January 2020 Newsletter

Happy New Year! Hope you all enjoyed your holidays!
Look forward to seeing everyone back the week of Jan 6th.
-Sifu Bales 
No classes Dec 29 thru Jan 4th
Q: Why does my neighbor's child
already have a black belt?

A: Because of the multitude of styles, martial arts schools are not rules by a central governing body. Each Franchise, Organization, or School can set their own belt testing requirements. While other schools award stripes for brushing your teeth (yes, that's true), good school grades, and physical exercise - ISMA requirements are strictly martial arts skills related.

ISMA Yellow Belt requirements are more in-depth than some school's Black Belt requirements; and while other schools spot test requirements or only test a student on the requirements for the specific color increase they are making in belt rank, ISMA tests are inclusive... meaning all requirements from white belt through the belt rank the student is testing for is expected to be shown with increased proficiency on each test. After-all the ultimate goal in martial arts is to get the skills in muscle memory proficiently so they can present themselves without the student having to think in a survival situation. 

I think back to the saying "all I ever need to know I learned in Kindergarten". Yes, the fundamentals are taught from White to Yellow Belt... but why wouldn't you want those reinforced with each rank and to a level that shows greater expertise than the previous?

I've had students join ISMA from other schools where they've already earned higher belt ranks or even a Black Belt.  Most find ISMA requirements too difficult. It saddens me to think about the commercialism of martial arts and how instructors at these schools are not challenging their students and also potentially giving them a false sense of security. Many of these students come to ISMA with the attitude that they can defend themselves in any situation. Most find out quickly, in reflex drills, that this is not the case and instead of "emptying their cup" (open to learning more), they get frustrated and drop out. It's human nature to take the path of least resistance, but sometimes in self defense running away (the easiest defense) is not always possible.

If you have any questions on this topic not answered in this Q&A, please feel free to ask. Our website and manuals are great sources for information and if you have a question for an upcoming Q&A topic that you think would benefit others too, please send it via email to Sifu Bales at 

We originally had 116 RSVP's for our holiday party and quickly discovered as the RSVPs grew that we had outgrown our room space. Without any other options, the ISMA holiday party had to be limited to students only. We ended up with 56 student RSVP's with 8 students being ill or no-shows. The 47 who came appeared to have a great time playing the 9 wooden games in a friendly competition for bragging rights and chocolate coins. The Potluck food items were plentiful and tasty!

Congratulations to this year's Raffle
Drawing Winners who took home "Chance"
(photo above)

Thomas Gonzalez
Shounak Guduguntla
Michael Kane
Coraline Lindblad
Anya Mahesh
Evan Wang

We had about 40 students attend this year's snowball fight. Games were played free-for-all, allies, and teams. Then  afterwards the teen/adults played a few blindfolded rounds which is always an interesting adventure.
New Ranks
Congratulations to those
who earned new belt ranking
in December 2019

Yellow Belt
Harsha Nallamothu

Yellow Stripe Belt
Adhish Bairineni
Hitesh Nallamothu
Isaiah Pohlman
Evan Pohlman


Warm Birthday wishes to
the following ISMA Family Members
who are currently training...

Taniya Tinnachardwanit
Heather Kaplan
Ashby Lackey
Faith Noullet
Shounak Guduguntla
Audrey Smith
Diego Ulloa-Erazo
Shantia Grimes-Farmer
Cavin Rajeshkanna
Evan Wang
Samantha Ferraro
Stephen Harden
Matthew Johnson

(and any new students joining us
whom I don't have a birthdate for yet)
ISMA has a 24 hour rule… if you have had a fever or have thrown up within 24 hours of your class time, please skip class! Although we love seeing you, please do not come to class if you are ill with a sore throat, fever, flu, or anything else contagious. Besides cycling the illness to your classmates, ISMA classes can be physically enduring and we don’t want you to relapse and be out longer.
If you are continuously sneezing or coughing during class, we will ask you to leave. We understand “allergies” however please take medicine to control the symptoms during class – even with allergies, you are still projecting germs towards your classmates.

Do you have the current ISMA manual?

The latest update to the ISMA Manuals,
Part I (General Knowledge) and
Part II (Rank Requirements) 
Need an ISMA Student Manual Click HERE


* Open hand sparring is a rank requirement for students testing for Green belt and higher ranks and will be included on the physical belt tests. Students do not need to purchase Sparring Gear until they have earned a Yellow Belt with a Green Stripe on it in preparation for these intermediate testing levels.
The summer uniform option is over - for all students under Green Belt rank, uniform jackets are required.
All uniforms need to be professional looking - ironed, no rips, not too small, or too large and dragging on the ground. UNIFORMS ARE TO BE WORN WITH A T-SHIRT UNDER THE JACKET AND NO EXTERNAL PANTS UNDER THE UNIFORM PANTS.

