EDGE Newsletter...February 20, 2005...Winter Edition...Breaking News...Witty Commentary...Upcoming Events...A New Rant...Gossip...World News...Politics...Facts...Fictions...Fantasy....

Is Conflict Resolution Being Overtaught in Martial Arts Schools Today?

It seems as though teaching peacefull conflict resolution skills in martial art’s schools has become as important if not more important than teaching physical self defense skills. This trend, although righteous in theory may be causing more damage than it is preventing. Are martial arts instructors spending too much valuable class time having their students practice verbal diffusion skills and non-physical defensive tactics? Many martial arts schools have all but abandoned teaching the real self defense skills that they were taught in favor of some type of “Bully Breaker” or “Bully Bouncer” program. Teaching young martial artists that they have “non-physical” options in dealing with bullies is a very good idea. Teaching these “non-physical” skills over martial arts skills that are physical is not a good idea. Usually when a student comes to my Academy with a bully problem they have already exhausted all of the peacefull conflict resolution tactics and are now desperate for some type of relief. They did not walk in my door to learn more witty phrases or to better understand the bullies deep rooted problems, they walked in because they have had enough and now they want to learn how to defend themselves. They want to learn how to fight back, and that is precisely what I try to teach them.

To better understand how teaching verbal peacefull conflict resolution skills may indeed be hurting our students, or at least confusing them, we must first examine the dynamics of a conflict. A conflict is a state of opposition between persons, or ideas, or interests. It is basically a disagreement of two or more parties pertaining to a common interest. As of this writing there are over 20 significant armed conflicts worlwide with some dating back as far as 1948. Conflict has been around since the beginning of time. When peacefull conflict resolutions fail the next logical step has always been a military one. The word “martial” is befitting a warrior or relating to armed forces. Soldiers are taught both offensive and defensive tactics for one purpose, to destroy the enemy before he destroys them. Soldiers are not taught by their drill seargents in bootcamp to meet the enemy and have a chat on the battlefield about how they can work this out peacefully. The conflict has escalated into a fight and only the best trained fighters will survive. While I understand that an all out war is quite different from a child being bullied, the dynamics of the conflict are the same. Or are they?

Let’s leave the battlefield and take a trip to the hallway of a local middle school. Jim, the infamous school bully has been targeting Jared, a smaller and unassuming kid who does his homework, keeps to his small circle of friends, and spends more time than he should avoiding Jim. Jared has no idea why Jim has picked him as this year’s unlucky recipient of his name calling, taunts, trips, and occasional all out poundings. Punches in the arm have become common hallway occurrences and a poorly timed trip to the bathroom could mean big trouble. The “lets-all-get-along” peacefull resolution gurus would say what we have here is a genuine conflict. This is where I gravely disagree. What we have here is an almost daily attack that needs to be defended against. Where is the conflict here? Is it that Jim wants to beat Jared up every day thereby conflicting with Jared’s desire to not get beaten up? When a student like Jared comes to my Academy I am going to do my best to give him the physical skills and confidence to defend himself and to fight back. If he already had those skills he would not be visiting my academy. I am not going to waste his valuable time going over the same verbal diffusion skills that have already failed. I am not going to tell him to just avoid the bully because that has not worked. I am not going to tell him that fighting back is wrong and that he should not use his martial arts skills to fight because that is exactly what they are intended for. What I am going to do is give Jared what he came here for, solid reality based self defense skills because that is my job. I am not a debating team coach, or a UN delegate. I am a martial arts instructor and I am proud that I teach people to defend themselves. Martial arts instructors who have jumped on the conflict resolution bandwagon in favor of teaching real martial arts skills may be adding to their enrollments but they are also adding to their student’s confusion when it comes to a real self defense situation. Students should be taught what a conflict is and what an attack is so that they may be prepared for either should the need arise.

Teaching Students About the Rituals of Combat

People, like animals expose rituals of combat when they feel threatened or are threatening someone else. After working as a bouncer in some of the worst bars you could stumble into for over twenty years I have seen this ritual in action many times. Puffed out chest and widening of the back to appear larger, squinting of the eyes, flaring of the nostrils, shoulders raising and neck disappearing as if coiling like a snake ready to pounce, breathing faster, glaring directly at you, loud voice, etc. By the same token if you are threatened you may expose certain rituals of fear. Pulling chest in, eyes wide open, shaking or trembling, voice cracking, looking away from potential attacker hoping that help is on the way, etc. Teaching martial arts students about the rituals of combat and placing them into real-world scenarios is part of the Training at The EDGE Ultimate Martial Arts which is located in Elmwood Park, New Jersey. Students face each other as a conflict scenario is explained. It can be anything from a disagreement about who owns a hat to whose favorite baseball team is best. One child is designated as the antagonist and the other as the potential defender. As the disagreement escalates the defender will notice certain rituals of combat that alert them that an attack is imminent.

