in martial arts in China, Japan, and the United States.
Trained and competed in Thai Boxing (Muay Thai) in The Netherlands and Thailand.
Master Instructor of the Year 2009 - International Martial Arts Association.
Martial Artist of the Year 2004 - International Martial Arts Association.
Inducted, International Black Belt Hall of Fame.
This class is for you if you want to practice physical skills and self discipline, change unhealthy physical and mental habits, and apply these benefits to your daily life. I care about each student and will coach and encourage a good, hard-working, student each step of the way. Progress is up to you.
This page is the syllabus for Dr. Bookspan's Kickboxing class. There is a separate page for the Continuing and Advanced Kickboxing syllabus. Please feel free to use it and benefit.
A word about the rank of the instructor. A 4th degree black belt carries the title of Renshi or "master" which does not mean mastery over anyone else, but mastery over oneself, a goal of this training.
What is Taught
- We start from the beginning, and build skill, positive attitude, strength, and ability of your body mind and spirit each week.
- Good behavior and discipline of body and mind.
- Improving muscular strength and endurance and how to consciously transfer them to real life.
- Injury prevention by changing unhealthy stretches, exercises, and movement patterns.
- Confidence, determination, positive spirit by keeping going even when we really use the body.
- History and principles of Martial arts, Martial arts around the world, stances, kicks, blocks, punches, strikes, slips, falls, open and closed hand, tactics, more.
- Transferring healthy movement, breathing, focus, and positive thinking, not only to class but daily life.
- Make an effort - that's why it's called "exercise."
- Learn to stop whining when life challenges you (Martial Arts class as metaphor for life) - "Closed minds are easily broken when the face hits the mat."
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Short and easy:
Etiquette for All Classes
Self discipline is healthy and positive. It cleans and strengthens your body and mind. With practice, it becomes a natural part of you as an adult, maturing and improving. These etiquette practices are not supposed to be for pretension or ego. Respect, sincerity, atmosphere of harmony, and modesty are essential to learning and safety. Learn these healthy martial arts traditions through practice in each class:
Respect all. Whenever entering and leaving class, bow to respect the room. It sets your mind to not litter or leave trash, not to chatter idly, but to focus on the higher aspects of life and your time in the class room and time the Teacher takes to help your life. As soon as you arrive, make all your training equipment ready at the back of the room and sit in Seiza ready for the Teacher to arrive. You may do your readings during Seiza.
Respect your training tools. Bend in healthy manner to retrieve training gear and put away personal items before and after every class (bending knees over ankles with body upright, neutral spine). Help new students learn how to get and put away their gear. Be helpful to the Teacher. After class, neatly fold and tie jump ropes, and bend and lift with healthy body mechanics to neatly replace any equipment we may use for that class - bands, ropes, mitts, and weights. Show initiative - report broken equipment to Teacher.
Respect learning. The traditional way to sit before class is quietly in seiza (kneeling, sitting on/near feet). If injury prevents you from sitting in seiza, sit cross-legged with feet underneath. Special situations allow lying flat with feet facing the back. Do not sit with legs outstretched toward the front of the room, or lean against the walls.
Respect your health. Sit in seiza well, without slouching. For standing drills, stand without slouching neck, back, or allowing legs and ankles to sway inward without control. Learn healthy stance and use it. Keep body, mind, and teeth clean. Seek correction for healthful body positioning.
Respect the process. If someone in class is receiving personal instruction from the Teacher, you may stop and observe and follow along. Notice if you are standing idly, not learning, missing a valuable chance to improve your own technique. Keep talk limited. When lateness is unavoidable, stop at the door to respect the room and class, until the Teacher allows you into class. At the University and other less-formal classes, just enter quietly and get to work. For private questions, raise your hand, wait for acknowledgement, then go over to the Teacher.
Respect your Teacher. Be ready in Seiza with your equipment neatly at the back of the room when the Teacher arrives. When the Teacher helps you with corrections, say, "Thank you Teacher" (or "thank you"). Be glad the Teacher cared and took time to help you. Notice if you are resentful, and fix that. When the Teacher shows you each new skill, stand quietly and listen attentively. During class when the Teacher signals you to transition to each skill, begin quickly. When the Teacher signals end of class, stop and sit in Seiza. Breathe, bow.
We teach healthy stretches that directly train martial arts positioning, balance and range, plus direclty train everyday healthy body position, range, and balance at the same time. Our stretches are "functional" which means how you move in real life. They are done standing. Just as not all foods are necessary or healthy, neither are several common stretches. We change that.
