Recently, an instructor from another karate dojo asked me a question. Here is what they said...
"I have a student going up for a black belt rank test who has physical limitations and health issues. There will be a lot of people there watching their rank test. I'm concerned about the test as the student is not physically able to perform certain techniques that are usually expected during a black belt test. Specifically, I'm concerned that if we make exceptions for this student to pass their test that other students would feel this isn't fair. Obviously, I want to be inclusive, but I also don't want others to see the rank test and form a negative opinion on what it takes to earn a black belt. How do you maintain high standards and still be inclusive to those with physical limitations? What would you do in this situation?"
Here is my short answer: Set your standards high. However, be willing to modify when necessary.
Here's the longer answer: I have had students with total knee replacements, hip issues, heart issues and other physical challenges. Prior to testing, for those who have physical limitations, we teach modifications to specific techniques that will suit their bodies and physical abilities better.
The student MUST be able to defend themselves fully using the modified techniques. We also require the student to be able to verbalize the original way to perform the techniques, as listed in our system curriculum, even if they cannot do the technique themselves. They need to be able to teach others, without physical limitations, on how to do it properly.
At the beginning of that student's rank test, I explain this to all those present. This way there is no misunderstanding. All of our other students have expressed understanding. We are a karate family and they know that every member is pushed and challenged in their own way. No one has ever expressed any unfairness.
Remember, everyone is on their own martial arts journey. Those who have limitations or disabilities should still be pushed to their highest personal ability. Understand, their greatest ability will not be as high as the students without any physical limitations. Do not make comparisons. Rather, seek to improve ALL who come through your doors to be the best they can possibly be. Seek out their strengths and reinforce them.
When rank testing a student, the questions to ask yourself as an instructor are:
âNeed more inspiration? Take a look at the Adaptive Martial Arts Association or Karate Adaptation for Disabled People. You might also appreciate the video below for an example of some inspiring disabled karate athletes competing in an international karate tournament.
P.S. If you know of any other martial arts organizations that support karate for all physical capabilities, please comment below!
Kids are not naturally self-motivated. When your child’s mindset is not in the right place, even the most fun activities can be a struggle to get to. With that said, here are some strategies to help you work around lack of motivation when trying to get your kid to class.
1. Be attentive to what your child is doing at the moment he/she is supposed to get ready for class. If he/ she is playing or having fun with a friend, then be ready for a battle. With that said, have your child participate in a chore or task that’s not as much fun around 10 to 15-minutes prior to getting ready for class.
2. Be attentive to your own projection of emotions as you get your child ready for class. If you are stressed, rushed, or aggravated in any way, this will project the same emotions on your child. With that said, be sure to project positive and upbeat energy as you are getting your child ready for class.
3. Be attentive to how you respond to your child’s overall performance after class. If you are expressing too much emphasis on what he/ she did wrong versus right, then those negative feelings will carry over. With that said, be sure to limit criticism and focus more on productive conversations after class.
4. Be intentional with your goals by communicating with your child’s instructors. The goal is to foster motivation. Let the instructors know about your struggles so that they can be mindful to motivate your child before, during, and after class. It takes a village, so don’t be afraid to ask for support!
5. Prompt motivation by rewarding your child. Remember that children’s brains are still growing, and most of their development comes from positive stimulation and experiences. With that said, pre-frame the proper behavior that you would like to see when going to class, and then set an attainable number of classes he/ she must attend with this behavior, along with a reward for doing so. For example: attend the next 3 classes with the proper behavior and we will grab ice cream on the way home.
These tips are not rocket science but are often overlooked. As parents, we get caught up in the daily grind, so we sometimes forget that situations like this require attentive and intentional parenting. I hope this article sheds some positive light on how to help your child get ready for class.
Click here for a downloadable and printable document of this article.
When you step into our karate dojo, you may think you are merely learning the art of self defense.
However, once you are actively involved as a student, you’ll will find that karate is really a leadership academy.
The skills taught are things like...
