What positive effects have martial arts had on your life?

What positive effects have martial arts had on your life?

Confidence. The most positive effect martial arts have had on my life is confidence. The confidence I have in myself has helped me to achieve and be successful in many aspects of my life. I started martial arts training at a young age and have had the opportunity to do many things in my life.

I was a black belt at 14 years old, joined the Canadian Forces Reserve at 17, student council president in my graduation year, joined the RCMP at 20 years old and move across the country at 21. Started my own jiu-jitsu school at 24 years old and a provincial jiu-jitsu association in my late 20’s. I was also the first person in BC to host a multi discipline training camp and sport jiu-jitsu tournament. I have traveled across BC demonstrating and teaching jiu-jitsu and have traveled to the US, England and Japan.

In my policing career I have been a general duty officer, traffic officer, drug investigator, property crimes investigator, training officer, media liaison officer, and volunteer coordinator. When transferred to the provincial training academy I assisted in developing and implementing the first mandatory recertification course in the country. I was also a member of the national core-working group that redesigned use of force training and articulation for all RCMP members in Canada. Most recently I was given the task of rolling out carbine training for front line officers in BC. I have been in acting Sgt and S/Sgt position in charge of up to 30 people. I have had a great 26-year career.

Kids who grow up with self-confidence are not bullied, have an easier time making friend and are not afraid to try new things. Confidence, this is positive effect martial arts training has had on my life.

What positive effects have martial arts had on your life?


Give and take credit where credit is due

During my career in the martial arts, which has spanned about 37 years, I have had the privilege of training and learning from some very great instructors.  Unfortunately one of the pitfalls of the martial arts are the politics involved in them at a certain point in your progression.

When I was about 21, I left home for a career in policing, this meant I moved clear across the country.  A few years after I left home my father and I ended up leaving the school we had belonged to for over 20 years.  The reasons we left are not important for this article, and frankly it is all behind us now.  The theme of this article is about credit given and taken.  I would like to believe that in my last 21 years I have accomplished many things in the martial arts, founding an organization, creating my own dojo which has been successfully operating for over 20 years, creating a network of dojos under my umbrella that work well together and improving my own skills and knowledge.

All of these things would not have been possible without the influence of my teachers in my formative years.  Although we may not be aligned anymore I do give them total credit for many of the things I have learned, be professional, work hard, promote professional events, make people feel welcome… I have no problem giving credit where credit is due.

What I wonder is do these people take credit for I have accomplished?  I would have no problem if my early mentors were to say, hey, that Steve Hiscoe guy on the westcoast, he used to train here, he was my student, I taught him xyz…

I have had students leave my school and want to pursue their own paths also.  Some of theses students have gone on to great careers and have used the skills I have taught them.  I have no problem endorsing them and even saying, they were my students at one time.

Give credit where credit is due

What is the best age to start martial arts training?

Personally, I believe that once you have made the decision and have actually walked into a martial art school, then that is the best age to start. People begin training for a variety of reasons, improve fitness, rebuild confidence, enhance self-esteem, learn to protect yourself, make friends and a host of other reasons. I have students who have started lessons in their late 30’s and 40’s and are still training after several years.

If we are talking about children then I believe that kids should be introduced to martial arts training somewhere around 4 or 5 years old. That being said children this age should be introduced into an age-specific program that allows them to have fun and learn while developing the specific skills they need. If they are put into a program that doesn’t benefit their abilities they will not succeed and therefore will not enjoy the experience.

I have been involved in martial arts since I was 6 years old, that’s about 40 years. I have personally benefited from growing up in the dojo and can see first hand the benefits.

1. Self-confidence and self-esteem. I cannot say that I was ever bullied as a kid or teen. The confidence and esteem I gained in the dojo was with me everyday. In high school I had the confidence to join the student council in grade 9 and successfully run for school president in grade 12. I joined the Canadian Forces Reserves when I was 17. This meant leaving home during the summers to participate in military exercises.

2. Fitness. I was always in good physical condition growing up. When the time came for my RCMP applicant fitness test, I was able to pass without any concerns and attended the academy prepare for the physical rigors of training.

