I am so excited for this upcoming year and so grateful for the UpLevel Community. I want to share a few things that my family and I are grateful for this Thanksgiving!
There is not a lot to say about this. I am definitely NOT a rapper but I picked that line.
The UpLevel martial arts community has visions of impacting people all over the world with the life changing benefits of becoming a black belt leader.
This song helps us describe our values and mission in life.
Check it out…
Come join our movement.
Who knows, you might just get a spot in the next song. 🙂
This is how my month started – with this news article being written about the UpLevel team in Charlottesville, VA. (Mr. William Wegert looks so good on camera doesn’t he)
Love month is over but I would like to request that we send our thoughts and prayers towards the victims of the Las Vegas shooting and that we continue to spread acts of kindness.
Every time I hear a siren, I stop and say a short prayer of gratitude for those that keep us safe. Today, I am especially grateful. I want to say a heart felt ‘thank you’ to our police officers, our fire fighters, our rescue teams, our military, and so many others that dedicate their lives to keeping us safe. We are incredibly grateful.
Being a person of action and not just talk, I always feel that UpLevel should ‘do something’ when horrific events happen. After pondering it for a long time, I want to encourage everyone in the UpLevel Tribe to keep doing what you are doing and to get even more involved in spreading the good news of martial arts to more people. Let’s do it with more heart and even more conviction than ever before.
I will tell you why.
UpLevel IS ALREADY taking a stand against the evil in our world. I have seen UpLevel Martial Arts give people something to live for, something to stand for, and a set of values to hold dear. Across our communities, UpLevel is positively impacting so many children when they are young and impressionable. We are teaching the way of being a leader. We are helping people feel better about themselves and their health. We are creating a community of people that is welcoming and that shows love to each person that walks in our doors.
You as our student help us in so many ways – you help us promote the values of a black belt leader. We promote health, confidence, integrity, and living by a code of conduct that includes respect and gratitude.
No one that lives by these values would ever feel like they need to take the life of another person.
I encourage all of our staff and martial arts teams across the world to keep doing what they are doing and continue to work with passion to raise up the next generation of leaders in our world.
Regardless if you are a student at UpLevel, a parent of a student, an instructor in training, or someone on our staff, each and every day you make a difference in the lives of every person that walks through our door. Think about the child that takes your class for the first time, we don’t know what path he is going down and we don’t know if he is going to be the next president of the United States or someone who is headed down a path of crime.
Could the impact of the UpLevel community determine the difference?
I believe it can.
Everyone that comes across our path is a person we get to impact.
Love month may be over at UpLevel as of a couple of days ago but would you continue show acts of kindness above and beyond what we would normally do this week and this month? Would you consider buying a fire fighter lunch, thanking a police officer, donating blood, or perhaps stopping for 5, 10, or even 15 minutes just to talk with a lonely soul.
Thank you in advance for responding and I look forward to how UpLevel will continue to make a difference in this nation for years to come.
As always, I am honored that I have the privilege of leading an organization such as this during times like this.
Unleash and UpLevel – never stop pursuing your better self.
Mr. Sam Wegert
Founder of UpLevel Martial Arts
5th Degree Black Belt
If you look back through history at the stories of great achievements, you will find a common theme: nothing great was ever accomplished alone. People who accomplish great things always have support: mentors, teachers, teammates, friends. The same is true for us as we train for our black belt, or 2nd degree black belt, or instructor status– We can’t do it alone. We have parents, friends, family members, class mates, and instructors who can all encourage us and help us reach our goals.
Here is the truth – everyone is a part of your team. At least, everyone CAN be a part of your team. Think about it: the person who serves you a double chocolate cone at the ice cream shop is on your team. Your spouse is on your team, the person who helps you bag your groceries is on your team. Everyone you interact with over the course of the day can be a part of your road to success, even when you don’t recognize it immediately. Even if they seem like they are the opposite of your teammate: maybe a driver who cuts you off on the road, or the librarian who fines you for turning in your books late — you can choose to let them be a part of your team by choosing to learn something from the situation they are making difficult. At UpLevel we take that belief to heart, and are very intentional about viewing everyone we encounter as a part of our team for success. We are all trying to live our best lives, and we will be able to succeed far more easily if we include others in our game called life and treat everyone as if they were a part of our team.
