Respect? Patience? What IS it with these things you’re trying to teach me!?

Yes all character traits like respect and patience, are so important, and are more easily “caught” than “taught”.

What IS it with all these character traits? Why are we trying to instill these things into you and your children?

The primary purpose of martial arts training

The truth is that when you’re also teaching a very effective self-defense system, you MUST be instilling good character at the same time. Why? 

What does it mean to you when you read or hear “very effective self-defense system”?  What might it take to allow you to walk away from an encounter with a really bad guy intent on doing you or your loved one harm?  That’s right, it doesn’t take long before you realize we are teaching how to hurt someone enough to get them to stop their attack on you. Yes, we learn some pretty nasty things to disrupt your opponent and get them to release you.

We don’t want to be teaching these things to just anyone. We need to make sure these techniques will be used strictly for self-defense and for nothing else.

So yes, respect, patience, self-control, self-discipline, generosity, humility, there are all the PRIMARY goals for any martial artist.

Current focus on patience

We have been focusing on patience. This is tied to a number of other traits: self-control, humility, generosity. 

It’s almost that patience is a gift we give to others. It helps us to treat others well. But it is also very important for our own life.

Parents, here is a super post about developing patience in your children. I really encourage you to take a look.

Can I be patient with myself?

Here’s the mat chat we began the Patience series with:

We’re starting a new theme this week: PATIENCE

I don’t know about you, but after we’ve been talking about being quick to listen and slow to speak, I became aware of myself doing exactly the opposite.  

Awareness is the first step to change. You can’t change something  — or, you can’t improve in an area — that you don’t know needs changing!

If you want to improve in any area, whether it’s in karate, or how you treat people, there are three little words that will help:


NOTICE — This means first you have to see that there is something wrong. Whether that’s an incorrect stance, or someone who is sitting alone and could use a friend!

DECIDE — You have to DECIDE to make the correction, or do the right thing. Many times we might see something that needs to be done, but we just look the other way and think “someone else will do it”.

ACT — Finally, we have to act. Being aware of something that’s wrong, and deciding to do something about it isn’t enough. We need to follow through and actually DO what  needs to be done — whether that’s practicing our karate, or going up and saying hi to make a new friend.

What does any of this have to do with patience?

We really do want you to practice this : NOTICE — DECIDE — ACT

But will  you forget and have to start again? Will you make some effort that doesn’t end up well? Of course! That’s when you need to have patience! You’re not going to make any big changes right away. The best changes are those that stick and become lifelong habits — and that takes time and patience and the ability to keep trying, over and over again.

When Patience isn’t enough

When we’re struggling to learn something new, or to develop a new habit, we surely need patience with ourselves. 

Sometimes life hands us something we really didn’t see coming. Patience may help us to deal with the unexpected or unforeseen. It might even lead to acceptance of our new situation in life.

But how do we move from acceptance to happiness in light of dreams that won’t come true?

Sometimes we just need to set a new dream. 

There are times in life when what we dream of just simply has no way of happening. That’s when it’s time to make a new dream, to set a new goal. 

NOTICE when your dreams for your life are no longer possible.

DECIDE on what new dream you can set your sights on instead.

ACT on that decision and move towards your new dream. Get started today!


Our Words Are Very Powerful

We have been focusing on RESPECT for the last month. While respect covers many things, we have honed in on the importance of the words we use!

What is respect?

We started the month out by asking the kids  to define respect. You might want to ask them and see if anything “stuck”!

We asked “What does it mean to respect someone?” (We steered them to “it means you think something good about them and that they are important to you.”)

We asked “Should we respect everyone?” (Hopefully that gets a resounding YES!)

And finally we asked “How do we show respect?”

If you have this conversation and your mind goes blank, think: using please and thank you; not doing or saying anything to hurt them; following directions right away; doing what is asked with a  good attitude :-)! These are all ways we show respect.

What’s the most important way we respect the karate school?

Ok, trick question. I bet you answered “by taking care of it!” And you’d be right. Which goes to show it can be tricky to ask a question with an answer in mind!

What’s the first thing we do when we enter the dojo?

Now you have it! Yes, we bow in. For Okinawans, that is how they show respect. 

