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.


Building a Community within the Dojo

Recently I read a friend’s Facebook post in which he commented on a past student dropping into the dojo to say hi, although this student had not been at the dojo in a couple of years.  Obviously this student still felt a friendship and some attachment to the dojo.  For the past 20 years I have operated my dojo in the Fraser Valley area of British Columbia either in a full time or part time capacity.  During that time I have made friendships that are still strong although I may not see those friends on a regular basis.  These friendships have been forged with students and fellow instructors alike, when they walk through the door there is always a big smile, handshake or hug about to happen.

Lately I have been thinking about my own dojo and the community that is forming within it.  For example last week we were fortunate enough to be invited to an after hours slide at a local waterpark.  One of my students manages the park and opened it up for the dojo students.  Almost all the adult students showed up for class and came for a slide afterwards, it was a great time and everyone enjoyed themselves.  

I believe that people join the dojo for a variety of reasons but one of the reasons they keep coming back is the friendships and relationships that are created within the confines of the dojo.  This year I am going to work hard at continuing to expand and build the dojo community.  This is just another positive aspect of operating a dojo, helping people connect in a friendly, healthy and respectful environment.


How is the community in your dojo?




Hiscoe Jiu-Jitsu Camp in Sicamous

I am back from the Hiscoe Jiu-Jitsu  training camp in Sicamous BC.  The trip was definitely enjoyed by all and the training was awesome.  Sensei Phil Wiebe was runs the Hiscoe Jiu-Jitsu dojo in Sicamous deserves a big thank you for all his efforts.  Friday night was used as a time for all the participants to get together and have a good time before the Saturday training.  Saturday started with a pancake breakfast being hosted by the classic car show taking place at the local arena.  This was also the site of the training.  Sensei Phil began the training session demonstrating basic concepts of movement and evasion from a attack to the head.  This was followed up on how these concepts apply to real life situations.  The second instructor was Sensei Julian, he is currently training with Sensei Aird Flavelle at the Abbotsford dojo.  Sensei Julian demonstrated several basic takedowns and club defenses from his style of jiu-jitsu.  

Next was Shihan Michael Seamark from the Sadohana Dojo in Vancouver.  Shihan Seamark built upon the techniques demonstrated by Sensei Phil with more advanced techniques.  Shihan Seamark is an expert in wrist manipulation and the students were able to gain his knowledge first hand.  Wrist manipulations from various attacks were shown.  Although the purpose of the training was to gather Can-Ryu Jiu-Jitsu, Shihan Seamark’s techniques are very applicable to our syllabus and can be introduced in many ways. 

I ended the day with a session on knife defense .  I explained to the students that even our knife defense techniques are applicable to the basic principles of Can-Ryu.  Simplicity, Gross Motor Skills, Commonality of Technique and Multiple Opponents.  I also tried to show the students and instructors present how to bridge training and real life situations.

At the end of the day all the students gathered at Sensei Phil’s house for a BBQ.  Sensei Phil took charge of the grilling while many of his students brought salads and desserts.  Those of us who traveled in for the seminars were able to set up tents in Sensei’s backyard.  The whole atmosphere was absolutely awesome and everyone had a great time.

Thanks to Sensei Lori O’Connell from Westcoast Jiu-Jitsu who traveled from Vancouver with her students.  

Thanks to Sensei Aird Flavelle who traveled from Abbotsford with his students.

Thanks to Shihan Seamark for his awesome instruction, you always have a repeat invitation to attend.

Thanks to Sensei Phil Wiebe from the Sicamous dojo for putting on a great event and to his students for the hospitality.  We are looking at putting this event together again next year and I am sure it will be another success.