“We practice how to handle everything from name calling to bumping into someone to defending against an attack. Our students are taught that nobody can make you feel bad about yourself if you do not allow them to and nobody can put their hands on you if you do not allow them to. You are in control. We utilize the “ Talk, Walk, Tell, and Show” method when teaching conflict resolution. “First, you try to talk your way out of a situation, if that doesn’t work, you walk away. The next step is to tell someone in authority so that if you need to show the bully that you are capable of defending yourself it is on record that the problem was pre-existing and the student exhausted all non-physical attempts at resolution. “I generally speak about conflict resolution at the end of the summer as a new school year is about to begin. After that we touch upon it in class but the reason people are here is to learn the martial arts and self defense. A main goal in learning the martial arts is to feel so good and confident about yourself that nobody can make you feel anything less. If I have a student who is being bullied and has tried everything to stop the attacks then it is time for this bully to get what he deserves.Too often people mistake kindness for weakness and sometimes you need to set them straight.

Keeping Your Child Interested in Their Martial Arts Training

The benefits of martial arts training for children has been researched, documented, and is widely regarded as the best program available for developing life skills. Although many children begin their martial arts training with anticipation and excitement, that feeling may fade with time. Parents enroll their children with expectations of improved balance and coordination, social skills, respect, obedience, confidence, focus, and of course the ability to defend themselves and stay safe from the many dangerous obstacles life presents. That is a tall order to fill. I pride myself on doing just that, filling tall orders. Helping kids realize their full potential and then empowering them to take action and turn that potential into results. The difficulty lies in the fact that children just want to have fun. Most activities that are good for them are usually competing with an activity that is simply fun and offers no other benefit other than entertainment. It is not an easy task to teach children “real-world” martial arts skills and allow them to have fun while doing it. When you enrolled your child in this academy you did so with hopes that your child would enjoy it and stick with it. As you know you can’t build a strong foundation on hope. I have listed below a few tips on how to keep your child interested in their martial arts training. Just to remind you of how important this type of training is here is a quote from The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children which does not ascribe to the "stranger-danger" message.

” We have learned that children do not have the same understanding of who a stranger is as an adult might; therefore, it is a difficult concept for the child to grasp. It is much more beneficial to children to help them build the confidence and self-esteem they need to stay as safe as possible in any potentially dangerous situation they encounter rather than teaching them to be "on the look out" for a particular type of person. The "stranger-danger" message is not effective and, based on what we know about those who harm children, danger to children is greater from someone they or their family knows than from a "stranger." I have often urged parents to log onto: http://www.njsp.org/info/reg_sexoffend.html which is the Megans law website to find out if a sex offender is living in your neighborhood or surrounding area. To date not one parent has told me that they have gone onto the website. As of two years ago, January 6, 2022 to be precise there are 9,290 registered sex offenders in nj. That equates to a minimum of 9,290 people who never thought it would happen to them or their children. There is no reason why each and every parent has not taken five minutes to help insure their child’s safety. If you do not have internet access, ask me and I will look it up for you. Please do not put this off any longer. Okay, enough preaching, here’s some tips on keeping your kids interested in their martial arts training...as usual I will be straightforward and honest.

These are not listed in order of importance. They are all important.

You need to stay interested in their training. You were gung ho when they began. Do you ask them how class went? Let them show you a new technique they learned? Stretch with them at home on occasion? And most importantly come and watch them in class? How are they supposed to stay excited about this if you don’t?

What are they doing just before they come for class? If your child is outside playing, watching SpongeBob SquarePants, engrossed in their new video game, or playing with a friend; having to suddenly get ready for class may seem like work. I recommend that kids do homework, chores, have a snack, build you a new deck, or replace the roofing shingles on your house rather than engaging themselves in a fun activity that makes their training seem boring by comparison.

Make sure they are on time for class. Walking late on to the mat for class starts the class off on a negative note. They must stand at attention at the edge of the mat and wait for an instructor to escort them into class. They stand in the last line instead of taking their rightful spot in line by rank. If they are in the junior or teens class they must do 50 pushups prior to being allowed in class. A year ago we started a second class for TKD Kids ages 4-6 beginning at 6:15 to allow working parents a chance for their kids to train. If you can not make it to the 4:00PM class on time, you should consider attending the 6:15 class.