One leadership quality that has been proven to be more important to success in life over intelligence or any other quality is Time Management.
In life, each of us are given the same number of hours per day. No one gets more than 24 hours in a day. The most successful people in the world that are masters at their craft, were never granted more than 24 hours per day to accomplish their tasks.
What sets those who succeed in life apart from others is their ability to manage time.
Whenever I hear someone say they don't have time for Karate I am disappointed.
It tells me that the person is failing to manage their time and their life. They have not made their health or their dream of achieving a black belt in karate a priority.
Here’s why saying “I don’t have time” is a poor excuse.
Karate classes only run 60 minutes. You are to attend twice a week.
There are 168 hours in a week. If you are at karate 3 hours per week (including drive time) that’s a mere 1.8% of your week.
That’s a small spec in your time schedule!
If you are not making classes it is because you are letting other people and other things manage your time. If you want to succeed in anything of importance in life you have to block out the time on your calendar and make it non-negotiable. Instead of allowing other things to steal your time, make a commitment to yourself that those class times are sacred. No one can take them from you. It’s YOUR time.
Schedule your karate classes into your week. Time management is part of learning to be successful.
Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.
~ Earl Nightingale
Some of you know that a few months ago I did a 30 day challenge. (This isn't uncommon, I do a lot of 30 day challenges.) The challenge I did was to go without sugar for 30 days. By sugar I mean white, brown, high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. It was a challenge. But, I really felt good! Over the course of the month, I had more energy, lost weight and my skin looked better.
But, my challenge was nothing compared to what this family did. Check it out...
Visit this link to view their full story and transformation.
If this inspires you, comment below. And, if you choose to do a 30, 90 or year-long challenge, please share your results!
I was recently thinking back on my training as a martial artist. When I started as a white belt there were about 20 other students in my dojo's beginner class. Of the 20 students, only 4 of us from that original group made it to black belt.
It wasn't that we were more talented than the others. Nor were we afforded more opportunity. We weren't necessarily the most athletic, physically fit or more youthful either. The ages of my black belt awards ceremony ranged from early 20s to age 50!
But, we did have something that the others from our original class lacked... Perseverance and ritual.
I think we all know what perseverance is. It's that gritty, never-give-up attitude. It's a commitment to stick it out no matter what challenges came your way. However, I believe that perseverance is enhanced by ritual. A ritual is a method of following a specific process on a regular basis. This process, if done frequently becomes a habit. A habit becomes a consistent way of life. This ritualistic process creates a mental connection that leads to success.
Let me give you an example. Watch a professional basketball player when he goes up to the free-throw line during a game. The really good free throw shooters have a ritual they follow. They position their feet a certain way. They dribble the ball a certain number of times. They breathe a specific way. Then they position the ball in their hands just so and release the ball towards the basket the same way every time. All of this comes from consistent practice. If they follow their ritual, 90% of the time they will experience a successful shot.
Karate is also built around ritual. We attend class at the same times each week. We wear our uniform (Gi) a certain way. We bow in a specific way as we enter and exit the dojo. We perform exercises the same way. We line up and perform kata in a particular way. We have our routines and processes. All of this is a ritual for success.
Think of a big boulder near a stream. The consistent flow of water over the boulder smoothes the rough edges and makes the boulder round. Over more time, the water can even cut through the boulder creating a smooth passage. It is the same in karate, the more often we do these rituals the more we develop in our training. Over time, just like the boulder we become smooth.
It is the same with anything in life that you wish to succeed in. In developing positive rituals we each can persevere and pave the way to our success.
Here are some ideas on rituals you can incorporate into your life.
Rituals are powerful. They reinforce success in whatever goals you are working towards. Commit to making rituals part of your daily life and you will find you can accomplish more than you ever imagined!
Remember: the only ones who don't succeed are those that quit. It's persistence and ritual that wins the battle every time.