So we talked with the kids about how habits can help us keep a positive mindset – in this case, every time we bow in, we remember how important our school and everyone in it is. We are reminded to be ready to learn and try our best.

We also started them on the habit of thanking their parents (or whoever brought them) for taking them to karate class. We didn’t focus it on enough to create a habit — maybe you can remind them!

How do we respect our bodies?

One week we focused on taking care of ourselves AND others by keeping our bodies clean! Yup, this time of year we always seem to need a reminder that our hot stinky bodies need to be washed regularly!

Our words are very powerful!

We ended up in the same place we started: in order to show respect to people, we need to make sure we don’t harm them with anything we do or SAY.

It’s important for us to recognize how powerful our words are. They can lift and encourage, or tear down and destroy. We’ve all been on the receiving end of words that have stayed with us a very long time. 

Words are funny in that they can’t be taken back. Even after apologizing, you can’t unhear the words. 

They are also funny in that words have different impacts on us. Negative words are very heavy, sticky and take many more positive words to begin to undo damage.

That’s why we need to be so careful about what we say.

QUICK to listen, ssllooww to speak!

Have you ever been “listening” to someone while you’re thinking about what you’re going to tell them? You’re so focused on what you’re going to say next that you really don’t hear a word the other person is saying?

That’s how we get into trouble and say things we wish we hadn’t! 

That’s not respecting ourselves and it’s not respecting others. We are missing out on what the other is saying — it could be really important! — and we’re not giving the other person the benefit of listening to what they have to say,

But when we really LISTEN to others, and really try to understand what they’re telling us, not just waiting for a pause so we can say what we’re thinking about while they’re talking — then we’re REALLY respecting ourselves and others.

Try this week so be QUICK to LISTEN and sssllllooowww to speak. See if there isn’t a change in your interactions with others.

Especially for Little Ninjas and Golden Dragons:

It’s really hard to talk about respect with the little ones. It’s easier to require them to ACT respectfully, and they understand that their are rules and they’re learning to follow them.

Respect is easier “caught” than “taught” so that’s why we have all the structure and codes of behavior for karate class. 

We did share the story of The Mouse and the Lion.  When the mouse showed the great lion a huge amount of respect, it softened the lion and the mouse was let go. 

Indeed, the recipient of respect again had the opportunity to respect the lion by chewing through a net that had trapped the lion! 

Respect and gratitude are cornerstones to a happy life!


Summer Fun Includes Summer Learning!

Never stop learning!

Summer is about to start!  Are you ready?  We know that family time and vacations are a huge part of summer and rightfully so.

However, should the learning process stop just because it’s summer? We say NO, and we’re here to help. Let us be the bad guys to help keep your kids sharp and ready for school when it starts back up.

I think we all know that successful people never stop learning.  Successful people are constantly looking for ways to improve and to just work smarter, not harder. How do they do this? They never stop learning!

If a child struggles at reading, math or any other thing they do in school they will probably not like school. If they struggle with school, they will probably struggle with life. So, the love of learning is huge.

Summer Learning Program

This summer the “Summer Learning Program” returns for our students. In the past we have not made this program mandatory but we feel that the learning process is so important for kids that this year we are making it mandatory. We want them to continue their progress that they made throughout the school year. We feel that this will give your kids a leg up if they just do a few simple things this summer.

Now here is the key, they DO NOT have to love learning (not at the start).  They just need to DO IT!  Like most things in life starting something new or something you are not good at yet is hard. This is where you come in. If your child already loves learning, you have it made. If your child does not absolutely love learning, then we have some work to do.

We don’t want them to study for hours on end but we do want to keep them using their brains and always thinking about learning. You can bet many kids will be moaning and groaning about doing some of this but you have the option to tell them, “Well, Sensei wants you to do this so let’s get going”. Create the culture that learning never stops, not ever!

In the past we have focused on reading over the summer and our parents have found this program to be very valuable. While reading is huge for your children, there is more to learning and this summer we want to add in some math learning skills.

