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!

“I Love Reading!” (EVERYBODY should be saying!)

We are including the teens who participate in our adult karate class in a new summer reading program just for them. They have a more challenging goal, but they will also have a fantastic fun night as the reward!

Scores of studies show how much better students who love to read perform throughout their education. Well, it doesn’t just end there. The more we are learning throughout our lives the happier, the healthier, the more successful we end up being!

Think about how much our country depends upon citizens being informed. The more informed we are about everything in life the better off we are. It is especially challenging today with the overwhelming amount of information available to us to be able to discern fact from fiction. We don’t want to be easy targets for persuasive marketers!

One of the ways we develop discernment is by having a lot of information and experiences from which to draw. Yes, that information can be attained from a lot of sources, but one important way is from reading.

Reading can also be a wonderful way to find quiet pleasure and relaxation. My hope is that everyone would develop a love of reading. But even if you don’t develop or discover a love of reading, it is still important to continually learn and grow. Reading is the easiest way to make sure you are continually learning and growing!

If you’re a teen who does not like to read, I don’t expect this to change your mind.

But……hopefully you will want to come on out to our big end of summer teen blast party that we will have for those who meet the challenge!!

(ADULTS in the adult karate class — we’re not forgetting you! You’re next!)

What is the context of your life?

Context is everything! Do you have a box of miscellaneous cords, plugs and adapters that you don’t know what they’re for? I’m so afraid of throwing out something important that I have just such a box at home. But the truth is they are absolutely worthless on their own! Without a context (i.e. without whatever it is they are supposed to connect or adapt or plug into) they are useless!

Our purpose in life requires connection to something else, just as those cords require connection to something else. All on our own, living for just our selves, is not going to be rewarding. We might be able to find some pleasure or have some fun if we are just focused on our self, but it won’t last. We need connection.

Many of us have a yearning to know what our purpose in life is. We want to find assurance that we’re on the right track – that we haven’t missed something important we were designed for, or destined for. That sense of “there must be more” occasionally nags us.

Every one of us HAS a purpose. We believe that every one of us was created by God with a specific purpose (or purposes) just for us! If only we could see God in all his glory, and understand who he truly is, we would want to lean into him and learn from him what he planned for us (after, of course, we recovered and picked ourselves up off the ground!)

Moses cried out to God in a psalm written over 3000 years ago:  “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” When we make our days count, we are fulfilling our purpose. What better reward is there than gaining a heart of wisdom?

Start asking God today, to show you what he has planned for you. It doesn’t matter what “religion” you are or if you aren’t sure who you’re even talking to when you pray. That’s ok. That’s a place to start. We believe that Jesus Christ is who he says he is. What do you believe?

If you talk to God, he will hear.  Ask him to guide you to what your purpose in life is. He is a gracious God and he will answer.

Being connected to something larger than ourselves, finding the purpose for our lives and living that out is incredibly rewarding.  Our time is limited and we want whatever time we have been given to have value – to count. It’s never too early to start and it’s also never too late!

What are YOU doing this summer??

If your answer isn’t “READING!”, then you haven’t been in the dojo this week!

We want to help your child develop the habit of being a life-long learner!

Teachers know the break over summer can be a season full of learning opportunities . . . or learning losses. Make this summer one of learning opportunities! Have your kids gain a reading level (or two!)!

We know the behaviors, habits and character traits that produce highly successful kids.  Two of the habits at the very top of the list are “life-long learning” and the “love of reading”.  It is simple –people that read are more successful.  Summer is the best time to take your child’s reading to the next level.  We say “If your child is not reading over the summer – what are they doing?!

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 reading.  I think you will like some of the improvements we have made to the program this year.  Here are some tips and guidelines to help you and your child excel:

  1. Our Summer Reading Program is mandatoryEveryone 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.
  2. Read every dayThis 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 you read just that you do a little almost every day.
  3. Keep it funTake advantage of the fact that during the school year they often have to read things they are not thrilled to read. During the summer they can read what they like. So don’t worry if they read books, magazines or comic books. Let them have fun.
  4. Make books accessibleHave books around the house.Have books in the car. Always have books with you. Have books that you read too. We will have books in the dojo. If you have books you were going to donate anyway, please feel free to bring them in!
  5. Don’t underestimate the power of choiceKids will read books they like.Help your child find their interest. Building their interest can help even reluctant and struggling readers.
  6. Take advantage of technologyKids love those e-readers. You can also listen to books. Put them on your iPod or listen to audiobooks in your car. (We don’t count this as “reading” time, but it’s good for them to learn to enjoy reading!)
  7. Make reading a family cultureThis last one is probably the most powerful. To make this really stick and have the whole family benefit – make reading part of your family culture. Kids learn by example. The 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.

Humility – our firm foundation

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!


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.


Humility can be a very challenging concept for children to learn. We have to come at it from many different directions. This is how we tackled it this week:


Little Ninjas and Golden Dragons


Look before you leap!


