The Law of Presence – You Only Really Have this Moment

Presence - Standing on Kilimanjaro

Martial Arts students often try very hard to push themselves and learn all the techniques required of them.  When it comes time to get ready for testing, many have difficulty, because it requires a new mindset.  They no longer have the luxury of analyzing their mistakes, as they are making them.  They want to “run the projector back” and rehash what went wrong.  Has this ever happened to you?  Have you ever listened to a speaker in person or on the radio, and been tantalized by the speaker’s idea, only to miss the next two ideas because you were thinking about the previous one?  While this kind of mental analysis is beneficial, and aids in the learning process, there are times where you must learn to “stay in the moment”.  If this idea is explored further, you start to realize that you really only have this moment to live.

Margaret Bonnano once said “It’s only possible to live happily ever after on a moment-to-moment basis”.  Although you can project your mind in to a previous time in the past or the future, you can only live in the present, in this moment.  We “indulge” ourselves by projecting our mind into the past or future, because we are fascinated with the possibilities. Nevertheless, we can only take action right now, in this moment.

So, when confronted by an assailant, you have only now to make decisions and take action.  You cannot afford the luxury of analyzing the event as it happens.  Although horrifying, this kind of event still fascinates us.  Allowing ourselves to analyze the event can cost us our health or our life, however.

So, when testing, the students must stay in the moment, act and react.  There will be time for analysis later.  This proves to be a very difficult lesson in life, and requires patience and persistence to master.

So, avoid the “paralysis of analysis”; stay in the moment.  It is really the only place you can ever be.

What Is Your Responsibility in Your Martial Arts Training? #LNK

Reprinted from George Ledyard’s All Things Aikido Jan10, 2011

Ok, so I am attending a seminar with a teacher who decides to do a sword class. I am excited because this teacher’s sword work is extraordinary and I love sword. The teacher started out with a basic flow exercise, which as it happens, is in the first chapter of his sword video which has been around since VHS days. He demonstrated then set folks to work. Folks were pretty much mangling the exercise so he stopped them and showed it again, this time a bit slower. The same thing happened. In fact it happened four times. By the end Sensei was furious. And, I have to say, I was furious.

Of course there were a few people in the room who were not folks from our organization. These folks did little or no sword at their home dojos so one could understand why they had issues. But the majority of these folks were regulars that I see every year at these events. Sensei pointed out that, in his uchi deshi days, O-Sensei would only show them something (no explanation at all) once or at most twice and they were expected to get it. He had just showed it four times, with explanation and folks were still pretty much exploring just about every way possible not to do what he had just shown.

My own partner was a person I had seen every year at this event. He never looked any different from year to year. Even with the added explanation I gave him as I walked him through it, he still never got it. All I could think was what a huge waste of everyone’s time it was. The exercise in question was a basic drill. Sensei clearly intended for it to be the warm-up so he could build on it. Instead he spent half the class on it. He couldn’t get to the good stuff because many (not all) folks couldn’t do the most basic exercise.

I found myself asking what has happened to Aikido? It seems to have become the dumping ground for all the folks who, if they weren’t doing Aikido, wouldn’t be doing martial arts at all. They treat their training as if it is an afterthought done when everything else in their lives allows. It makes me crazy… Does anyone actually think that O-Sensei created this art as a hobby for middle class Americans to do in their spare time?

If this had been an isolated event, a bad day for whatever reason, then that would be one thing. But this happens all the time. Especially when we are talking about weapons work, which happens to be central to this teacher’s Aikido. Sensei yells at everyone, they all look chagrined, then they go home and show up next time no better than they were the last time. What is the point? Year after year of not getting it, year after year of baby beginner exercises with no ability to move beyond in to something with some real content… What is the point?

I mentioned this to another friend and we agreed that, if we had been in a position of screwing up that badly with Sensei, one thing would absolutely happen. The next he time he saw us, we would be total and complete masters of that damned exercise. Sensei would never again have to say a word about our inability to do that particular set of movements.

Yet, what I see is not that kind of seriousness. If I had thought Sensei had meant me when he was criticizing the inability of the group to get what he was doing, I would have felt like going out in the parking lot and slitting my belly from embarrassment. Sensei was treating these folks like children because they were acting like children.

