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As 2023 winds down, I wanted to reflect on the year that was.

This year looked much different from 2022

2023 was full of new challenges for me during a time when I navigated planning my wedding and converted to a new style of karate. 

With the support of the students and families involved in our program, we navigated those challenges well. 

In this post, I look back at some of the highlights of 2023 and preview what’s to come in 2024. 

2023 By The Numbers

First, 2023 ended on a positive note in terms of attendance and registrations.

The last session of martial arts classes—September through December—featured more total active students (19) than we’ve had in the nearly three years we’ve been back. (For comparison and consistency, I follow the same time periods as the Metamora Park District.)

This number includes any student who took a class with me during that time period.  

We also saw the highest attendance during this time frame, with an average of 14 students attending class per week.  

I’m looking to maintain similar levels of registrations and attendance in 2024. 

The 2022 numbers are lower because I opened up class to younger students beginning in January 2023—previously, I’d required students to be at least 13 or older to join class. 

IOGKA National Training Camp

Group photo of 2023 gasshuku training camp attendees

This past July, I traveled to Columbus, Georgia, for an incredible three-day training camp featuring high-level martial arts instructors from around the country and even Singapore. 

I’m optimistic I’ll be able to attend 2024’s seminar, which is being moved from the summer to mid-October due to the sweltering heat Georgia served up this year. 

Students Competed At The Ironworks Martial Arts Open

Two of our students competed in Beloit, Wisconsin, and represented our school very well. 

Our students don’t have much competition experience under them, and I thought this event helped boost their confidence and their skills. 

I also appreciate the support of their families who traveled to this event. 

We’re keeping an eye out for more tournaments in 2024 for any students looking to enter the competitive aspect of martial arts.

Promotions For Everyone

Promoting a student to yellow belt
We finished our last testing of the year in November. Thanks to Brittany W. for the photo.

It’s been my honor to promote students throughout the year in Shorin-ryu karate. 

I’ve had brand-new white belts progress to end the year with a yellow belt. 

I’ve worked with a student to convert him over from our previous style to Shorin-ryu. 

Working with each student has been a rewarding experience for me, and I hope you feel the same way about yourself or your child. 

Mr. Steve Aldus promoting me in November 2023. Thanks to Mrs. Kim Aldus for the photo.

I also received two promotions this year—five days apart, in fact: 

  1. 2nd-degree black belt – Okinawan Shorin-ryu karate under Hanshi James Gifford, chief instructor for the International Okinawan Budo Kai. 
  2. 2nd-degree black belt – tai chi chuan, Hsing-i chuan, and baguazhang under Si Tai Gung Steve Aldus, an IOBK advisor. 

We Shined A Light

Yeah, I know that’s not grammatically correct.

But, we participated in the 2nd annual “Shine A Light On Metamora” Christmas tree campaign.

Ours was one of 50 live trees that lit up the historic Metamora square throughout the holiday season.

Thanks to everyone who came out to help decorate.

(Thanks to Brittany Wilburn for the photos here and in the header of this post)

What I’m Looking Forward To In 2024

I’m looking forward to continuing what we’re building in Metamora. 

My favorite moments aren’t the trophies or medals we win, or even the promotions and new belts our students achieve.

It’s the in-between moments…

  • When a student in our tai chi class tells me he hasn’t fallen in two years because he’s improved his balance.
  • When a student in our karate class asks a question that is so far advanced from where is now, that he sees the long-term view without even knowing it. 
  • When students and parents show up to help decorate our Christmas tree in the Metamora square. 

Without giving too many details away, here’s what I’m looking forward to in 2024:

  1. Traveling to Florida for a martial arts seminar hosted by a friend and featuring my instructors. 
  2. Making better business decisions, like expanding class offerings. 
  3. Hosting an anniversary party to celebrate 22 years of Metamora Martial Arts. 
  4. Marching in our town’s annual parades. 
  5. Competing in more tournaments, including March 23 in Springfield at the Bill Auvenshine Memorial Tournament (PDF).
  6. Hosting special events and training opportunities for our students outside of regular class. 

Thank you for a great 2023! 

Adam Bockler

Adam Bockler is the head instructor for Metamora Martial Arts. He's practiced and taught martial arts for 20+ years, holds black belts in karate and tai chi chuan, and is also a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise.