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.



The Most Important Conversation to have with your kids (or grandkids)

I sent out information about the Gen Z: Faith Summit that started on the February 19. This morning I watched the opening remarks by the CEO and co-founder of AXIS, David Eaton. The summit involves over 30 teachers, thought leaders, authors and pastors sharing their thoughts on how best to help raise up the next generation. They focus on the areas of sexuality, technology, and growing up.

George Lucas, during his Academy Award acceptance, said: “I’ve always tried to be aware of what I say in my films because all of us who make motion pictures are teachers, teachers with very loud voices.” We know that kids today are bombarded with all kinds of media messages in very loud voices. How do we counter these voices?

What is AXIS?

AXIS was formed by a few millenials in response to their seeing so many teens who were on fire for Christ at one time in their lives, walk away from their faith. The statistics are brutal. The forecast is even worse. These young people have set out on a mission to help all those who are in the lives of youth be able to communicate well. Parents, grandparents, teachers and coaches often come from a completely different world than the youth they are interacting with. They need translators to be able to communicate. AXIS translates the culture and encourages the leverage of conversation.

What is the summit?

For the first three days of each interview, they are available online for free. I encourage you to take a look at the line up and watch one that calls out to you.  If you have the time, you could watch them all for free. After the three days, if you still want to have access, you can buy an access pass which supports the amazing work that AXIS is doing to help parents connect with their kids in a meaningful way.

George Lucas, continuing, said: “But we will never match the power of the teacher who is able to whisper in a student’s ear”. 

You have the power to counter the loud voices your child or grandchild is hearing.

What is the most important conversation?

It’s one that lasts a lifetime! Equip yourself to begin and continue to learn how to keep the conversation going. The videos offered during this summit provide ample conversation starters.

What’s your love language?

Thanks to Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, we’ve all become more familiar with how we best receive and give love.

I don’t think it’s too soon to start recognizing what makes you feel most loved. We’re talking with the kids this week during mat chat about the five love languages.

Relationships are hard and communication is difficult under the best of circumstances. But when two people are speaking two different languages and they don’t even know it, it’s even more challenging!

The sooner we realize which language is most effective for ourselves, the better off we are. Add to that, discovering which language is most effective for those we love, and we’ve got a much better likelihood of communicating well, and loving well.

We talk a lot about how love is an action, and that what we DO is what matters more than how we FEEL. But we want to make sure that what we DO is received by the other as LOVE.

A brief summary of the five love languages:

I’m hoping this idea is not new and I’m only refreshing your memory. To learn more, check out the book. Or even take a quiz online to help you discover what your love language is. 

Here’s the simple explanation we are sharing with the kids:

Some people, like Kuma bear, like to give and receive gifts. That’s how they show love and receiving a gift it’s what makes them feel loved.  (Receiving Gifts)

Some people feel more loved when someone says something really nice to them and makes them feel special and valued.  Likewise some people show their love by telling the beloved how important they are to them, and pointing out all the things they love about them. (Words of Affirmation)

For some, the most important way to show love is to DO things for someone. To help them do something they’re having a hard time with, or just do a task that you know they need done. As a surprise and without being asked! That’s a great way to show love! (Acts of Service)

We all need touch – to be held or hugged. But for some people touch is their primary love language.. Whether it’s a pat on the head, holding hands, or a kiss on the cheek – these touches are ways to show love. (Physical Touch)

Do you feel loved when you’re simply hanging out with mom and dad? Maybe playing games, or going for a walk together? For some people just spending time together is the best way to show love. (Quality Time)

It can be helpful to learn which of these ways of showing love actually make you feel most loved. And it can be very helpful to learn how the people you love feel most loved. That way we can help others to love us well, and we can love others well – by “speaking their love language”.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

If anyone remembers the old song What’s love got to do with it? you may remember that it ends with the line “who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?”

Sometimes it can be hard to talk about love, precisely because we are all broken and we too often fail to love well. Rather than focus on the emotion, as most songs do, we are going to talk of the action of love this month.

Love is what we do and how we act towards others. It has to do with our outlook on life, on others, on the world. And especially on our outlook on God.

God Is Love

If God IS love, how to do we bring that reality into the world? And if God IS love, how do we reconcile all of the brokeness, pain and suffering in the world?

The last question I mention here only because it came up during mat chat this week. It’s a big question that deserves its own post for the answer. Let me just briefly answer that we live in a broken world.  Not only IS God love, but he LOVES us. And any good lover does not force himself on his beloved. 