3. Friendships. Growing up in the dojo with a bunch of other kids, I was able to make a lot of friends who shared the same passions as I did. I also many friends at school and work. I think that the confidence I had acquired, allowed me approach people and make friends.

4. Routine and responsibility. I was talking to some of my students recently who expressed how happy they were that they did not have to come to the dojo on Saturday mornings anymore. Their kids are no longer in Saturday classes. When I think back about 40 years I have been training and teaching, probably close to 25 of those years, I have been at the dojo on Saturday mornings. From the time I was 6, till I left home at 20 years old, my classes were Friday night and Saturday morning. When I received my black belt and start to assist in other classes, I was at the dojo anywhere from 4-5 nights a week. My parents always knew where I was.

5. Family bonding. I was fortunate to share my martial arts training with my family, meaning both my father and brother were involved. My father and I were promoted to black belt on the same day and later to masters on the same day. My brother was also a black belt. Martial arts were something that brought us together and still to this day holds that bond. This is now the bond that my son Matthew and I are developing. I am also happy to see many families training in my school.

6. Life experiences. I was lucky to grow up in a school that fostered friendships around the world. I have traveled to many places because of martial arts training, England, Switzerland, Japan, USA and many areas of Canada. I have friends in many of these places and many opportunities to return.

What is the best age to start martial arts training?

Any age is good but if you want to give your child the best opportunity to succeed then the earlier the better.

Parents must commit to their kids learning and training. If you think it is important for them, then make sure they make their classes.

Common questions asked about Hiscoe Jiu-Jitsu

Q1. How long have you been in business?

 A1. Hiscoe Jiu-Jitsu was established in 1992 when I began teaching in Abbotsford, BC. Due to my full time career in law enforcement the school was a part time venture for close to 17 years. In September of 2012 I opened the doors to our full time facility in Chilliwack, BC. After 2 years in operation we expanded by taking over the space next to us. I have been teaching under the Hiscoe Jiu-Jitsu banner for 22 years now.

 Q2. Are we a brazilian jiu-jitsu school?

 A2. No, we are a modern jiu-jitsu school with a Japanese influence. The style of jiu-jitsu taught at Hiscoe Jiu-Jitsu is called Can-Ryu Jiu-Jitsu. Essentially this is translated as “The Canadian System of Self-Defense”. Georges Sylvain, a 10th degree black belt in jiu-jitsu, developed our jiu-jitsu system; he also held black belt ranks in judo and karate. Mr. Sylvain had been a military police officer and subsequently a municipal police officer that became a tactical training officer upon leaving law enforcement. Mr. Sylvain is extremely well known in Canadian jiu-jitsu circles.

 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be described as mostly emphasizing ground grappling with some standing up self-defense. Can-Ryu Jiu-Jitsu could be described as emphasizing stand up self-defense with some ground grappling.

 Q3. Do we train for competitions?

 A3 . We do not train for competition but rather for self-protection. My main focus is to teach people to be safe. In the real world there are no referees to step in and stop the fight. Your opponent is unknown and you haven’t trained months for the fight. In short we train for reality.


Canadian Jiu-Jitsu Union Summer Camp helps the community of Sicamous BC

During the weekend of August 10-12 2012 the Canadian Jiu-Jitsu Union held its annual summer camp in the community of Sicamous, BC.  For the 5th straight year students from both Alberta and British Columbia descended upon the community for a weekend of high level training and socializing.  

This year 50 students from a variety of dojos and organizations spent 10 hours of training with very experienced instructors such as Michael Seamark Kaiden Shihan, Andy Dobie Sensei, Steven Hiscoe Shihan, Lori O’Connell Sensei, Ari Knazan Sensei, Phillip Wiebe and Guro Joel Huncar.

As always these instructors provided the students with amazing techniques, theories and enthusiasm. Each instructor brought a different style to the weekend.  Since there was some additional time left I also asked Sean Grimes Sensei and Dan Miller.

