Interview with a pioneer who changed the Martial Arts culture

Master Ingrid Katzberg is a former B.C., Canadian and North American WKA(World kickboxing association) Champion. In addition to this, she is also a former Shoot Boxing Champion in Tokyo Japan.

A generation before Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes earned their championships, an enthusiastic girl was shoveling the snow for ladies training in the martial arts today.

Pioneers earn their reputation after years of struggling to change an existing state of affairs. In her case, Master Ingrid Katzberg was working hard to change martial arts from being an activity for elite athletes to an activity that should include everyone. She endured being the only female student in her classes for years before she opened her own school. She is currently the owner of one of the largest martial arts schools in Canada, Champions Martial Arts Academy, an award winning school serving thousands for 26 years — currently 500 strong students of families, all ethnicity, different ages, shapes and sizes.

Her unwavering passion for her duty has been consistent throughout and this is why she is a legacy.

Here is more about her…

Interview with Master Ingrid Katzberg:

Why did you choose this career journey?

My decision to choose running a business instead of continuing an education in criminology came after realizing that I could make a real change in children by teaching them the values of martial arts. I truly believe that martial arts was always a part of me even before I started training in it. I was always intrigued by the fighting sports and really believed that it builds strong character. I think our character drives us to accomplish anything and everything, that’s the part I most admire about martial arts.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

Starting Martial Arts and never once thinking about quitting. It’s that simple. I wouldn’t be able to influence anyone if not in the role of an Instructor. Being an instructor really opens up your mind and heart to others. Seeing them accomplish their goals becomes more important than your own goals. What greater gift can we have than to be able to influence others in a good path?

What challenges did you overcome?

I guess my biggest one has always been my health. I went through a period of being quite sick and that really took its toll on me and was definitely a hard stepping stone to overcome. It threw me in to a time where every time I tried to get back into a regular routine I would then have to take 2 big steps back. It was very difficult but with the help of my family and the positive energy that I always get at work (Champions) I got through it. I have never thought of myself needing motivation to continue my journey in the Martial Arts. Martial Arts is who I am.

What is the most interesting thing you learned working with Martial Arts professionals?

That we are definitely a special breed with so much passion. I don’t think I ever met a Martial Artist that wasn’t passionate about his or her art. I think that’s what drove most of them into opening up their own school. The rare school owner is more into the business of his/her school, but most of them are more about the teaching and the training. That’s what makes them get up every morning and go to work, not the business side of running their school.

In your opinion what is the secret to keeping students focused on their fitness and martial arts goals?

Really getting to know and care about them. Finding out what pushes them, what holds them back. We all process information, learning, getting motivated, and getting frustrated differently. The key is to figure that out and to use that in order to get the best out of them. Sometimes its with laughter, discipline, or even just a simple smile. We need to connect with them so that they trust that what we are saying or having them do is for their best.

What are the benefits of an average person doing fitness or martial arts?

I could go on forever on this one, but to simplify, martial arts and fitness is essential. Being healthy and most importantly being mobile is so important. It is a proven fact that people who are active recuperate from injuries, sickness etc. faster. Its also a proven fact that people who engage in fighting sports are much more capable to deal with stress and fear. A strong body really equals a strong mind. A strong mind can accomplish anything even when our body thinks it can’t, our mind pushes it forward. You can only get a strong mind by pushing your body to its limit regularly. Nothing does that better than physical activity, nothing feels better than your body giving up from physical exhaustion because your mind pushed it to that.

Are there weight limits and age limits to fitness?

Anyone and everyone should do fitness regardless of age or weight. Having said that of course the measure of activity has to be realistic to the individual person. It is very hard to have a standard on what someone is capable of doing or not. I personally think that someone who has been training in the same sport or in fitness for years is ageless. What I mean to say is that age does not define the person in their activity. Each individual person is their own master in what they are capable of doing or not. It’s what effort they put into achieving that goal which decides if they achieve it or not, not their age.

What is the difference between training adults and kids?

When you teach children you have a greater responsibility to not only teach them your art/sport, but to guide them in life. You should be the one that enforces what they are learning at home, and what they are not learning at school anymore. Respect has been lost in the new generation. There is no more respect for elders, or for our parents, etc. Instead, it’s about having too many rights. Having rights is great but children need to respect the wisdom and maturity of their parents and elders. Respecting others turns into respecting themselves and that is so important in making them strong and capable adults one day.

Teaching adults is about earning their trust. With trust comes an open relationship that is a vital part of the bond between instructor and student. Without trust the student will not give you their best, when you push them they will question the motive — is it out of anger or motivation that you are pushing them past their comfort zone? If there is no mutual trust the student stops learning. That is why being sincere when you teach is so important. There is nothing more motivating for an instructor than a student who is eager and open to learning.

One thing you love most about fitness and nutrition

I guess it is the feeling you get when you achieve that goal. It could be a weight goal, a belt goal, running a marathon, or any type of physical goal you set for yourself. The best feeling in the world is achieving something you worked so hard to get. There is nothing like it.

What is your advice in getting started in the Martial Arts?

The first step to getting involved in martial arts is research. Research the internet on schools in your area. Go and visit each school that looked like a good fit for you. Most schools will offer some kind of Introductory Program where you can try it with no obligation to sign up. The most important thing in selecting where to train is the Staff and Instructors at the school. They will be with you for years while you accomplish all your goals so you need to feel at home with them. I am of course biased but I really believe that everyone should train in Martial Arts. Where else are you going to learn to achieve goals, get in shape, learn to really defend yourself and have a fighting attitude about everything you want in life?

Thank you Master Ingrid for continuously being an important role model to all of us.


Master Ingrid Katzberg is also a fiercely passionate animal activist and an ambassador for The Fur Bearer Defenders, a non-profit organization founded in 1953. They are committed to defending “fur-bearing” animals, as each year more than 3.3 million of them are killed for their fur in Canada. Her role in spreading this awareness has proven her ability to mentor activists nationwide.

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Good luck!

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