Friday, November 18, 2016

Top Seven Favorite Martial Arts Podcasts

Podcasts keep me sane. If you're at all familiar with the traffic in the northern Virginia area, you know what I mean. I spend hours every week driving, many times slowly and with the company of thousands of my not-so-closest friends and neighbors. Thanks to podcasts, the experience is much more enjoyable.

When I returned to martial arts training in January, I switched from listening to courses-on-iPhone-or-iPod to podcasts-on-iPhone-or-iPod. (Yes, my car is old enough to require me to use a 2007-era iPod as my primary digital music player!)

In this post I share my favorite seven currently active podcasts. I finish by listing a few that were recently active, and perhaps will make a return in 2017.

I am not listing the podcasts in order of preference. Many times whatever podcast I'm listening to at the moment is my "favorite." Each offers something novel. The order below does not reflect any favoritism.

1. Bruce Lee Podcast. The Bruce Lee Podcast is relatively new; it was first published on iTunes in July 2016, and is currently showing episode 19. Hosts Shannon Lee (Bruce's daughter) and Sharon Lee (no relation) share Bruce's philosophy and wisdom with the audience. They publish almost every week. I recommend this podcast if you want to learn how Bruce Lee's outlook can help you identify your authentic self and live up to your potential. Shannon and Sharon communicate in a very friendly and positive manner, and I always find new ways to connect with the deeper meaning of Bruce Lee's message.

2. Kung Fu Podcasts. Kung Fu Podcasts (note the "s") is one of two podcasts by kung fu sifu T.W. Smith, who lives in the Charlotte, NC area. He explores the culture, adventure, and impact of Chinese martial arts. I like to think of Sifu Smith as a bridge between the worlds of martial arts researchers and martial arts practitioners. For example, I recently listened to sifu Smith explain the content and meaning of a scholarly article about an aikido school in Calgary. Sifu Smith is a big fan of martial arts history and grounding one's practice in physics and structure, not "rainbows and chi-balls." This podcast first appeared in iTunes in July 2014 and is currently showing episode 102.

3. Finding the Path through Kung Fu. Finding the Path through Kung Fu is sifu Smith's other podcast, and appeared in iTunes in June 2014. It is currently showing episode 88. Sifu Smith publishes this content mainly for his students, but the material is broadly applicable to any martial artist. While Kung Fu Podcasts are more about the wider martial arts world, Finding the Path tries to help students develop as people first and martial artists second. It is a more personal journey with fewer outside references than its companion podcast.

4. Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio. If you like interviews with martial artists, Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio is the place to be. Host Jeremy Lesniak uses a set of thoughtful questions to elicit stories and advice from each martial artist each invites on the show. He takes suggestions from listeners for future guests. I took advantage of this opportunity to get my friend Jeremiah Grossman an interview, and he turned out to be the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu player on the podcast. Jeremy manages to land some amazing interviewees, and even the less well known guests are generally interesting. This podcast first appeared in iTunes in April 2015 and is currently showing episode 136. Check out this podcast if you want exposure to a variety of martial arts styles and personalities.

5. Confessions of a Martial Arts School Owner. Do you want to run your own school? If you respond "yes!" then Confessions of a Martial Arts School Owner is my podcast recommendation. I'll mention a defunct podcast shortly that is also a good choice, but Confessions podcaster Zach Hayden is still active. He first published to iTunes in May 2015 and is currently showing episode 71. Zach is a TKD instructor, but he addresses a diverse set of issues for school owners and martial artists in general. he encourages interaction with his audience via Facebook, and is an avid user of new technology and social media. Although I do not yet run a school, I enjoy Zach's enthusiasm and willingness to share tips and tricks.

6. Off the Centerline Podcast. Off the Centerline Podcast is my only active podcast that makes the three-host format work well. Three TKD, Hapkido, and BJJ practitioners in Florida -- Brian Stanton, Shelby Creech, and John Combs -- cover a variety of topics, including martial arts events in the news. The three person format is evenly balanced, with each host offering a distinct point of view. Shelby usually takes one side, with John on the other, and Brian somewhere in between. Shelby is a school owner, so he can integrate that aspect of the industry into the episodes. They also answer questions from the audience and have been kind enough to provide feedback on some of the material in this blog! The podcast first appeared in iTunes in August 2015, and is currently showing episode 34.

7. Iain Abernethy Podcast. The long-running Iain Abernethy Podcast just made the "active" list, having last published an episode one month ago. Iain is currently showing episode 80, but his podcast first appeared in iTunes in October 2006! Iain is one of the leaders of the practical karate movement, so you might wonder why a Krav Maga practitioner like myself would be interested in his point of view. In reality, Iain emphasizes many of the elements that Krav Maga embodies -- powerful, hit-to-knock-down striking, realistic training, understanding violence outside the ring, and related concerns. I really like how Iain makes sense of the martial arts world; for example, I addressed one of his frameworks in my post All Over the Map? Krav Maga and Iain Abernethy's Martial Map. I'd like to congratulate Iain on the latest addition to his family, and I hope to hear from him again soon.

Those were my top seven active martial arts podcasts. The following four are currently inactive, not having published in the last month or two. I'll list them here, and if they return I will say more about them in a future post!

Fight for a Happy Life by Sensei Ando Mierzwa.

Conquest BJJ Business Podcast by Lance Trippett, Kail Bosque, and Nate Grebb.

The Martial Arts Business Podcast with Mike Massie.

Martial Arts Lineage Podcast by Tim Johnson.

What martial arts podcasts do you like? I have a few others queued for listening later. What do you recommend?

UPDATE: As you can see in the comment below, Sensei Ando reports Fight for a Happy Life will be back soon! Therefore, I'll share my thoughts on his podcast. Fight began in February 2013, although iTunes starts with episode 5 from May 2013. The latest episode is number 44. Sensei Ando uses martial arts as a vehicle to teach life lessons. He puts a lot of thought into each episode and frequently publishes an accompanying blog post. I feel comfortable having my kids hear the posts and I believe the wisdom he shares is appropriate for anyone in, say, fourth grade or higher. Sensei Ando packages action steps into each podcast, which will help us all get off the couch and marching toward our goals!

Stay informed of new blog posts by following me on Twitter @rejoiningthetao.


  1. Hi Richard! I'm honored by the shout out. You put me in very good company!

    I'm also happy to let you know that the Fight for a Happy Life podcast will have new episodes released starting next week. I'm not dead... yet! :)

    Thanks again, sir!

  2. Thank you Richard! I just found this.. my media skills have needed improving. I will be sending a shout out to you..!

    Tim Smith at Kungfu Podcasts