Why do people do this art who don’t care enough about the art, their teacher, their fellow students, or their own training to fix things when they are broken? There are several teachers in our group who are perfectly capable of teaching these things and do so when asked. Way have I never seen any of these folks at my dojo asking for help on things like this? Why haven’t any of us been asked to come to their dojos to do a workshop specifically on these elements which our teacher thinks are important enough to try to teach but the students are so weak in their fundamentals that Sensei can’t even get them to do a simple beginner level exercise?

A few years ago I tried to help folks address their weak weapons work. I set up an event in which I invited two other 6th Dan level teachers from our organization to co teach a weapons seminar along with me. This was the A-Team of weapons teachers in our group and I was hoping to make it a yearly event with Sensei coming every fourth or` fifth year himself. Well, the event tanked. These very same folks who get yelled at by Sensei each year for their incompetence couldn’t be bothered to come train with a bunch of American teachers, who could actually explain what Sensei is doing, and perhaps take folks up a level or two. No, folks continue to feel that it is more important to show up to train with Sensei with sub standard skills and waste his time and everyone else’s than to actually go out of their way to train with a bunch of Americans who might have actually helped them to be better.

I find this attitude incomprehensible. If someone isn’t trying to be good at this art, why do it. Quit and find something else one can be serious about. This is Budo. It is a serious pursuit. Many people take it very seriously. I think most of us are quite patient with beginners as they slowly figure stuff out… they are not the issue. I am talking about folks who have done Aikido for years and years, even decades, and still haven’t bothered to put froth the effort to master the basics so that they can move on. Perhaps they tell themselves that it’s their own practice and it’s their business how much effort they put into it. But it’s a group endeavor, not a solo practice. If it were iaido and you sucked, no one else would care. You could suck for decades and it wouldn’t really effect anyone else’s practice. But everything we do is paired. So when you get paired with someone who wants to train and you can’t even hold your sword properly, you are wasting your partner’s time. When the teacher has to address the group on issues that are simple beginner issues, it means that the teacher cannot take the class forward and do the things he or she might be capable of teaching.

Time after time I have seen Sensei start to do something really interesting and then have to change what he was intending and dumb it down for folks who never get any better, year after year. I pay the same amount to attend these events. I take the same time out of my life as these folks. Yet I can’t get what I need from the training because these folks won’t do the work.

Perhaps Sensei shouldn’t even be teaching folks like this. In music someone at his level would never be teaching anyone but advanced student via “master classes”. Less advanced student actually pay to watch these master classes. But Sensei has not chosen to do that. He still is trying to connect with the larger student population. I think that is admirable but I do not see that this same population understands that it is a privilege to train directly with someone like Sensei and that whenever you choose to get on the mat with him, you have a responsibility to work hard, take what he shows away with you, and come back better next time. That is the absolute minimum expectation. If you encounter something at a seminar that baffled you, you should make yourself crazy trying to get it. It should be gnawing at you constantly that you didn’t get it.

This whole “we have all the time in the world” attitude makes me crazy. It’s ok that I didn’t get it this time just leads to a whole series of I didn’t get it this times. Eventually, you have simply gotten into the habit of not getting it. You decide that you didn’t get it, not because you have been too lazy to tear it apart and chew on it until you have figured it out, but that Sensei is “special”, someone far beyond us mere mortals and it’s ok that we don’t get what he is doing.

This art of Aikido is amazing. It has the potential to take someone out into the unknown, to be trans-formative, to really change ones perspective on everything. perhaps change the world. But with folks treating it like a casual hobby placing it pretty much in a tertiary place of importance in their lives, or beyond, that not only won’t happen, these folks end up impeding the efforts of the folks who do want to do the work. If folks don’t want to train, they should get out of the way of those that do. I am not talking about the fact that people will make differing levels of commitment to their training. Some are striving for real mastery and other simply wish to attain a solid competency. I am talking about that group of folks who stay incompetent year after year because they will not work at it. Sure their are varying degrees of natural ability. Some folks pick some things up quicker than others. But, if you are one of the folks for whom things are difficult, you have to work harder. You don’t just accept that you aren’t any good and won’t be. You strive harder. That’s Budo.

This art requires serious people training seriously. The rest is a waste of time in my opinion.

