Monday, May 19, 2008


I’m Tom Callos –and I am an educational activist, working in the martial arts industry.

For the most part, I teach school owners, instructors, managers, and their staff members how to run martial arts schools in a way that is efficient, effective, fun, rewarding, and profitable.

There are a number of other organizations and consultants who do this kind of work too.

However, I have a very different slant to my advice and methods than do my contemporaries in the martial arts world.

I focus on business practices and concepts that are about raising the social consciousness of the owner, the staff, and students; I promote a kind of martial arts education that deals with issues far beyond the scope of what, traditionally, has been dealt with or discussed in martial arts schools.

I teach my clients how to embrace self-defense in a way that is relevant to today. I help them learn how to teach things that reside outside of the realm of kicking, punching, and grappling; things that people living in today’s world need to know about protecting themselves, their families, and their communities.

While most consultants, including myself, will deal with business statistics, sales procedures, promotional strategies, and all of the other obvious and basic necessities of running a business, I believe in a kind of martial arts that is an authentic path to mastery, a kind of martial arts that transcends the profit-and-loss statement.

The Power of the Moment

My clients and I have launched an authentic and experiential leadership training program –as until now, many schools claim to teach leadership, but very few have a sound method or curriculum to do so. We are championing the first-ever anger management teacher-training program in the martial arts industry. People might think that martial arts teachers know a lot about anger management and teach it to their students, but until now that has not been the case.

The martial artists I work with are coached in a new kind of Intelligent Curriculum®, a new kind of educational mission for their schools, and we craft a new stance, a new position and role for the martial arts school in the community.

A martial arts school, as I see it, should be a place where the student learns as much about peace, as she learns about the opposite of peace. Students should be inspired and directed to take their martial arts out of their dojo (school) and into the world. Anger management, environmental self-defense, dietary self-defense, community involvement, meditation, empathy training, and sustainable living represent a part of the new kind of “self-defense lessons” taught in schools that recognize what I call the power of the moment.

That moment is the opening that comes every so often; that moment when the young and impressionable student is listening to his or her martial arts teacher like only a child can –with that wide-eyed acceptance, that fully open mind, ready to grow, instantly absorbing, and highly impressionable.

When that moment comes, as I have seen it come so many times, my job is to make sure the teacher knows what power his or her words, influence, actions, and position wields.

It is at that moment that we want our hero at the front of the class to speak not about defeating an opponent or striking another human being or winning a tournament; we want to hear words and ideas that inspire compassion, awareness, respect for self, for family, for the community, for the global community, and for the planet.

We want a seed planted and/or watered at that moment; something that has the potential to sprout into a kind of wisdom and happiness that is uncommon, but the deepest wish of every mother and father. My clients are the kinds of teachers who are acutely aware of the power of the moment; they live to create those moments –so that they might make a true contribution to a better and more peaceful world.

We consider this “our business.” We spend only the smallest amount of time necessary working on how to run our businesses so that we can pay the bills and have money left over (like all business owners); we spend the majority of our energy on coming up with the most innovative, creative, interesting, and powerful ways to create moments of deep learning, constructive and useful attitudes, and the kind of awareness that promotes peace of mind –and peace in action.

Engaged Martial Arts

In my programs, the teacher must transform himself into someone who makes the pursuit of genuine martial arts mastery a deep, personal and spiritual daily practice. You can recognize my clients because they are training to be in the best shape of their lives; they are eating and living with full consciousness of what they consume; they define and engage their heroes; they practice meditation; they read; and they take on projects with their students that benefit their respective communities; projects that show, firsthand, how to apply their training principles to life —off of the mat.

My members are grounded, real –and exuberant people.

Among our ranks is an Academy Award winning filmmaker; there are songwriters, environmental and civil engineers, artists, attorneys, authors, world champions, school teachers, counselors, journalists, grandfathers, grandmothers, fathers, mothers—and all of them are martial artists with a desire to make a difference, here and now, through what they teach and how they teach it.

That is the mission of this work, which is now made up of my work and the work of my clients.

It manifests itself in all sorts of interesting projects, such as (to name a few):

The Alabama Project
Each year we build and/or remodel a house in Alabama with housing activist
Pam Dorr (click on the link to see her video-profile from the Hallmark Channel) and students from the famous Rural Studio. In 2009 we will be renovating a two-room schoolhouse in Hale County, Alabama, one of the last remaining Rosenwald Schools in the area.

I use these projects to empower martial arts teachers to step out of their schools and engage their communities in all sorts of unique ways.

Our involvement with arc
hitects, artists, engineers, and activists is my intentional training program to show teachers how to break down the barriers between disciplines. Participants in these projects inevitably return to their own communities and begin to engage in activities with their students that teach lessons far beyond blocking punches and breaking boards.

Peace is More Important than Punches
One of my most important missions is to help martial arts teachers teach Peace Education to their students. In 2007 I developed a set of teaching flash cards called “Peace is More Important Than Punches.” A number of schools have started using these cards to introduce peace-thinking to students. One of our members, Ms. Debby Young, is helping to have the cards translated into Swahili –for use in the new Kenyan Library System.

The Dietary Self-Defense Program
Several of my clients, members of the UBBT and The 100, are working with a new dietary self-defense program. Components include posters, flash cards, and written lessons meant to be added to the curriculum of all martial arts schools, regardless of system or style.

The Environmental Self-Defense Initiative
In 2006 I called upon all martial arts teachers in the international martial arts community to adopt the Environmental Self-Defense Initiative, which asks schools to require their young students to do 5 to 10 “acts of environmental self-defense” along with their regular belt-testing curriculum to earn their green belts.

MADDCAP™ (Martial Arts Defeat Diabetes® Community Awareness Project) is the first-ever diabetes teacher and student training program in the martial arts world. More info may be seen at

The Veterans in Martial Arts Program
I have called upon all martial arts schools in the international martial arts community to give free lessons for the remainder of 2008 to all returning veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts. What is Enlightenment? magazine is the first publication to publish this request, in it’s May, 2008 issue.

The UBBT ECO-Adventure
Each year I take a number of clients on a 4-day eco-adventure along the Pacific Crest Trail, just outside of Lake Tahoe, CA. As a result of this program, dozens of clients are now making outdoor education a part of their programs.

The Anger Management Teacher Training Program
The first anger management teacher training program in the martial arts may be seen at

The Elder Circle Project
Still in development, this project seeks to involve grandparents in martial arts schools. We are proposing that at least once every quarter, a teacher invites one or more grandparents to come to the school and share his or her life story with young students. We intend to develop this idea for use in all interested martial arts schools.

What a pleasure it is to put all of this in this blog!

Tom Callos

1 comment:

gcw said...

i agree. i've been doing martial arts for a number of years.