a board. It also gives instructors and judges something objective to judge students’ power against. Board breaking allows taekwondo practitioners the chance to show exactly what they’re capable of!

Jr. Master Nathan W. Wheatley
5th Degree Black Belt
Owner/Chief Instructor /

Ready to see what you’re capable of? Click here for our online special!

Martial Arts Monday: Always a Student


This past weekend at KTA Camp, I got to be a taekwondo student again. I trained with higher ranks, tested for my next rank, and started a new form.

The truth is, though, that I never stopped being a student. Granted, I don’t spend as much time in a taekwondo class with an instructor as my students; as a (newly-minted) 5th degree black belt and instructor myself, I am in charge of and responsible for my own training. But, I still have a lot to learn, and it’s important for me to work with my superiors as frequently as possible.

I try to train in taekwondo 3-6 hours per week. But, I too have taekwondo instructors that I work with regularly. In addition, I also regularly cross-train in kali/silat and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. These arts not only give me new skills and knowledge as a martial artist, but they also enrich my understanding of taekwondo.

The instructor who promoted me, Master Jason Wadley, an 8th degree black belt who’s trained in taekwondo longer than I’ve been alive, himself also has an instructor. Martial arts isn’t a destination, but a wonderful journey that lasts as long as each practitioner wants.

Junior Master Nathan W. Wheatley
5th Degree Black Belt
Owner/Chief Instructor /

Ready to train? Click here for your FREE trial!

Martial Arts Monday: Do I Need to Get in Shape BEFORE Taking Martial Arts?


I’m talking to a potential student. We’ve gone through all the standard stuff: class times, cost, how to get started, etc. I’ve answered all their questions and addressed their concerns. Our conversation is coming to a close, and almost as though they’re afraid to ask, they come to one final concern.

“I’m not in very good shape…” they pause. “Will that matter?”

In over a decade of teaching martial arts, I’ve received that question a lot from adults. The public seems to perceive martial arts as being taught in a sink-or-swim manner, that only the strong survive.

The truth? Martial arts is and should be about learning, not about tearing someone down. Every martial arts instructor worth his salt structures classes so that beginners are challenged, but not destroyed. After all, we were all beginners once; many of us were out of shape when we were.

If you’re in shape, martial arts is a fun activity that will teach you self-defense while maintaining your fitness. If you’re not, martial arts will help you meet your fitness goals.

No preliminary training required!

Nathan W. Wheatley
4th Degree Black Belt
Owner/Chief Instructor /

Ready to get in shape? Click here for your FREE trial!

Martial Arts Monday: Why Do We Test in Taekwondo?


To allay their fears going into a rank testing, I tell my students not to worry; they’ve in fact been testing the entire testing cycle. The test itself is just a demonstration.

That statement is certainly true. The judges and I take each student’s attitude and performance in class into account when deciding the test results. We all understand that everyone has a bad day. But, to a certain degree, particularly at the higher ranks, students must perform at the testing itself or risk not promoting.

Why are tests so important? Why do I as an instructor not just promote students I know can perform to standard, even if they happen to fall short at the rank test?

Ultimately, taekwondo and all martial arts are about self-defense. Defending oneself in real life is a messy and imperfect affair, rarely resembling the controlled practice of class. When forced to defend themselves, people are often their own worst enemies. The body’s physiologic response and the fear of life and death degrade our performance in comparison to how it would be in the safety of the dojang.

As instructors, we need to know you can perform under this pressure. We do self-defense drills in class to help students prepare, but that’s not enough. The only way we can properly evaluate your performance under stress is to put you under stress. A nerve-wracking test in front of the entire school and a board of instructors is the best way to do that.

I myself am not above this: I will be testing in a week and a half for my 5th degree black belt. The only way I can earn that belt is with a stressful test.

Nathan W. Wheatley
4th Degree Black Belt
Owner/Chief Instructor /

Ready to test yourself? Click here for your FREE trial!