Progress produces Pride

Martial Arts is about taking your life to the next level no matter what area it is.

In martial arts, we learn constant and never ending improvement by constantly moving up from one belt to the next. Most people think that when you get your black belt the learning stops but actually earning your black belt is just the beginning and the traditional word for black belt actually means ‘first step’ or ‘beginner step’.

Today I got to witness hundreds of students earn their next color belt and I was honored to see several students test to black belt. They were truly amazing but also just taking another step in their martial arts journey.

It is my belief that in life we are all happier when we are progressing forward. It is not so much accomplishing the goal that makes us happy. It is in the journey and the climb and the progress and the getting better that happiness can be.

I remember, I’ve had a goal to buy a really fast sports car for some time now. That goal drove me to work hard and earn money. After purchasing my Corvette Stingray with 550 horsepower I was thrilled…for a few weeks and even now I still smile when I take off from a stoplight. Here’s the truth though, I’m already thinking about what is next and what my next car is or how I can give someone a car.

Moving forward produces pride. It makes you happy.

Black Belts have bucket lists – here are a few items I checked off recently and how you can, too!

I just got back from one of the most amazing adventures of my life with some amazing people!

Three months ago, I told my beautiful and all around rockstar girlfriend I was taking her someplace…where she needed a passport and a bikini. It was November. Just to prove my point on how rockstar this girl actually is, I have to tell you that she played along. And not just a little bit! She even brought earplugs along so when we checked and the lady put our luggage check all the way to ___________ she wouldn’t hear. It was great!

She was surprised when I told her we were going to Cabo, Mexico a city at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula.

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The plan was to knock off four bucket list adventures in just one trip!

First, we got to to swim with whale sharks (no, they don’t eat people and no you shouldn’t be scared). It was a magical experience.

Imagine this – you board a small boat on a balmy, sunny day and it takes you out to where the whale sharks are feeding on plankton. From the surface they look quite small. Your guide tells you to swim and you swim – as fast as you can – towards these animals. As you approach, you make out the shape of a fish…A VERY large fish. The largest fish you’ve ever been close to! HOLY CRAP – one is coming right at you!

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Bucket list item. Bucket list: checked.

That same day, we also had the chance to take on a tamer creature:  puppies of the sea. Sea lions. (Why do all of these gentle creatures have such dangerous names?) We were allowed to play with them – and play they did! Dozens of these things swimming alongside of us as we played with them. They would bite our hands, let us tickle them, let us dive and swim next to them. This was even more magical than the whale sharks. I felt like a fish for a whole minute… until my goggles started leaking! Note to self: salt water burns…badly!

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Bucket list item: checked!

We also went scuba diving for the first time ever. It was epic.

This country has a weird way of ‘training’ you. You watch a movie for about 25 minutes that depicts people learning to take their regulator on and off in a nice pool of water with big smiles on their faces. I only learned to swim just last year and that was panic-inducing enough, let alone going 50 feet under water! Needless to say, I was excited about the pool trial.

Well, that never became a reality – at least not the way I pictured it! Their version of the ‘pool trial’ was to put a tank on my back that weighed SO much more than it looks like it does in the movies … and told me to ‘fall back’ into the ocean. Mind you, this was not some nice clear water that was four feet deep. Oh, no – I suppose I was too advanced for that because they took us a half-mile from the dock! And that’s where the ‘training’ began.

I’m good at doing what I am told, but this was a new experience for sure: I immediately sank and landed on the ocean floor. That and one minute of ‘here is how you take this off and share it with your partner if they need air’ was all I got for my ‘pool trial’.

Once my nerves calmed —  and they did, eventually — I looked around and realized that I was in an underwater world of pure beauty. The fish, the plants, the shark that swam by… It was magical.

It was interrupted every minute or so by Rachel squeezing my hand and pointing to her regulator to which I would look and give her two thumbs up. (I think she was worried about her air running out. )

What an adventure!