How to be successful with Summer Learning this year

All athletes know that their biggest gains and improvements are made in the off season, the same rule applies to kids when it comes to learning. I think you will like some of the improvements we have made and added to the program this year. Here are some tips and guidelines to help you and your child excel:

  1.  This program is mandatory.  Everyone is expected to participate but like everything else in life – you get what you put into it!  Here is a suggestion – start out strong.  Get excited about this program and send the signal to your child that this is important TO YOU.  Now it is up to you how much they do but just make sure that they do something every day!
  2. Learn every day.  This may seem hard to some but it really is not.  Here is the key – just make it a small habit and use a good trigger.  For example, pick something you do every day that has some quiet time before or after.  Right after dinner at home.  Or, right before bedtime.  Or, first thing in the morning while everyone is cuddling in Mom’s bed.  And, don’t worry about how much learning they do just do a little every day. Reading can easily be done every day. The math application problems can be a fun addition to any day! Games are great for learning basic math skills, and many games are great for learning strategy.
  3. Keep it fun.  Take advantage of the fact that during the school year they often need to learn things that are not all that thrilling.  During the summer, they can read what they like and do math in creative ways.  So don’t worry if they read books, magazines or comic books. Counting change, telling time, how many cheerios are floating in their cereal, etc. Let them have fun.
  4. Make books and math exercises accessible.  Have books around the house.  Have books in the car.  Always have books with you.  Have books that you read too. When shopping, help kids calculate change or discounts. When watching a baseball game, talk about what players’ statistics mean. When cooking, try halving or doubling a recipe, and assist kids in figuring out the new proportions.
  5. Don’t  underestimate the power of choice.  Kids will read books they like.  Help your child find their interest.  Building their interest can help even reluctant and struggling learners. Find those things that you know they like and use them to your advantage.
  6. Make learning a family culture.  This last one is probably the most powerful.  To make this stick and have the whole family benefit – make learning a family culture.  Kids learn by example.  They best way to motivate your child to read is to read yourself!  Start by saying this all the time – “Our family loves to read – we read every day!”  Then turn off the TV and video games and have daily family reading time.  Another tip is to have Mom or Dad read to everyone or have older siblings read to their younger siblings. You can do the same thing with math.

How to add in math?

Board games and card games can be a great, easy way to practice math skills. GAMES are the natural go-to for having fun while developing math skills, but here are some other ideas and things to do with your children:

A Cold One

A lemonade stand is a classic summertime activity for kids, and math is needed to keep it up and running. Younger kids can work on measuring and money-counting by mixing the lemonade and making change for customers. Older kids can be in charge of setting the price by determining the cost per serving and setting a profit margin.

Sports Spectator

The next time you take your child to a baseball game, add in a few math games while you cheer your favorite team.
Have your child play umpire and ask her to keep count of each batter’s balls and strikes. Additionally, she can keep track of the outs every inning, and how many innings are left before the game is over. Ask her questions, such as which inning marks the halfway point in the game, and how many runs the losing team needs to catch up.
If a player on one of the teams is close to breaking a home run record, have your child figure out how many more home runs he needs to meet and break the record.

Kitchen Fun

If you’ve got a sous chef on your hands, there is no better place than the kitchen to turn cooking and baking into a math lesson. Give your younger child tasks like sorting ingredients or counting how many eggs you need for a certain recipe. Older kids can work on number recognition and fractions by helping to measure ingredients, turning the oven to the correct temperature (with adult supervision), and dividing up the servings.

Grow Interest in Numbers

Avid gardeners know a little something about math, like how far apart your vegetable rows need to be or how deep a seed needs to be planted. The next time you’re sowing some seeds, ask your child to help. When harvest time rolls around, he’ll be proud to show off the fruits of his labor. Gardening as a family is a great way to spend time together, learn about nature, and eat nutritiously. The math part is a bonus.

Mall Math

Math problems abound at the mall, and many stores have summertime sales. The next time your teen’s favorite store is having a sale, take him shopping. Ask him how much he will be saving on a certain sale item. If a $25 item is 20 percent off, how much does it cost?

You can mix and match different prices and discounts, add several sale items together, and have your teen create an outfit from a pre-set budget. He might be surprised to see how much percentages, fractions, and decimals matter to one of his favorite pastimes.

Errand Arithmetic

The next time you take your child with you while you run errands, turn it into a learning activity. Calculating time and mileage is a fun way for your child to pass the time in the car. For example, if the grocery store is three miles away, how long does he think it will take you to get there? If you have several errands to run, ask your child how far away he thinks each destination is from the other, and then clock it to see how close his guess is.