For more about this exciting better way of stretching, and to learn one set of quick simple stretches that we use, click the Stretching Smarter article on this web site.
Helpful Reading Before Your First Class
Martial artists often say that martial arts does this or that. Or it is done this way or that way, forgetting that it comes from a huge scope of purposes, applications, and needs. Not all martial arts are good for your health (warriors were the expendable class). Not all the martial arts styles are good exercise. Some that are great for sports are not effective for self defense."The Blind Men and the Elephant" is a poem by American poet John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887) based on a fable from India. School children used to learn it to understand how people, even whole countries come to blows, not over truth, but their own limited viewpoint
It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"
The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, "Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"
The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"
The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he;
" 'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"
The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"
The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!
So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!
Problems come when people insist that martial arts are the total "heal-all" or they provide discipline and self-defense and exercise, forgetting that many were never intentioned for even some of that, let alone all of that.
Many martial artists, who claim that martial arts gives them discipline and world view, get angry and superior at others who don't know the one way they learned. Think how often people and countries come to blows over the same.
Syllabus - What We Do Each Class and Your Readings To Prepare for Each
Class activities adjust to class progress. Stay disciplined to stay on schedule. If not, you will miss your chance to try many fun helpful activities. The Advanced Boxing Syllabus features student photos to see what you are working toward. You may bring your readings to do in class during the kneeling Zezan.Readings below are from my column The Fitness Fixer which ran on Healthline.com from 2006 to 2010. When they ended my column they removed all my movies, all comments, and most accompanying illustrations and photos. Come to class for the graphics.
Skills: Seiza (formal kneeling sit), martial arts history, body position, shuffle, jab, cross, duck, front kick, crescent kick. Learn healthy bending, stance, placement of knee, lower back, shoulder, and neck. Remember self-discipline and enjoying hard physical training.
Class 1 short on-line readings: Is Bad Martial Arts Good Exercise? and Which Ancient Exercise Gives Focus and Concentration?
Class 1 stretching information: Here is why we don't stretch hamstrings by bending over: Sitting Badly Isn't Magically Healthy by Calling It a Hamstring Stretch. The same goes for standing bent over to touch toes.
Class 1 free movie to watch:
Are You Stronger Than A 67 Year Old Lady? See my student Leslie knock off 30 pull pushups in my class. The movie is on my Fitness as a Lifestyle page. Scroll down the various articles to see her at the end of the page. Bookmark the page and do this with her every day.Class 1 Textbook readings: Forward, Introduction, Lifestyle, to page 8. Flexibility 60-101. Soreness 197-201.
Class 2 - or Week 2 for University Semester Classes
Skills: All above plus positioning during the cross, upper cut, hook, side kick, duck. Summary of martial arts styles. Healthy breathing, respect, and
healthier habits as a lifestyle. Avoidance of injury mental and physical.
Class 2 short on-line readings: Throw a Stronger Punch (or Push a Car or Stroller) Using This Back Pain Reduction Technique and Fast Fitness - Strong Spirit.
Class 2 stretching information: It is healthier not to bend over to stretch hamstrings. Here is a healthier, more effective, functional hamstring stretch: Healthier Hamstring Stretching.
Class 2 movie to watch:
NOTE: The company for whom I did the my Fitness Fixer column, removed all my movies when they ended my column in 2010. Come to class for the 3-D graphics: Formerly was: Friday Fast Fitness - Neutral Spine in 5 Seconds
Class 2 recipe - Fast Fitness Friday - Healthier Fitness WaterClass 2 Textbook readings: Abdomen and Core 43-59. Prevent Injuries 162-196.
Skills: All above plus double jab, duck-kick, double pivot kick to front and side. Intro to knee strikes. Building positive behavior.
Class 3 on-line readings: Common Exercises Teach Hip Tightness When Kicking, Stretching, and on the Stairs and for healthy knee, foot, and hip positioning for retrieving equipment and ducking - Free Exercise and Free Back and Knee Pain Prevention - Healthy Bending
Class 3 stretching information: Fast Fitness - Don't Shorten Hip When Stretching Hamstring.
Class 3 movie to watch: Formerly was: Fast Fitness - Push Ups with Neutral Spine
Class 3 recipe - Fast Fitness - Healthier Sports Shake
Class 3 Textbook readings: Specificity 9-11. Spirit 128-141. Speed 117-122.
Skills: All above plus slipping, blocking, jab-block, intro to elbow strikes, double kick front back with duck.
