Copan Mayan Ruins Day Trip In Central America

copan mayan ruins central america el salvador honduras travel tourism

Copan Mayan Ruins In Central America

I’ve always said that whenever I vacation, I refuse to be a resort ‘beach whale’.  That is, I refuse to spend a week at a typical beach resort and just lie on the beach.  I will get totally bored.  For my vacation time, I would much rather enrich my life with unique cultural experiences and adventure activities like I did with my recent trip to Central America where I scuba dived in Honduras as well as sample local cuisine as shown in the previous El Salvador article and travel video.  Included in the unique cultural component of this trip was also the Copan Mayan ruins.

Copan is considered to be the most impressive of Mayan ruins from an artistic point of view.  The artwork on the Mayan ruins here are considered to be the most detailed of any site discovered so far.  The ruins are located near the town of Copan Ruinas which is actually in western part of Honduras very close to the Guatemala border.

Getting To Copan

So from a travel logistical point of view, Copan is actually closer to get to from San Salvador in El Salvador rather than from Roatan in Honduras where I was scuba diving.  It’s a four hour driving trip from San Salvador which took us across the western part of El Salvador crossing into Guatemala for about 1.5 hours and then into Honduras to reach Copan.

There are buses and other tours to get to Copan from other parts of Honduras and Guatemala but for me, I was flying through San Salvador after my Roatan stay so it made the most sense to do my Copan tour from there.

The drive itself was fairly easy as I hooked up with Roberto Marroquin of El Salvador Custom Tours.  He picked me up at my hotel at 6 am and we stopped in the town of Santa Ana just west of El Salvador to have authentic El Salvadorian pupusas for breakfast.

border crossing copan mayan ruins central america el salvador honduras travel tourism







Crossing the borders was pretty easy too although we had to check in at the customs office for each country we were departing as well as the counterpart for each country we were entering too.   This was of course a waste of time in my mind since I didn’t understand why we had to check in with anyone upon exiting any country.  Fortunately, the customs officials just stamped our passports without asking much questions.  We also had to pay a $2-$3 fee when entering a country.

At The Copan Mayan Ruins

After driving through the quaint town of Copan Ruinas, we finally arrived at the Copan ruins.  The entrance to the site was $15 US with additional optional fees of $10 for the museum and $15 for the tunnels which you have to pay all at once.  The museum is highly recommended while the tunnels can be skipped as they are not that impressive (I saw YouTube videos in advance).

Since the site is outdoor in a very hot climate, it is also suggested to buy a bottle of water at the visitor centre as well.  Then it was a short walk into the main site.

copan mayan ruins central america el salvador honduras travel tourism







In the main open plaza area, there were monuments called stelas which were my first glimpse at the ancient Mayan artwork at Copan.  As Roberto will explain in the video at the end of this article, these stelas recorded the history of each governing era.

stela copan mayan ruins central america el salvador honduras travel tourism

stela copan mayan ruins central america el salvador honduras travel tourism








Then we went over to the Mayan ball game area where I saw nice stone representations of the maccaw bird.  This area was next to the stairway which also recorded the history of Copan with over 1,000 hieroglyphics.  This stairway is now protected under a canopy.

copan mayan ruins central america el salvador honduras travel tourism maccaw









After going up the Mayan observatory structure, we saw another plaza where it reminded me of the ruins where Roman senates use to have their business.  External to this plaza was where an upscale neighbourhood use to be.

copan mayan ruins central america el salvador honduras travel tourism

copan mayan ruins central america el salvador honduras travel tourism























When we were leaving the Copan site, we checked out the local resident maccaw birds up close which was a nice bonus to the Mayan attractions so far.

copan mayan ruins central america el salvador honduras travel tourism maccaws







The museum located in a separate building across from the parking lot is a must see in my opinion.  It houses some of the original sculptures and artifacts from Copan as well as some reproductions of temple and other parts from the ancient city to show what they would have looked like in their glory days.

copan mayan ruins central america el salvador honduras travel tourism museum


















The final stop included in our Copan ruins tour is another small museum which is not located here but in the town of Copan Ruinas itself.  There are some nice original artifacts here as well including some stunning jewellery still in full colour.  These reminded me of King Tut’s treasures in Egpyt.  It’s amazing to realize that these beautiful works of art were created so long ago and has survived up to present days when we can still admire them.

copan mayan ruins central america el salvador honduras travel tourism

Recommendation Of Tour Guide

My tour of the Copan ruins and museums took about two hours which was enough for me. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend anymore extra time especially at the outdoor site as I was starting to overheat. My guide Roberto gave me just the right amount of information at the important parts of the tour as I told him a general overview was more than adequate for me. Just being there to see these magnificent ruins and artifacts was good enough for me.

I would highly recommend Roberto of El Salvador Custom Tours for not only the Copan tour but also for any sightseeing in El Salvador. His rates are very reasonable and his tours are completely customizable and flexible. He does not need to stick to a posted itinerary and time schedule.

On our way back to San Salvador (where there are no other border fees required for the return trip), we stopped at Santa Tecla to see some local sites and experience a quick authentic El Salvadorian dinner before calling it a long but very worthwhile day.

Here is the video of the highlights from my day trip to Copan. It is actually the second travel video from my Central America trip as the first one was in the El Salvador article.

Hope you enjoyed the video and this article. Share it with others who are also interested in Mayan ruins.

