Staying Strong! Summer Challenges


We ended the 2017 school year strong with belt promotions at all of our program locations and will return in the fall but what should we do over the summer?
We have three suggestions, but you are welcome to create your own summer goal. Be sure to write it down and track your progress.
*PRACTICE CHALLENGE: Review your forms and kicks three times a week.
*READING CHALLENGE: Read at least one book a week during summer.
*KINDNESS CHALLENGE: Do one nice thing – something for someone else – everyday in        July and August. (That’s 61 acts of kindness!)
If you write down and keep a record of everything you do, you’ll be invited to a special party and can earn medals. Write it down in a notebook or scrap paper. Logs are due first day of fall classes.

Belt promotion at Benjamin Franklin School

Never Underestimate Your Opponent (and the importance of practice)

Everyone enjoyed a super time at tournament! We followed up in classes on all the lessons learned! (Listed here in random order.)

  1. Keep going if you make a mistake.
  2. Think about something other than how nervous you are.
  3. Never underestimate your opponent (especially when sparring).
  4. Be a good sport especially when you don’t win.

Thanks to all our teachers and family members for their support!

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A New Challenge

For the first time, participants from our program will compete in sparring at tournament!

Due to their commitment to a full school year martial arts program, as well as consistent good behavior at home and in their regular academic classes, some students have been invited to take on this additional challenge. They’ve stayed late and come to extra practices in order to prepare.

“It’s great to see their improvement in self discipline and effort due to their Tae Kwon Do classes, and now they have better self control and listening skills at school,” said Instructor Michael Humphrey, a second degree black belt. “With sparring, they see how all the fundamental blocks and kicks can be applied. Plus, they’re learning how to work with partners and the importance of focus and good sportsmanship.”

Our participants all practice martial arts at their individual elementary and middle schools, and after school programs as part of our a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which brings the many physical, mental, and social benefits of martial arts to children and families in Milwaukee who would otherwise be unable to participate. Students are invited to take part in the tournament at no cost to their families.

“We’re focusing now on full year programs in order to give the children more consistency and have a more lasting impact,” explained Mr. Jeff Gendelman, co-founder and CYMAP board president. “Continuous training also opens up competitive opportunities. Not only does CYMAP help build confidence and provide positive role models, but another one of our goals is to offer employment avenues for our students to become staff members and black belt instructors.”

CYMAP classes emphasize respect, focus, goal setting, fitness, and practical self defense. Over 1000 Milwaukee city youth have benefited through short and long term programs.

The Great Midwest Championship Tournament will be held at Brookfield East High School, 3305 Lilly Rd., Brookfield, WI 53005 on Saturday, April 29, 2017. Spectator tickets available at the door. Black belt competition is in the morning beginning at 8:30 AM. CYMAP competitors will participate in the demonstration at noon, followed by color belt forms, breaking, and sparring events between 12:30 PM and 3:30 PM.

An Everyday Spring Break

We’ve been excited and a little distracted by our upcoming spring break. It’s hard to get settled and focus. Vacations from our routine serve an important purpose. They allow us to renew and rejuvenate. They help to improve our performance and clarity. They help us to prioritize and stay on task.

In class, we’ve been looking at how that spring break is like our beginning meditation. It’s a short break for your brain. There are many ways to meditate. We begin our classes simply thinking about our breath. It’s not always easy but over time, like anything we practice, gets better.

The great thing about meditation is that you can do it anytime, anywhere. Here are some of the other ideas we talked about to help get us back on track when our minds start to wander:

  • Use the phrase: Focus my eyes, focus my mind, focus my body.
  • Take a walk, do 10 push ups or 20 twenty jumping jacks, go for a 10 minute bike ride
  • Take a shower or bath
  • Get a drink of water or a healthy snack
  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep

Why We Test

dsc_0079-1Students at many of our program sites recently underwent a belt promotion exam often referred to as TESTING. Testing is an important part of the martial arts process. The various types of martial arts all approach testing differently but in most cases rank is earned.

In our program, testing is an opportunity to demonstrate what we’ve learned. We must show a certain level of proficiency before moving on to new curriculum. It motivates us to practice and do better at school and home. Family members, friends and teachers are encouraged to provide feedback and be a part of the process. Students don’t test until ready and failure to maintain behavioral standards in class, at school or home can result in a reduction of rank.