Class 4 movie to watch: Formerly was: Children Have Huge Potential
Class 4 recipe - Fast Fitness - Homemade Sports Food
Class 4 Textbook readings: Strength 12-42. Cardiovascular Conditioning 102-107.
Skills: All above, plus shuffle diagonal and arcs, double kicks, triple kicks, varied elbow strikes, spinning backfist, 4way kick.
Class 5 movie to watch: Formerly was: 91 Year Old Decides to Run and Sets Record
Class 5 recipe - Fast Fitness - Cooling Exercise Drink
Class 5 Textbook readings: Breathing 142-144. Healthy Mind 123-127.
Skills: Open hand work, crescent kicks inside and outside, jumping front kick, jumping side kick, ax kick, 360 spinning jumps and spinning backfist.Class 6 health wake up call:
Class 6 movie to watch: Formerly was: Secret To Get Better and Fitter
Class 6 recipe - Fast Fitness - Fitness TeaClass 6 Textbook readings: Healthy Nutrition 145-161.
Skills: Double wrist evasion and strikes, sweeps, dragon tail kick, falls to mat and recovery, basic tumbling for evasion, injury prevention, advanced maneuvers
Class 7 movie to watch: Formerly was: Fast Fitness - Isometric Abs Training
Class 7 recipe - Quick Homemade Almond Milk and Rice MilkClass 7 Textbook readings: Balance and Agility 108-116.
Skills: Bring gloves. All review, Thai / karate roundhouse kicks, intro to heavy bag and contact fighting
Class 8 readings: Abdominal Muscle Exercise - Better, Different, Not What You Think all Fitness Fixer short articles on Martial Arts. and Strengthening your Spirit.Class 8 movie to watch: Formerly was: Fast Fitness - Add Balance, Stability, and Portability to Military Press - Handstand PushupsClass 8 Textbook readings: Performance Enhancement 202-215. Gender 216-225. EndBeginning page 226.Special reading - Muay Thai Monks on Horseback - scroll down.
Before the Semester Ends
Remember to register for Smarter Healthier Yoga and next boxing class. Students who qualify may move on to Advanced Kickboxing class. "Advanced" is the name the university gave it. It is a continuation of skills and training.
These students did so well in my beginning Kickboxing class, I gave them a treat - learning Tamashiwara - breaking boards. Click photos for more.
"Hard training, easy combat; Easy training, hard combat"
- Marshal Suvorov, famous Russian General
The Muay Thai Monks On Horseback
We live in Asia part of each year. In 2007, we traveled to a remote northern mountain area near the Thai-Burmese border to visit our friends and teachers. They are the relatives and former teachers of the Phra (monk) Kru Ba Neua Chai who heads the Archa Tong forest monastery, where the Monks ride on horseback.
The Abbot "Khru Ba" is a former Muay Thai kick boxing champion. He leads the young monks and villagers to fight opium trafficking with rightness instead of rifles. Many of the young monks have come to the monastery having seen drug henchmen murder their parents and family. Abbot Khru Ba teaches the novice monks discipline, horsemanship, monastic ways, peace, humanity, and Thai boxing.
Phra (monk) Kru Ba, Abbot of the Archa Tong forest monastery. The Tha word "archa" is a polite word for horse.
Our friends live in a village not far from there. We took the bus north to their village. There is no bus station. The driver dropped us on the road after dark, and we walked into the cool night to the mountain.
Nearby in Myanmar (Burma), drug traffickers from ethnic and government groups move vast amounts of opium and heroin, and more recently, methamphetamine, into Thailand for local and world distribution. For generations they have torn through villages, murdering adults and forcibly recruiting children into their militias. Drug use in the area further damages and destabilizes families and lives through drug illnesses, kidnapping, prostitution, and land control.Drug wars, shooting, bombings, terror, international involvement and dollars have not stopped the destruction. The Thai monarchy, caring for the welfare of all involved, started a program for poppy growers to have income from other crops and industries beside opium. Thai soldiers in the region asked local monks to combat the drug menace by taking dharma (duty to behave righteously) to the hilltribe villagers. One monk was Kru Ba, a former soldier and Muay Thai (Thailand style martial arts) champion, known to boxing fans as Samerchai, and graduate of Ramkamhaeng University in Bangkok. To serve his land better, he became a monk. Another Thai man who wanted to do good gave the monastery a horse.