Posted in diversity, motivation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is El Salvador A Safe Country To Travel To?

travel el salvador san salvador central america tourism

El Salvador Safe To Travel

Whenever I travel to foreign countries, usually for cultural experiences and scuba diving, I like to visit multiple countries in any single vacation trip.  I see where my flights connect and instead of choosing the shortest layover at a connecting airport, I extend the layover so I can spend some time in that country I’m connecting through.  For my recent scuba diving trip to the Bay Islands of Honduras (Utila and Roatan), I took the opportunity to spend three nights in neighbouring El Salvador on my way back.

El Salvador has a reputation of being an unsafe country to travel to because of the gang violence.  But after much research and due diligence about the country as well as its capital city San Salvador, I decided to give El Salvador a try.  My research suggested that San Salvador was like any other big city where there are both safe and dangerous areas.

It’s a matter of being smart enough to stay in the safe areas and avoid the dangerous ones.  And I hooked up with a knowledgeable local guide to show me around.

Safe Areas In San Salvador

I learned that the areas considered dangerous in San Salvador were to the north and east of the city.  I stayed at a budget hotel called Happy House that was clean and safe minutes from the Metrocentral shopping mall and the Intercontinental Hotel.  This area was pretty safe as I walked around where there were lots of locals in the area.

My guide Roberto from El Salvador Custom Tours showed me a few places around the city including the Santa Tecla area as well as the town of Santa Ana.  We also did a day trip to the Copan Mayan ruins where we went across El Salvador, crossed into Guatemala and into Copan which is actually located in Honduras – a future blog article and video on my journey to Copan coming up in the near future.  He was a wealth of valuable and interesting information.

Trying Out Local Cuisine In El Salvador

One of the things I like to do whenever I’m in a foreign country is to try the local cuisine.  Although San Salvador had plenty of American food chains like McDonald’s, Starbucks and Pizza Hut, I steered clear of them.  I did not come all the way to Central America to eat pizza!

pupusas el salvador tourism san salvador travel







Roberto showed me some local places to eat pupusas, the national dish of El Salvador and I loved them.  To me, eating where the locals eat is a great way to experience authentic culture.

Here is a video of some of the sights I saw while in El Salvador.

So overall, El Salvador has a lot to offer in terms of culture, cuisine, natural sights like volcanoes, beaches and lakes. Touring the country with a guide like Roberto of El Salvador Custom Tours is definitely the right way to go and ensure that you stay in the safe areas and avoid the dangerous ones. El Salvador is indeed a safe travel destination if you travel safe.

Now that I’m back in Mississauga, Canada, I have a sudden craving for pupusas and baleadas (a dish from Honduras).  My friend Janine (originally from Honduras) tells me that there are no pupusas nor baleadas to be found in Mississauga which is really unfortunate!   That’s one drawback of eating authentic foreign cuisine — you might end up liking certain dishes so much that it sucks when you can’t find any near home!

Posted in diversity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toronto Schools Want More Math For Kids – My Reaction

youth speaker canadian leadership people skills

Toronto Schools To Increase Math For Kids

So the Toronto school board will increase math for kids as next year even elementary school kids will get an hour of math each day.  They claim that an increase in math will better prepare kids for their futures.

I agree with them that it certainly doesn’t hurt to increase math at the schools.  This will help kids get into fields like engineering and sciences easier.  However, I would not say that math is the most important area to focus on in terms of a curriculum adjustment for the development of our youth.

As a youth speaker and college speaker, I’ve met many kids through my speaking engagements at schools.  In my general observation of high school and college level students, I would say that their generation is much more tech savy than ever.

They are comfortable with computers, internet and many types of tech applications.  It’s even said that if you need help with computers, just ask a teen in your neighbourhood to help you!

Interpersonal Communications Skills More Important

However, I have noticed a downside to this increase in tech comfort.  I find that many students have a lack of interpersonal communications skills, especially during in person situations.   Many of these kids cannot hold a decent conversation with an adult.

The Toronto school board thinks that by increasing math at schools will result in helping kids become more successful in the future.  But I believe that weak interpersonal communication skills, which is not addressed by math classes, will result in limiting futures for this generation of kids.  Even if these future graduates are able to eventually get jobs in their chosen fields, chances of promotions to management levels will be limited for anyone with poor communications skills.

Companies want managers to have superior communications skills so that these employees can effectively work with many different levels of staff as well as customers and clients.  Technical skills alone will not be enough for most management positions.

Communications skills especially when applied to today’s diverse working environment, should be a top priority in terms of development for anyone who wants to advance towards higher positions in their careers.  Unfortunately, such skills are not often developed even at home because many parents are not great communicators themselves, especially from very technical families.

It is interpersonal communications skills that is one of the key areas I stress during my youth and college speaking programs and I make sure that certain audience group activities to help start develop such skills are included in every program I run.

So I would say to Toronto schools as well as all other schools, yes, increase the math but also make sure that there are changes in school curriculums to help students develop interpersonal communications skills too.


Posted in motivation | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Surprise Who Are Still Skiing Late Season

late ski season skiing skiers improvement

Late Season Skiing

Most Ontario ski resorts are now closed for the season but Blue Mountain in Collingwood is still open.  However, when I went up yesterday to take advantage of a forecasted sunny day, there were only three main ski slopes open and one lodge at the Central area.