Posted by George S Ledyard

In Self Defense, in Life, If You Get Knocked Down 6 Times, Get Up 7 #LNK

One of the sayings that I vividly remember my instructor talking about was the saying ” Get knocked down 6 times, get up 7 . . . “.  When he first said it, I thought “Yeah!  Stay tough!  Don’t give up!”, but as I look back on it, it really had so much more meaning than I was initially aware.  Many “simple” messages are like that, aren’t they?

In Aikido, one of the reasons that conditioning is required, is because we repeatedly get thrown to the ground, and must get back up and do the technique again.  On a good night, we may get thrown down 80-100 times. Doesn’t sound so bad? Come and try it, I think you will agree you will get a good workout.

Some Martial Arts students view getting knocked to the ground as a “failure”.  Aikido students view it as just another night of training.  What is the difference then?  It is the meaning assigned to the experience itself (falling).

The famous psychologist Victor Frankl  wrote a wonderful book called Man’s Search for Meaning.  In it, he described that any particular experience that one person had, was less important than the meaning that the person assigned to that experience.

For example, A woman may get raped and view it as a devistating experience, or, through being an advocate for other victims, view it as an empowering experience.  The same experience can ruin your life or empower your life.

So, when you get “knocked down” in Aikido, or life, how are you going to view it? As a failure, or a empowering experience?  We must get knocked down in order to learn how to pick ourselves up.  But the bottom line is; there are no devistating experiences, only learning experiences.  So, no matter how many times you get knocked down, get up again, and use it as a empowering experience.

Martial Arts Self Defense Open House October 9th,10th at Aikido of Nebraska #LNK

Aikido of Nebraska will be hosting an Open House on Oct. 9th, 10th, Sat-Sun afternoon. The Open House will go from 1:00pm – 4 :00pm each day, and is open to all the public.  Attendees will be able to see a traditional Martial Arts Dojo, and view the students in regular practice.   Refreshments will be provided. Please come see us! We would love to see you.

Aikido of Nebraska had an Open House in March that was wonderfully attended, and fun for all who came.  The Open House is designed to help those  people see that training in the Martial Arts is an enjoyable and beneficial endeavor.  The student at Aikido of Nebraska is allowed to progress at their own pace and safety is at the forefront.  The Open House also allows people to see the rich culture of the Martial arts in an educational venue.  Attendees are encouraged to ask questions and find out everything they always wanted to know about the Martial Arts, and Aikido.

So come join us at the Aikido of Nebraska Open House, for a few hours of fun and education.  Details below;

Aikido of Nebraska, 4209 S. 33rd St.  Lincoln, NE.  68506


Saturday, October 9th 1:00pm- 4:00pm

Sunday, October 10th 1:00pm- 4:00pm

Bujutsu – Having Fun in the Martial Arts while Training with Deadly Seriousness #LNK

While demonstrating a technique the other night, a new student said to me ” I am nervous about doing that technique, Sensei.  I am afraid I might hurt my partner”.  I replied  ” You should worry about all your techniques causing injury.  You are studying combat arts.”  While I am happy that the students are concerned with the safety of their partners, and I try to instill concern for their true attackers, sometimes the student must sit back and realize that what we do is not a game.  This is a school of combat.  This is serious.

Although many educated people might catagorize differently, Martial Arts schools could be categorized into 2 broad classifications; schools who teach Bujutsu (Martial Tactics), and those who teach Budo (Martial Way).  Schools of Bujutsu emphasize one thing; victory on the battlefield.  They learn tactics and techniques for the goal of disposing of enemy personnel .  Budo, on the other hand, teaches combat techniques for the goal of self-development, of becoming something “more”.  Most modern Martial Arts schools have chosen the Budo-type of school, as it applies to most people better.  Both schools can offer excellent training and significant mental and physical benefits to their students.  Some schools of Budo start to focus only on the self-development aspect, and consequently lose something in their training.

Here is the secret that those schools of Budo miss.  In order to become a better person mentallly-physically-spiritually, you must train with deadly seriousness – you must train as if you are on the battlefield – you must train with Bujutsu – you must train for “life or death”.  Only then will you push yourself beyond your own boundries.  Only then will you push your physical and emotional limits.  Only then can you become something “more”.  If you make it “life or death”, you will bring your training to a whole new level.

Now, training with deadly seriousness doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun and enjoy yourself.  It is OK to laugh with your partner at your mistakes, and enjoy the fellowship of the dojo.  But you also must be able to switch back into “training mode” quickly and train seriously.

