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.