Of course, there were no crowds nor lift lines as most recreational skiers have packed up their gear for the summer.  There were still some die hard skiers left out there like myself despite only three runs open.  Many recreational skiers would not bother coming up all the way from GTA (Toronto) for the four hour round trip just to ski three runs.

Those who were still skiing seemed to be local retirees who were keen and good skiers as well as other ski instructors like myself from all over Ontario since I recognized some of my fellow instructors.  This happens every year at about this time during the late season when things are about to close down.

As a result, I noticed from the chairlift that those skiing below are doing so at a relatively high level in terms of ski technique.  This was certainly not your usual weekend crowd where the slopes are jammed pack of beginner to intermediate level skiers.

Pretty well every skier remaining at Blue Mountain was skiing really nice carved turns.  After thinking about this for a bit, I decided that this was not surprising at all.

Ski Improvement Takes A Lot Of Effort Plus Time

Most intermediate level skiers already know that ski improvement takes a lot of effort and time required on the slopes.   I wrote a fairly detailed blog post about how to become a better skier (which all skiers interested in ski improvement should check out).  In snow skiing, there is an enormous jump between intermediate and advance levels even though many skiers might be able to ski down steeper black diamond slopes.

In terms of how much finesse, efficiency and performance skiers ski down slopes is another matter altogether as there is a very noticeable difference when you see intermediate and advanced level skiers on the same slopes.  Those who did make it to advance levels had to put in their time.

There are regular patterns here.  Those who need a lot of variety in slopes tend to stop skiing by late season.  Also, those who want to ski only on perfectly groomed corduroy slopes shy away from softer, messier spring snow conditions.

But for those who are dedicated to ski improvement, these skiers are willing to come up to Blue Mountain to get that extra ski time in and work on their skiing even on just three slopes.  The messier spring snow is viewed as training opportunities rather than just challenging ski conditions to be avoided.

One older gentleman on the chairlift remarked, “Any day on skis is a good day”.   I agreed with him since I felt it was better to be working on my turns on those three slopes especially when there is a lot of room without the crowds than sit at home.

So those of us up at Blue Mountain really do have an attitude about skiing that is very different from your usual recreational skier.   Next time beginners and intermediate skiers ask how to get better at their skiing, perhaps they should try to adopt more of the same attitudes that the smaller group of late season skiers have.

To us late season skiers, the phrase ‘spring skiing’ is a good thing since it’s more opportunity to get better.  You don’t need ideal snow conditions for ski improvement and this can be said about many other things in life.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Become A Better Skier

better skier ski training skiing lessons

How To Become A Better Skier

In my last blog article, I wrote about how there’s always more to learn and that one should never stop learning.  This was a result of my own real life experience through my ski training this winter.  Indeed, it was a notion that can be applicable to many areas of life, not just in snow skiing.  But as I hinted at the end of that article, I’m was going to write another article for my ski students from my mississauga toronto ski club meetup group on how to become a better skier so here it is for everyone else’s benefit.

Here are the steps and approach that I take even after 40 years of skiing and into my 15th year of ski teaching.  I recommend these for all ski students.  These are the same steps that I take which gets me positive results in my own skiing each season.

Get Ski Training From Certified Ski Professionals

Many recreational skiers never take ski lessons after passing the Beginner stage.  And yes, many rec skiers can ski down black diamond slopes but if you watch them come down compared to how ski instructors ski down on the same slopes, you will notice that they don’t look the same.  You will find that it’s often the recreational skiers that look shakier, less confident, less smooth and graceful then the instructors.  And they are the ones to slip and wipe out when snow conditions are less than optimal (icy or messy).

Skiing involves many unnatural skills which just cannot be self taught especially if one wants to ski down all types of slopes with finesse.  Proper ski training is required in order to improve.  Without it, one will just ski the same year after year without any significant improvement to technique.  These are what we often call ‘Perpetual Intermediates’ who have plateaued in their skiing skills.

So yes, the reality is that if one wants to become a better skier, one must take ski lessons from certified ski instructor professionals.  This is why even as an experienced ski instructor (currently a CSIA Level 2 instructor) who have taught hundreds of ski students at various ski clubs and two resorts, I still take ski lessons each season on a regular basis (from coaches with higher level certifications).

Even it you take only 1-2 lessons per season, you can still get important feedback on your skiing and how to improve in your technique.  It’s no surprise that the most improved ski students we see are always the ones that take the most training through ski lessons each season.

better skier ski lessons skiing training

Ski Many Days Each Season

Another important point not surprisingly is to ski lots.  I always tell my Intermediate ski students that in order to get any significant improvement in their skiing, they must get in at least 15 ski days per season, with training of course.  Ski lessons alone are not enough as one needs to take the time to work on what they have learned from each lesson.

As skiers go up the ski levels, it’s a fact that improvements become more gradual compared to when they were just Beginners.  Changes at higher levels are harder to come by as many ski miles are required.  I ski a minimum of 50 ski days per winter (last season I did 70 days).  So ski often.

Ski Each Run With Purpose

A big mistake that many recreational skiers make is that they ski too casually.  When free skiing, they get bored if going down the same ski slopes.   They make the mistake that less steep and shorter runs are a waste of time (especially in Ontario).  They claim that there is not enough challenge at smaller ski resorts.

