It’s so important to develop an “attitude of gratitude”!

Really. We say it all the time….because it’s true. 

Develop an “attitude of gratitude”!

There is so much research into the benefits of gratitude on our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. Really. A lot of money has been spent on something we all know instinctively. But now there’s proof.

Gratitude is good for you!

And it’s good for your kids! And they learn best by picking it up from you!

So what have you done to try to develop an “attitude of gratitude”?

Here are some ideas to try if you haven’t already:

For encouragement in what you’re already doing, as well as some ideas for new practices to start, here are a few ideas:

Be sure to use “Thank you” all the time. Don’t let your child forget to say the words. Sending a thank you card or gift encourages us to develop our gratitude.

Appreciate everything – don’t be picky! Keeping a gratitude journal is a powerful tool to keep our thoughts focused on the positive. We can even appreciate our challenges when we take the time to reflect on what we are learning or how we are growing from those challenges.

Remember that every gift or help received, came at a cost to the giver. Thinking of the cost (in time, patience, or money) helps us truly appreciate the gift.

Count your blessings. Regularly. No matter what difficulties you may be going through, there are always reasons to celebrate the life we have.

Recall the opportunities that you have been blessed with.  Be a good steward of those opportunities. Don’t take anything for granted.

Pay it forward. Pass on your good fortunes with others. Whether that is sharing your presence and friendship, or doing random acts of kindness, we can always find ways to send our gratitude out into the world.

Best of all – our kids are watching and they will pick up the same “attitude of gratitude”!



“I will respect myself and others!” A look at the Warriors of Grace Dojo Kun

Why a dojo kun?

Along with bowing in, the dojo kun is a reminder for us — a reminder for why we are training in karate, a reminder to be all in and focused while we are in class, and a reminder to have a “black belt attitude” throughout class!

“I will respect myself and others!”

What does that mean? 

We say this every class, but do we think about what we’re saying?

To respect something means it is really important to you.

Are you important? Yes! That’s why you need to be kind to yourself.

Are others important? Yes! That’s why you need to be kind to everyone else, too!

We take care of things and people that are important to us. By being kind and taking care of each other — that’s how we show respect!

The truth is that when we listen to mom and dad, and do what they tell us, we are respecting our self as well as them. They are telling us what to do in order to help us grow and learn and be safe. They are the “black belts” that are in charge of us. By following their directions, we are taking care of ourselves as well as being respectful to them.

“I will be courageous!”

Did you  know that every time you back away from something you are afraid of, the FEAR gets BIGGER?

Did you  know that the only way to have the FEAR get SMALLER is to push through, walk towards it, and overcome it? By overcoming, it doesn’t mean that you’re not afraid. It means that you did what needed to be done, despite being afraid. 

And every time you overcome your fear it gets SMALLER!

“I am dedicated!”

We are dedicated to something we feel strongly about, to something that is important to us. 

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. It’s worth giving it your all. It’s worth making it an important part of your life.

That’s dedication.  Also sounds a lot like INTENSITY, huh? (Last month’s theme!)

“I am motivated!”

To be motivated is to have a reason for what you’re doing.  Having a reason so compelling that you can’t imagine NOT doing it!

What’s our reason for being dedicated and motivate to give our all while we are in karate class?

“I’m on a quest to be my best!”

There it is – that’s why we train. That’s why we never give up. That’s why we’re “all in”.

Karate is all about the journey to form ourselves into the best people we can be!

