How Black Belt at Home Became one of the Best Online Martial Arts Universities

How Black Belt at Home Became one of the Best Online Martial Arts Universities

Hi there,

Thanks for finding Black Belt at Home University. Back in 2008, when I launched the first “Distance Training” courses, it was still a fairly new idea. Sure, there had been people offering “mail order black belts”, and earning belts via VHS tapes for a while, but no one really creating an interactive experience with their students. My name is Michael Hodge, the founder of the Black Belt at Home University. I started out with my Bo and Nunchakus course, and we eventually added on a shotokan, tai chi, and krav maga course. I did not explicitly set out to create Black Belt at Home, either just for money, for growth, or for an “extension” of my martial arts school. For about five years, I will admit, most of my attention was on my local martial arts school’s students. I never thought that have an online program like this could allow me to pay the bills for my family, and actually allow for us to commit more time and energy to our students.

Thankfully, I was very wrong. Back in 2012, we created this particular website, and named the University “Black Belt at Home”, just to make it blatantly obvious what we offered. As our instructors always talk about, our courses, the training, and the experience is about much more than earning the rank, or the black belt. We find that our students go through a unique personal transformation, very much like you see in a physical martial arts school. We are able to create that as well, through our program. I simply thought that the name might entice “belt seekers” initially, but that is okay, especially if they end up leaving as a better person.

In this article, I would like to outline what sets us apart, what has led to our growth and success. This is really not meant to be “marketing”, but more of a transparent telling of our story. This is genuine, we are real people. Finally, the days of having to defend ourselves, about the idea of training and earning rank at home, are over. I think people are starting to realize that our online university is a new training tool, a new learning experience for the modern age. We are conscious that you might work odd hours, that you might travel the world, that you might live in a rural area, or that your town simply does not have the program you are looking for. In a time where the most world renowned universities in the world offer courses online, so do we, and in a way that is constantly evolving for your best and highest good.

Let’s take a look at what has led us to become a world leading online martial arts university:

Videos that actually teach you.

This phrase is what led me to actually get into this business, in the first place. I remember watching and training with various martial arts instructional DVDs about ten years ago. Specifically, I was wanting to learn some competition weapons, and get exposed to various types of techniques and kata. It seemed that every DVD was instructed by a world champion. Yes, this champion was a wonderful martial artist, but he or she demonstrated quite complex combos and kata(s), without very much of a breakdown. I had to pause the video, play it forward at 1/8 speed, and do this over and over. The videos and lessons did not really help a beginner.

So, this taught me that not all video instruction is created equal. You need to demonstrate a technique at full speed and half speed at all angles, and then teach the movement with sequential, step-by-step building blocks. The techniques each need to be taught one by one, and they can then be strung into combinations and kata(s).

And to practice the techniques, whether it be a krav maga choke defense or bo strike, what should you do? Simply do it over and over and over again in the air? That is clearly boring, and will lead to much less repetitions. This is why we introduced the “home practice drill” segment at the end of techniques, so that you learn new unique ways to practice and progress at home. Our videos are very easy to learn from. Seriously, try one!

One on one instructor guidance and personalized video feedback.

We really want to get to know you! Our instructors like to hear about your previous martial arts experience, your current training goals, and regimen. If you have a question, you can ask it on the student forum, or send a direct message to your instructor. You might be surprised at the level of care and help you will receive. But, we go beyond the written word. Whenever you submit a video rank exam, after grading the exam, your instructor will film a feedback video. Your instructor will give you tips, guidance, corrections, and help on things that he saw within your test. This way, you get personalized, laser-guided comments and help as you move through the ranks.

Complete follow along classes, workouts, and a well-rounded program.

Here comes some more of our secret sauce. Just about every other online martial arts course simply teaches you the “rank requirements” needed to learn and pass a rank exam. They include videos that instruct the movements, and maybe a training guide. We know that students learn best in a class format. Think about it, why would you pay $100 a month to attend a local dojo? Just to go and learn the individual rank requirements, then go home? No, you go to do drills, to workout, to stretch, to have fun, to get variety, to train with other partners, to have an experience. This is why we have complete classes in our programs, so that you can train in a natural, fun, and fluid way. We are greatly expanding on this coming soon, with the launch of the Global Martial Arts University. GMAU students will get a brand new full-length class every single week! This will keep it fresh, unique, challenging, and progressive month after month, all the way to black belt and beyond.

Rank Certifications that are globally recognized and accredited.

I really don’t like doting on rank, belts, and certificates that much. But, in some respects, it is important to have confidence in not only the training you are receiving, but your ranking institution. Our certificates of rank and instructor certifications can help you to become a more credible and confidence-backed professional martial arts instructor, to train organizations, and develop other opportunities in the world of martial arts. Not to mention for peace of mind, knowing that your rank is recognized globally. We test students at the same exact standard as we do for physical/local students. This means, that the rank you earn is the same. There is nothing that says “online” or that you trained “home study”, that is irrelevant if we use the same grading rubric and same expectations. Our issued rank is accredited by the Global Martial Arts Association, Ultimate Training Martial Arts Association, Association of Martial Artists World Wide, National Krav Maga, and other various martial arts schools and instructors.

Constant improvement for our students.

This is what we are all about – kaizen. Over the last few years we have added: streaming video version, online student area, student journal, extra training materials section, student forum, video feedback, and other features. And, the next chapter for Black Belt at Home is a huge step in the direction of improvement. The Global Martial Arts University. The GMAU is a completely evolved and enhanced version of our current university. We will have completely new HD video lessons, new weekly classes, a mobile friendly custom-built website, messaging, Q & A on any lessons, student locator, ehanced student journal, and so many more features. We already have a big list of “phase 2” features for GMAU, and we haven’t even launched yet!

When you become one of our students, you are on the right path. We care deeply about your own growth and training, and deeply about the abundance in your community as well.

If you are ready to go, simply choose one of our courses, purchase the course, and you can start training with us today. Later on, once the new GMAU does not launch, you can upgrade your training and continue ranking with us in our new website.

Thanks for taking the time out to learn more about us here at Black Belt at Home, we would be absolutely honored to have you on board as a student,

Michael Hodge

Founder of Black Belt at Home & Head Instructor, Ultimate Bo