The question I would have for them is — can they ski that short Ontario blue slope like a certified ski instructor?  Probably not.  So this suggests that if one cannot ski that blue slope as well as a ski pro, than that slope has enough challenge, if it is skied with purpose rather than just casually.  I can made a green slope or even a relatively flat crossover terrain challenging with a few specific drills for even advanced skiers.

Instead of just skiing casually and risk getting bored because of the lack of variety, steepness and length of slopes, ski with purpose on every run.  Ski each run to actively work on a specific skill identified by your ski instructor during a lesson.  Try to get better with that skill on each run.

Then once you feel some improvement, switch over to work on another skill you need to work on.  There should be numerous skills for improvement in all skiers.  If in doubt, ask your ski instructor which areas you need to improve in.

When you are skiing each run with purpose, you will not get bored. I’ve taken instructor training sessions when we skied on the same slope all morning long over and over.  But because we were skiing each run working on something specific, it never got boring even though we were on the same slope for two hours both days.

When I’m working on my own skiing, I often stay on the same slope if I really like the snow conditions and will ski it over and over 5-10 times just to work on specific skills.  I don’t need lots of variety to ski train.

Ski Outside Ontario

Now after having said that you don’t need lots of variety in slopes to improve your ski technique, it might seem contradictory that I’m going to also suggest that you ski outside of Ontario!

This is specifically aimed at Intermediate level and up skiers.  Skiing the bigger and steeper slopes of Quebec, Vermont and western Canada is helpful in developing your skiing.  Slopes are longer which will help develop endurance and often steeper which will provide challenge.

When certain skills are acquired on our Ontario slopes, then it’s time to take these same skills on more challenging terrain outside Ontario.  This will help further develop your skiing as you try to adapt to the bigger slopes.

A good strategy is to develop a good foundation in your skiing skills within Ontario, then travel outside to further develop them (as well as to enjoy the nice scenery of the big mountains).

Spend Time On Easier Slopes Too

Sure it’s exciting to ski on black diamond slopes all the time.  But for some ski skills that are difficult to develop (like separation between upper and lower body), it is worthwhile to spend some time on easier blue and even green slopes too to try and perfect such skills.  If you cannot ski a green slope with near perfection on a specific skill, how can you possibly expect to ski a steeper slope well with that skill?

Near the end of the ski day, maybe do a few runs on easier slopes where the steepness factor is eliminated and actively work on certain skills.  Once you are able to do specific skills well, like separation and getting more weight on the outside (downhill) ski, go back on harder slopes with the same skills.  The idea is to develop skills on terrain where fear and fatigue are not issues.  Then adapt these same skills to steeper slopes.  That’s effective ski training.

I even use the flat crossovers to train certain skills like edging and pole planting to really get into the habit of using them all the time when I ski.  I seldom just casually ski straight to chairlifts just because these are easy areas to ski on.  I want to maximize the use of all terrain for my ski development.

Even if you travel outside Ontario to the bigger slopes of Quebec, Vermont or the Rockies, remember that a long blue slope could develop certain skills more effectively than a double black diamond one.

Free Ski Alone Or With Other Compatible Skiers

Although it’s best to free ski (outside of ski lessons) with others of similar skiing ability, sometimes it’s good to ski with people who are a bit better than you since you might pick up some good habits in technique especially if they also take ski lessons regularly.  But skiing with those who are too fast and/or venture onto slopes too difficult for you will not only stress you out, but can be dangerous if you go on terrain that you are not ready for.

Don’t let others pressure you onto slopes that are too challenging for you unless it’s under the supervision of a ski instructor.   I sometimes take ski students on slopes that are slightly above the level of what they normally ski on just to help them adapt skills to steeper terrain but will never take them on slopes which will be way too hard for them.  I would always take them on runs that I know they will be able to get down safely with direct coaching.

Other recreational skiers may not be able to make that type of judgement with you.  If your friends are too advanced for you, just ski alone or seek out others who ski at more your level.

Also, be careful who you get feedback from too.  Other recreational skiers, even high end ones, do not necessarily know how to assess and teach other skiers.  Only certified ski instructors are totally qualified to do this since they have been put through training courses on how to do this.

At many big resorts especially out west, there are ski hosts or ‘ski friends’ as they are sometimes known as.  These are uniformed volunteers who take you for a free guided ski tour around the mountain on slopes suitable for your skiing level.

Many recreational skiers often do not go skiing because they have nobody to ski with.   Well, if you really want to improve in your skiing, you do not need anyone else to ski with outside of ski lessons.  Again, actively work on specific skills on each ski run and this does not require others to keep you company while you are training.

Taking ski lessons by the way is a great way to meet other skiers of similar ability to you.  Many new and compatible ski friends meet through lessons.

I like to ski with others, especially with other ski instructors also actively training to become better skiers and instructors.  I also like to ski alone.  Both have benefits.   When skiing with others, it becomes social.  But when skiing solo, one can focus better on training as I don’t have to wait for anyone and can get on the chairlifts faster via the singles line.

skiing improvement ski lessons better skier

Get Video Analysis Of Your Skiing

One of the most effective training tools for many sports is video analysis.  Get video shot of your skiing and have a certified ski instructor analyse your technique.  The fact is that you cannot see yourself ski and even if you do via a video, you might not necessarily know what to look for.

