Happy Birthday to Us

Celebrating two years of Foundation Martial Arts

When we started this journey two years ago there were a lot of questions, a good deal of self doubt, a huge amount of excitement and a massive fear that we would fail, miserably.

We wanted to be open and honest, ego has no place in the dojo

We weren’t happy with the culture that existed around traditional martial arts, it felt too prescriptive. We didn’t like existing in a bubble and we wanted to be open and honest, ego has no place in the dojo. This pushed us towards independence.

It was a tough decision but we’ve been amazed at how many other clubs out there (independent and traditional) share this philosophy.

Over the past two years we’ve had the opportunity to train with fantastic instructors across lots of arts. Teachers that embrace the new, that see other arts as opportunities to learn and broaden their understanding. We love this and it’s these people that have helped us grow, and to also look at ourselves, to be objective about what we’re teaching, identifying our weaknesses and recognising our strengths.

We started out with Ninjutsu, this was something we knew and that we had lots of experience in. It’s is a wonderful art and it got myself, James and many of our adults class started in martial arts. The rich history and mythology around it’s practitioners, the discipline it demands from it’s students and the huge scope of what it tries to teach is simply fantastic. If we were to stop there though and just accept the teaching, the lessons and the approach we would be doing ourselves and all our students a massive disservice.

To presume that what we do will always work is to blind ourselves to a world that is moving on. Mixed martial arts and Brazilian Jujitsu are two examples of modern systems and approaches to teaching that are both hugely popular and effective. Aside from this though, they are also constantly evolving, their culture is one of appropriation and evolution; something I like to call Magpie Martial Arts.

See some shiny new drill or technique? Test it and take it. If something works and works well (or even works better than what we teach) then of course we’re going to adopt it. It’s our duty as teachers to ensure what we pass on to our students is the best it can possibly be and this doesn’t stop at techniques, it applies to how we teach.

Not every student will learn the same way, react to the same instruction or progress at the same pace

This open approach means we’re much better equipped to deal with the individual needs of our students. Not every student will learn the same way, react to the same instruction or progress at the same pace but over the past two years we’ve been able to mould our lessons and our approach to ensure that everyone of our students can grow. It’s been amazing to see students who in most traditional martial arts structures would have been left behind flourish in our class, this is what drives us.

We’re not precious either, we listen to what you’re saying and evolve what we do and how we do it. If you’ve got any feedback (good or bad) we want to hear it. How can we improve? Is there anything you think we’re doing badly? Is there anything you think is amazing and want to see more of?

It’s the feedback we’ve been receiving that has driven our decision to run a new weekly session aimed squarely at new adults so if you do have anything to say you can drop us an email, message us on Facebook or just grab myself, James or Clare for a quick word before/after the class.

So, fast forward two years from our first lesson as an independent club. What’s changed? What are we doing that’s different?

The first thing we realised quite quickly was that we needed to establish our culture, to really understand who we were. We knew that Foundation was built of pure passion and a chance to change peoples lives. That it wasn’t an opportunity to polish our ego’s or make money. With this in mind we made it official and established Foundation as a Social Enterprise. A non-profit organisation who’s sole aim is to help build better children, adults, families and communities through martial arts. We were recognised by the School for Social Entrepreneurs who accepted us onto their programme and who over the past year have supplied funding for training and equipment, provided us with amazing mentors and helped us grow in so many ways it would take another blog post to even come close to doing it justice.

Another big change was to open our class to the amazing teachers and organisations we have across Liverpool. The like-minded people who do it because they love it and want to make a difference. We’ve made so many friends with the likes of Yoga Bears, SAMMA, Capoeira Liverpool and Marsh Sports. These were just the beginning though, there’s lots more to come.

Probably our biggest and most profound change though was to recognise the drive behind our young students, you — the parents and guardians. We wanted to get you involved, and while there were a few uneasy grumbles when the first Family Workshop was announced I can say without any hesitation that these have been some of the most rewarding experiences as an instructor and the feedback has been unbelievable.

You can learn more about our family workshops here.

The past two years have been tough. We’ve learned quickly what works and what doesn’t. We’ve made mistakes, yes, but we’ve also built something pretty amazing. Something bigger than just a club or a school or an organisation, Foundation is a family.

So happy birthday to us.

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