Watch this video about teamwork – good teamwork often means putting your own desires and wishes aside.
Exercise: Turn to the person next to you and tell them about 5 different people who you view as part of your team. Not the ones you would first think of – who else is on your team that you haven’t thought of before? And now that you have, how could you appreciate them for being on your team? Share one way.
You get to wear your pajamas (Need I say more? 😉 Just kidding. Seriously, though, if you have ever worn a martial arts uniform than you know it is one of the most comfortable outfits you could possibly wear. And this is our business attire!
When I was growing up, it was difficult to get me to sit still. Don’t get me wrong, I liked learning …but I hated sitting at a desk. It was boring. I needed to move! My mom always told me that if I didn’t study, I would end up getting a job digging ditches. I personally didn’t want to dig ditches, so working in a professional, clean, martial arts environment was a huge plus for me. I get to be active, interact with others, and work in a professional environment, all at once.
As a martial arts instructor and after apprenticing for a few years, you can make the same amount of money as someone with a 4-, 6-, or even 8-year degree… but without the costs of education that go along with it. The national student loan debt has reached almost a trillion dollars. Why contribute more to it?
There is something special about being on a team. You learn from each other, support one another, and make your best memories together. You’re all working towards a common goal – and you can’t beat the camaraderie and friendship you build in that environment.
Another unique thing about working in the martial arts world is that it works like an apprenticeship. Apprenticeship is an ancient and extremely effective way to master a skill and pass on knowledge to coming generations. It works very differently than classroom learning – it is one-on-one, hands-on, and relationship-based. You can’t beat the model and martial arts is one of the only places you can find that model in today’s world.
As someone who runs a martial arts school and pours into my students, I can attest to the fact that your students love to give back to you. Just hang around an UpLevel instructor at Christmas or their birthday and you’ll see what I mean. It’s not about the presents…it’s about how much these people love you for giving to them in their life. They respect and admire you, and it shows.
I get the privilege of going to bed every night knowing I have made a positive impact on the world. We just got this testimonial from one of our families in our school. Imagine getting to hear this on a weekly basis from your students!
Uplevel is the a family martial arts studio that challenges people from 3 to 83 to be the best they can be. The principle-based approach by the kind but firm staff resonates so much with people because it’s not just about the art of defense on the mat, but also in life. The motto is “training black belt leaders for life.” This philosophy compliments my wife and my efforts with our children at home. We’ve seen an increase in focus and confidence with our school aged kids, and have committed to earn our blackbelts as a family through this program. Oh yeah—it’s fun too!!
I believe a martial arts instructor who is really making a difference has the same level or impact that a doctor does and should get paid accordingly. This takes training, persistence, and hard work but our team has proven it is possible.
- Job Security
Tony Robbins said that often money is nothing more than a measurement of the value you add to people’s lives. In other words, if you add lots of value, then you can earn lots of money. In our business, there is no limit to your income OR your impact. As long as there are people who want to better their life (and there always will be) and as long as there are parents who want to set their children up for success, then you will have a job.
People = job. When you are working with people and children and coaching them on martial arts and life, there is never a dull moment. You get to be in the moment as you serve your clients. The growth is nonstop…martial arts is set up so that you grow until you die and, let’s face it: growth is happiness. When we become stagnant then we start dying.
Not in this job! You get to keep moving up — in your martial arts, your income and your impact on others.
Does this spark your interest? My encouragement is this: try martial arts. If you or someone you know would be interested…let’s get connected! You can contact me at 434.944.5918.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
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
I 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?!
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.
Immediately, a flood of negative thoughts come over me. Should I really have this car? What will people think? I’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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!)
- 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?
- 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.
- 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 love! It’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!
Me at 1st Degree Black Belt Test!
I am going to assume that you are looking for a martial arts instructor. Should you be? Well, only you really know the answer to that question but I would highly recommend it and perhaps after this article you will be more inclined to invest in one. Having an instructor like I had growing up can change your life and for me it changed not only my life but thousands of others. I’m only 25 so that number is going to grow. That is unless I get mugged in a dark alley sometime soon – again not likely to happen seeing that I DID have a martial arts instructor.