Kru Ba took in more horses and orphaned hilltribe boys, and ordained the boys as nen (novice monks). Many of the nen had seen their families murdered by drug guerillas. Kru Ba taught the nen discipline, calisthenics, caring for the horses and other living things, the life of doing and saying good, and Muay Thai martial arts.
Villagers line up in the mornings to give alms to the monks and "nen" which means the young novice monks
Soon more fully ordained monks and nuns became part of the monastery. Then Kru Ba started new monasteries. At the time we visited, he had 10 monasteries in the northern hills. Except during periods when monks observe certain restrictions, they train Muay Thai outdoors, in the jungle, or in their thatched boxing ring each early morning and night.
Khru Ba and the monks and nen ride through local areas to show traffickers and locals they can stop contributing to drug addiction. Khru Ba says, "When we meet the Wa (one ethnic group involved), I try to engage them in dialogue, 'Why do you do this?' I ask them. 'How would you feel if these drugs were being consumed by your own sons and daughters?'"
On occasion, Kru Ba has used his Muay Thai to protect his nen and the monastery. As daily training, they incorporate the discipline of doing good into the physical discipline of their training. Kru Ba says, "Boxing for me is something which frees the body and releases the soul from barbarianism. When I box I use every single part of my body and my mind. Buddhism teaches you not to harm or take advantage of people which some may find to be in direct opposition to an aggressive looking sport like boxing. For me, boxing helps me to become a better Buddhist. I learn to control my emotions. I find beauty and peace and stillness in boxing. I get rid of my animal instincts and control them to the point that they become beautiful, an art form for sport, for education, for the discovery of truth. The word "Thai" means freedom and when I practice Muay Thai I feel free - free from my emotions, from anger."
A documentary made on the lives of Kru Ba and the nen has been called, "a heroic undertaking to create a better world." See more on www.BuddhasLostChildren.com.
The Muay Thai Monks on Horseback fight drug lords with education and strength. The Monk (Abbot), the Kru Ba, is on horseback. Paul is the tall one in yellow. I am in purple second from right. We stayed with our friend KunYai (Grandmother) Tiem Pon, pictured at right. The famous monk is her nephew.The young monks (nen) thought it was hilarious that my hair is the same color as their Abbot's horse mane. For some, it was the first time they laughed since their families were murdered in border drug wars.
What Students Say About Kick Boxing
with Dr. Bookspan
This Kick boxing was amazing experience for me as I’m Thai and come from Thailand where the Original Boxing have Begun. I used to learn when I was a very little girl, and now here I am in the United State learning Thai Boxing with The Amazing American Teacher which I have never dream of. I really like this class it very good worked out, fitness, and off course if my body fit my mind have to fit as well as my attitude have to be positive person, and what ever I learn from the class I will keep practice and will use it when I need to for sure, If you have 10 Score for this class I going to give 10 score because I love it, and I see you again in Summer or Spring class. I would like to thank you for everything that you have taught me, I will remember and use it.
- Boonyisa (Parm)
class gave me some of the most exercise I have had in a long time.
Dr. Bookspan showed me I can do a lot of things that I thought I couldn't,
with practice, discipline, and determination.
It is not just an exercise class, it is a class about self-discipline,
about feeling good about myself, and enjoying myself at the same time.
- Allison Lukachik
The class is fun and well thought out.
I like Dr. Bookspan's preparedness and enthusiasm.
Because of the class, I have confidence in everything I attempt
and I am attempting much more.
- Karen Randolph
I have improved my self-discipline.
The class has shown me that I can accomplish more every day.
The class is different from others in its completeness
in terms of exercising both mind and body.
- Juan Rico
I like the (life lesson) stories before each class.
The class is challenging.
I look better and am in better shape.
Dr. Bookspan is great. She has shown me that "I can do it."
- Sandra Davidson
The class has taught me to be stronger and more disciplined.
I have more confidence.
Dr. Jolie Bookspan is absolutely amazing!
She gives us a tough class. It is no "B.S."
It is difficult and do-able and has everything to do with real life.
For dealing with real life now - she has shown me that "I can do it."
- Lily Stepnowski
My life is better. I'm excited to come back every week and do more.
I really enjoyed this class. Dr. Bookspan makes it exciting,
and I am interested in Zen also and I enjoy her stories
before each class and her general outlook on life.
Everything about this class is different from other classes.
- Alane Salvatore
This was a complete departure from my everyday life,
which felt so refreshing.
The class is valuable: there is a whole other world out there.
- Melissa Nielson
My life is better - I'm more confident.
I'm more flexible. "I can do it!"
