Fresh crop of new students showing up tonight. I’m curious as to how the typical New Year Resolution crowd will show up for us this year. Martial arts in general don’t get the same influx that gyms and the bookstore weight loss sections get. People don’t think of martial arts as a solution the way they do of a treadmill. What we do get is people who use the start of a new cycle as an excuse to do something they’ve wanted to do fora  while, but have put off for reasons. It takes effort to do something new, and it’s okay to use the impetus of the season for a kickstart.

New students starting tonight are going to have a different experience than everyone did a year ago, when we were still a fledgling school. Beginners got tossed in at the deep end, with just a few words of encouragement and an admonition to take it easy the first few classes. Squeak not only identified that problem, but put together and took charge of a solution to it with her four week beginner program. It’s an excellent program. The results have been terrific so far, with very capable students graduating out.

One of the things I learned while earning my Precision Nutrition Level One certification was to focus on results. The best nutrition plan in the world doesn’t mean a thing if you see no result, either with an increase or decrease in client mass, or performance. If there is no result, or a poor result, you change things. If I tell a client to eat paleo to become a better sprinter, and they don’t get faster? They won’t be eating paleo anymore. We will make changes until we find out what works for them. If they wind up vegan and it works? Awesome. That’s the right diet for that result for that person.

When we started Valkyrie, we had no idea what the results were going to be. We’d all trained together before, and all the students coming in at the start had one thing in common: They wanted more. More of what they either learned from me before, or more of what they had experienced in previous schools where I was teaching. But we really had no idea where that was going. I had some vague ideas, and some goals that I had in mind. My goals were pretty long-term, though. And honestly, without the feedback of results from students, my end goal in training martial artists was just a pipe-dream.

It’s been a year now. Over a year since we started training in earnest…moving from one class a week to two, and now to three. Now we have results. Now I know what a year of training in our school does to someone.

It makes them brawny. Everyone has beefed up. No matter what build they started with, everyone has more muscle mass that they started with. The anecdotal reports seems to be an increase of about ten pounds of lean mass. It’s not puffy-looking weight-lifter style muscle either. Everyone seems to have a touch of burly farm-worker about them. It’s like they grew larger toughness instead of larger muscles. It’s a good thing everyone smiles all the time in class…

I can’t speak to fighting performance, as we haven’t really made it to any tournaments yet. Part of it is a focus on our own training which leaves us pretty beat on weekends, and the other part is that none of us have money to travel for competition. It’s hard to evaluate absolute performance when we just fight each other. My impression is that the fight level has seen a significant increase. People are much tighter and faster in action, and willing to be creative in tactics…and often successful with that creativeness. Our biggest gains have been in unarmed work, though. It started slow, but the full-contact work we started up at the end of the year is showing that we have some very impressive talent in our school.

My favourite result has been in the more esoteric increase in overall athleticism. Everyone just moves better. More animalistic, in some ways. I hit people up with some really demanding physical challenges from time to time…asking them to do things most people would regard as impossible, and every single time they throw themselves into the challenge. They’ve grown a physical confidence that I suspect would have been foreign to most of them a year ago.

And tonight we’ll see a new crop of students arrive, and everyone of them can expect the same results in a year. I am very much looking forward to watching that happen.

If you want to be a part of that, come on down to tonight’s beginner class.