My instructor, Master David Clements, is a 5th degree black belt in American Freestyle Karate and is ranked in a million other styles (always good to exaggerate a little when talking about someone who changed your whole life). He was truly a godsend to me in so many ways; in many ways he probably doesn’t realize. This article is meant to help him realize that and also hopefully help you realize a little bit what you should look for in the people you allow to influence you or your kids.
Master Clements, as we called him, made a business decision to open a beautiful 6000 square foot studio in a town of 2000 people. It was a very optimistic decision. To give you perspective, I now own a martial arts school that is 2500 square feet in a town of 2.5 million and growing. But I truly believe he was there to give me a future, and that God had a divine appointment for me when I walked in his door and my mom made me enroll even though I was scared out of my mind and literally cried my first class (give me some grace though – I was only 10).
My instructor taught me many things and I would like to share three of them with you right now.
- Do the right thing….always!
- Family is important
Do the right thing.
This one sounds so simple but the truth is, it isn’t. It just isn’t. Our brain gets in our way and wants to rationalize this, and give you leeway in that. Look – it’s simple – there is a right, and there is a wrong. Stop ‘thinking about it’ and make the call that would be in line with character. Now, I’m not so blind to realize there aren’t some decisions that are more complicated than that, but most of the time we make it more complicated than it is worth.
Master Clements taught me this over and over again! It was drilled into who I was as his student.
One time he had a student who enrolled and then came back in that very day and asked for their money back. They knew there was a no refund policy but the right thing was to just go ahead and give them their money back. He did it even though he had the ‘legal’ backing to not go through with it.
He was always firm on doing the right thing by each person and for him that meant asking ‘what would be best for the other person?’ and not only himself.
Family is important
I had the opportunity to attend the funeral for my instructor’s mom. She was an amazing woman and the caretaker of the karate school I grew up in. She was the one responsible for calling me the day I played hookie from karate and scolded me gently and asked me when my next class was. I didn’t skip class again.
My instructor, Master Clements, had a thing about spending time with and committing to family. It isn’t something you see a lot of these days (how many of us even have family meals together anymore, I mean really?)
One of my friends has a tattoo that says ‘love is spelled t-i-m-e’. Master Clements knew this and was always there to make his family the most important. He didn’t mind driving either. If there was an event or a family member (and a lot of times his students became like adopted family to him) that was in need he was there. This taught me a lot about the importance of relationships in your life.
I’ve learned that relationships really matter – more than adventure, more than money. Think about it – the last time you had an epic adventure by yourself – the story afterwards was just never as cool or exciting as you would have hoped. And let’s be really real – making money is amazing but no one in their heart wants to be the richest man in the world and completely alone. Relationships are important. Um, really important. Invest in them.
Another mentor always told me – ‘Sam, anything you want is just a relationship away.’ I’ve found that to be pretty true in my life.
Mr. Clements taught me this and modeled it so well with his family. He was always there for his mom and even committed to support her later in life. He paid a monthly sum to support her until she passed on. In a day and age where most people are trying to ‘get rid’ of their parents this spoke a new language and gave me a new foundation on how to look at family.
Ok, for those of you who know me, this is definitely not the one I model the best. There are so many people who can relax better than I can. If I’m not sleeping (for the 5 hours average I seem to get each night) than I am busy – busy with something or someone. I like this but there is just that time when you need to tell your somewhat overbusy and perhaps slightly annoying self to slow down and relax.
Master Clements modeled this. He would kick back – throw his shoes up on the desk and actually have a real conversation with you. You know, one of those conversations that last longer than 2 minutes and ends with ‘I’ve got to go but good to talk with you’. (wow, I think I’m convicting myself here) For a 10 year old boy trying to find his way in the world and trying to be different this was the most important thing anyone could have done for me.
Studies show that children who simply have someone in their life they can talk to, who actually, truly cares, are much more likely to stay out of trouble and create a meaningful life. Translation – you can help create meaning in the world simply by caring and talking to someone. Yes – YOU. Even if you don’t know or have all the answers, or even if it’s been a very long time since you have been a teenager.
Share and care. Perhaps that is the message of this post. The real message is a heartfelt ‘thank you’ and ‘happy birthday’ to one of the people who inspired me to UpLevel my life in so many ways.
I am forever grateful.
Thank you sir.
4th Degree Black Belt