Another fun car game is to use the numbers on license plates as an addition and subtraction lesson. Ask your child to add or subtract all the numbers he sees on the license plates you pass. Not only will he be learning math, you’ll be getting your errands done.

Sew Easy

Is sewing a favorite pastime that you would like to pass on to your child? The dog days of summer are a great time to teach your child this hobby, and math plays a big part in it. Sewing, knitting, and crocheting all use math to create pieces of clothing, quilts, or wall hangings: counting rows on a sock, adding yarn to make a piece bigger, multiplying to figure out how many times a certain color will fit across a motif. The possibilities are endless.

Eating Out

Busy summer days mean you don’t always have time to cook dinner at home. The next time you eat out as a family, use it as a math lesson. Ask your child to figure out the tip, and play a guessing game to see how much you think the bill will come to.

Countdown to Fun

Pool parties, picnics, and cookouts are summer activities to look forward to. If your child has a fun event coming up, start a countdown. The lesson is two-fold: It’ll improve her time-telling skills, and it’ll help pass the time until the event. For example, if she has a friend’s birthday party coming up in four days, ask her how long that is in days, hours, and minutes. You can even start a countdown for each of these.

Neighborhood Walk

Take a walk around your neighborhood or a local park, and look for different shapes and patterns in nature. For example, how far apart are the telephone poles from each other in your neighborhood? Are they all the same distance, or do they vary? Is there a pattern? This lesson can also be done with trees, fire hydrants, or flowers in a garden.

In addition, ask your child to find a living thing that is a square, rectangle, or circle. With so much to see and find, he’ll never know that you’re working on his geometry skills.

Bottom Line

Go out and have fun this summer! Just be sure to include reading and math so when school restarts your kids will be all set for success!


April mat chats all on making honesty a part of your story

Make it YOUR story

Honesty isn’t just a trait that we choose to put on once in a while. Rather, it’s a way of being that we choose to make part of our story.

Using a story

In April we focused on story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf with our youngest students. We readily see that being honest or not follows us around and affects our relationships. The only way we keep the trust of those around us is if we are honest in ALL things. 

Extracting the answers

With the older students during the month of April, we tried to pull ideas from them. Starting with what honesty means, through qualities of an honest person, to what they might choose to do in specific situations. We tried to get them to really interract with the idea of honesty and what it means to them. 

Sometimes we can be numb to ideas that we hear frequently. Hopefully the older kids were sparked into considering ideas longer than just during the mat chat!

Writing your own story

When we spend time thinking about tough questions, we are writing our story.  It can be so easy to just float along, going through the motions of all of the daily tasks we perform.  But that doesn’t give us much control over what happens in our story.

If you think of the storyline of your life as a road, you want to make sure the road you’re on is going where you want it to go. A road goes somewhere; takes you somewhere if you follow it. When you turn off the road, you’re not going to get to where you were going. 

It’s important to understand that you’re always writing your story, whether you’re aware of it or not. Our job is to try to get our students to be more aware of what story they are writing. 

Yes, but karate?

You might be thinking “how does karate help?”.  When you focus really hard on learning which hand goes where and when it turns and switches with the other hand, you are writing a story that includes a perfectly performed move with the bo. When you don’t focus and just stand and move however you want, you don’t end up with a story at all. Or you end up with a bad story that’s hard to follow.

The struggle is ok

The story doesn’t have to be completed right away! The plot twists make it more interesting and in the end more satisfying! The important thing is to keep working towards the original story.

What does this have to do with honesty?!?

Whether you’re learning a new kata, or developing a lifestyle, it’s the constant dedication to the story, or the road, that’s important. Just because you tell the truth once does not make you an honest person. The reverse is true: just because you lie once does not make you a dishonest person. 

In writing your story you want the thread to be consistent. (Oh no – another metaphor! No, I won’t pull that one!)

The final word

Encourage your child to consider how he incorporates honesty in the story he’s writing. Encourage your older child to journal. There’s no better way to see the progress in our story than by writing it down! 



Karate develops skills for life!

Karate makes everything better.

No matter what the activity!

The character traits of discipline and self-control are foundational to almost all other things in life.

