October Nagazette

• Zombie Kids Night Out
• Tournament Kudos!
• Mas Skylar on Leadership
• Important policy change!



Halloween Kids Night Out

October 28th, Friday, 6:30-10pm

Zombie Fight-Night!

A creative workout, movie, creepy snack, & fun!
Sign-up online at the Naga store or email to reserve – this event always fills up!
$30 per child/siblings $50.


Mas Skylar’s Black Belt Essay

When people find out I practice martial arts, their reaction is always “Can you punch through a wall?” or “Hit me, let’s see what you got!”
I answer honestly (without demonstrating), but inside I hear a slogan from my training that rings true: “Throughout history, those who loved to fight were destroyed, but those who did not know how to fight were also destroyed. Strength and virtue — only those together can lead others.”
When I emerged from my brown sash test, I was exhausted and euphoric, having gone through the greatest physical ordeal of my life. I assumed my training for black belt would continue to focus on forms and self-defense techniques. In part, I was correct — there were new things to learn and old ones improve upon — but much of my time at the Studio stopped revolving around me. The color of my rank – brown – was a representation of the roots of Poekoelan, a commitment to fully understanding the art and teaching students who are following in my footsteps.
So I began to assume a greater leadership role in the Studio. It wasn’t always smooth; I often received “gentle” guidance on becoming a better teacher. While frustrating at times, assuming more responsibility was the way for me to forget my ego and devote myself to the Poekoelan community. It was the essence of “gotong royong”: by giving back to others, I was rewarded with self-confidence, communication skills, and leadership experience.
With the experience of four years as a brown sash, I entered my black belt test with a confident (slightly nervous) mindset. As with all other enormous tasks, I cleared my mind and focused on the present. I let go of all my stress, let go of the challenges before me, and breathed. Once I bowed in, I was locked in, and didn’t let go until 48 grueling hours later.
I now possess an unassuming piece of black cloth with white electrical tape around the ends. The actual belt cost less than $5 dollars, but it represents so much: my ability to break bricks, run ten miles, and exhibit stamina rivaling the best triathletes. However, that’s not why I tested. I did not put myself through the most physically demanding weekend of my life so I can brag. I did it to become an official figure of leadership in the Studio community.
In many martial arts, black belt is more or less the end of training. In Poekoelan it is a new beginning. I have proved my ability to perform scores of techniques, but now that I have to teach these standards, I am learning them again. While teaching, I am forced to clarify the steps in my brain. Every time I teach, I re-learn and the experience is immensely gratifying.
Now when I line up with the other black belts, I look across the room at the students before me, and remember how far I have come. Rather than feeling boastful of my accomplishment, however, I am humbled. I looking back, I see what I must do to go forward, as a role model and mentor for those aspiring to do what I have done.
Mas Skylar, Mas Ryan, Mas Jake and Mas Ben recently passed their black belt tests with flying colors! Mas Jake, the youngest at 12, has been training since he was four years old.  The others on average have put in over ten years of training. It was huge accomplishment and each is an exciting addition to our wonderful black-belt cohort! Congrads to all!

Free Test Prep Class with Mas Rob: October 16th, 4-5!
Color sash test November 5th, 9am!

tournamentWe rocked the City of Berkeley Tournament with spirit and HEART! Congrads to all! Missing from these photos of our tournament team: Mas Jake, Mas Emiko, Mas Dogan, and Mas Theo – amazing job by EVERYONE! Next one in March!

Important Policy Changes: In January, we’ll celebrate 15 years at this location – and the signing of a new 10-year lease! However, as imagined, the increase in our rent for this agreement was substantial. As a result, after many many years, we are raising dues as of January 2017 when child and adult tuition will increase by $6 per month. The Jungle Gym rate will change from $88/mo. to $99/mo. If this is a hardship for you or you family please let us know. We are excited to be ensuring the next chapter of Naga and thankful for your support!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

September Nagazette – Join in the Fun!

Teen/Women Fight Night!

Testing/Stroll Weekend

Try a free class any Saturday!

Olympic Spirit


Thornhill, Chabot, Crocker, Hillcrest, Emerson, Beach and Cragmont!


Join us this Friday for a special Olympic Spirit Kids Night Out!  Games, crazy teams, and the animated “Hercules” film. 6:30-10 pm; the $30 donation to the Tulen Foundation goes towards black-belt college scholarships. Call or email to reserve your place! This is a great way for those in our after-school programs to meet the gang here at Studio Naga!  We promise fun!

Black-belt testing begins Friday Sept. 9th 5:30 Solano Stroll demo that same weekend – all welcome!
Sign up for demo on the back counter!


fight nightTeen/Girls/Women’s Self-defense this Thursday! 