When a ski instructor gives you certain feedback just verbally, it might not sink in right away. But when you can see what the instructor sees, then certain things in your ski technique will be much more obvious to you.  It may help motivate you to work harder on those certain skills.

Many issues common with recreational skiers like sitting back too far and no separation of upper and lower body, are really made aware when they can actually see how they ski on video.  Of course, video analysis is also used to watch for what ski students are doing well in their technique.  One can therefore track his or her own progress over time with video.

I offer video analysis for my Intermediate and above ski students as part of their ski lessons with me and they love it.  We would analyse their ski technique as part of the apre ski inside the chalet to wind down our ski day.

better skier ski lessons skiing training improvement

Get Proper Ski Equipment And Properly Maintain Them

Most Beginner skiers rent gear for the first season. But if one wants to seriously improve, one should invest in his or her own equipment. Getting the right gear will result in proper fit, especially for ski boots. And don’t skimp on gear by choosing the cheapest that you can find. Like many other things in life, the better items are higher priced but they work better. Buy the skis and boots suitable for your level and perhaps the next level up so you can develop into.  Just be aware that ski gear for higher levels will be priced higher than Beginner level gear.

I’m often asked whether one should buy new or used gear. Another reality is that ski gear do have lifespans as their performance ability decreases with age. This becomes more important at Intermediate levels and up. If any gear is more than a few seasons old, I personally would not recommend purchasing it for Intermediates or higher.

Remember, good ski gear is like an investment. Yes it’s a relatively high upfront cost but if you spread it over a few seasons, the price per season isn’t bad. And having your own gear sure beats renting all the time.

Another important point related to ski equipment is that improper maintenance (and no maintenance) will hamper your skiing performance.  Get your skis properly tuned and waxed.

Why You Should Become A Better Skier

Now, some of you might be thinking at this point, why should you even bother to try becoming a better skier in the first place? You might already be able to ski down all blue runs and the easier black diamond slopes at this point.  So is there a reason to keep training?

I think so. As you improve as a skier, you will be able to ski more of a mountain as more slopes are within your ski ability. This is helpful when you travel to the bigger mountains. Better skiers will be able to ski more slopes of the big places like Whistler and Banff.

Also, better skiers will be able to ski all types of snow conditions. Having better ski technique allows you to ski deep snow, messy bumpy snow (crud) and icy slopes with more confidence than average recreational skiers who will suddenly run into all sorts of trouble on such conditions. I don’t drastically change my skiing technique all that much when slopes become icy.  Good ski technique prepares you for the ski days when conditions are not that great.  Training to become a better skier will make ice less of a factor in your own skiing.

I should point out that some skills like separation between upper and lower body as well as skiing mogul bumps (or skating on skis and hockey stops for beginners) are not easy to perfect.  While some skills are relatively quick to learn, some can be long term development.  There will be ski days when you don’t think you are improving and on really bad snow condition days, you might even feel that you are skiing worse then before!  This is part of normal ski development.

Recreational skiers who don’t care about ski improvement (and therefore do not take lessons) don’t know any better.  They either accept that the steep slopes are way beyond their abilities or blame poor skiing performance on icy conditions.  They don’t think about improving their skills so their skiing never changes from year to year.  This is the same for snowboarders too.

Don’t give up if you reach a hurdle in your skiing since ski improvement is never a smooth upwards progression.   Milestones can come in little and unpredictable moments in your skiing journey.  It might take many ski days working on certain skills and then suddenly, things will click for you.  This is what happens to my skiing all the time as I could ski days feeling the same and then suddenly, wow, I finally got it for a particular skill.

So there you have it — my main points on how to become a better skier as I shared these with total honesty since these are the same points I personally subscribe to for my own skiing.  I hope these are helpful for you on the aki slopes.

Clint Cora, CSIA Level 2 Ski Instructor
Ski Sports Fitness/GTA Free Spirits Meetup Groups

better skier ski lessons skiing training improvement

Posted in motivation | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Always More To Learn So Don’t Stop Learning

ski training, ski lessons, always more to learn, never stop learning, room for improvement

Always More To Learn

Have you heard of the phrase “there’s always more to learn” or “don’t stop learning”?

It’s said that successful people never stop learning because they understand that if one stops learning, then one stops growing.  I’ve always believed this and I just experienced yet some more real life personal experiences which support this notion.

I just finished a six week training program for ski instructors which involved getting intensive ski coaching from higher level instructors each Monday all day long.  And sure enough, I learned something new after each training session.

I’ve already been skiing for forty years and this is my 15th year of ski teaching.  Many people including some of my own ski students find it surprising that after so many years of ski experience, I am still taking ski lessons so to speak.  I do this because there’s always more to learn.

Just as important is that I’m able to apply what I learn after each training session to my own ski development to make me a better skier.  There’s always room for improvement in the world of skiing much like with many other types of activities.

So when I’m not teaching any ski students through my own Mississauga Toronto based ski club meetup group, I’m spending my ski days working on my own skiing using the tips and feedback that I got from my coaches.   Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays are therefore my ski days to do my homework from my Monday training sessions before and after teaching classes. Even when I’m teaching ski classes, I’m often working on my own skiing technique when I’m doing demos for my ski students — they just don’t know it (until now!).

My coaches usually see a slight but immediate improvement in my skiing during the afternoons compared to the mornings of our ski training days.  This may suggest that in order to get such results, one needs the right coaches which I certainly do have.  But I should point out that I pay about $100 per day in order to get that type of high level ski training.

