Friday, July 30, 2010

Dojo Decision!

As discussed here, the De Lucia family has spent the last month or two trying to select a new dojo to train at once their current contract at LaVallee's USA Black Belt Champions expires in August. It's been a tedious and grueling process, eliminating local martial arts schools on a wide array of criteria. But the results are in, and today we're going to interview the family's patriarch Mike De Lucia about the selection of Five Star Martial Arts for his family's fitness training. [Note: yes, I'm interviewing myself. I thought it would liven things up a little. Or maybe it just amuses me. Whatever.]

Virtual Vellum: So you selected a new dojo. How did you come to your decision?

Mike De Lucia: It wasn't easy! In fact, we knew we were going to be disappointed with whatever we chose - the two schools offer very different experiences and approaches to the martial arts, both of which offer a lot that we like. As you saw in Saturday's article, I was able to break down many (though by no means all) of the key decision factors about the selection process. My next step was to weight those factors - to give higher priority to the "must-have" items. What my family and I found when we began that process was that it quickly made the decision for us.

VV: How so?

MD: Well, the first "must-have" we identified was scheduling. When we started talking about it, we immediately realized that there was nothing more to discuss. Whatever other benefits a dojo may offer quickly become meaningless if you're not able to get there regularly to train. This hasn't been a problem for us over the summer months, but it definitely would be in September. The kids' school has moved its start time over half an hour earlier, which will cut into their sleep. And my kids really, really need their sleep. We can see a very clear degradation in their mental focus, their demeanor, their positive attitude and their ability to concentrate when they're sleep-deprived. Their bed-time is 8:00 PM, and keeping them out past that time on a regular basis is doing them a disservice no matter how terrific the training might be. Combine that with my Monday-night commitment and Five Star was the clear choice. They're planning to have a class at around 6:00 PM every night of the week that will have our kids home and ready for bed on time.

VV: So you're sure that Five Star is a serious dojo that can offer quality training?

MD: I believe it is, yes. I spent hours interviewing Sensei Napoli at FiveStar about his background, his philosophy and his program, and their plan looks solid. They don't want to just process students through a business plan that churns out a black belt in a certain number of classes (or weeks or months or whatever). They expressed a sincere dedication to teaching the best martial arts program they can and I thought it came across as very genuine. They also seem to be enthusiastic learners themselves, and they'll be adding to their skills even as they train their own students.

VV: You obviously spent a lot of time actually training at Syracuse Jundokan, so it would seem like you know what to expect there. How sure are you about what you're getting into at Five Star? They're pretty new at this, right?

MD: Certainly this is a big adventure and it will clearly be a learning experience for the proprietors of Five Star Martial Arts. It's true, we've only spent about an hour training with our new Senseis so far, but isn't that typical? How often does somebody join a dojo where they really know exactly what to expect there week after week, belt level after belt level. I'm comfortable with the questions I asked and familiar enough with the general sort of training we'll be getting to be satisfied that we'll get a good workout. I expect that we'll improve our overall fitness, our flexibility, our endurance, our balance and our focus at Five Star.

VV: So what are you most excited about, now that your choice has been made?

MD: We're just looking forward to starting with this new program. We get to start on day one at this dojo, which means we'll get to watch it grow and change as we learn there. I'm looking forward to training as a "full member," which we never were at LaVallee's. I'm excited about long-term growth and improvement with these instructors as my family builds strength, endurance, flexibility and overall good health. I'm glad that we'll be joining our family to the Five Star family and striving together to make ourselves better. Sensei Paul Napoli and Sensei Curtis Pastore seem like great guys and my whole family is anxious to begin training with them.

VV: What about all the great things you liked about training with Sensei Oddy? Is that behind you?

MD: I hope not! Right now, with the kids so young and the whole family trying to train together, the timing just doesn't work. But a few years down the road, when we've mastered the basics at Five Star and the kids are a bit older, I'm hopeful that we'll be in a better position to add Sensei Oddy's knowledge back into our training.

VV: Well, congratulations on your decision and best of luck with all of your martial arts training!

MD: Thanks!

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