This group of empowered women are smiling because they are “Ladies Fight Night” graduates! This short course offers practical and proven self-defense skills in a positive, peer-supported atmosphere.  Our upcoming class is open to girls and women, tweens and up. Just a few spaces are left so call now if you’re onboard: Thursday, August 25th, 6:30-8pm.  Includes a celebratory cupcake! $30/$50 family pairs.  Be a Superhero in your own life!

TEST PREP with Mas Rob: September 18th, 4-5! ALL welcome!
(Next color sash test early November)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

August at Naga!

Test Prep Class 8/14

Life Skills!

Save the dates!

Teen/Tween Girls Self-Defense

Back to School Kids Night Out

Adult & Teen Cun Tao welcome to attend 3rd phase in August!
Test prep class 8/14 4-5 pm. Open to all – review your standards with Bantoe Rob!

full camp

Pendekkar Amber’s Life Skills
It was a treat to have Pendekkar Amber for Camp Courage. Pendekkar has always been extraordinarily motivated. In high school, she developed her famous “Life Skills” to share her philosophy with her peers. Now as the Corporate and Diversity Coordinator at MFS Investment Management in Boston, she recently updated her list to show how these skills help her now:

Alignment started because I wanted the kids to learn good form but also understand how our principles work in life – like sitting up straight leads to focus while slouching hinders it.  Now at work, I tend to slouch when I’m tired and then I’m not fully able to focus. Good alignment is especially important in meetings because my colleagues won’t take me seriously if they think I’m disengaged.

Communication came from observing kids during class; they like to tell each other what to do without listening to the one another (like when taking out and putting away mats.) I told them that if they could not only talk but also listen they would learn more and there would be fewer misunderstandings. Working in a collaborative team with stakeholders in my company and the community, it’s crucial for me to listen to everyone’s needs and be thoughtful in my response.

Looking sharp came from being told that if we wanted to be black belts we had to look like black belts. Black belts look presentable. This then transferred to, if you ever want something from mom and dad, looking presentable and good communication would up the chance of success. Now at work, I have talked about what I wear with my boss. Being young, it’s really easy for people to dismiss me or think that I’m “someone’s assistant.” The dress code at my office is business casual but I personally dress more formally to counter any perception of inexperience.

There is no try came from all of the kids saying that they would try to do a form or try to pay attention. MGABarbara told us there is no try: you just do or not do. In college and at my job, I either complete something or not. I’ve learned to fully commit to my tasks, or be clear when I can’t. Saying I can “try to get it done” means I won’t be happy with the work I produce and likely others won’t be happy either.

Awareness came last, watching kids run during warm ups. They would all bunch up together and crash into each other. I told them that if the were aware of who was in the room, running would be safer, and that we would all be able to get more things done. Today I am aware of the needs of my team which allows me to have a greater impact in my job.

xoxoxo Pendekkar Amber


Pendekkar is a great example of someone who believes in herself. In high school, she played several sports, earned top grades, and consistently taught the Naga kids. Amusing to many of us, back then she signed her emails “You know you love me 😉 Awesome Amber who is Fab!”

Our Last Solano Stroll?!
And a full weekend of testing 9/9 – 9/11- Test starts Friday at 5:30pm.  The Stroll is Sunday from 11:30 am.
What to expect? Click this video of last year’s Stroll – made by Mas James Wiley!

Teen and ‘tween girls self-defense class 8/25 – register here!
And keep watch for an end-o-summer *special* Kids Night Out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Summer Growth!

Test Prep Class 7/24

Berkeley Library 7/13

Great Camp Photos!

*** We’re closed July 4th -Train independently?! ***
Test prep class 7/24 4-5 pm. Open to all – review your standards with Bantoe Rob!

campt 2016

Fun times, wild moves, kooky antics (the unicorn!), great training, amazing community, inspiring tests, stupendous scavenger hunt, promotions, amazingly clean tents, s’more pancakes … and a beautiful Bantoe Ceremony!
Talent show You Tube video coming soon!


Did you know MGALouise wrote a kid’s book about the history of martial arts? On July 13th, Wednesday, at 3:30 kids from the Studio and Mas Cathie will read from The Tiger’s Eye, the Bird’s Fist and demonstrate our art at the North Berkeley Public Library during story hour. Join us? Talk to Mas Cat or MGALouise if you’d like to come along – it will be fun and educational!

love our neighborhood

We Loved “Love Our Neighborhood” Day!

Appreciation to everyone who helped make it a success.

Our next demo is September 10th – Solono Stroll & testing weekend – save the date!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

June Nagazette


June 4: Love Our Neighborhood

Summer Camp?