The more significant improvement comes through my homework or self training during my other ski days of each week.  This is the work needed so that my body starts to adopt new skills and muscle memory or imprinting takes place. Fellow ski instructors training with me each Monday have told me that I come back skiing better each week and this is a direct result of working hard for three ski days in between each Monday training day.

Should Never Stop Learning

So the fact that I’m still able to improve means that one should never stop learning.  This of course can be applied to many other areas of life, not only to snow skiing. Those who are a bit familiar with my past articles or live presentations know that I preach this all the time at my motivational personal development website.

In another blog article, I’ll get into more detail of how I ski train in order to improve.  This would be of interest to many of my ski students who are trying to get to their next ski levels but the idea behind it can most certainly be applied to other areas of life too.


Posted in motivation | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

New 2016 Inspirational Success Calendars

Inspirational Success Calendars

Each year, I select a whole bunch of motivational inspirational success themed calendars for the home or office from one of my favourite suppliers, whom has been a trusted partner for many years.

I update a motivational calendars webpage with images of all the front covers and I’ve also done the same right here in this post to make things easy.  Just click on any of the inspirational success calendars below and you will be directed to their website with more details and photos of each calendar.

Motivational Classics Wall Calendar
Everyday Wisdom 2016 Desk Calendar
Dare to Succeed 2016 Wall Calendar
Tough Enough 2016 Wall CalendarMotivation 2016 Wall Calendar
Motivation 2016 Wall Calendar
Think Outside the Box 2016 Wall Calendar
Inspire 2016 Wall Calendar

Challenge 2016 Wall Calendar
Illustrated Words of Wisdom 2016 Desk Calendar
Believe in Yourself 2016 Wall Calendar
Inspirations 2016 Wall Calendar

These are also great to give staff at the office or customers too. So have fun browsing these motivational inspirational success themed calendars that I have selected for your browsing pleasure.

Posted in motivation | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Continuing With Your Passions For Life Is Possible

free self defense classes self defence seminar class

Passions For Life

I spent over twenty years in active martial arts competition and now in my middle age years, I no longer have the same desire to compete like I did when I was younger. And of course, my body has changed over the years too.  While I’m still physically fit, I’m not as fast nor do I heal as quickly from injuries anymore.

However, I have found ways to keep doing martial arts in some ways during my post competition years. It’s always been my intention to keep doing martial arts for life and in this blog post, I’ll share how I’m doing this even after retiring from active competition as an example of how one can continue to do passions for life, even if you passions were activities that are more suited for younger folks.

Many former martial arts competitors end up teaching and coaching. I did not want to go to this common route since I did not want to commit to a martial arts school long term. I didn’t even want to teach part time say at a community centre.

Effective Self Defense Seminar

Instead, I wanted to give my time to teach general self defense seminars to those who really want to learn. So I make my Effective Self Defense seminar available to groups and organizations (as well as to my own social group) and teach for free as a community service. This gives me a sense of doing something good for the community, ie., my version of giving back to the community.

I also produced an instructional DVD called Effective Self Defense With Karate World Champion Clint Cora which is available online to everyone worldwide at both my website as well as through Amazon – just click on the link for more details.  This DVD is actually now provided to participants of my live seminar.

effective self defense videos dvd cover








So any groups or organizations who are interested in hosting my seminar can see more details at my page for Effective Self Defense Training.

Total Body Stretch Class

One element that I have retained from my martial arts training is the stretching and I have incorporated all the stretches that I did during my competition years into a class called Total Body Stretch. I teach this class a few times per year to my social group.  Even yoga instructors who have taken my class have been impressed by the flexibility exercises I put participants through.  Participants in Total Body Stretch get to try out all the flexibility exercises and stretching that I did when I was competing (and continue to do today).  Some folks have called this class the ‘moan and groan’ class since I get people to do many stretches that likely have never done before.  Most fitness professionals will not have been exposed to many of my stretches as well since flexibility training is not a big component of overall fitness but in my opinion, it should be.

martial arts stretching total body stretch class

Martial Arts At Home

I still train in martial arts at home although a little less frequent at once or twice per week rather than every day when I was still competing.  I also do not train at the same high intensity as I did during competition years too.  So although my current skills might not be at competition level, at least I no longer get any injuries from martial arts at my current lower intensity training.

My current objective for my home martial arts training is to retain the competition forms, both empty hand and martial arts weaponry, so that I can easily still perform them at a show or demonstration if asked to.  And since I still enjoy doing these forms very much, I do use them as part of my overall fitness activities.  This sure beats the boredom of doing just general gym fitness workouts in my opinion.

In addition to my martial arts forms, I’ll also do a bit of kickboxing drills as well as self defense drills to maintain some skills.  I no longer condition my hands for board breaking but I would like to acquire either a heavy bag or body target to do some sort of hitting, again, just to maintain some skills of actually being able to execute some martial arts strikes with some impact.

Combination With Music Videos

As another outlet in terms of entertainment, I would also like to combine a bit of martial arts into future music videos I’ll produce.  This will combine two of my favourite passions in life, martial arts and music.  I already shot one such video which was introduced in a separate blog post about my Joe Satriani inspired music video.

private lessons martial arts training weapons bo staff toronto mississauga







So with these various activities – self defense seminars, stretch classes, home training and music videos – I’m finding that I’m able to keep my interest and motivation relatively intact in martial arts even after competition retirement.  I’m projecting that I will be able to do martial arts for life in some form even at a lower intensity level compared to when I was an active competitor by doing these kinds of activities.