Testing is a challenge and a reminder that we aren’t perfect. Boards don’t always break on our first try. Our examiners are always looking at our attitude, when we succeed and when we fail. Testing promotes perseverance. It shows us where we need to improve and work harder. It helps us set goals and benchmarks to achievement.


Learning Leadership

15542255_1576087292406377_8622425730006236848_nBeing a leader takes practice, confidence, self control, respect for others, empathy, integrity, perseverance and indomitable spirit.

In all our classes, students are given the opportunity to practice leadership skills. Higher ranks assist with lower ranks.  Older students can help with younger students. They take turns running stretches and different warm up drills. We practice being good partners. We talk about how words of encouragement are as important as holding the target properly.

It is a good reminder that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses but with practice and perseverance, we can all improve.

Giving Thanks!

All November we’re practicing the martial art tenet of COURTESY.

Courtesy includes being respectful to our family members and teachers. It’s doing acts of kindness. It’s remembering our manners. It’s being safe and using self control when practicing our sparring. This month especially, we are talking about THANKFULNESS. During our mat chats we reflected on all the things we’re thankful for including (but definitely not limited to)

  • Our martial arts classes! Including our uniforms and instructors.
  • Going to tournament and breaking boards!
  • Recess and Gym!
  • Food and Home (with specific mention of phones, television and video games)
  • Our friends!
  • Our families!

Getting Ready for Tournament!

All of our students are working hard to prepare for the upcoming J.K. Lee Fall Tournament of Champions. In class, we talk about what judges look for during the competition. The biggest lesson reviewed is that we need to focus on the fundamentals and always PRACTICE! 

We are often asked, “How can I help my child get ready?” Here are a couple of ways you can assist your child get ready for Tournament.

Making Practice Fun: Set aside a consistent time free from distractions. Give your child some choices as to the when and where. Try for a performance using grandparents, neighbors and friends. Set small incremental goals. If the timer is a turn off, focus on something else. For example, do the form twice with super strong punches and then once thinking about blocks; try your kick high and low. Remind them of the payoff and call attention to improvement!

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Form Practice: Family members are always welcome to come at the end of their child’s class and record them doing their form with an instructor. Encourage your child to practice their form every day. For tournament, please do not have them count out loud, instead counting in their head to stay focused. Children 6 and under will have a helper do the form with them at competition. When reviewing, talk about what they did right first!

Board Breaking Practice: Have your child practice their favorite kicks. Stress the loud kiap (power scream) before the kick and on the kick as they break the board. All competitors high green and below, will get 2 boards. All competitors brown to high red will get 3 boards. If you have a question about what breaking kicks would be best, please ask one of the instructors.

Be Your Best: Tournaments are to help us improve and discover ways we can challenge ourselves. We don’t focus on winning but on what we can do to reach our personal best.

We are here to help! Conact us at with any questions.

If you would like more information on attending the Tournament please visit  J.K. Lee City Youth Martial Arts Program students participate in the tournament at no cost thanks to the help and support of our individual, business and community donors. Thank you!

Bully Prevention Awareness Month!


All October we are helping to promote National Bully Prevention Awareness Month! In classes and at special events, our instructors are focusing on confidence building and verbal techniques proven to deescalate conflict. We explore opportunities to be an upstander rather than a bystander. We talk about how kindness is our best defense! Many students are engaging in our KINDNESS CHALLENGE. They log how many acts they can complete in a week. Awards are provided to leading students and the whole class.

Contact us if your school or classroom would benefit from an infusion of kindness!

For more information on bully prevention, check out these great sites:


Back to School with Focus and Confidence!

This September, with the start of some new programs and the continuation of others, we are working on beginning the school year strong!


We practice our focus with games and target drills. We don’t expect perfection but keep working to improve ourselves.  When our attention does wander, we do our best to bring our minds back to the present moment. We repeat out loud (and to ourselves): “Focus our eyes! Focus our minds! Focus our bodies!”

We’ve also been discussing the importance of attitude. We examined ways a bad attitude impacts what we do and how it brings others down. We compared it to how we feel around individuals with a good attitude. We talked about ways to practice being positive even when things are difficult or go wrong.

We repeat often, “Pilsung!” which translates to certain victory or “I can do it!”