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Meet Frank McCarroll of Practical Karate in Bay Ho Area – Clairemont

Today we’d like to introduce you to Frank McCarroll.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Practical Karate was started ten years ago with a threefold purpose. First was to teach children the traditional martial arts values of perseverance, focus, respect, discipline, cooperation, goal setting, and achievement. Second was to teach adults and children effective self-defense skills to improve their confidence and the ability to defend themselves, should the need ever arise. The final goal was to provide a place where like-minded individuals from different cultures and backgrounds can come together to exercise and create a community. After struggling in school, and hating it as a result, I got into karate at the age of 18. Thanks to the perseverance, focus, and discipline I learned from my instructor I went from barely graduating high school to receiving an academic scholarship to study in Japan. In addition to the discipline and work ethic that I received from karate training one of the biggest benefits was the sense of community. Because of martial arts, I have formed friendships and strong bonds with people from different backgrounds and cultures that I would have never met if not for martial arts. Martial arts opened my eyes to the obvious fact that we are all the same.

Regardless of our nationality, ethnicity, religious or political ideologies we can all find common ground and learn to accept our differences as a positive thing so we can embrace diversity. After returning from four years in Japan I moved to San Diego and started teaching Adaptive Karate (i.e.karate for people with disabilities) at The Institute for Effective Education (TIEE) in Mission Valley. After seeing how incredibly beneficial karate training was for the students at TIEE I decided to make the leap to open my own karate school in 2008. Spreading the benefits of martial arts became my purpose in life. I taught at three different locations before I finally started to build up my student base while teaching at Barum Jiu-Jitsu in the Rose Canyon area of Clairemont. Three and a 1/2 years ago, I opened up our current location on Morena Blvd in the Bay Ho area of Clairemont.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, it was anything but smooth. At my first three locations, I would typically have one or two students per class. It was really discouraging. I would drive home from teaching class and alternate between giving my self-pep talks and berate myself for thinking about giving up. The times that the thought of giving up would creep into my head I would get angry with myself and think, “You’re a black belt! You can’t quit. Figure it out and get after it!” My instructor back in Detroit, Sensei Michael Schaefer, instilled in me the concept that black belts don’t quit, we keep pushing until we achieve our goals. I have the utmost respect and admiration for Sensei Schaefer and there was simply no way I was going to call him up and tell him I was quitting. Pushing forward was the only option for me. The martial arts side of things was always pretty simple because I had the good fortune of training with some of the top instructors in the world. My professional background was in education so figuring out the business side of running a martial arts school was the real challenge. However, things improved drastically once I realized that success in business is the same as in martial arts. You have to educate yourself, work hard, learn from your mistakes and keep pushing forward no matter how difficult it may seem. The only true failure is to quit. Every obstacle and difficulty you face is an important part of the path to success.

Practical Karate – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Practical Karate is a traditional martial arts school that teaches practical self-defense skills and the culture of traditional martial arts to create healthier, happier and kinder students. Our kids’ classes also teach community safety, home safety, pro-social behaviors as well as strategies to deal with bullying and teasing. In addition to karate, we also have classes for Judo, Boxing/Muay Thai, MMA. One thing that makes us unique is that we are like a mixed martial arts school, in that we have classes in numerous martial arts, but we retain the culture of traditional martial arts. It is important that if you teach fighting skills you must also have a code of conduct, a culture of discipline and accountability for students behavior both inside and outside of the dojo (karate school). My experience as an educator and a Masters Degree in education also gives us a unique advantage over other schools. We try to blend the best of both worlds in traditional martial arts and modern education by using the most current instructional methods in education as well as the standards and expectations of traditional martial arts. We use cooperative learning to maximize efficiency in instruction, short and long term goals to ensure progression and use of praise to shape behaviors and performance. We adhere to the ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) model of behavioral modification to improve discipline, conduct, and attitude. As in most traditional martial arts schools, we also set high standards for the students and believe in accountability for conduct and effort for all students. I am extremely proud of the art room and play area that we have at Practical Karate. We have art classes to help students develop creative expression and the play area for the kids to engage in free play. I believe creative expression and free play are extremely important for child development and I am proud to incorporate this into our program. However, the thing I am most proud of is the community we have created at Practical Karate. It feels like a giant family. We enjoy each other’s company and are always there to support one another.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
As a martial arts instructor, there are so many proud moments. From watching kids improve their confidence, discipline and strength to the times when you see a kid realize they are capable of far more than they ever imagined, Watching adults lose weight and get in shape to become happier, healthier and more empowered always makes me proud. However, one moment sticks out above the others. A student of mine noticed a group of kids crowded around another child on the playground at school. The child in the center of the group had an accident and the other kids were adding to her humiliation by encircling her, pointing and laughing. My student walked to the center of the group, put her arm around the embarrassed child and led her over to the teachers. I was extremely proud because I know that her karate training helped give my student the confidence to step in and our teasing/bullying strategies gave her the tools to handle the situation appropriately. To me, the best part of the story is my student never even told anyone about the incident. Her mother learned about the incident the following day when the mother of the other girl sought her out after school and fought through tears as she told her what happened. My student was just doing what she was taught to do and what she knew was right without thinking too much about it. That is our culture in traditional martial arts. Our training gives us the strength and the courage to stand up for what is right. This child is a true leader and her great example will encourage other children to display strength, kindness, and compassion toward others.

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  1. Robert Moreno

    February 22, 2019 at 7:09 am

    Frank, I didn’t know that you were so involved in all of that type of the martial arts. I read your story and it was very impressive, thank you for sharing. I remember going to your dojo with Bob Cherone and Sylvester Lopez, I’m happy that I didn’t miss it, I was able to see some of your students do some of the kata’s, again thank you, Robert

  2. Michael Buckley

    February 27, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    Sensei McCarroll,

    Osu! Congratulations on a fine article and for the well-earned recognition. You exemplify the values instilled by traditional martial arts training.

    Thank you also for recognizing and acknowledging our mutual Sensei, Master Michael Schaefer. I hope one day to be able to visit your dojo .

    Congrats again,
    Michael Buckley
    Sensei, GPKC

  3. David Fleig

    March 10, 2019 at 10:57 pm

    What a great story. I’ve shared it with my family. What did you study in Japan? My teenage daughter would like to do so as well. Congratulations on your success.

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