I hope that this will also demonstrate that everyone out there can continue on with their favourite passions in life in some form or another even if these were activities were when they were younger. It is still possible to find ways to keep involved for life even if not at a high level or intensity and find enjoyment with them.

I know that for myself, I feel great when I can still do the same passions I fell in love with so many years ago even if I do them differently these days.  Hope everyone else can do the same too.

Posted in motivation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joe Satriani Inspired Rock Guitar Instrumental By Clint Cora

joe satriani rock guitar instrumental inspired clint cora

Joe Satriani Inspired Rock Guitar Instrumental

Joe Satriani is a legend among rock guitar fans and like many guitar virtuosos, his music is not mainstream.  However, he is considered a guitar God among fans and other rock guitarists around the world.

One thing that I personally like about Joe Satriani’s music is that his guitar instrumentals have a melodic structure to them.  This is unlike many other guitarists, even other guitar virtuosos who play instrumentals like they were extended guitar solos.  Joe Satriani instrumentals actually sound like real songs rather than just guitar solos.

His work did inspire me a bit on how I play the instrumental version of my original tune called Free Fall To Love.  I tried to put in some melodic structure in addition to guitar solos throughout the song.

Although this song was recorded quite some time ago, it was only last year when I finally came around to shooting a video for it.  And some locations around Jack Darling Park in Mississauga as well as in Robert Edmondson Conservation Area in Halton for the opening scenes worked great for this video.

I even recruited my friend Shannon to play the mystery woman in the video as she fit the role perfectly.

Asian Rock Guitarist

This might very well be the first time for many people to actually see and hear an Asian rock guitarist, being yours truly.  But that’s okay by me.

This song is not going to be a hit song on the charts because of its musical genre.  But again, that’s okay with me since it was basically a way for me to really explore what an electric guitar can do.  It was an exercise in self expression.

If people happen to like and appreciate it, that’s great.  If not, then I totally understand since rock guitar instrumentals are not mainstream music.

Here is the video.

If you thought that Free Fall To Love was a bit too much for you and not your cup of musical tea, that’s fine.  Here is something a bit more mainstream for your enjoyment today — my unplugged acoustic guitar cover version of Neil Young’s ‘Hey Hey My My’.

Why do I do these musical projects?  Because playing music and especially guitar is one of my passions.  And doing one’s passions keeps one happy.

If you liked either of these two music videos, please share with others with the social media buttons here.

Thanks for watching and listening!

Posted in motivation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Volcano National Park Hawaii Trip Report September 2016


Volcano National Park Hawaii

After an interesting day in the Hilo area which I documented on my last big island Hawaii travel report post, we toured Volcano National Park.  But before that, we decided to spend the next morning to see Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, the two big mountains of Hawaii.  These were not on my original planned itinerary but since we were doing great time seeing much of the island already by doing our own thing rather than take organized tours, we had extra time do see these mountains.

So right after breakfast in Hilo, we hit highway 200 and drove west towards Mauna Kea.  As we got closer to the mountains, we could again feel the air temperature get cooler.  We no longer needed to turn on the air conditioner in our car.  As we got closer to Mauna Kea, we noticed that the landscape also changed as it got more barren with less plant life and trees.

Going Up Mauna Kea & Mauna Loa

We decided to take the right hand (north) road up Mauna Kea first.  As we drove up, my rental car started to get really sluggish.  When we finally arrived at the ranger station, our rental car was barely going faster than 20 miles per hour even when I floored the gas pedal.  It was also cold enough that jackets were warranted up there.

The ranger on duty told us that the rest of the road up Mauna Kea where the observatories were, alternated between paved and gravel.  He suggested that unless we have a 4-wheel drive, we should not venture up any higher.  This is why during my Kona travel report post I mentioned that we would eventually find that we could have used a SUV instead of a 2-wheel drive vehicle.  We chose to be on the safe side and not proceed any further up.

Since we were in the area, we also wanted to try and drive up Mauna Loa on the south side of highway 200.  This drive was even more barren than the road up Mauna Kea.  Although the road was nicely paved, it went through a lot more curves and lifeless landscape.  We even went through the clouds.

Here is a building that was either a radar or weather station as well as some stops we did along the way to check out the lava rock closer.

hawaii mauna loa lava travel hawaii mauna loa lava travel hawaii mauna loa lava travel hawaii mauna loa lava travel


















The photos do not really show just how vast this lifeless terrain is.  It’s incredible to realize that this is actually Hawaii if one is use to seeing just photos of nice beaches and oceanfronts.  It’s almost like we are on another planet up here.

Once again, the higher we drove up, the more our car engine became sluggish.  The last photo shows the weather observatory station at 10,000 feet.  There were only two or three other cars parked up there and the only people we saw was this local couple who were up there with their two dogs.  They told us that the summit of Mauna Loa is another three hours of hiking since no further roads go up.

We obviously were not prepared to make it to the summit because of lack of time as well as needed supplies for such a trek.  Going up to the summit would be an all day activity that should start early in the morning with the six hours of hiking plus maybe another hour or two of driving in total. If I ever return to big island Hawaii, I’ll definitely consider allocating an entire day to make it all the way to the summits of both Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.