The fourth bucket list item was one that has been on the list for quite some time. :we bungee jumped!. I think I signed a waiver. Actually, I’m not sure. I AM sure that I got exactly zero training on how to bungee jump other than something to the effect of ‘when I say THREE you jump and don’t hesitate or the whole thing might get messed up!’ I’m not even sure what they mean by messed up. I didn’t ask.

I’m not sure if this was scare tactic to try to ensure that I didn’t hesitate, but it worked!

Rachel went first.

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I will be totally honest – I didn’t want to jump after I watched her. It just looked…well, too…scary. But of course I couldn’t let my girlfriend show me up even if it was in a death-defying stunt! She is so brave.

I’ve been skydiving before, but this was totally different. You were DIVING straight towards a stream surrounded by rocks! Radical even for a 4th degree black belt, in my book

These experiences taught me some very valuable lessons that I wanted to share with you.

  1. Have a bucket list. It is fun! At UpLevel Martial Arts, we believe in the value of #injoyment –which is our way of spelling enjoyment. It stands for enjoying each and every moment of our lives and making them an epic adventure. On our team of staff, we actually hold each other accountable to knocking off at least one item off of our list each year. It goes right on the yearly review. So I ask you, what item are YOU going to cross off this year?
  2. Going on this trip was possible because of #income. Are you investing in something that will provide income for you while you are enjoying your life? I coach all of my staff on our value of #income. To us, it means we are working to a point to where our passive income exceeds our current expenses – we call this financial freedom. At UpLevel Martial Arts, we are all working towards this. Not so we can sit on our hands and ‘retire’. Heck, most of us are in our 20’s and 30’s! We want to work because we love to, NOT because we have to. I am proud of the opportunities I provide for my team to make money in martial arts in this way.
  3. Educate while you vacate. On our team we also value #improvement which means that we NEVER STOP LEARNING. The real purpose of my trip was to improve my relationship with my girlfriend Rachel and to improve our communication, love, and passion. It was set up as a couples retreat. It was SO worth it. So how about you – how will you find a way to constantly improve, even when you are on vacation?

I wish you all the best life. Let’s keep unleashing and upleveling.

Sam Wegert – 4th degree black belt

P.S. I have a goal in 2017 to add several schools to our new brand – UpLevel Martial Arts. If you know of anyone who wants to work in a position where we change lives every day, move our bodies, and are a part of a great and growing culture and vibe, then please message me personally at 434.944.5918.

P.P.S. A special thank you to my tribe of healthy, wealthy, and generous men who choose to lead epic lives and their women who have inspired me on this journey and who made this trip possible. Shout out to Sam and Pat Cullinane who put so much work and love into making this a truly epic, black belt, bucket list adventure.

For a full picture of the amazing trip – check out the recap video we put together including some other ‘must do’s’ when you make it to Cabo.

 

4 things martial arts could teach your family

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That is my good-looking family right there. A few years back but just as good looking today, right? 🙂

Practicing martial arts was an amazing choice for my family. What started as a hobby gave us invaluable gifts over the years. I want to share several of them with you here.

1.     There are only two things that you can do before you graduate high school that holds any weight on your resume. One is to become an Eagle Scout and the other is earn a black belt. Employers know that people who have earned these honors know how to work hard and treat others with respect.

2.     It brought us closer together. They say that the family that kicks together sticks together. It is true! Focusing on something and learning it as a family is one of the most effective ways to form close bonds. You are all facing common challenges together!

3.     We stayed active. Our country is pretty large. I don’t mean in square miles. I mean in our obesity level here in the United States. Here is the rule at UpLevel Martial arts – if you eat that day, then you must move and exercise that day. Martial arts kept my family active doing something we loved together.

4.     Confidence is key. As a young homeschooled boy, I remember being very shy. I cried my first karate class! But martial arts taught me that I was valuable and competent– that I can succeed through my own effort – not from being perfect but from trying my best. It also taught me that I can make good decisions, despite of the constant negative pressure out there. Whether pressure to do drugs, experiment with sex, or simply join in bullying another kid at school, I believe that the ability to stand up and say ‘no’ or simply recognize that our worth comes from inside — not what the ‘cool’ kids are doing or even the celebrities on TV – is essential for success and personal well-being. Martial arts encourages self-worth and embodying the confidence to do what is right.