Recently, a gift of a tiny Geisha doll reminded me of something. She reminded me that when you fall down (or get knocked down) you get back up. And, you keep getting back up every time. It doesn't matter what challenges are thrown your way or what situation is occurring in your life at the time.
You get back up.
It doesn't matter if you are flat on your back at a low point in your life.
You get back up.
It doesn't matter if you are sick.
You get back up.
It doesn't matter if you weren't successful before or how many times you've tried and failed in the past.
You get back up.
It doesn't matter if you don't have anyone to lean on, pick you up, carry you or encourage you.
You get back up.
It doesn't matter if you've had your bell rung or your heart broken or your pride shattered.
You get back up.
You see, the world loves an underdog. The world wants to see you succeed. The world wants to see you get back up.
Because it's the glorious grit of never quitting that emotionally charges the masses and inspires them. Then, when they fall down, and everyone does eventually...
THEY GET BACK UP.
~ Vashon Borich, Sensei
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I stumbled upon a video recently that deeply moved me. A martial artist demonstrates kata and self defense. However, this was no ordinary martial artist... this is someone who has profound physical challenges. But yet, in this video there is power, strength, beauty, creativity, respect and amazing technique. I found myself cheering him on as I watched him perform. In the self defense portion, when he took on two men, there was emotional joy at seeing him perform.
The man's name is Said-Elmahmoudi from Morocco. Watch the video below (note the video is in another language, but you don't need to speak the language to understand what's going on.):
If you have trouble viewing the video here is a direct link:
I am inspired by this man. He is proof that karate is for everyone, not just those who are privileged with perfect health. Never say, "I can't!" As there are people who may have told this martial artist he couldn't do something, but as you can see, he is proof that nothing is impossible. I hope you are as inspired as I was after watching him perform.
It may sound like the lead in for an email in your Spam box, but you really can change your life in 30 days. The secret is selecting a single, meaningful change, goal or project that you commit to doing for 30 days in a row.
I was inspired when I watched a TED talk by Matt Cutts. If you are not familiar with TED, it is a Web site that contains a full library of "riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world." You can watch the video that inspired me here:
If you can't see the embedded video, you can navigate to it with this link: http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_cutts_try_something_new_for_30_days.html
Come to think of it, watching one TED video for 30 days could be a positive life changing endeavor. I challenge you for the next 30 days to do something amazing. If you are short on ideas here are just a few in various categories. (Thank you to my students who offered up a number of these!)
I welcome your comments on this blog as to what you selected as your 30 day challenge, what happened along the way, if it was successful for you or how it changed an aspect of your life.
The Punch Card of challenges.
The morning began earlier than most people choose to wake up on a Saturday morning. But these were no ordinary people. These were Kokoro Kaizen warriors. And, by 7 a.m. they were at my doorstep suited up and ready to push themselves to their limit in a morning full of challenges.
After some warm-up stretches we were off to run/hike close to 4 miles on rugged terrain and up steep hills. I hoped my warriors were up for the challenge. Some ran, some walked and one even limped to the finish, but all of them completed the first challenge.
Without much time to fully catch their breaths, we launched into a circuit of strenuous exercises that tested their mental fortitude, physical strength and tenacity. Dangling from a ribbon around their necks was a daunting punch card of exercises. Each exercise must be completed 50 to 100 times before the day was done. There were moments of frustration, exhaustion and even one who had to pause to empty the contents of his breakfast. But everyone pushed themselves to their limit. They impressed me with their spirit. They performed with the strength and passion of Samurai Warriors. Through sweat, grit and dirt they pressed on. By 11 a.m. everyone had completed their punch card and was certified as a Kokoro Kaizen warrior.
We completed the day with a swim in the lake and a BBQ feast.
Right now, I am beaming with pride for my students. I can't think of a better way to have celebrated our dojo's two-year anniversary. Thank you to all who came out. And, thank you to the parents, siblings and friends who helped with the event. I am honored to have such a great group.