We drove back down Mauna Loa and much like with Mauna Kea, it was always faster on the way down the mountain than going up it.   I just didn’t want to overheat the brakes.  We went back on highway 200 to Hilo for a quick food lunch stop and our next destination would be Volcano National Park down highway 11 about 45 minutes from town.

Hawaii Volcano National Park

Before geting to the entrance to Volcano National Park, there is Volcano Village which has several restaurants, shops and even a small lodge to stay overnight.  The entry fee to the national park itself was $15 per vehicle but this was good for seven days.

After a stop at the visitor station to check out the map of the national park, we drove to the first interest spot which had the steam vents shown below.

volcano national park hawaii steam vents







Next was the only active volcano on the island.  The closest we were allowed to venture to the volcano was the viewing area next to a museum.  Here is the active volcano below shot during the afternoon.

volcano national park hawaii travel tourism







Our plan next was then to go down the road south towards the ocean to find the Arch but stop at any other interesting sights along the way including the Thurston Lava Tube shown below.  Lava tubes are like tunnels through the mountain created by lava flow.

hawaii thurston lava tube travel





When we arrived near the ocean 30 minutes later, we finally found the Arch which was formed when lava flowed into the ocean.

hawaii arch travel big island

arch hawaii lava travel








After finally seeing the Arch, we went back north to Volcano Village to have dinner since we wanted to remain in the area in order to return to the viewing area to see the active volcano at night.  We got back there by 7:30 pm and were quite fortunate to see the glow from the volcano as shown in the photos below. But by about 8 pm, clouds rolled in blocking off the view of the crater completely. We waited for another hour but the clouds remained.  So we were very lucky indeed to get at least the 30 minutes of glow that we saw.

volcano national park hawaii travel tourism
volcano national park hawaii travel tourism

Walking On A Crater Floor

in the morning, we headed back to Volcano National Park to walk on the floor of an inactive crater.  We started at the same parking lot where the Thurston Lava Tube was and found the trail that took us down the side of the crater.

It was a long way down but at least it was pretty well shaded with trees all the way down until the bottom where the floor of the crate was.

Here are a few shots taken showing the crater floor.  The photo at the top of this post is also of the same crater.

hawaii volcano national park crater travel hawaii volcano national park crater travel












We hiked across the crater floor until we got to some raised lava mounds which we climbed on top of.  We were hoping to see some steam vents since we did see some from the top yesterday but none were sighted this morning.

Seeing no steam vents around, we turned back and made our way back up the side of the crater back to our car.  This hike back up is pretty challenging since it is a long way back up especially in the heat and is not recommended for those who are not physically fit.  Once you go down to the crater floor, the only way back out is up on this trail.  I think they should have posted warning signs alerting people of the time it would take to come back up.

By the time we got back to our car, we were drenched in sweat.  It’s a good thing that we did not do this hike during midday when the temperature would be even higher as it was already hot enough for us Canadians who are used to winter temperatures!

At least we got in to do some hiking since we did want a relatively active vacation.  Originally, this trip was promoted to members of my social Meetup group GTA Free Spirits and we do go on hikes.  But I am sure that if more of our members came on this trip, many of them would have trouble with this climb.

After drying off and some much needed refreshments, it was time to depart Volcano National Park and we got to see it in a much more time efficient manner than the tour groups we bumped into.  Of course we did not get the detailed lectures but then again, we did not pay the $100 tour fees either.  So I’m glad we did toured big island Hawaii on our own with a rental car.

Our final attraction to visit was another black sand beach this time at South Point which is the most southerly area of the island.  We found it and even saw a few sea turtles in the water.

Now heading back up the west coast of Hawaii to complete our clockwise tour of the island, it was about 2 pm when we stopped for some Kona coffee since it appeared that we were driving through coffee plantation region.  We arrived back to Kona from the south after circumventing the entire big island of Hawaii by about 3 pm and had an early dinner of local fish Ono Ono which was delicious.

I dropped Thomas off since he was staying one more night at the Kona Tiki Hotel.  For me, it was time to return the rental car and catch my return flight back to North America which I had to endure two more sleepless red eye flights which I won’t get into.

Overall Summary Of Big Island Hawaii Travel Tour

Overall, I would say that big island Hawaii was worth visiting.  The time we spent was just about right.  We could have used another day to climb Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa but we pretty well saw everything we wanted to see.  Although the volcanoes and lava were interesting, I think it’s still a long way to travel to see them.  One can see similar sights in Costa Rica a lot closer to home if you are based in North America.

The scuba diving itself was mostly average but the manta rays were out of this world.  The dives with them were truly world class and the main highlight of the trip for both myself and my diving partner Thomas.  They really made this trip worthwhile for us.

Would I ever return to Hawaii?

I would return to big island only to dive with the manta rays again and perhaps climb Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.  So this would be a quick three night stay at most and I would spend the rest of a future trip checking out other Hawaiian islands which are suppose to be quite different from the big island.

I may take the Hawaiian islands cruise run by Norwegian Cruise Lines one day as a way to check out all the islands on a single trip.  But one thing for sure is that I won’t be bringing my dogs to Hawaii anytime since they quarantine them upon arrival.

Posted in motivation | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment