The Heart of a Black Belt

The culture here at Warriors of Grace is one of striving to always do our best. Yes, we know, as human beings there are times when we want to be lazy and just slide. The problem is that if you don’t actively try to resist that very human urge, it could become a habit.

Lazy people who just want to slide do not end up being successful. Time and time again, research after research indicates that it’s not raw talent that leads to success: it is passion and perseverance.  The passion is what drives the perseverance. Once we have something to set our sights on, we can be motivated to keep working towards the goal. Part of YOUR family’s culture should include conversations that help your children (and yourself!) find their (and your!) passion.

So like in all the other ways we are trying to help you instill good habits in yourselves and in your children, we are focusing this week on making a HABIT of ALWAYS doing your best. Having a stripe test every month provides an opportunity to insist the students do their best. Being required to do one’s best over and over again creates the habit or the mindset:  “of course I’m going to do my best!”

That is what it means to have the heart of a black belt. We’re not going to give up. We’re going to keep working towards our goal.

We also want to remind everyone one more time that next Tuesday, August 2 is National Night Out. Please be aware that there will be NO CLASSES NEXT TUESDAY!!

Also want to remind everyone that next week is Crazy Hair Week! A chance to go wild and have fun! Let’s see your creativity!

And the Purple Team and the Green Team are neck in neck! YOUR attendance or reading tally sheet could be the one to tip the scales!

What we all value most

I’m reading an interesting book at the moment. It is Ethical Warrior by Jack Hoban.

It is an interesting exploration of values, ethics and morals.

But at the end of the day, no matter how diverse in culture, no matter how diverse in relative values or morals, no matter every other thing that may be thrown in the mix, there is one thing that every human being values above all else:


Jack Hoban’s mentor, Bob Humphrey, was a conflict resolution specialist who averted many potential clashes between countries. The Life Value was Bob’s conclusion to which his work lead.  The value of life that Bob leveraged in his pursuit of avoiding conflict was a dual life value: not just value of one’s own life but for others as well. In fact, in many cases, the value of the other’s life is actually placed higher than one’s own life.

Though this value is inside of every human being, it is still one that needs to be nurtured or it can die. That is why we focus a large portion of our messages to the children in Warriors of Grace Karate on encouraging them to put others first. As a baby is born into this world he or she naturally is totally self-centered and doesn’t even recognize that there IS another. It is a gradual shift as the baby grows and begins to know himself as separate from his mother and other family members.

By the time children can begin karate, they are ready to repeatedly be taught, in different ways, to pay more attention to someone else (parents and teachers) than their own desires and impulses.

In our current culture the SELF is given much weight and value. But the only way that the SELF can be truly powerful and accomplish anything of value, is to be fully self-controlled.  Putting others first is a great way to not only learn self-control, but to nurture that dual life value that is implanted in all humans.

Karate is a great way to learn life lessons at any age. For the youngest, learning self-control largely revolves around learning to stand still and learning to put others first. Older kids learn self-control by needing to be precise in their movements and learning how to take care of their karate partners. Young adults may need to learn self-control when they are ready to begin sparring. As we age we need to learn to adjust to movements that are more appropriate to what our body can now do (and no longer do).

Though progress in karate is an individual pursuit, we are frequently working with others. At every age karate is nurturing that innate dual life value – the one that says taking care of my partner is more important than taking care of myself.


Finding Balance

We’ve all heard it before.  Balance is critical.

We strive to improve our physical balance in the dojo. In addition to making sure we stay on our feet for self-defense, it will also help us avoid falls and broken wrists or worse.

Imagine you are a table with four legs. When all legs are equal (balanced), a 4-legged table is a very sturdy object. It can handle quite a load. Now imagine these are the four legs of your table: your mind (or intellect), your emotions, your physical body, and your spirit.

