This is gonna be a boring blog for most of you (well, more boring than most) but I just gotta thank some people. Last weekend I tested for my third degree black belt in the USKMA. I’m not a rank seeker so this is probably my last test but it made me think about everyone who has been part of getting me to where i am today. Some of those I am about to mention I have had fallings out with and some I have come to view as shysters but I can still be appreciative and realize that they helped develop me.

At the test I told those present that I have certainly wasted a lot of my life. I am approaching fifty years old and the only things I have to show for my life are my four kids and Krav Maga, specifically the USKMA and all those I have taught. I figure in the five years of Ohio Krav Maga & Fitness and having over twenty affiliates in the USKMA I have had an impact in making over 4,500 people safer and healthier. Good for me, but none of it was just me. I have a lot of people to thank.

I thank, first and foremost, my black belts (some who just tested for second degree) from Ohio Krav Maga & Fitness. Matt Kissel, John Burton and John Lovins were my very first students when I started teaching at my good friend Joe Wile’s gym seven years ago. They are still with me and John B. and Matt just helped run me through my test last weekend. I couldn’t be prouder of how good they are at Krav and how much they have put into the system. The system isn’t what is is because of me but because of input and arguments from these guys and the rest of “my” black belts. Sue Burton was next to join. The toughest woman I know and one of only half a dozen female black belts in the nation that I know of. My good friend Scott Howard and Jason Holt were next. Both just tested for second degree and made me proud. Terri Rosen was the next to join OKM and become a black belt. A crossfit fool and talented black belt she is. Aaron Jannetti rounds this group of black belts out, one of the most talented people I’ve ever taught. I would stack this group of black belts up against any system’s in the world!

I had the priveledge of training in Israel a year and a half ago with Grandmaster Yaron Lichtenstein and his son, Rotem. I have more respect for the Grandmaster than I do for any other single person in Krav Maga. Imi’s true heir and the only one teaching Krav Maga the way Imi wanted it taught. He’s largely unknown in the U.S. but he is the only one telling Krav Maga’s true history. I look at him as a mentor and appreciate his kindness and the time he spent with me answering questions and telling stories.

When I started Krav Maga in ’99 the only place to learn was L.A. I was taught there by very talented instructors that changed this Taekwondo sport fighter into someone who could actually answer the question “what is self defense”. Darren and Marni Levine, Johnn Whitman, Londale Theus, Michael Margolin, Howard Whalen, Sam Sade and many others opened my eyes to how self defense should be approached and taught. A big thanks to Chuck Heacock for teaching me how to run a business. For my ten trips to L.A. and my black belt test my partner was Denise Balnoshan. My pal Ernie Kirk has been with me since those days…one of the few who is still a pal!

I have to thank the one who started me on the journey way back in 1984, my Taekwondo Master Sang Ki Paik. I had never been very athletic at anything but the hours and hours spent on TKD made me a much better learner for everything that was to follow.

I have many great affiliates in the USKMA who were already running successful gyms and who were very talented in what they were teaching but knew they could do better for self defense, and weren’t afraid to admit it and give me a call. My regional managers get a big thanks. My South manager Brannon Hicks has become one of my best friends in the World and I’m lucky to have found him to team teach USKMA’s law enforcement seminars with. Alan Condon runs the Northeast and Mark Howard runs the West for the USKMA, great guys both! I am lucky to know them. Jesse Tucker, Mike & Denise Choate, Guy & Barb Bruno, Scott Lorenz, Danny Caudil, Will Schneider, Dennis Cregier, Doug Chapman, David Inman, Travis Dill, Jason Jannetti, Scott Hewitt, Floyd Kish, James Bailey, C. Charles, Juan Acosta, Dennis Kreiger, Jeff Gears and 1988 Olympic Gold Medalist in TKD Arlene Limas are awesome affiliates whom I appreciate very much!

I am blessed to have known every one of those listed above. I thank God for the wife he gave me who doesn’t complain when I travel around and work with my affiliates. I certainly need to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for giving me the opportunity to have worked with every one of these people. Life is good. BE SAFE!



  1. Congratulations Mark. Also a big thanks to Mark for making the USKMA an extended family for myself and all my students. 2013 will be even better

  2. Congrats Mark. You lead by example. See you in a few weeks!

  3. Fantastic! Congratulations from all of us here in Ocala, Florida!
    Guy, Barbara, Matt and Jon

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