Therefore he gave us free will. We always have a choice. Will we behave in a loving way – will be bless others? Or will we contribute more pain and suffering in the world?

Does God love us?

In trying to help children understand God’s love, we gave them the example of how they feel about something they created. They might want to protect their creation and get angry if someone tries to destroy it.

Certainly parents have a glimpse of the love God has for us. I think parenting especially gives us a window to help us understand God. When we set boundaries for our children for their own protection, we are imitating how God has set boundaries for us for our protection. We can compare the freedom we give our children as they play and learn, as long as they stay within the boundaries we have set to the freedom God has given us. And when we are desperate for the welfare of our child, that can help us to understand how God feels about each of his children.

What is love?

The more important part of love is what we DO. Love is a verb!

We can say we love our brother, but are we kind to him?

We can say we love our parents, but do we do what they ask us to do? Right away? With a good attitude?

We can say we love our friend, but are we willing to play what they want to play instead of what we want to play?

For the youngest children we can help them understand that love needs to be an action by talking about pets. If we love our pets, we need to take care of them.

These are the kinds of things we want the kids to think about this month while we focus on love. Yes, love is a feeling, but the actions we take that show our love are really far more important than our feelings. Especially in our current social climate, we want to help kids focus more on what we do than how we feel!

What’s love got to do with it?

Are you wondering why we would even be talking about love in karate? The simple answer is – it has everything to do with everything! Love is what guides us in everything we do!

Is competition good or bad?

Is competition good or bad? Yes!

Competition in the hands of someone bent on overpowering the “enemy” at all costs can certainly be bad. 

Competition supervised by caring adults who see the opponent as a partner to push us further than we thought possible, is definitely good. 

When we see competition as an opportunity to perform to our potential, rather than to defeat the opponent, it becomes a very important part of our training. When we keep in mind that our partner is there to help us grow and we are there to help our partner grow, it becomes a powerful learning experience for all.

Taking care of our partner

We emphasize in karate that we need to take care of our partner. One of our goals at Warriors of Grace is to help people learn to be more concerned about others than ourselves. And that’s why in class we learn to partner with people of varying sizes and abilities. But there is also learning to push as well as match your partner. You can feel good about helping someone else develop to their potential – which they wouldn’t have done without your pushing!

What else happens during competition?

There’s a funny thing that happens during shiai (karate tournaments). When we are put under stress, there is an opportunity to examine the feelings that arise from that stress.

The stress can be just having to perform in front of people. Or it can come from winning (yes! winning can be stressful!). Or is can come from losing. Or it might come from feeling unfairly judged. Let’s be honest about all of our humanity. Judging karate events have a large measure of subjectivity and therefore can feel unfair. 

What do we do with those feelings? We are going to experience unfairness, and losing, and winning, throughout our lives. Karate presents an opportunity to process the emotions that are triggered. 

We encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity. Plan on spending some time afterwards. Whether it’s talking with your child on the drive home, or journaling that evening, use the opportunity to examine feelings that came to the surface!

Be sure to show up and participate! Check the schedule to find out the day  and time of your shiai!


Are You Giving Your Child Ownership?

How do we help our kids become motivated?

We’re all far more likely to take care of something that belongs to us, right? Maybe it’s time to turn some things over to your son or daughter.  Obviously, the age and ability of your child is important, and no one knows your child’s ability better than you.

The next time you find yourself in a battle, think to yourself “Is this really MY problem or does this really belong to my child?”

If your child learns that you will step in and finish the task, or drive them to school, or bring them their forgotten lunch, then they will never take ownership of the problem. They won’t have any reason to care. But once they own it – and they experience the consequences of their choices, they will become motivated to fix the problem.

Ownership is especially important when it comes to learning. The National Academy of Sciences has found that the most effective learning comes when the student owns the process.

Let your child come up with a way to solve a problem or meet a goal. It may not be the way you would do it, but it will foster true learning.  Help him to come up with a creative solution. Ask her questions that lead to thinking about the problem in a new way. 

Give your child plenty of practice in problem solving at home and make sure they have ownership of their school work. You’ll find they become far more motivated when it belongs to them!

Do Your Children Know You Value Them?

When I was growing up, I was frequently reminded that I was a Summers.  

“I don’t care what all the other kids are doing, you’re a Summers.” 