• If your child is losing interest, or is giving you a hard time about coming to class you should notify us immediately so that we are aware of the situation. You should also remind yourself of the items listed above and ask if you are doing everything that you can to keep them interested. Martial arts training is not just another activity, it is an extension of your child’s education. Self confidence, respect, awareness, social skills, agility, flexibility, and self defense are not being taught in school. Academics is simply not enough anymore in our ever growing competitive society. PHD’s are great...PH Do’s are even better.

EDGE Muay Thai...The Real Deal

Do your instructors just massage your ego? Or do they have the guts to push you to your limit and make you conquer your weaknesses? For you to actually be effective in a real confrontation you have to be comfortable in a raw and unpredictable environment. Through a punishing, but highly effective, and surprisingly fun training regime, Muay Thai immerses you in the rawness of full-contact fighting.

Muay Thai’s intense environment relentlessly taps into all of your emotions. You learn to effectively combat your opponent as you learn what your true capabilities are, both strengths and weaknesses. You’re going to hurt in Muay Thai, but that’s what makes it so effective.

Another key aspect about Muay Thai is the camaraderie. Everyone suffers together, and you never have to fear embarrassment or shame of "failure" in front of your teammates. If you’ve got the guts to put your pride on the line and realize you’ll probably have someone wipe the mat with you occasionally—you will be respected because it means you’re really pushing yourself.

The only pre-requisite for Muay Thai is that you have the heart and the guts to push yourself beyond your breaking point. By melding the raw unpredictability of full-contact fighting, with the precise, detailed guidance of exceptional instructors, the results can be devastatingly effective. Under the firm guidance of The EDGE’s exceptional instructors, anyone can become a ferocious fighter.

Dan "The Beast" Severn Seminar

The Dan "The Beast" Severn Seminar on January 22, 2022 was full of surprises. The first was the huge snow storm that was pounding the area. The second was that only one student couldn't make it due to the storm. All who attended enjoyed Dan's honest and down to earth approach and demeanor. Everyone commented on what a great guy he was and his willingness to share his experiences and knowledge with us. Here is The EDGE's own "Grappling Legend" Rich Seibel's commentary on the seminar.

It came from the West like the cold biting wind of the impending blizzard. The Beast had arrived at the Edge. Your Gym, your Dojo, your club has hosted many of the greatest mixed martial artists, fighters and practitioners of all time and has clearly established it self as The Cutting Edge for training MMA.

Today we trained with the only 3 time Ultimate Fighting Champion and brawler extraordinaire Dan “The Beast” Severn. The pride and joy of Coldwater Michigan and wrestling champion from Arizona State University. The Beast would entertain, enlighten and roll with each individual at this event. He showed us how “he” does it. He demonstrated takedowns and ground fighting techniques and how it relates to competition fighting. Chokes, throws, cranks, strikes and submissions all taught by an athlete with over 4,000 fights. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

It is clear “The Beast” loves his work. Everyone took a photo with the man and his many belts. T shirts came with an autographed 8 X10 of the champ. His great sense of humor and relaxed attitude kept everyone at ease. However there is a dark side to this great fighter. This corner he calls “The Danger Zone”. Those who enter “The Danger Zone” do so at their own peril.

Dan Severn departed The Edge with the Blizzard of 2005. In his wake he left us with a sense of accomplishment. We rubbed elbows with a Champion and he made each of us feel like winners. He confirmed many of the techniques practiced and taught at The Edge. Train Hard, Train Safe. G.D.

Why All Women Should Learn to Grapple

as Part of Their Martial Arts Training

Most women do martial arts in order to gain some experience in self-defense. Attacked by a man, there is a high probability for a woman to be taken to the ground particularly if the attack is one of a sexual nature. That's a simple fact of size and strength. And in that situation it is of crucial importance for a woman to know how to defend herself. When fighting with a larger and stronger male on the ground, the use of proper technique is her only chance to escape or even save her life. The technique does not come by itself, it must be learned during realistic training. So, grappling with larger male partners has its important place in women's martial arts training. Many women realize that and would like to learn some basic ground fighting. However, there is something that may stop them. Close contact between opposite sexes. Well, grappling is close contact, there is no doubt about that! Any woman (and, by the way, any man, too) can feel uncomfortable in such a close range the first few times. But, as she (or he) progresses, she finds very quickly that in martial arts people are not divided by men and women. All of them consider themselves "only" as human beings on their way to find and improve themselves. The martial arts way is the way of respect for each other