Although there was a lot of great training the most impressive portion of the weekend was the donation presented to the Eagle Valley Community Support Society.  This year the community of Sicamous was hit hard by floods.  Many people and businesses were directly affected by the disaster.  The CJU students wanted to do something to help a community which for the past 4 years has welcomed us to the community.  The group was able to raise $1500.00 for the society.

The representative from the EVCSS was blown away by the amount of the donation.  Thank you to everyone who supported this fundraising effort.


I want to own my own martial art school

So, you’re a black belt and want to open your own school. When I was about 18-19 years old I always thought that having my own dojo would be pretty cool. I had already been involved in martial arts for about 10 years and I loved it, there was no doubt that martial arts would always be part of my life. I was content at the school I belonged to so for me it wasn’t about how I could do it better than they were, I knew that I would be moving to a new city and that the opportunity could arise to do my own thing.

A couple of years past and sure enough I did move away and found myself clear across the country and with no jiu-jitsu school in the area. Without getting into a long history lesson, at the age of about 24 I did open a school. Now I had lots of experience teaching classes but I had little experience running a business. Well actually I had NO experience running a business. The school was never financially viable and eventually it was closed. I did however keep teaching in a part time basis for the next 15 years. Last year I re-opened my school somewhat full time and plan on taking it to the next level this year. So why am I writing this?

I have been doing a lot of reading about owning a small business and have discovered that most people who open their own business are really “technicians” who were tired of working for someone else or people who have a skill at doing something and want to give it a go. Just like me and jiu-jitsu. The problem is that all small business should be made up of 3 people, the entrepreneur, the manager and the technician. It is very difficult to be all 3, especially when you have another full time job.

So I am going to take this year to educate myself on small business and how I should be looking at the future of my school. After 20 years I wish I would have starting learning a long time ago.

What prompted you to start your own dojo?

What is your role as a self-defense instructor?

In the twenty years that I have been teaching self-defense I have literally come into contact with thousands of students. From children, teenagers, young adults, middle aged adults and older adults, men and women. I have had students who have been blessed with natural athletic abilities and some who have had to work really hard to move forward.

When I first started my dojo back in 1992 I was only 24 years old and was used to the crash and bang style I had grown up doing. After operating for a few years I quickly realized that the blow throw blow attitude I had about training was not going to be conducive for all students. I still remember one female student who was in her late 40s, had 2 bad knees and other aches and pain on a daily basis. She was already a black belt in karate and had devoted the past 4 years to her learning. Remember when I said some people had to work hard to learn, she worked hard. There were a couple of areas in which she excelled and hardly matched, that was her enthusiasm, dedication and heart. When I promoted her to black belt a few of the other newly promoted black belts questioned her exam. You see she had not perform to the exact same standard as they had. It should be noted that those commenting were in their mid 20s, with natural ability and limited martial arts experience.

I explained to them that indeed they had performed an above average test but that each person must also be judged on their own performance. Did she match their test, no, but did she perform to her highest abilities, indeed she did.

I currently have a potential student who has come to class and expressed that he really enjoyed what he learned and say. I received an email from him advising he wants to come back but that he doesn’t want to drag the class down. He is a little older then most students but appears to have the desire to learn.

If you want to learn, I want to teach.

You see my role as a self-defense (jiu-jitsu) instructor is to teach people to protect themselves, this means whoever walks into my dojo and expresses the right reasons for wanting to take lessons. It is not to judge them as they walk into the school and predict that this person will never be a star black belt. My job is to teach them in order for them be the best they can be. Their job is to give me all they have, enthusiasm, attention, sweat, blood, tears….what ever it takes to learn. If we tell them not to bother because they will not achieve black belt then I think we are doing a dis-service.

That being said I do have to take into account the individual’s safety in relation to the type of training we do. If the potential student is physically not able to participate and I need to modify my lessons beyond the norm then I would have to discuss with the individual other options.

If they give me what I ask for then a black belt in not out of reach, it just might take a little longer. Will it be pretty maybe not but it doesn’t need to be pretty, it needs to be effective.

How do you see your role as a self-defense instructor?