Leading Ourselves So We Can Lead Others: 7pm Wednesday 20 Feb

Leadership is an Action
To lead is to take an action. It is a verb. Something you do.
Leading is easier for some; harder for others. For some, the fear that we will do it wrong will discourage us, and cause us to shrink from the challenge. But even if you do, you must remember that leadership is still happening. Leadership can be something you do without even knowing that you’re doing it, and whether you’re consciously leading or not, there’s someone following you. They may be your kids, your siblings, your cousins, your friends, your colleagues and co-workers, and of course your fellow students in karate-do. They may look to you for guidance, to be an example, for reassurance, or for any number of other things…but like it or not, they need you to lead them the right way, in the right direction.  Whoever they are — whoever you are — they need you to lead them with purpose.
Leading by example
Last month in the Warriors of Grace Leadership Institute, we talked a lot about what leadership really is, and what it is not. As a team, we talked about what makes leadership different from power or authority, and the importance of being confident and deliberate in who and how we lead. Easier said than done!
Understanding Ourselves as Leaders
This month, our focus will be a little different. Rather than focusing on the verb  we’re going to focus on the noun, the person doing the leading. You! Understanding ourselves, our identities, our goals, and our missions (big or small) is essential to the task of conscious, deliberate leadership….and to understanding how we may be influencing those who we lead less consciously. To truly lead with purpose, you must be able to understand your genuine self. Only then will you be able to bring your unique strengths and experiences to the forefront when they’re needed. In short, you need to know yourself and lead yourself before you can lead others on purpose.
With all that in mind, I’d like to challenge our new and returning Leadership Institute students to do a little homework before our next meeting. Please bring a short paragraph about who you are. Try a few sentences, or even a bulleted list. Though it may be tempting to do so, don’t try to imagine how others might see you, or try to write about the person you wish you were. Tell us about how you see yourself — who you are today. I’ll be sure to do the same.
See you soon!

Take advantage of Warrior Week! It’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss

What’s so special about Warrior Week?

Hopefully people enjoy coming out and gathering with greater numbers than they normally do, whether it’s to watch a grading, attend a shiai (tournament), or enjoying all the delicious food there always is at our potlucks!

But Warrior Week can be a unique opportunity to learn some life lessons.

Be prepared

Being invited to grade offers a lesson in planning and preparing: bringing in the required paperwork, completing required written tests and character sheets. As your children get older you can begin to shift the responsibility over to them.

(We apologize for the delay in some grading invitations going out this time.  Thank you weather! We’ll allow extra time to get your paperwork in.)

Shiai (for us, it means friendly tournament!)

The shiai are an important opportunity you don’t want to miss. Watch your son or daughter carefully to see if they are behaving up to your expectations and if any emotions are coming up during the tournament. How do they handle winning? How do they handle losing? Did something seem unfair to them? The drive home will be a wonderful opportunity to address all of these things. Many critical life lessons or skills have only rare opportunities to develop or address. The shiai during Warrior Week might be one such time.

If you are an adult karate-ka — this is an opportunity for YOU, too! Notice what comes up, what feelings arise. Maybe you’ve never been to a shiai and you’re nervous about going. Why? What’s that about? Push yourself! Broaden your experience! Maybe the opposite is true. You can’t wait to go and kick butt! Really? Examine that!

Let’s eat together!

We want to encourage everyone to come to the potluck on Saturday. It’s always a great time to socialize, have the kids “on stage” (developing courage!), as well as learn new things about karate, our specific style, or some other topic we feel is important to share with you.

All students are asked to wear their gi to the potluck (pants and a t-shirt during lunch, adding the gi top and belt after eating), as we will have the classes do demonstrations after we eat.

Looking forward to a great week next week!




Happy 2019! January – the perfect time to create new habits!

This New Year what better habit to create than the habit of helping others!

Many people use the first of the year to set new goals and take those first steps towards self-improvement.  We are going to use the beginning of 2019 to do the same here at Warriors of Grace.

Parents – what is your goal for January?

Parents of our karate students are welcome to attend adult karate classes for free for the month of January. (New students only.) This is your opportunity to see if karate is a good match for meeting your goals – whether you want to get fit, develop discipline, learn something new to challenge your brain, or just have some fun in a new community of friends!

Our January Challenge for our students:

But what do we REALLY want to help our students here develop? Yes, we do talk about gratitude quite a lot, but we also try to get our students to think of OTHERS. Looking outward is essential to human growth. We stop growing if we remain self-focused.

So this month we are going to set a challenge for all our students. We are setting a goal, which if anyone remembers from last year is SMART.

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – Relevant

T – Time bound

Every day for the month of January, we are asking every student to




From something as simple as offering to carry something, to as big as volunteering at a homeless shelter, we want you to be aware of your surroundings, be aware of who is around you, and notice when there is something you can do for someone else. Then do it!


We will be handing out sheets to be able to record what you do, for whom, and when. 


The goal will be to do something for someone else at least 20 times during the month of January.  The more, the better, as that will help to make it a habit! Finding small things to do for others shouldn’t be a burden, and once you realize how easy it is, it might even become fun to look for how you can help someone! The 20 times doesn’t have to be on different days – so even if you don’t read this and get started late, it will still be attainable!