Whether we are pursuing a sport, music, or just want to be a better mom or dad, karate helps us be better at everything!

I want to introduce you to three sisters who have been with us for a while. The strength training, coordination, and persistence they developed in karate has led to their success in three quite different areas.

We all have unique areas to excel in!

Being disciplined on the karate floor leads to discipline on the dance floor. Strengthening the core that we need for self-defense leads to that same strong core that serves in ballet.

The benefits of karate for sports might seem obvious. Sure, there are many similar traits needed for both, but it’s the ones you might not think of that lead to excelling beyond the average.

The focus and concentration needed for karate helps one persevere when tackling other hard to learn skills that don’t come naturally. Is it really natural to be able to catch a flying ball in a little net at the end of a stick?

And the memorization of kata, bunkai, and Japanese, translates to an easier time memorizing lines needed in a play.

Karate develops skills for life!

And what about being able to listen to coaches, directors, instructors and follow directions well? 

You can’t exactly slide through karate class without putting in effort. You learn that if you put in the effort, you get to reap the rewards. Sometimes that’s learned the hard way: you also learn that when you don’t put in the effort you don’t get the reward!

How about the courage needed to audition for the play, or try out for the team? And what about dealing with the inevitable failures that life will send? Life can feel (and be) awfully unfair at times. Karate is a safe place to experience unfairness and learn to overcome and even thrive anyway.

We’ve been focusing on humility for a month now. Karate is a good instructor of humility because it is so hard. We’ve learned that without humility you don’t learn, you don’t grow, and you don’t even love.

Thank you for allowing us to a part of your lives!

We are grateful to all the wonderful families that have shared their precious children with us, even if only for a season. It is an honor to watch them grow into the unique individuals that God has created each one of them to be!




Does being humble mean thinking less of yourself?

Of course not, but sometimes that’s the way we look at humility. 

Does that mean we stop learning and growing? 

Of course not!

I want to share the recent mat chats we’ve been having with the kids at the karate school.

Last week’s mat chat:

We often say awareness is the first step to making any changes. Being more focused on others starts with being aware of others. What’s going on around us? Can we get any sense of how those around us are feeling? It just takes getting used to NOTICING! Notice your surroundings, notice the people around you, and notice how they are acting, and whether you can tell what they are feeling.

The best way to reach out to someone who is sad, for example, is to say something kind BEFORE they even tell you they are sad.(Most people WON’T tell you!)  If someone seems angry, is there anything you might do to help? It might be to just ask if they’re all right; asking if there’s anything you can do for them can make a difference in how they feel. How does it make you feel when someone asks if there is anything they can do for you? Does it make  you feel good to be noticed? You want to make OTHERS feel noticed and cared for.

That’s part of what it means to be humble – to notice others and to care about them.

This week: you are enough!

We’ve talked about a lot of ways to be humble.

Being a good listener, being curious about someone in order to get to know them better, noticing  and caring about those around us; these are all traits of a humble person.

We’ve found out that these same things apply to “how to love people”. Being humble and loving others is pretty much the same thing.

What we haven’t talked about yet is loving yourself. In order to be able to love others well, we have to love ourselves. That comes from knowing who we are. When we know who we are we don’t have to listen to the messages of the world.

The world says: never enough. Not thin enough, not smart enough, not good looking enough, you don’t have enough friends, you don’t have enough toys, you don’t have good enough grades…. It goes on and on.

But when you KNOW who you are, you can ignore all those messages and KNOW that you are ENOUGH. That doesn’t mean we don’t do our best to learn and grow, but it means we can have confidence that we’re on the right track and all the gifts we’ve been given are ENOUGH.

So please don’t mistake being humble for being LESS THAN. There is no benefit to thinking LESS of yourself, or by putting yourself down. You can always love others without putting them ABOVE you, or yourself LESS THAN them.

Where do you get your identity from?

How do you know who you are? The people closest to you can tell you that. They send you messages all the time. Who do your parents say you are? They probably tell you wonderful things about you, but you think they’re just saying that because they love you. If your mom tells you that you’re smart and capable, just because she loves you doesn’t negate what she’s told you!

We believe each and every one of you are a beloved child of God. You are special and created by God for a purpose. You can always claim your identity from God. You are wonderfully and fearfully made. And he is closer to you than anyone!