It’s important to keep each of these strong and balanced. If you work out 5 days a week, eat right, get plenty of sleep and stay hydrated – you’re all set right? Not really. You can’t just ignore your relationships. You can’t discount how important it is to stimulate your intellect. (Fortunately karate challenges the mind as well as the body!) Since we’re plugging summer reading for all the students at Warriors of Grace – why not read along this summer? Find something interesting, maybe some non-fiction book in an area you always had an interest in but never got around to looking into.

We are spiritual beings. Ok, there are those that believe we are just bunches of neurons bouncing randomly off each other. If that’s your belief, I would just say, really??? If you think there is more than random processes accounting for every moment of every day, I’m going to call whatever it is that animates us our spirit. For that tabletop to be strong, we can’t just ignore it.

Back to something so simple and yet so challenging for some of us. That table leg that represents our physical body. Adequate, consistent exercise? Summertime is actually a time when it’s generally easy to stay active. Check. Eating right? Again, with all the fresh fruits and vegetables available, and too hot to eat too much junk, summertime can be an easier time to get this right, too. Check.

I’m going to leave you with 2 challenges to work on: get enough sleep and stay hydrated! These are the two that can be challenging in the summer.

There’s no easy answer to either. We overbook, we want to do too much, we’ve got issues in each of the other “table legs” that keep us up at night.  (See why balance is so important?) But there is a part of lack of sleep that is just a habit. Make a decision to sleep better. Go to bed at the same time. Wake up at the same time. Protect that time for sleep. It’s a habit that can really make a huge difference.

That too hard? Ok, then just focus on this: hydration! Is that an easy enough place to start? Just keep a water bottle with you all the time (and don’t leave it behind in the dojo!!) Keep it filled. Drink regularly. It’s so easy and yet many of us stay in a state of dehydration!

Here’s to a summer of improving some basic habits and finding more balance!

(Remember that table? If just one leg is really weak, just one heavy load (crisis) will collapse the whole thing!)


Sushi Anyone??

No, not the candy sushi we had fun making at the karate camp last week.

We don’t want to leave the adults out of the summer reading program! We want everyone to be reading this summer and we may have come up with a way to encourage you!

Whoever meets the challenge can join us for a sushi party at the dojo on Saturday, September 3rd! Sound like fun?!?

So, what’s the challenge? Read 30 minutes a day for the next two months from today through September 2nd!

Really, it’s just like the kids’ and teen’s challenges — use the tally sheets that you can find online. (Really?  You still haven’t checked out the student page yet??? Username: WarriorsOfGraceKarate  password: welcome  In the Document Central, under the Red Folder, is a folder labeled Summer Reading Program. There you will find tally sheets.)

Were you feeling neglected without your name up on a poster in the dojo?!?  No longer! When you get back to karate you’ll find a poster for the adults that are in the adult classes.

How do you get your star? It’s on the counter. What do you do to EARN your star?

Read at least 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week and you get a star! (We’re using the honor system – get your own star!)

How do I get to go to the sushi party??  Get at least 7 start on the poster and you can join us!!

So start reading today!! And if you read something you really want to share – let us know here! (in the comments!)




Summer Team Challenge!

First of all Happy Independence Day everyone!!  Let’s all treasure the freedoms we have as Americans.

When you come back to karate there will be exciting things happening. Hopefully you’ll be bringing a buddy with you! We’ll need to get your buddy’s name so we can have a white belt ready – your buddy will earn a belt at the end of class!

Also, you’ll look to see if you are on the Green Team or the Purple Team – and then you’ll put on your headband that you’ll keep throughout the summer team challenge.

When you are in class your team will get points – here’s how:

  • Just showing up! We’ll give a point to each team for each member in class.
  • Reading!  Every time you bring in a tally sheet your team will get a point!
  • Character stripes! Every time you bring in a character sheet for a stripe or a bar, your team will get a point!
  • Stripe testing! Every time you earn a stripe during stripe testing, your team will get a point!
  • Buddy Week! Earn a point for every buddy you bring to class!
  • Occasional challenges during the class – we will do some surprise challenges during classes so you can try to win points for your team!

Plus, we’ll be doing some different fun things all summer long! You don’t want to miss a single class!