So, go to your next class at the Dojo, and have fun.  And train with deadly seriousness.

Aikido of Nebraska Dojo Update 5/10/2010 #LNK

The Gambatte Dojo at Aikido of Nebraska has been going through many changes over the last few months.  The student population is continuing to grow both in numbers, and in their on-going self-development.  Many new students have passed their preliminary tests and are progressing through the ranks.

Aikido of Nebraska recently had an Open-House, and had 41 participants over the 2-day event.

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Several of these participants went on to become students, but all enjoyed good sushi, good training, and an eventful afternoon.

We invite all those interested to partake of our next Open-House in the Fall of 2010.  Can’t wait that long? OK then , please come into Aikido of Nebraska at your earliest convenience, and see what it is all about.

Todd Roberts

Aikido of Nebraska to host Martial Arts Open House March 20-21st

Aikido of Nebraska will be hosting an Open House on Mar 20-21st, Sat-Sun afternoon. The Open House will go from 12:00pm-3:00pm each day, and is open to all the public.  Attendees will be able to see a traditional Martial Arts Dojo, and view the students in regular practice.   Refreshments will be provided. 

Many people are intimidated by the thought of participating in a Martial Arts class.  The Open House is designed to help those  people see that training in the Martial Arts is an enjoyable and beneficial endeavor.  The student at Aikido of Nebraska is allowed to progress at their own pace and safety is at the forefront.  The Open House also allows people to see the rich culture of the Martial arts in an educational venue.  Attendees are encouraged to ask questions and find out everything they always wanted to know about the Martial Arts, and Aikido.

So come join us at the Aikido of Nebraska Open House, for a few hours of fun and education.  Details below;

Aikido of Nebraska, 4209 S. 33rd St.  Lincoln, NE.  68506


Saturday, Mar 20 12:00pm-3:00pm

Sunday, Mar 21 12:00pm-3:00pm

In the Martial Arts and Self Defense World, There Is No Luck, Only Preparedness #LNK

When I was watching the Superbowl last week, the announcer interviewed the head coach of one of the NFL teams on how, and why, he was so calm.  He said “No matter how calm I look on the outside, I am calmer on the inside.  When you are prepared, there is nothing to get riled up about . . .”. 

I couldn’t have said it better.

This reminds me of one of my favorite sayings that I say to the students at Aikido of Nebraska.  It goes like this;

There is no such thing as Luck.

Luck is when Preparedness meets Opportunity.

And Opportunity is there all the time.

At Aikido of Nebraska, this is what we strive for; Preparedness.  Preparedness not only in self-defense situations, but preparedness for all of life’s challenges.  In order to be prepared, you must be willing to educate yourself on a variety of subjects, even if they do not apply to your current situation in life.  Second, you must develop the attribute of Adaptability; the ability to change quickly to changes in your environment. In Aikido, one does not always know the way the attacker will attack; he/she must adapt and change on a dime, and must be prepared for several contingencies, regardless of which one is presented.  At Aikido of Nebraska, ongoing education and adaptability are life-skills which are learned through the practice of self-defense.

There may be a time in your life when you are required to speak a little French, change a fan-belt, give first-aid to a child, swim across a river, or help a friend through a tough time.  Are you prepared to do this?  If you are, people will tell you “how lucky you are”, that you are able to do these things.  Then you can smile to yourself, and remember;

There is no Luck, only Preparedness.

The Key to Self Defense? Cry in the Dojo, Laugh in the Real World #LNK

I recently attended an Aikido seminar, where the Shihan (Master Instructor) who was teaching relayed a maxim that he was taught, which goes “Cry in the Dojo, Laugh in the Real World”.  That statement struck me as it applies to Martial Arts training.  I often tell the students at Aikido of Nebraska that if they really care about their training partner, they must try to “kill” them.  Really.  No Aikido student wants to train only to find out that his/her techniques don’t really work because they never got real attacks when they were in the dojo.  Thus, in the dojo, the student must focus on delivering accurate and true attacks to his/her partner, so that they may respond appropriately.  The student is not truly doing technique if they never got attacked “for real”.