Rant for Responsible Rap

Every place you go -everything you see-rap music influencing- every aspect of our society-not a day goes past-i don't see some kid's pants hanging off his ass-his cell phone ringing-his bling-bling clinging around the neck he knew his father would be ringing-for not being in school-but it's all cool- because this little fool-thinks a thug's lifes the tool-to a fancy house-and a swimming pool-a brand new car-a shiny gold tooth-a big old boat complete with friends on board it-don't worry because he can afford it-maybe in his dreams- if he truly believes gangsta life is everything it seems- let me break it down for you-it was 1983- I was at Sugarhill Records working security-Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five on sight-the Fat Boys with Their Rapper's Delight-I was there at the start-when rap had a heart-music with a beat-sounds of the street-people moving their feet-it was all pretty sweet-then suddenly rap changed-beats were rearranged-when gangs took the stage-and thugs grabbed the microphones-pumping violence and rage-guns on their videos- women degraded-cops they hated-gang bangers incarcerated-kids become infatuated-gangsta life is the ticket-join a gang and kick it-have a problem call your boyz-and together we will lick it-it was all right there-up in your face-rappers depicting themselves as gangsta's-but is that really the case?-Run-D.M.C dressed like they came off right off the streets-but truth be told they came from middle class families-never deprived of anything-had birthday parties and even christmas trees-just like the guys from Public Enemy-who grew up in long island-in nice houses landscaped tastefully-what about Ice-T-the dreadlocked pimp wannabe- who wrote cop killer-but now plays one on TV-and sweet Lil' Kim-she needs to hit the gym-or start dressing more like a lady-like the real slim shady-all five foot two-eyes of blue-a torture tatoo-who's fooling who?selling out is what these guys are really all about-no doubt-you need to open your eyes-see through the disguise-gangs, drugs and violence will only lead to your demise-the words they're spilling -are just a bunch of lies-I'm tired of this crap-how about some positive rap- all that negativity-just doesn't work for me-some responsible rap-is what I want to see-kids need heros-not another gangsta MC-the choice is yours-any star can crash-stop buying their music- stop feeding them cash-stop calling their name-tell your friends the same-we control the game-for nobody is worse-than someone who spreads only hatred in their verse-it's hard to sell hate without a microphone-without an audience-you're just where you should be-standing all alone.

Events, Gossip, Junk, Other Stuff

Schedule Changes


The 4:30 Brown and Black Belt class has been changed to a Brazilian Jiu JItsu class. The class is still only open to TKD Brown and Black Belts but the focus of the class will be on learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ground techniques. ALL students taking the class must have a cross-over uniform. For a description of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu click here.


The 11:30 Muay Thai Sparring class is now one hour long. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu now begins at 12:30 and runs until 2:30.

The Black Belt test schedule for February has been postponed. I will be picking a date in April for the Black Belt Test.

Comments on this Newsletter? E-mail them on in and I'll add them to the Newsletter. Good, bad, strange...whatever. I'll print them all.

Here's some comments from Brown Belt Chris Leonardo

Dir Sir,

I read the news letter and really thought about some of the things you wrote. I hope the parents reading it will appreciate it. You were really right on point when it came to how and why you teach the way you do with your young students. It was really frustrating to me when I went out last weekend with my wife and had someone tell me how he thinks getting a black belt is a joke. I really felt like strangling the guy but I realized not every school is like ours. I realized that a lot of martial art school have forgotten what they are really supposed to be teaching. Made me think of my previous school.

Martial Arts is about many things but its foundation is based solely on combat for the purpose of survival. Thinking about it, I realized what can possibly more important than that. If I had to engage in combat to defend my life or the lives of my loved ones could I? The answer is that I feel I could because of what I have learned at the Edge. I don't think I would feel the same way training anywhere else. That is something no one can place a value on. Its a shame if parents can not see the value of this and how that warrior spirit can help their children overcome the everyday obstacles of life.

I am also glad you wrote that rhyme about hip hop. It makes me nuts that we as a society place a value on the type of rappers you spoke of.

Wish you had a comments section on the website. Anyways, thanks for the great training and creating a fun place to go to.

Talk to you soon Sir!!

Chris Leonardo

Tony Fontana Wrote:


Wanted to write and compliment you on a great web-site. I enjoyed the Newsletter, the site is very informative and well thought out, but that shouldn't surprise me your entire program is wonderful.

At 47 I started much too late in my life for me to obtain a black belt, but I've learned enough already in ten months of training, I know I could defend myself on the street or bar, if it should be. I know there's a ton for me to learn and I'm looking forward to it.

Your training has been good for me in others way also, I have much more energy mostly because I lost 15 lbs. and feel young again, younger at least.

But I feel good about myself which makes everything else easier to deal with, I look forward to coming to class, your other students have all been quality people. Thanks, for The Edge.

P.S. I particularly liked the piece on "Fathers" and the quotes from Homer Simpson, there's a lot of good stuff there.

with Respect thank you Sir!

Tony Fontana