Taking the focus off ourselves and onto others does require practice. This will help us become more aware of what others may need and how we can help.


We have set this goal for the month of January – but hopefully many of our students will create the habit of looking for ways to help others. We will ask you to track your progress on sheets that will be handed out. (You can start recording now the date, who was helped and what was done for them.) All those who successfully meet the challenge, please bring in the completed sheet after January is over!


Leading others on purpose, with purpose

Leadership Institute 3.0: On Purpose and With Purpose – Open to all Juniors, Teens, & Adults, including parents of karate students!

Leadership is a tough subject. Sure, we talk about it in school, in our workplaces, in our places of worship, in our hobbies, and sometimes even in our homes. But what is it, really? Even the experts don’t agree. Some will tell you that leadership is an ability you’re born with (or without). Others might say that leadership is a skill — something you can develop with study and practice, just like karate. Still others might say that leadership is a calling: a mission (or a burden) that you choose to take on in order to serve others better.

They are all right. And all a little bit wrong.

The truth of the matter is simple: at some point, somewhere, you will be put in a position where you will lead. Regardless of whether you’re born with a talent for it, study the skills, or take on the calling, it’s going to happen. In fact, in some part of your life, you’re probably doing it right now. As crazy as it sounds, you can lead without ever knowing it. The secret that separates great leaders from bad, and even mediocre ones, is that they take the time to understand themselves and others, leading with responsibility and intention. They lead — and you can lead — on purpose and with purpose.

Juniors, Teens, Adult Students, and Parents: please join us on Wednesday, January 9th, from 7 – 8 pm for the first in a new offering in the Warriors of Grace Karate Leadership Institute: On Purpose and With Purpose, with facilitator/instructor Kennon Bauman.

Kennon Bauman is a trained facilitator who works for the Federal government, with nearly 15 years of experience as a civilian mission leader and manager for the U.S. Department of Defense. Mr. Bauman studied Political Science, History, and Civic Leadership as a part of the W.O. Farber Center at the University of South Dakota, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Leadership and Management at the National Intelligence University in Bethesda, MD.

Please let us know you plan on joining us, and we will ask for feedback regarding frequency of sessions. However, if you haven’t let us know you’ll be coming — please join us anyway on January 9th!

Ready to test your mettle? Announcing the Warriors of Grace Tournament Team!

Some students have expressed interest in attending tournaments outside of Warriors of Grace Karate. We will begin with Juniors and Adults. If there is enough interest, in the future we may add Tigers, but for now we will start with the older students in the school.

We hold our in-house tournaments every Warrior Week, and encourage EVERY student to attend their age appropriate shiai (tournament). There are a lot of valuable lessons to be learned when you compete with others. Pushing yourself, learning what you need to work harder on, seeing if what you’ve been working on holds up against an opponent, and seeing where you are headed in the future if you stay on your karate path are all benefits of our in house tournaments. Character traits also come to the surface during competitions. Are we good losers? Good winners? How do we react when something is unfair? How do we treat our opponents?

Well, when you travel to an outside tournament ALL of these things are experienced to an even greater degree. The competition more than likely will be stiff, as it will be with others who specifically train for tournaments.

At Warriors of Grace, we are focused primarily on self-defense. Tournament sparring is quite different from self-defense. Let me take that back — we are focused primarily on character. And tournaments will be an opportunity to grow in character, as all of those buttons that can be pressed in our in-house shiai, will certainly be pressed as we travel to outside tournaments.

Many tournaments will gear toward those teams and schools that have been participating in the tournament for a long time. As a new school, from a different martial art style, begins competing in local tournaments, it may take a while to get established. So it may feel very unfair until Warriors of Grace becomes established as tournament participants. 

Tournaments have competitions in kata, sparring and bunkai.

Every member of the tournament team will be REQUIRED to attend additional training in order to be prepared for tournaments. 

The training will be the first and third Saturday of every month. The training will take place from 12:30 to 2:00.

The first tournament training session will take place on Saturday, Nov 3.

Please let us know if you are interested in joining the tournament team. You can let Senpai Noelle know, or Sensei Tony, or Carol if you are interested.

If you have any questions, please direct them to Sensei Tony.


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!


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!




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!