Now, that may sound like a way to put your child above others. But it really wasn’t that at all. Or maybe it was, in a good way. It was a way for my mom and dad to tell me I was very important to them.  Yes, in my parents’ eyes, I was above others, as I should have been. It was a way to remind me they loved me and had high expectations of me.  In fact, it did keep me from straying too far from what my parents would have expected from me, even into adulthood.

Now, I know that I am a beloved daughter of God. I know that every blessing has come from Him, and I don’t want to disappoint Him any more than I wanted to disappoint my earthly parents. 

When we know who we are, we are far less likely to let a mistake, a failure, a broken relationship, or even success and achievement DEFINE us. We know at our core that we have value and worth to share with the world. We know that we have a purpose, even when we are going through life’s inevitable storms.

Whether you believe in God or not, help your children to know they are loved and valued at their very core.  Help them to see that their attributes or achievements don’t DEFINE them. Even a superstar athlete has to know there is much more of value to him than his prowess on the field. And certainly help them to see that their mistakes and failures do not define them.


Goal Setting

Back in December we prepared everyone for SMART goal setting. We asked all the students to set a daily goal and handed out calendars for tracking their progress. We’ll have a surprise for all those who meet their goal and turn in the completed calendar at the beginning of February.

Since then, we’ve been talking about how to go about setting and meeting goals. It’s an obvious ability that will lead to success in many areas.

SMART Goal Setting

Goal setting should not be mindless. Many of us hold broad ideas of areas we’d like to improve on. Eat better, get more exercise, read more, etc.


A good goal is SPECIFIC. We need to think about something in a way that we can really tackle it and not have it be just a broad feel good idea.


Part of that specificity is to be MEASURABLE. If we don’t put an exact number, or frequency, or amount, then how do we know if we’ve met the goal?


And let’s not kid ourselves. Make sure your goal is ATTAINABLE. It still needs to be a goal; it does no good to count something you already do! But make sure you’re being realistic with yourself. If your real goal is too big to tackle at once, start small and after you’ve accomplished the first goal, add another piece.


When asking the kids to come up with their goal, we really want them to choose something that’s RELEVANT.  Hopefully they came up with a goal that is good for them or for others. If it’s not good for anyone, it’s pointless.


And lastly, it needs to be trackable. Hence the calendars on which to track the goals.

Using these criteria you and your student can work on goal setting together and create a plan for a better year than ever.  

Start strong

We began the month encouraging the students to start strong, working towards their goal. We often use the beginning of the school year as a time to talk about starting strong. The truth is anytime you’re starting something new, whether it’s a new class, a new job or a new project, it’s best to start strong. The feeling of accomplishment that comes from getting off to a strong start can carry you through a lot of obstacles down the road. Start strong and gain some successes to shield your confidence when things are tougher.

No Stinking Thinking

This week we’re talking about what it really takes to reach our goals: an act of will. It takes drive, determination and commitment. A month is a long time to stick with a goal. The reward is good, as the probability of the goal becoming a habit after a successful month is pretty high.

But what if we’ve picked something that we know we SHOULD do, or NEED to do, but don’t WANT to do? How do we find the WILL to accomplish the goal?

It actually has more to do with what we THINK! What we think about who we are and what we are capable of. If we think something’s going to be hard, well, guess what? It probably will be. If we think we can’t, we won’t. So how do we change that? The more we can see ourselves as constantly learning, able to grow and change, the more easily we’ll be able to think we can meet the goals we set for ourselves.  

It is our own thoughts about who we are, and what we can do, that limit us. Maybe it’s time to rethink what defines us. Often we let others define us. We were always the clown in the family, or studious, or shy, or clumsy. It can be hard to really let go of labels we were given in childhood. Some of our identities can be good ones: mother, brother, daughter, friend. But they don’t define us.  It’s true we may have many identities, but we have to reach the core of who we really are.

Help your child develop a Growth Mindset

For us, at Warriors of Grace, we believe we are beloved sons and daughters of a loving God. We are being transformed through a process that will continue throughout our lives. Therefore we should not have any limitations in our thinking about what we can accomplish. We know we can grow and change, because we’ve already experienced growth and change.

Whatever your beliefs, it’s important to have the mindset that we can learn and grow and change. And it’s important to develop that mindset in your children. If you hear your child say “I can’t,”  just add “yet” to the end of the sentence.  Help them set SMART goals that will enable them to experience success and gain confidence to set more goals.