A Fox fell into a well, and though it was not very deep, he found that he could not get out again. After he had been in the well a long time, a thirsty Goat came by. The Goat thought the Fox had gone down to drink, and so he asked if the water was good. “The finest in the whole country,” said the sneaky Fox, “jump in and try it. There is more than enough for both of us.” The thirsty Goat immediately jumped in and began to drink. The Fox just as quickly jumped on the Goat’s back and leaped from the tip of the Goat’s horns out of the well. The foolish Goat now saw what a plight he had got into, and begged the Fox to help him out. But the Fox was already on his way to the woods. “If you had as much sense as you have beard, old fellow,” he said as he ran, “you would have been more cautious about finding a way to get out again before you jumped in.” Look before you leap!


Tigers and Juniors


Be humble


The hardest thing in the world can be to admit you made a mistake; to admit you are wrong. But the truth is that when you make a mistake, that is an opportunity you don’t want to miss out on! Humility is the foundation of karate. Humility is the foundation of all learning. You can’t learn anything if you think you already know everything. You can’t learn anything if you think you can already do everything! We need to stay humble. Making a mistake and telling someone is being humble. Admitting you are wrong is a lesson in humility. But it isn’t good enough to just tell ANYONE. You have to tell the person that you were wrong to; you have to tell the person that was impacted by your mistake. That is true humility; that is being humble.

How can I help?

We often think of leaders as those who are ready to plow straight ahead and followers go on after. The best leaders are those who inspire followers rather than compel or demand them to follow. What makes the best leaders? Those who serve others and ask those who are following “what can I do for you?” In a work situation the best leaders ask “How can I help you do your job better?” We may not think of leaders as being servants but that’s what the greatest leader in the world was – a servant leader. We are inspired to follow those who are willing to help us. The more we can put others first, not only do we become better people, but we become better leaders. Remember, we all, whether parents or not, have younger eyes that watch what we do. Let’s inspire them to follow us!

This week’s mat chats were:

For Tigers and Juniors:

What can I do for you?

Do you know how you can really show someone you love them? Let me ask you this first: do your parents love you? How do you know? I’m sure there are many ways, but do they DO things for you? Sure they do. They drive you all over to your various activities because they love you. They work hard to provide you what you need, like food, and clothing, and they work hard to provide you extra things, too. They do things for you because they love you. Now I want you to show them you love them by asking how can I help? What can I do for you? If something came straight to your mind just now – remember that, go home, and DO it! Or just ASK the question! Ask how you can serve – how you can be of help to those you love.

For Little Ninjas and Golden Dragons:

What can I do for you?

Does your mom and dad do things for you because they love you? Yes, they do! Doing things for people is how we can show our love for them. Do you think there is something you can give your mom or dad? You can show you love them by asking them what you can do for them? I bet there are a lot of ways you can help mom or dad around the house. Love isn’t just a feeling – it’s something you do! So show your love by asking what you can do for your mom, your dad, your grandmother or grandfather, or someone else who takes care of you. Show them by your actions that you love them!

Does your gratitude have a “yes, but” ?

Last week we focused on having an attitude of gratitude. We’ve all heard it and yes, we all buy into the importance of having an attitude of gratitude. But somewhere in between what we know in our brain and what we feel in our heart can be a bit of a disconnect. To be sure, starting in the brain is not a bad place to start. Habits need to be formed, disciplines need to be followed! Having gratitude is a huge one to work on. We just want to help you to push it to the next level!

The next time you notice a  “yes, but”, just be aware of it! Awareness is the first step to being able to change anything. Notice when you say the right words, but feel a hint of …. something else….dare I say….ingratitude?  You know: “thank you for the lovely surprise gift” and inside you’re wishing it were something a bit different. Or “thank you for bringing me lunch” and you’re wondering why the other didn’t know you’re allergic? Or “thank you for doing the dishes” and inside there’s a snarky remark just trying to get out. Or even thanking God for something He has done for you, but following with a “why couldn’t it have happened this way”? Those are all what I call “yes, but”s.  Just try to be aware of them.

And then you know what comes next. That’s right. Try to turn each “yes, but” into real gratefulness. Recognize the gift, recognize the love, appreciate the thought, appreciate the gift. It just takes practice! Let your gratitude be real, not just a habit!

Mat Chat for Little Ninjas and Golden Dragons:

Did you give your mom a special Mother’s Day hug last week? I hope so! Think about all the things your mom does for you. It’s important to be grateful for what she does. The next time you feel angry because she’s telling you “no”, try to think about all the things she DOES let you do, and DOES for you! I know it’s hard – but when we can stay thankful, we are much happier! If you didn’t give your mom a big hug on Sunday, I want you to be sure and give her one today. In fact, even if you did — go and give her another one now! Say “thank you mom, for bringing me to karate, and for ALL the things you do for me”! (hopefully some of you got some extra hugs in!)

Mat chat for Tigers and Juniors

When you say “thank you” to someone, is there often a “yes, but” in the back of your mind? For instance, if someone gives you a gift that you’re not crazy about, do you say “thank you” but think to yourself “I wish it were xxx”? Or when you thank your parents for bringing you somewhere, is there sometimes a “yes, but I wish I could’ve gone somewhere else”? Or let’s say you’re working on the gratitude packet and you can come up with some things to grateful for, but right behind those thoughts come thoughts of things you wish were different. That’s gratitude with a “yes, but”. Try to be aware of all those “yes, but”s. They take away from having an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is so important – it affects your family, your friends, even how you do in school! We want you to develop a REAL attitude of gratitude and get rid of those “yes, but”s!