Tony Robbins Martial Arts Interview

Tony Robbins Earns Black Belt

Jhoon Rhee, Tony Robbins, Ernie Reyes, Sr.

From about 1984 – to 1993, I had a cable TV show, USA Karate. In 1992, I drove over to Orlando to interview Tony Robbins, who had recently earned his black belt from Jhoon Rhee.

Tony was conducting his Fear Into Power weekend seminar that concluded with everyone, including me, firewalking on hot coals.

I did the math, and he grossed well over $1-million that weekend. He was gracious and fun as I spoke with him about his martial arts experience on the Monday following the seminar.

He shares some powerful insights as to what he observed while training to make black belt in nine months.

He also sparked an interest in hypnosis and Neuro Lingustic Programming. About a decade later a good friend of mine who trained with Richard Kim told me that Kim had studied hypnosis as well.

I started to research both and have over 100 hours of professional hypnosis and NLP training that has helped to open my eyes to the power of trance and influence.

2021 MATA Lifetime 
Achievement Award-Dr. Judy Flury

2021 MATA Lifetime 
Achievement Award-Dr. Judy Flury


Dr. Judy Flury


Reflecting on the remarkable career of Dr. Judy Flury of Grand Prairie, Texas, it quickly becomes clear that she is fearless and does not waste time. 

She was hooked on tae kwon do from her first class as a 12-year old, and within five years, she opened her own school at the ripe age of 17! 

She also recognized early that she had a passion for working with children, maybe because she was one.

While running her school full-time as a teenager, she started college and then graduate school, where she earned a doctorate in personality psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Her dissertation in 2004 focused on developing a method to accurately measure indicators of borderline personality disorder. 

That personality scaling instrument, the “Sense of Self Scale,” has since been validated and is in use today by researchers and practitioners in the mental health field

Dr. Flury is the author of, Raising a Real Winner: How to Teach Your Child the Qualities of Success and has authored and co-authored many manuals, book chapters, and articles in various peer-reviewed journals of the American Psychological Association.

In the 1990s, Dr. Flury was named “Instructor of the Year” by the USA-Korean Karate Association for three years until the association decided to limit the number of times a single instructor could win the award. 

She is currently on the Martial Arts Teachers Association’s Certification Board of Advisors and a member of Game Changers International.

After running a successful martial arts school for 34-years, as if she had nothing else to do, she earned her certification as a special education teacher and got certified to teach pre-k–6th-grade general education.

She is currently teaching general education and may have redefined the idea of educational breakthroughs because her 3rd-grade class gets to break boards when they earn high grades!

Dr. Flury is married and has one son and three Chihuahuas. In addition to martial arts and psychology, she enjoys reading, shooting, spending time with her family, and practicing her Christian faith. 

She has been a member of the Martial Arts Teachers’ Association (MATA) since its founding in 1993 and is an Empower Kickboxing™ school.

MATA is proud to recognize Dr. Judy Flury, Ph.D. as a stellar model of courage, drive, and execution.

martial arts instructor certification
Martial Arts Instructor Certification: How to Give Clear Instructions

Martial Arts Instructor Certification: How to Give Clear Instructions

From the MATA Professional Martial Arts Instructor Certification Course

Module 1-Lesson 1: Four Keys to Giving Clear Directions

1. Specific. Effective directions are specific. They focus on manageable and precisely describe actions that martial arts students can take.

2. Concrete. Effective directions are not just specific; they involve clear actions that any student knows how to do. When directing a student to pay attention, he/she may or may not know how to do that. But if the instruction is to, “Turn your body to face me. Look at me with your eyes. Listen to me with your ears. If you have a question, raise your hand.”

These are real things: physical, simple, commonplace. There is no gray area or prior knowledge required to comply.

3. Sequential. Effective directions should describe a sequence of concrete specific actions. In the case of the student who needs help paying attention, the martial arts instructor might advise him, “John, turn your body to face me. Look at me with your eyes. Listen to me with your ears.”

4. Observable. The instructions give John actions that the martial arts instructor could plainly see him do. This is important. The instructor provided him with a series of steps that were specific and simple enough that any student could reasonably be expected to do them. That leaves John with little wiggle room to stray.

What to Do allows you to distinguish between incompetence and defiance by making your commands specific enough that they can’t be deliberately misinterpreted and helpful enough that they explain away any gray areas.