But even if you’re not ready to trust God, you can find out from the people who love you most, who you are. Just don’t let the lies of the world that say “you’re not enough” define you.



Emulating the most humble man who lived

Yes, it’s Jesus. If that’s offensive, I’m giving fair warning so you can stop reading now.

Was Jesus the most humble man to ever live?

The most humble man who lived? Isn’t that a bit unfair, given that he was actually God? A good answer comes from blogger Matt Perman:

“The truth of Jesus’s humanity is just as important to hold to as the truth of his deity. The apostle John teaches how denying that Jesus is man is of the spirit of the antichrist (1 John 4:22 John 7). Jesus’s humanity is displayed in the fact that he was born as a baby from a human mother (Luke 2:7Galatians 4:4), that he became weary (John 4:6), thirsty (John 19:28), and hungry (Matthew 4:2), and that he experienced the full range of human emotions such as marvel (Matthew 8:10) and sorrow (John 11:35). He lived on earth just as we do.”

So why do I say he was the most humble man to live? We’ve been talking about humility as putting others first. Caring more about others than yourself. While he lived and taught, he was always teaching and healing, regardless of what others thought and said. His concern was for the person right in front of him, no matter what the conventions of the time said about that same person. 

And of course, as we are getting ready to celebrate on Good Friday, he went through excrutiating pain and suffering, all for us. 

So, yes, I think it’s fair to say he was the most humble man to live.

What’s a convenant?

Before Jesus came into the picture, God had already made two different covenants. The first was with Abraham and it was one way. No matter what Abraham did, God would make him a nation and bless the world through him. 

Later, to develop a nation that would be light in a dark world, he made a covenant with the whole nation, through Moses. This was convenant which laid out all the rules and told the people: if you obey the rules, I will bless you; if you don’t obey the rules, you will be punished.

What happens when there are a lot of rules?

Yep, that’s right. We break them. We find loopholes. Somehow, the more rules there are the more tempted we are to work around them.

Andy Stanley shares that he basically narrowed down the rules for his kids to two: honor your mother, and don’t lie. Those two rules pretty much covered everything. (He and his wife Sandra also had the goal that teaching their children was all about maintaining relationships. You can watch a wonderful talk given by them on parenting here.)

So, how does this help us emulate Jesus?

Jesus brought a whole new covenant. He gave himself FOR us. The new covenant signaled a new relational agreement with God. The new arrangement completed and ended the old covenant. It replaced much of what had been in place. Jesus came to fulfill all the law and the prophets.

People were expecting him to do something for the nation of Isreal. But he came to do something for YOU. And for me. And for the whole world.

What were the new terms of the new covenant? Jesus distilled all of the laws and prophets down to ONE law! 

John 13: 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Can you imagine how transformational this would be if everyone just focused on this one command that Jesus gave us? 

THIS is how we emulate Jesus. 

THIS is how we are known as Jesus followers.

Is it easy? No, of course not. But it IS simple. If you love God, your love for God is best demonstrated by how well you love others. Will we ever be able to do that well? Maybe not. But is IS something to keep striving towards. 

Finishing out our month of looking at humility, it seemed only appropriate to look to the one who was most humble, and how to follow him. It wasn’t planned this way, but God is good, and had us finish this topic as we’re getting ready to celebrate Easter!

(I want to remind everyone that the karate school will be closed Good Friday, March 30, through Easter Monday, April 2.)



Can Humility Be Developed?

It might be helpful to look at some of the underlying habits that help to create a humble person. We CAN develop habits! We all know they can be good or bad, and it would be a whole other post to discuss how we can develop GOOD habits. (In fact, there WAS a whole other post – check out our May 2017 post!)

We’re going to be sharing with kids during mat chat what habits will help them to become humble. 


First they have to WANT to become humble! We need to clear up some common misconceptions about humility. It’s NOT being weak or passive or allowing people to walk all over us. And it’s NOT being insecure, afraid to speak up when something needs to be said. 

Being humble is quite the opposite. When you know WHO you are, and you KNOW the power you have, you can stand strong no matter what others may think. Humble people choose to use their power for OTHERS instead of boosting themselves, or boasting of themselves.