Celebration: June 22nd!


Congratulations to our black belt graduates!

Huge accolades to our recent graduates, Mas Lindsay and Mas Naomi! Both young women were among our first students here at Naga, and they have demonstrated incredible determination, leadership and excellence in their college careers – as well as stayed connected to the Studio.

 Mas Naomi Zingman-Daniels Northeastern University, Psychology

Mas Naomi Zingman-Daniels Northeastern University, Psychology

Mas Naomi graduated summa cum laude, and Mas Lindsay graduated in just three years. Both have landed jobs in their fields; Mas Naomi has a research position in Boston, and Mas Linds will be staying on in Hawaii working to educate people about marine life as a dive instructor.They join Pendekkars Ethan and Amber as Tulen Foundation Scholar graduates. Funds raised in our auction and through various other events (including our upcoming bake sale!) go to the Tulen Foundation, a 501c3, to provide each college black belt with $500 per year of higher education.

We believe in education, in supporting these young leaders financially as well as with our resourceful community.  This is a wonderful way to fund a better future. You can help with a tax-deductible contribution to the Foundation, or by baking for Saturday’s bake sale!

Other college black belts are arriving home for summer and will be helping with camp this year. Knowing these inspiring young people has been truly joyful – we wish all of them the very, very best! And we know they will be in touch – we are always connected!

For more info + awesome pix of the college kids: www.tulenfoundation.or

Mas Lindsay Price-Friend University of Hawaii, Marine Biology

Mas Lindsay Price-Friend University of Hawaii, Marine Biology

Love our Neighborhood is THIS Saturday! 

Join us Saturday from 10-4 for demos, teaching, bake sale and fun! Bring lunch and come for the duration! (Parents, please talk to us if you want to leave your kids with us for some of the day.) This is a great time to work together, strut our stuff, and let our neighbors far and wide know what we’re up to. Mas Max Becerra, above, showed great concentration at last year’s Solano Stroll demo – he punched through that board like butter!


Bantoe Ceremony, black & brown sash testing, community dinner, June 22th!

A Ceremony for Bantoes Abby, Spyke, and Cinthia will start at 6pm at Tilden Camp, Wednesday June 22th. This is a very special event and all are welcome. The ceremony will be followed by a community dinner; please pre-pay and sign up at Naga for the simple meal, hamburgers and salad. Later that night, older students will return to Naga for the some of the brown sash and Bantoe testing. (There WILL be adults staying behind with the campers!) Talk to MGL or your child’s mentor if you have questions about these exciting happenings!

TEST PREP with Mas Rob: June 19th, 4-5! ALL welcome!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

May Nagazette

May 13: Kid’s Night Out

June 4: Love Our Neighborhood

Enroll now for Summer Camps

Auction Action—You can help!


surfing monkeyKid’s Night Out!

Monkey Around! May 13th 6:30-10 pm. $30 per child, siblings 2/$50. Sign-up here. Celebrate end-o-school with kids from ALL our programs! Games, snacks, Kung-Fu Panda movie, fun!


piesLove our Neighborhood Day

Join us Saturday, June 4th, 10–5pm for our annual street fair! Bring lunch and spend the day. A huge demo (like the Stroll), bake sale and community fun for all: sign-up on the back counter!


PA gradAuction Action!

Help us support college-bound students! Do you have connections to local businesses, holiday homes, or ? Our auction funds Naga scholarships and Black Belt College Awards. We’d love help! Talk to Bantoe Cinthia or MGALouise with your ideas or to pitch in! Pendekkar Amber, above, one of our first graduates, is now on the board of the Tulen non-profit!


camp run

Join us at Camp Courage!

Camps are still open – weeklong trainings with friends old and new! A few slots are available in the Tilden overnight and day camp. And Studio Camp in July is a great path to intense training. Also, all Naga students and families are invited to Tilden on June 22nd for dinner and very special Bantoe Celebration at 6:00 pm.  Sign-up for camps here!

How to raise black belts in a (sometimes) white belt world

black belt

Q: How long does it take an average person to earn a Poekoelan black belt?

A: An average person doesn’t earn a Poekoelan black belt.

Since the 16th century when fight-to-the death life skills were eclipsed by weaponry, martial arts training has focused on teaching a way of life, about how to live without fear, gain confidence and be better people. We’ve got centuries-old traditions shaping our values.

In good martial arts, effort is lauded over talent, and attitude is as important as accomplishment. Keeping these values to the fore actually addresses a huge swath of issues in the Studio. Unlike professional sports, or even sometimes business or politics – here, self-serving drive and physical talent will only get you so far.