~ Vashon Borich, Sensei
You can view more photos from the 2012 Kokoro Kaizen celebration here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.492194880791920.118980.255052444506166&
Have you ever been pushed to your limit? I'm not talking about being tired from a hard work out or being mentally drained from a challenging day. I'm talking about mentally, physically and spiritually just barely hanging on. Perhaps you have been in a situation where you found yourself out of breath, heart pounding, body aching, bruised, bloodied and barely standing. It's a point where you are so worn out that it takes every ounce of mental energy to focus on moving one foot in front of the other. Step by step you move, inching yourself forward with a determination to never give up even though you are completely tapped out.
If you have ever been there, then you are one of very few people who have. Rarely do we push ourselves to our limit.
“We know that human beings are very kind to themselves and are living as easily as they can. In this kind of situation we only maintain what we have, and the only way to obtain something new is to push ourselves strongly forward. The purpose of practicing karate is to develop physical and mental strength by putting ourselves into hardship. We're all capable of so much more than we apply ourselves to, but in order to actualize that potential, we have to constantly test our limits.” ~ Tom Callos
With this in mind, I am hosting a special challenge that coincides with a celebration. The challenge is called Kokoro Kaizen (more on this in a bit). The celebration is the two-year anniversary of the Branson branch of Seiyo-no Shorin-ryu Karate & Kobudo. Our dojo, at the Branson Sports Club, first opened it's doors on Aug. 28, 2010!
We will host our anniversary challenge/celebration on Saturday, Aug. 25th at Sensei Borich's home. For those of you who haven't been to Sensei's home, she lives on a little acreage surrounded by woods, hiking trails and a path down to the lake. It will be a nice setting for the challenge and celebration.
What does Kokoro Kaizen mean?
Kokoro is a Japanese word that represents mind, heart and spirit. In the Japanese culture, there is no distinction between the three. Similar to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in Christianity, they are different, but still the same. In Japan, they often point to their heart when discussing kokoro as it represents the center or essence of a human being.
Kaizen is a Japanese word for "improvement." Specifically, it represents a practice that focuses upon continuous improvement for the better. It's a process of continuous, gradual, orderly and never ending improvement. In karate, it means pushing yourself further each day... testing your limits.
So, Kokoro Kaizen means "To improve the mind, body and spirit through never ending improvement."
What will happen at Kokoro Kaizen?
Kokoro Kaizen will test your limits. It's an opportunity to push yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. It is a series of challenges that all willing participants will be tasked to do. It will not be easy, but those who complete the challenges and push through their own limitations will be awarded. The event starts at 7 a.m. with group exercises and then a 4-mile run/hike. Some of the challenges that you can expect are:
For those Warriors who successfully complete Kokoro Kaizen, they will have their names emblazoned on a hand-carved hardwood Samurai totem. The Samurai totem is being crafted by Ronald Leach, Hanshi. The totem will have a permanent home in the Branson Dojo for all to see.
The event will be followed by lunch and an anniversary celebration.
How do I participate in Kokoro Kaizen?
There are two ways to participate; as a Warrior or on the Support Squad. The Warriors will compete in the event. The Support Squad will assist with tracking participants, set up, clean up, food/water and general cheer leading. Cost to participate is by donation only. We will use the donations to start a karate scholarship fund for honorable students who could use help with purchasing equipment and karate tuition. The deadline to register is Aug. 7, 2012.
Where do I get more information and register?
Click here to Contact Sensei Borich. She will provide information and registration documentation.
A Kokoro Kaizen warrior cannot give up. Even after he is broken, fatigued and wanting nothing more than to just give up, he must keep fighting. There may come a time when a Kokoro Kaizen warrior won't have the luxury to quit fighting, because lives may depend on it.
Vashon Borich-Leach, Sensei teaches traditional karate and tai chi in Branson, Missouri. She considers herself a life-time student of the arts. Her blog is an open journal of lessons learned in the martial arts. If you are a martial artist and would like to contribute to her blog please contact her.
©2012 Branson Karate & Kobudo™