Students wearing their uniform over external wear: play shorts, swimwear, long pants, leggings, pajama pants, etc are considered "out of uniform" and will not be permitted to line up in rank order or test for stripes/rank. Uniform pants are specially cut for movement and additional external wear under the pants prohibit such movement. In addition, wearing such attire because you want to "quickly change" for your next activity diverts your attention from your present training.

The ISMA uniform evolves with rank to become more street oriented, but it is necessary to be able to move properly when learning new skills so as to execute them properly.
If you would like to purchase an ISMA school shirt ($25), pants, jacket, or a complete new uniform, please contact Sifu Bales.

Notebook of Knowledge

All youth students, minimum yellow stripe belt and higher ranked, should bring their “Notebook of Knowledge” to each class. These notebook can be built using the contents from the Training Tips area of the student page at and should include the  manuals and and any training instructional worksheets. In addition a pencil and extra paper should be kept in the notebook. Notebooks are vital to earning merit stripes on the Yellow Stripe belt, but they can become a great motivator  for white belts as well. For more information, please check out the Training Tips area on the Student Page at
When in doubt, log on to "Calendar" from For last minute updates listen to the message at 972-379-7438. The voice mail message will be preceded with the date and time for any specific emergency updates.
Inclement Weather: ISMA elects to follow the policy of the Plano and Allen school districts as it pertains to inclement weather only (not holiday closings). If the ISD is closed due to inclement weather, most likely ISMA will be closed within that city, but make sure you check our website or phone message to be sure it wasn't an AM situation only (i.e. morning ice melted and warmer evening temps).
Make-Up Classes: ISMA does not offer make-up classes for students missing class due to their own scheduling conflicts. In the event that ISMA has to cancel a class due to an unforeseen emergency (and not a scheduled offsite event), we will try to provide options for students to make-up those unforeseen cancellations. ISMA is not responsible for cancellation of classes made by the city.



For specifics log-on to

 Joe Farmer location:
Register promptly. Late enrollment subject to add’l $15 fee.

Carpenter Park location:

Winter / Spring registration:
12/7/2019....... Plano Residents
12/9/2019....... Non-Residents

Students in the Teen/Adult Level II class, don't forget to register for Level I and Level II both.
Level II is an add-on and not a stand alone course.

Thank you for your support and continued training
You must register the first day registration is available to you 
If you don’t get into a class, make sure you are promptly added to the wait list.
Continued enrollment is not guaranteed.
Please read the specifics on registration procedures from Part I of the Student Manual.

Martial Arts training is intended to be continuous, but sometimes life gets in the way of things we would like to do. Please respectfully inform me if you are dropping out or ever plan to miss an entire session so I can adapt the classes/sizes accordingly and prepare how many open spots there will be available for potential new students - it takes tremendous planning to juggle numerous classes with all ranks, skills, and ages. Thank you.

Both rec center locations are enforcing tuition rate increase. Plano already increased some of their class rates for Fall and the Allen classes were increased $5 / month January 2020. Before you sigh in disappointment, the last increase of ISMA tuition was in 2010 when Zayd Moosajee and Nick Breese (John Paul's older brother) had both just earned their YELLOW STRIPE belts in the YOUTH classes. For those who know these individuals, they both are attending College now! :-) 

Austin's Adventures
( Sifu Bales Muppet, ISMA Mascot, and Member of Dog Scouts Troop 119 )

Even though Santa brought Austin 7 new toys for Christmas and his "grandparent's" brought him another new one in a strong reusable gift bag -- he found the bag most intriguing to play with Christmas night while the rest of us played dominoes. Go figure.

If you're still in need of a 2020 calendar, Austin's photo was selected to be in the 2020 Doo the Right Thing calendar. His is the November calendar page photo. If you would like to view or print a copy of the calendar, you can do so by clicking on the link button below. Thank you for all your support and to all who voted for him!

2020 Doo the Right Thing CALENDAR

Just a little calendar history... if you scroll to the bottom of the Calendar page you'll see previous Doo the Right Thing calendars. Tanner, ISMA's first mascot, is in the 2016 Calendar and is the Cover dog for the 2017 Calendar. Austin is also in the 2018 Calendar on the inside cover and in the 2019 Calendar for the month of August.
Thank you for reading this newsletter
being an informed member of the ISMA family.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns... please contact me. ISMA is not just a "rec center class". For over 22 years it has been a family, my life, and my livelihood.

Because I teach 5 days a week, have two other specialty businesses, and a part-time job... email is the best way to get a complete detailed response to a question.

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Inner Strength Martial Arts · c/o 3004 White Oak Drive · Plano, TX 75074 · USA

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