We take a long time to “cook” our black belts, even to earn a new sash. This is challenging for both kids and adults. And testing is sometimes challenging for those around us, parents and friends.

Today, when promotions of all sorts are often expected rather than earned and graduation from kindergarten is cause for a ceremony, I know there are frustrations about the requirements – and the responsibilities – which mark the slow creep to black belt here. But the long path underscores our values: perseverance, a willingness to challenge ourselves, to look within rather that at others for a measure of “how we are doing.”

The bar is high – for everyone – but the results return tenfold. As we all help each other prepare now and for future tests, remember that challenge is key to change and growth. For some, the hard part is finding time to train, for others it’s the physical test, for others it’s the discomfort of teaching. Even those with mega-sports ability must develop leadership skills, and demonstrate both humility and empathy in order to progress.

But a Poekoelan black belt is not something you end up with, it’s earned over many years with a lot of sweat, sacrifice, and struggle.

This June at Camp Courage, a handful of people are testing for first through third degree black belt, along with some brown sashes. These are long tests – multiple days and nights – but the tests represent years, if not decades of training.

When I look to my right, at the row of those that have made it to black belt during the 18 years of the Studio, I am stunned by their growth, humbled by their commitment, and thrilled to see the line growing longer.

Each black belt, wrapped in that piece of cheap cotton, beautifully represents the art: humble and powerful, perfect and always striving for improvement, and wrapped in the efforts of self and others.

It is my honor to stand with and beside these new age warriors.

xoxo MGAL

PS: This in no way is to disparage white belts – especially in the Studio where earning a white belt is ALSO hard!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

April 2016

• Spotlight on the Paskes!
• Camp Reminder
• Screen time?!


Earlybird Camp Courage discount: Register by April 1st!
Free Test Prep Class April 17th – 4-5 pm
pandaMovie madness?
A gaggle of us went to see Kung-Fu Panda 3 – and it was great! Totally recommend! For more inspiration, watch Mulan – great for girls! – and the first of the Panda series.  We’re often asked about how to inspire kids whose enthusiasm grows damp, try movie night – really – and let us know how it goes. The messages in these films rock!



Pendekkar Jeanessa looking great in her new fancy gi top after celebrating her promotion at our special “Goeroe’s Workout”! Congrads to PJ who was the first student to find MGALouise on the West Coast 18 years ago. Thank you for a wonderful journey, and for teaching a great class that night. More special workouts and celebrations ahead this summer!


As some of you know, MGALouise is crazy for swimming. She’s hosting a free event at Naga about open water swimming on April 24th with three VERY accomplished athletes. Wine, cheese and inspiration for those of you who might want to join her in the Bay this summer. Alcatraz anyone?  4-6pm, open to all!

Next! Mas Sam Denny, 11, roving Nagazette Reporter interviews the Paske Family…



Studio Naga is a friendly and kind community that cares for everyone who comes through its doors. To me, this reminds me of a family. However, inside this large family there are smaller families that train together. Three people in the Paske family train; Mas Julia (age 6), Miriam (8), and Abby (40). Mas Miriam, a white sash, and Mas Julia, now 2nd stripe, started training 2.5 years ago and Mas Abby started last year.  (And then took a break to birth baby Linus!)

Mas Abby, a math teacher’s teacher (!), picked the studio for her girls because she saw many fierce women role models for her daughters. Even though Mas Miriam and Mas Julia were at first unsure, they became used to the Studio upstairs in Jungle Gym.

When Mas Abby saw her daughters having so much fun, she started training in the family classes. As they got to know Poekoelan they learned the four animals and each leaned towards their favorite. Mas Miriam likes crane, Mas Julia, monkey, and Mas Abby, the tiger.

Before class they have a pre-workout routine, to have a good snack or breakfast and sometimes run around outside. “Getting the kids dressed and in the car on time is a pre-workout routine. Or maybe it’s the real workout,” said Mas Abby.

Their favorite things about training differ: Mas Miriam likes her mentor, Mas Cathie, who takes special time to work with her. “I like that I am a white sash because it took a lot of work to get to it,” she added.

Mas Julia enjoys being taught by Mas Simon. Mas Abby loves training with her family because she sees how hard they work, which makes her very proud.

The Paske family is a special part of the big family of the Studio and I feel lucky I had the chance to interview them.

– By Mas Sam Denny, reporting from Oakland.ext! Mas Sam Denny, 11, roving Nagazette Reporter interviews the Paske Family…

Someone you’d like to see in the Zette? Or would YOU like to report? Let us know!

Save the date: June 4th is Love Our Neighborhood Celebration!
Demos, bake sale and special guests!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized