Archive for Elkin

10 Questions with Brandon Vaughn

Posted in 10 Questions, Bullying, External Arts, Jiujitsu, Karate with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2015 by Combative Corner

Brandon Vaughn CC

The CombativeCorner is proud to bring you this special 10-Question Interview to you today.  Brandon Vaughn is not only a masterful teacher and martial artist, but he’s also Coach Joyce’s close friend and training partner, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu training center owner, author, and contributing CombativeCorner writer since the very beginning.  For those of you that would like to get to know him even better, please read this interview that we did with him, check out his bio here, or train with him in person at KIelkin.com. Without further ado, I give you the man… the Legend… Brandon Vaughn. {wild applause}

How did you get involved in Karate?

Shortly after high school I took informal lessons at a traditional Isshinryu club with a friend for a few months. Later, after College when I moved to Winston Salem, my wife and I decided to look into Martial Arts Schools. She knew how much I wanted to start training again and she thought it would be something we could do together. After looking around at nearby Martial Arts schools my wife brought home some information for local Karate & Kung Fu centers. I didn’t want to train at another Taekwondo school as I still felt a strong connection with my old Taekwondo Instructor and dojang. I was ready for something different. I dropped by to check out one of the schools my wife looked up, Karate International, and talked with one of the Black Belt Instructors. I liked what she had to say and that they incorporated weapons training in advanced classes, so I enrolled us that day. My wife wasn’t too happy that I made the decision without her, but we started classes that week and she loved it. Twelve years later, not only are we still training, we also own our own dojo.

What was it about the discipline, history and art of Karate that appealed to you?

There was nothing about Karate in of itself that attracted me to it. As someone that has struggled with ADHD and Anger Management most of their life, I think I’m drawn to the traditional martial arts on a subconscious level. The structure and discipline that accompanies traditional martial arts training calms and focuses me in a way that I can’t really explain. It’s almost as if I’m not the same person when I’m not training regularly. There’s a feeling of disharmony. I feel less stable, less in control, I don’t like that feeling. It doesn’t matter what style I’m training in, as long as I’m able to practice martial arts I’m happy.

What, in your opinion, is the hardest part in running a successful martial arts business?

All the hours that you have to put into the school off the mat. People don’t realize just how much time and effort goes into running a martial arts school full-time. Not only do you perform all the roles associated with traditional businesses, (Owner, Customer Service Rep., Office Manager, receptionists, etc.) you also have to be a teacher, a mentor, a leader and on occasion a counselor. That’s enough to stress out even the most ardent individual, but add to that the fact that you’re basically your own product and every time you step on the mat or volunteer to teach a P.E. class or speak at a school assembly, you’re demonstrating, not only the effectiveness of the style you teach, but your ability to teach, motivate and inspire others effectively. It’s no surprise that instructor burnout is so prevalent in the martial arts industry.

Anti-Bullying is a subject very close to your heart. Can you tell us a little about that?

As someone who was bullied when they were younger, I know all too well the effects that bullying can have on a child growing up. It’s not just the physical abuse (e.g. pushing, shoving or hitting) but also the verbal abuse (e.g. teasing, name calling or intimidation) that victims of bullying, some as young as 3 years old, endure on a weekly or even daily basis. In school I was picked on for everything, from the way I talked to the complexion of my skin and it was that constant harassment that was the driving factor behind me begging my mom to sign me up for martial arts when I was thirteen. I was tired of being bullied, tired of feeling helpless.

What I gained from my three years of training at Lee Brothers Tae Kwon Do was so much more than the ability to defend myself. I found a level of confidence and self-esteem that I didn’t have before. I also found something that I excelled at, which for me was equally important. As a martial arts instructor I’ve spent the last ten years doing my best to give those same benefits to every student I teach.

The effects of bullying can be both dramatic and everlasting. Depression, anxiety and substance abuse are just some of the issues that can result from repeated bullying that can persist into adulthood. We need to get away from this outdated idea that bullying is an inevitable part of growing up. Instead, we should be giving children the tools they need to effectively deal with bullying, explaining to them why it’s wrong in the first place and teaching parents and teachers how to identify instances of bullying when they occur.

Over the last few years, you’ve become more involved in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu… Why the change from what you’ve been doing?

Nowadays, the martial arts are practiced more as a hobby or sport than a means of survival. Most modern day practitioners only train in a single style and while this may allow them to become very proficient in their chosen art, it often times makes them close-minded when it comes to seeing the benefits that other martial arts may have to offer. They develop a sense of superiority regarding the techniques that that have spent countless hours perfecting, forgetting a simple but vital truth-  That no one style is going to work in every single situation.  As the popular saying goes, “There are no superior martial arts, only superior martial artists.”

I believe that as a martial artist, in order to truly be able to defend yourself in any given situation, you have to train in more than one style. This was also something that warriors of the past knew with absolute certainty. Yes, they may have specialized in a particular style of fighting or mastered the use of a specific weapon but they also practiced other arts. When the sole purpose of your training is to protect yourself, your loved ones or your land, there’s no room for foolish notions or petty squabbling about which style is best. It doesn’t matter how good you are on your feet, if your opponent manages to take the fight to the ground all those strikes, kicks and punches that you’ve spent months or even years perfecting go right out the window. Thanks to a friend of mine who wrestled in high school and had no qualms about taking me to the ground when we used to spar, I learned that lesson first hand. It became abundantly clear that my self-defense skills were lacking in a key area and I was determined to remedy that.