In the modern world, with ever-increasing demands placed on us from work, kids, commuting, spouse, etc. it is a true gift to come into the dojo and do nothing but work on yourself.  It is a true maxim that what you put into your training is what you will get out.  The real trick is to make training more and more difficult for yourself.  You need to get more precise with your footwork, connect better with your partner, shift your balance more precisely, control your emotions better, and have your partner deliver increasingly difficult attacks.  In this fashion,  as you are able to handle the increasingly difficult training, an attack on the street will seem easy by comparison.  And guess what? Your real-life stresses will seem easy by comparison as well.

Now, this strategy requires some common-sense as well.  You need to increase your difficulty along with your ability to do the technique.  A beginning student cannot expect to take a real attack from day-one, and expecting too much of your performance will only get you frazzled and burned-out.  However, over time, “Cry in the Dojo, Laugh in the Real World”  is an excellent strategy to become more successful in and outside of the dojo.


Todd Roberts

Balance In Life 101 – Illness is about Balance, Not Viruses #LNK

As the weather gets colder and more harsh, we often start the cold and flu season.  Some of us always seem to catch the virus that is “going around”.  However, we don’t often realize that from a balance perspective, that we cause ourselves to be sick.  As a physician, I often see a “wave” of illness due to viruses that go through the community.  As a Martial Arts Instructor, however, I see a different perspective on illness.  Illness is really a wake-up call, a warning that your life is out of balance.

Human beings must constantly balance everything in their lives.  They must neither eat too little or too much, they must neither sleep too little or too much.  They require stimulation to keep from being bored, but too much will leave them stressed and neurotic.  They must balance work, family, kids, and special events.  They must balance their “mental” life with their physical one.  They must get enough excercise.  You can start to see that life is really a complex juggling act of multiple factors in order to have a healthy mind-body-soul.  Any deviation from that balance will cause disharmony, and invite illness to invade, be it viruses, cancer, or arthritis.

I often hear from a student or a friend that they “caught  a virus” at the holiday party they attended.  They often fail to recall, however, that they ate too much, drank too much, smoked too much, and stayed up all night while at the party.  What do you think might happen if this person eats too much, smokes too much, and gets too little sleep over years, or a lifetime?

How then can I use this information to my advantage? Simple. When you get an illness, use it as a wake-up call this something is wrong in your life; you are out of balance.  Identify that disharmony, and fix it.  It may be something simple (I haven’t slept enough lately), or it may be complex (I worry too much and have anxiety).  You must work on fixing it, or it will only cause you more problems later on.  And once it is fixed, you must work on keeping that balance.  Eat too much? Eat small amounts the next day.  Too sedentary?  Get on the treadmill.  If you can keep that balance, you will be surprised on how infrequently you get sick.  It’s really about balance.

Todd Roberts

Aikido of Nebraska

You Need To Take More Responsibility Over Your Stress, Your Health, Your Personal Safety, Not Less #LNK

In the quest to better ourselves, Aikido students at Aikido of Nebraska  work diligently on the concept of control.  The student very quickly realizes that the more they can control their own actions, footwork, balance, and responses, the better they will be able to control others (i.e. the attacker).  Learning this aspect of precise control is quite difficult, and require years of training to achieve.  The student comes to learn that, if the technique doesn’t work, it is because he/she failed the technique, not the other way around.  In this regard, the student takes responsibility for themselves, and recognizes they must acquire new levels of control in order to perform the technique correctly.  Like most of the lessons in the Martial Arts, this lesson applies to life as well as training. 

In our current society, we often get caught up in trying to get out of taking responsibility.  Oddly enough, it is this failure to take responsibility that leaves many of us feeling depressed and out of control.  The more we avoid responsibility, the more we feel like “life is out to get us”, or “I can’t ever seem to catch a break”.  Taking on that responsibility allows us to remain in control, because it now becomes our choice.  Yes, more responsibility involves more work, but doesn’t feel better when you beat yourself up instead of letting someone else do it?  Either way you will get beaten up, but at least one is your choice, and therefore under a certain amount of your control.

Therefore, make a goal of taking responsibility for every aspect of your personal life.  Therefore, when something goes wrong, it is not the fault of your accountant, financial advisor, doctor, or mother, it is yours, because you are the final authority over your own life.  But you know what?  Ultimately, it feels better to take back that control.  And, like training, the better you can control those aspects of your own life, you will find that life seems to be more fair, and you will have more influence (and control) on the world around you.