However, it’s important to distinguish between incompetence and defiance. If I ask John to pay attention or sit up or get on task and he doesn’t, knowing whether he will not or cannot matters.

If he cannot, the problem is incompetence. If he will not, the problem is defiance. I respond to these situations differently.

Written by John Graden

John Graden is widely credited with leading the martial arts school business into the modern age. He is the founder of the first successful professional association and trade journal. MA Success editor John Corcoran first called him a “visionary” in 1995. Martial Arts World magazine dubbed him, The Teacher of Teachers. Mr. Graden’s leadership was recognized in many mainstream media outlets including a cover story on the Wall Street Journal, documentaries on A&E Network, and as a guest on the Dr. Oz Show and many others.

How to Recruit Parents to Help with Your Martial Arts Student Retention

How to Recruit Parents to Help with Your Martial Arts Student Retention

Today, we have a somewhat ominous combination of factors that relate to student retention. First, this generation of parents knows more about martial arts than ever, so what you teach and how you teach it is critical. Second, this generation of parents will pull their child out as soon as the kid complains about going. 

Parents may be seeing that their children need self-discipline but they may not be helping them develop that skill because they don’t want to hurt their child’s feelings. In many ways, this is a result of the disastrous self-esteem movement launched by Dr. Nathaniel Brandon in the 1960s. Dr. Brandon was also a mentor of my instructor/mentor Joe Lewis. But all of that is a different story.

Stop reading until after you answer these questions.

1. How do we teach self-discipline to children?

2. What is the first lesson in discipline? 

Watch this video first and then, join me below for the answers.

The number one reason parents enroll children in martial arts is to improve their self-discipline. We all know that, HOWEVER, most of us are missing the most glaring issue with self-discipline. The FIRST discipline is that the child HAS to come to class for whatever period of time that’s been agreed to.

You have to set those expectations. You can’t depend on the parents to do this. 

How to Set Expectations with Martial Arts Students and Parents

I always suggest a two-class trial program for $20 that includes a t-shirt and gi-pants. When you enroll the student into the trial class, make sure to mention that you’d like anyone who will be involved in the decision to join the school will be present to see the class. Make that clear on your website as well for enrolling trial programs.

You present the enrollment options after the first class. This eliminates the “We want to think about it” objection. If they return for the second class, they are most likely going to join. 

Right after signing the papers, your role is to set expectations. It will sound like you’re teaching the child, but you’re actually teaching the family.

“Joey, do you want to learn martial arts with us?”

“Yes sir.”

“Great. This is very important for you to understand. Your mom has enrolled you in our school for the next six months. Be sure to thank her for that. That’s called gratitude, and you always show gratitude when someone does something for you. That’s gratitude. Now let’s talk about self-discipline. Self-discipline is when you are mentally strong instead of weak. When you get up in the morning, you make your bed whether you feel like it or not. When your mom asks you to do something, you do it whether you feel like it or not. The more you practice what we teach, the stronger your self-discipline becomes. Your classes here are Monday and Wednesday at 5 pm. That means on Monday and Wednesday at 4:30, you get ready to come to class. It doesn’t matter if you’re having fun playing a game or with a friend, you use your self-discipline to stop and get ready to come to class. On the days you don’t have class, our best students still practice 15-20 minutes a day. With self-discipline you can be one of the best students in our entire school. We even have videos on our website that will help you practice. So, are we clear on this? What is gratitude?”

Help him with the answer by leading not answering for him. “Ok, what is self-discipline?” 

You’ve just “laid down the law” for the family with clarity and respect. You’ve provided the parents with the perfect counter to dropping out. However, you still have to teach really good classes that are focused on the students’ requirements rather than the requirements of an outdated, clunky style, like me in the video.

By the way, did you notice that I didn’t tell Joey

he was “awesome” or that he did a “good job”?

My job as the martial arts instructor is to be an authoritative leader of people. That is my role. I praise when it’s warranted, not to placate a child’s “self-esteem.”


Check out for an curriculum example


What is the Legal Definition of Self-Defense?

Below is a Quiz on the Definition of Self-Defense

A Quiz on the Definition of Self-Defense

Module 1 A True Life Story
Unit 1 Circle K Story
Module 2 What is Self-Defense
Unit 1 The Five Essential Elements of a Self-Defense Claim
Unit 2 The Claim of Self-Defense
Module 3 Understanding Self-Defense Law
Unit 1 Quiz: Understanding Self-Defense Law Module 1 and 2