Unfortunately, there weren’t any Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools were I lived at the time so I’d have to wait to several years before I could officially begin my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training.

What has been the biggest obstacle(s) for you in the recent years?

One of the biggest obstacles has been keeping up with my own martial training, specifically my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training. When you run a martial arts school full-time and teach five days a week, the time you have available for regular training drops dramatically. With Karate and other stand-up arts you can easily practice as long as you have a bag to work out on or a clear space to practice kata. However, with Brazilian jiu-jitsu, nearly every technique needs to be practiced with a partner to be truly understood, so having one or more training partners that are readily available is an absolute necessity.

Add an injury to an already challenging lifestyle and keeping up with my personal training has become even more difficult. A severe fracture to my fifth metacarpal (aka boxer’s fracture) has pushed me to the limit, physically, mentally and emotionally. Teaching, training, running a business, and life in general, have been more than challenging while dealing with a serious injury.

Besides Karate and Jiu-Jitsu, what other 2 martial arts do you admire most and why?

That’s a tough one, believe it or not I keep a mental list of all the martial arts that I’d like to train. I’m not sure I can pick just two, but Wushu or Kung Fu as it’s more commonly known as, and Eskrima currently rank at the top of my list.

I’ve been fascinated with Wushu ever since I was in elementary school. I would stay up late watching Kung Fu Theatre and copying the moves. Inevitably my mom would hear all the commotion and come up stairs to tell me to get to bed. When I heard her coming I would jump back into bed and pretend I was asleep. I love the fluid movements, the way one technique flows seamlessly into the next. Attacking, blocking, trapping, countering, they all seem to happen simultaneously. I also like the fact that Wushu practitioners can employ each of their weapons (hands, feet, elbows, knees) equally in a fight. It’s like Muay Thai, only prettier. [Laughing]

In the past year I’ve been learning more about the Filipino martial art of Eskrima, specifically the Doce Pares system. I like the fact that Eskrima practitioners learn to apply the same techniques using a stick, a knife, or empty handed. It’s also a very practical style to learn as far as weapons training goes. Nowadays the average person doesn’t walk around with a Bo staff or a pair of Sai tucked in their belt, but most people carry a pocket knife or could find something that mimics for an Eskrima stick in a self-defense situation.


What martial artist(s) currently give you motivation (living or deceased)?

It seems like everybody says this, but Bruce Lee is definitely one of them. He was one of the first Kung Fu instructors to go against tradition and teach Kung Fu to non-Chinese students. He then literally fought for his right to do so. Bruce was also one of the first martial artists to realize that strict adherence the natural doctrine of any single style of martial arts can limit both your growth and your effectiveness as a martial artists. It was this realization that prompted him to throw out years of Wing Chun training and dive into researching other martial arts. The results of which were Jeet Kune Do.

Another one is Dave Kovar, known as the “Teacher of Teachers” in the martial arts industry. Even if you aren’t familiar with Master Kovar, you’ve probably either heard or read his Instructor’s Creed at least once. When my wife and I first started running our own dojo we became members of MAIA (Martial Arts Industry Association). The Instructor Teaching Tips, Mat Chats and Combative Fitness Drills that Master Kovar recorded for the MAIA Instructor DVDs were an invaluable resource that made it easy to incorporate fitness as well as Life Skill Lessons into our class lesson plans.

In 2011 when my wife and I attended our first Martial Arts Super Show we had the opportunity to attend Dave Kovar’s Instructor College. At this point we had been teaching for seven years and officially running a dojo for six years, but we were still able to learn a wealth of teaching tactics, techniques, and tools that we still employ to this day and have started to pass on to our own team of belts and instructors.

Last, but not least would be Jet Lee and not because he is an awesome martial artist and movie star, but because he both sees and believes in the value of the spiritual side of the martial arts, as much as the physical side. Martial Arts are much more than just self-defense, they are a path to self-discipline and spiritual peace. This is something that the majority of people that take martial arts either never train long enough to realize or are too close minded to acknowledge.

How has the practice of yoga helped you?

Let’s face it, as beneficial as it is, stretching is boring! Yoga has given me an alternative way to maintain my flexibility outside the traditional static stretches that I had been doing much my entire life. It has also helped keep me in shape. I don’t even go to the gym anymore, trying to master some of these crazy yoga poses is all the work out I need. [Laughing] Yoga is also one of the many things that I do to center myself and calm my mind, along with playing guitar, origami, and obviously martial arts.

What other endeavors are you passionate about?

Several years ago I got really into writing. Unfortunately my schedule has been so hectic the past few months that I haven’t had any time to focus on that passion in a while. Hopefully that will change here in the near future. I’ve decide to initiate some life changes that should provide me with amble time to do everything I love without feeling overwhelmed. Anyone that is interested can check out my first attempt at writing, The Lycan Chronicles, at lycanchronicles.blogspot.com and my current project Knightfall at knightfallseries.blogspot.com.

Bonus Question

If you could see any bout, between any martial artist (in their prime), what would be the match-up?

Ooh! Chuck Norris vs. Bill “Superfoot” Wallace

For more info on Master Vaughn, hit him up at his websitewww.kielkin.com

Or, visit his profile here on CombativeCorner.Com

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