Q:Why Do We Do Aikido? Is it All about Self Defense? A: To Polish the Sword #LNK

When a Japanese sword begins its journey to becoming a sword, it starts out as a lump of steel.  The steel is hammered out flat, folded and hammered out again  countless times.  The steel is then hammered out, flattened, and cut into the basic shape, and clay is added to all but the edge of the steel.  The sword is fired again to temper the steel, giving the sword its’ legendary cutting edge.  The sword is then polished  with stone to give it its brilliance.  As you cam imagine, this process takes a long time, and is performed by experts.  When the sword is finished, it is transformed into an instrument that is simultaneously a deadly weapon and a work of art.  There are no short-cuts to this process;  if one step comes out badly, the sword is scrapped, and the process starts over again.  It is possible to obtain imitations, and they may be deadly, or they may be beautiful, but they are rarely if ever both.  To most people, there is no substitute for the real thing.

At Aikido of Nebraska, when I ask the students why we do Aikido, the running answer is “to polish the sword”.  I believe most students would agree that self-defense is not the primary benefit when learning a Budo (Martial Way) such as Aikido.  Learning self-defense techniques against real attacks must remain a priority when training, or else there is a risk of the art becoming “fake” or just a complicated and ugly dance.  But the real benefit  is that training allows us to forge ourselves, face and push through our physical and mental limitations, become more aware of who we truly are, and reinforce the good habits and courtesy amongst our fellow man.

Make no mistake; there are days when your training becomes very frustrating.  Hitting up against your personal limitations is a sobering experience, and no one like to be reminded of what they “can’t do”.  However, with the right school and the right instructor, training is fun, and when something is fun, you don’t realize how much work you are putting in it.  Also, one learns to not take themselves so seriously, and so learns to deal with training, and life, better.

Are you taking time out of your day to “Polish the Sword”?  If not, come see us at Aikido of Nebraska, we’ll make sure that you are having so much fun during your training, that you don’t even realize that you are becoming a better person.


Todd Roberts

Need some Stress Relief? Need Better Balance in Life? Try Mokuso (Silence) #LNK

In the Martial Arts Training Hall, there is often a period of silence before starting class.  If there isn’t, and the students are still talking, the instructor may say “Mokuso!” which in Japanese means “To Silence”, or “Contemplate!”  However, a better way to think of this, as in Dave Lowrey’s book In the Dojo, where he defines “Mokuso” as a transitional period.  Many think of the Dojo (training hall) as a place of refuge from the stresses of the modern world.  In reality, the Dojo is a place where one learns to better confront and deal with the stresses of the modern world.

In the dojo, the student learns more about the world by learning more about his/her self, and so, the Dojo becomes a world-in-miniature, to the world outside.  Mokuso allows the student to put the cares, stresses, aggravations of the outside world aside for a moment, in order to prepare himself to train.  When his training is finished for the evening, he or she again returns to Mokuso so that he/she can transition back to life outside the dojo.

So what is the trick to “Mokuso”?  You must quiet yourself, and let the constant stream of concerns, fears, thoughts, and wishes not get your attention.  Easier said than done, right?  It is not really meditataion, however.  You are only allowing yourself a moment to prepare for the next phase.  This transitional period can be used to reflect on how to use the coming moments most effectively.  Have you always made the most of whatever you have spent your time on?  Try Mokuso, so you can quiet yourself and focus on how to get the most out of your time.


Todd Roberts

Aikido of Nebraska Dojo Update 10/15/09 #LNK

Hello Everyone,

The Dojo at Aikido of Nebraska is progressing along nicely.  New students are starting all the time, and the mat is getting that “lived in” look finally!  We have expanded our website even further, with a student section, and an online store.  Students can now look up their profiles online, sign up for classes and lessons, take care of membership dues all online!  All of this is designed to do one thing; make it easy to get in and train, without any other distractions!

We are continuing to provide Self Defense for Women Workshops on Monday nights at LifePointe  Wellness Center, and the students there are learning the awareness and street tactics of self defense in the real world.

So, If you have been on the edge, thinking about coming in to Aikido of Nebraska,  but haven’t done it yet, do so now.  There are no high-pressure tactics; we want happy students.  Come down and see a class, and talk with the other students to see what the “new buzz” is about.


Todd Roberts