5.     Self Defense is essential. I was put in headlocks as a kid and pushed around. Nothing even close to life threatening, but when I learned to walk around aware and alert I started to notice potential threats more easily. Then, as a martial artist, I developed the skills to defend myself if necessary. Sometimes the only skills needed are confidence and awareness. My brother Tim and I have been in self-defense situations twice and in each one I am grateful we had the training to step in and protect the innocent.

We hope you will come join our team at UpLevel Martial arts where we forge leaders for life.

To black belt and beyond.

Mr. Sam Wegert

4th Degree Black Belt

 

6 unexpected things I learned from buying my first Supercar.

20161125_142829I really wanted to UpLevel my ride. I woke up the day before Thanksgiving and decided: today was the day! And if I wanted to show off my car to all of my family and friends over the holidays, then I needed to buy it today!

I frantically made all of the arrangements. Call the bank, call the dealer, ”how about 250 dollars less than then your lowest offer?” Awesome, at least I FELT like I was getting a good deal. It’s not like he would actually accept it…

Wait, did he say yes?!

He did.

That means I’m going to Greenville to buy a new car. Right now.

The dealership says it closes at 8pm. I rushed by the bank to grab a check and made it there literally 3 minutes before it closed.

I pulled up to the dealership at 8:15pm. But, late as I was, at Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet-Cadillac in Greenville, SC, they were all smiles as they waited for me to fight the rush hour traffic and the flat tire to get there. I was grateful, especially the day before Thanksgiving.

In 20 minutes, I had completed the paperwork. They made it very easy to spend the money.

I jump in my car. It’s mine – this beauty of a car that freaky fast that I’ve wanted for such a long time. 20161125_142210

Immediately, a flood of negative thoughts come over me. Should I really have this car? What will people thinkI’m too young to buy a sports car. It is a big liability. Am I selfish? Is this too much?

All of these thoughts stayed with me as I drove home. As amazing as the new car was, I still had some nagging questions. I dealt with the feelings  after a talk with an amazing friend who reminded me of several life lessons that I wanted to share.

  1. Don’t be afraid to grab life big and don’t kid yourself into thinking that everyone will be jealous if you do – they don’t care.

Most people spend most of their time thinking about themselves.

  1. Keep your promises to yourself. 

This car was a promise I made to myself: that I would buy it after I purchased my third martial arts location. Black Belts are honest and truthful …even to themselves. You must be able to trust yourself.

Shout-out to Mr. Bond, Grandmaster Mun, and Mr. St. Clair for kicking butt in their second month. Great things to come at UpLevel Martial Arts Waxhaw!

  1. Stuff will never ever make you happy…unless it can go from 0-60 in 4 seconds. 

I was basically just as happy before my new toy as I was after my new toy. Seriously, it didn’t really change much – I went back to life as normal…ok, almost normal. (Though I can’t lie – the smile on my face to go from 0-60 mph in 4 seconds is ridiculous!)

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  1. Have fun. You live once and you WILL die. 

Don’t take life too seriously – no one I’ve known has ever gotten out alive. Enjoy it. This is also not a license to be stupid. Think through your choices. Can you afford it? Are you leaving those that come after you a legacy… or a bunch of debt?

  1. Give back and be grateful.

I’m amazed that you can buy big things for yourself and yet feel more happy giving $5 to a homeless person. The good book says it best in Acts 20:35, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ After driving this beauty home, I wrote out several things I wanted to make sure I was giving after receiving something so amazing. I want my life to be full of amazing things and experiences AND genuine contribution.

  1. Make sure you are living a life you FREAKING enjoy and not just working to attain some far -off thing or goal. 

Because when that thing (a new car or promotion or girl or guy or whatever) comes along, it won’t make you happy and you will go back to your life as you’ve built it – like it or not!

The question I believe you should ask is this:

Do I like my life just as it is now? If not, change THAT. Don’t cover it up with a toy or a person and think they will change you. Nope! The car didn’t change my life – and I went back to the life that I love!