Habits that develop humility

We encourage all of our students to be good listeners.  It’s a challenge for the 3-6 year old set to just stand still long enough to listen to instructions! But really, for all of us, it can be challenging to put our own thoughts and motives aside to really LISTEN when someone is talking. 

One way to foster good listening is to develop CURIOSITY! We can learn so much just from listening to other people. We are all a lot more alike than we are different; if we just listened to each other we would discover that!

Always learning, being curious, is another habit that leads to humility.  The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t have all the answers.

People who are AWARE of their surroundings, of the people around them, and especially of how those people are feeling, are often humble people. When we are aware of what everyone else is going through, we realize what we’re going through isn’t so bad. Being aware of others helps to grow our empathy, which also leads to humility.

Develop the habit of standing up and speaking truth. Sometimes it seems so much easier to just keep our mouth closed and try not to get involved. But when we see a train wreck about to happen, it’s important to speak up! Humble people are not afraid of what others may think. They are strong and confident so they can use their power wisely.

Sounds like a good thing to be, huh? So these habits of being a good listener,  always learning, being aware of what’s happening around you, and speaking truth, are great habits to start working on!

We’ll go over some other good habits next week!



March Focus – Humility

Humility is the perfect theme to follow our month on Love. For truly, without humility, you can’t love. If we are self-focused, we can’t be other-focused. And love is nothing, if not other-focused. C.S. Lewis said: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” We can easily become turned inward but when we are humble, we are turned outward.

Humility is the foundation for everything we do here at Warriors of Grace. That is not to say that we are good at it yet! We struggle with our own egos, our own pride. But we recognize that it’s the most important thing for us to be consciously working on.  As in all things, awareness is the first step towards change. If you don’t know something is broken you can’t even begin to fix it!

How does karate fit in?

Karate does a great job at keeping one humble. Not only is it difficult to master, but every time you think you have acquired a skill, you realize that there is still more to it – more to learn about that one single skill! The details are tremendous and never seem to stop coming.

Being humble is not about lacking in confidence, or lacking in strength to stand and defend yourself or someone else. It is more of an attitude of openness; knowing that you might be wrong and being prepared to switch course if necessary. Even when defending yourself, staying humble is important to ensure what you are defending is truth.

One of our human traits is to attach strongly to an idea or a position without necessarily hearing all the facts. The strength of our convictions can be a wonderful thing. But if we want to remain on the side of truth, we must remain humble and stay open to hearing other perspectives and learning new facts as they come to light.

Love is patient, Love is kind

Before we leave the month of February with it’s natural theme of love, I wanted to remind us all of the verses many of us have heard recited at weddings:

The Wedding Verses

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.                                                               1 Corinthians 13:4-7 niv

It’s all pretty much there: how we should behave towards others; what to watch out for in ourselves; the ideal to which we strive.

But before those familiar lines are ones that are even more powerful. Verses 1-3 in the same chapter let us know in no uncertain terms that whatever great accomplishments we do on this earth, no matter how many people we may have helped in this life, if it is not done in love, then it is worthless. 

It’s a matter of the heart. What’s in your heart? That’s what matters in every thing we do.

Love is kind

How do we do everything in love?

Once we open our heart to the person standing next to us, we see them just as human as us. We can recognize their frailties as well as their beauty. One on one I think we humans do a pretty good job of “keeping our love on”. 

It’s as groups that we get into trouble. As soon as we put someone in a group, we make assumptions that may or may not be true. And unfortunately a lot of the media today tries to put us in groups.  Maybe it’s always been so, but it seems much more intentional today. And we do it ourselves: when we look for information or media that supports our views we are less likely to hear differing views.

See the individual rather than the group 

The trick is to see each and every person as a uniquely made, God-loved, co-inhabitant of this beautiful planet. Of course we can’t process individually all 7.6 billion inhabitants. But we can acknowledge each individual that comes into our field of vision, and we can choose to love those that come within space that is near to us. 

We can be patient with the person in front of us that is having a hard time juggling the kids and the wallet in order to check out in the grocery store. We can be kind to the tired and frustrated employee with whom we are doing business.  We can honor our neighbors by reaching out in friendship and honest curiosity to get to know them better. 

One on one we are much more prone to love.  In addition to all the things above that love does not do could be added: love does not put people in groups but instead sees each individual.