- Rebecca Scott
In this class everyone is an equal and no one is a failure!
- Nicole Dopirak
I liked the class. It teaches mental discipline.
My life is better because the class has given me mental capacity
to focus my energy on positive and deflect the negative.
- Michael Donato
The class teaches determination and dedication.
It teaches self-discipline and motivation not your typical "group exercise.
It teaches you life lessons in simple stories (i.e. the monk, the coffee bean )
The class is organized and structured.
I learned self-discipline and motivation to accomplish whatever I put my mind to.
Giving up is not an option.
Truly a boxing class not just aerobics.
- Carla Pellecchia
- All techniques in this class are intended to decrease injury potential and improve function starting as soon as you begin using them.
- You should feel effort and exercise in your muscles during and after class, but no strain, twisting, or pain to any joints. If something hurts, you may not be positioning yourself properly. Check with me.
- Do not do anything that increases joint pain or injury potential.
- Pain may occur if you use bad positioning habits and exercises that strain muscles and put joints into unhealthy positioning.
- Keep healthy common sense and use your brain.
- Practice until healthy motion becomes natural - the way you move for all daily life.
- Ask questions.
- Enjoy improving your mind and body. Smile. Relax. Breathe.
- Schedule appointment, if needed.
Free Readings on This Web Site To Fix and Prevent Injury
- How Other Students Fixed Injuries
- Good and Bad Stretches
- Bad Exercises to Avoid
- How to Fix Knee Pain
- How to Fix Disc Pain and Sciatica
- How to Fix Neck Pain
- How to Fix Back Pain
The Fitness Fixer
Change exercise to healthier ways with my free on-line health compendium. Search The Index.
Class Text Books
Healthy Martial Arts
Wealth of training for body and mind. Available in class at discount to students.
The Ab Revolution No More Crunches! No More Back Pain! New, completely revised fourth edition expanded. Learn to stop swayback (hyperlordosis) and the pain from it. Then use the new healthier spine position for all you do. Part II covers revolutionary core training method - No forward bending that stresses disc. Combination of sports medicine and fun exercise to straighten posture and get a healthier stronger workout than with conventional forward bending abdominal exercises. Change your understanding of what abdominal muscles do (and don't do) during daily activity and what they have to do with your back. Used by military, law enforcement, and the nation's top spine doctors.
We Pledge To A Strong Happy Class That Learns Healthier Ways:
I understand all of the following:
- I understand this class is for people who want to learn and improve both body and mind, not just do fad exercises.
- I understand that keeping positive attitude is a workout for the spirit and part of class. Remember to smile and breathe and relax while working hard.
- I understand that the teacher cares, and encourages me to express my concerns, hopes, pre-existing medical conditions, etc, directly for mutual good. I understand that if I don't, that the teacher is not clairvoyant.
- I have been told that several popular fitness exercises and stretches are not healthy and that we change those and do healthier versions instead. I won't complain that we don't do the unhealthy versions.
- I understand that it is helpful to me to learn when I am moving in unhealthy ways, for example, slouching the spine, twisting or sagging at the knee or ankle.
- I understand that it is helpful to me to be interested to change unhealthy joint position to healthy position.
- I understand that if I go back to unhealthy exercises outside of class, that the class is not responsible for pain or injury.
- I understand that the teacher cares for my safety and shows this by watching my form, informing me of unsafe motions, and helping me correct them with words or physical pointing. If I am not interested in safeguarding my health in this way, I must previously inform the teacher that it is my choice not to be talked to or paid attention to, or that I need different means.
- I understand I am expected to make an effort to learn and exert.
- I understand this class stresses practice in self-control and respect. I will not wear sunglasses, chew gum, chatter, or make displays of disrespect or irresponsibility.
- I understand that I am expected to work hard enough to have sore (not injured) muscles for one to three days following each class.
- I understand that having sore muscles is not an injury or something to avoid or fear.
- I understand that I have been told that joints should not be sore, and are a sign of misuse that needs to be changed.
- I understand that to have a fun class, I need to contribute fun.
Certification and More Learning Opportunities
Academy Certification for various levels may be earned by top students through guided study with me.
Continue your kickboxing training with Classes to Advance Your Kickboxing.
Open our RESORT for healthy life training - maybe at your campus, studio or cruise ship? Also join fun and instructive Dr. Bookspan projects - help the world, be in my next books, write rhymes about your pain fixes. Click Projects.
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Click for the Continuing and Advanced Kickboxing Syllabus Page