I train my staff. I encourage them to Grab Life Big. I give them opportunities. I kiss my beautiful girlfriend. I work out. I set new goals. I listen to music. I dance. I train martial arts. I forge leaders. I give back. I make a difference.

I do all the things I love to do because I love to do them and have designed a life I freaking loveIt’s not about the next thing – it’s about NOW.

Time for you to do the same. I hope you will call me if you are in a career that is not fulfilling or pays the bills but you hate. I can help with that. Come join my team!

Come change the world through raising up and forging people into leaders for life through martial arts!

 

 

 

What are your core values? Are you living them?

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Our country was founded on values – strong core value. We love a good story where the ‘good’ guy (usually who has stronger values than the other guy) wins over the ‘bad’ guy. We love a story where what is right wins. We want our kids to live with values. We all hate the guy in the movie who wants to win at any cost even if he has to compromise all of our commonly held values.

A black belt has values. A leader has values and holds them dearly. I’m convinced of it. An UpLevel leader has values.

Do you have a set of values to live your life by? What about the company you work for – do they have core values and do they live by them?

When you have to make a decision – what defines that decision? Is it a value or a feeling or personal gain? Feelings can change in a moment but values hold strong throughout time.

For me, my aspirational values are hard to live sometimes. I get caught up in the moment or the feeling or even just the busyness sometimes. Health is a value for me, one of my top ones actually, but eating pizza happens. Actually, that happened today. Living a value could be simple like deciding to eat pizza or not. It could be more complicated like you discover the cashier forgets to charge you for something. If you value integrity do you go back and pay or just leave it as is?

This is why I think having a list of values actually written down that you review often can be a huge support in making solid decisions in line with what you say you value. When I read through my values it sounds like this, ‘yes, this is what I value and, yes, I recommit to valuing this today and in the future in my decisions.’

When I come from a place of scarcity or fear I begin to make decisions that aren’t in alignment with our values. Something like, I might not have enough money to pay for that but I can download that illegally.

So before making any big decisions – stop for a moment to come from a place in your heart of gratitude and abundance.

I had a friend call me up one day and say that he was going back to everyone – artists, speakers, etc and was rebuying stuff he downloaded illegally. He was buying stuff he already had. He said it just wasn’t in line with his value of integrity anymore to have their stuff and not pay for it.

I have mad respect for this kind of person.

If you are committed to living life like a black belt leader than when faced with a tough decision ask, ‘what value or principle I hold dear is at play here?’ How does it apply?

I just finished creating the values of our tribe of martial arts instructors who dedicate their life to UpLevel Martial Arts (formerly Super Kicks Karate) and I wanted to share.

What are some of yours?

What I really want to know is – when emotions run high how do you make sure you follow them?

Our UpLevel Tribe’s Way

  1. Identity – we are martial artists forging leaders for life and living the UpLevel Way

>>We are passionate about the practice of martial arts

  1. Injoyment – we find the joy in every moment and live an epic adventure

>>We practice Presence and find joy both in each moment and in the epic adventure of life

>>we strive to thrive mind, body, and soul, finding joy in the small things while seeking out adventures

  1. Impact – we selflessly add value to others.

>>We work to make the world a better place. We are givers — we want to thrive so others can too.

>>It’s about giving to the people around us…we fill up so we have a lot to give.

  1. Improvement – we unleash and UpLevel NOT maintain

>>We are not content with stagnation: we are always seeking to UpLevel our lives.

>>We view our lives as a journey, always striving to improve. Stagnation is not an option!

  1. Income – we create financial freedom so we can focus on doing more. We get to work – we don’t have to work.

>>We create financial freedom so we can focus on what’s important to us: pouring into our mission and our tribe.

  1. Intimacy – we cultivate authentic relationships with God and others.

>>We cultivate relationships with God and others. We aren’t afraid to go deep.

>>We understand that vulnerability is essential to reap the rich reward of good relationships.

  1. Integrity – Our lives are an example of what we teach. We walk our talk.
  2. Inspire – we encourage and take a stand for each other to UpLevel.

>>We take advantage of the community at UpLevel by holding each other to the highest standard, encouraging each other to be our best.