Like all Zen statements this one sounds a lot easier then  it seems.  Letting go sounds easy but requires considerable training over a long period of time to achieve mastery.  Let go of hurtful comments made by bullies, let go of anger, let go of things that hurt you.  This is not always but you always have a choice.

Are you happy now?  If not why not?  Only you can make yourself happy.  What are you waiting for?  Don’t delay your happiness till sometime in the future.  Choose to be happy now.

In this day everybody is looking for the quick fix, the immediate satisfaction.  People are not willing to invest time in learn, if you can’t do it immediately it’s not worth doing.  But important things take time, learning a musical instrument,  learning a language, learning a martial art all take time and do not happen over night.

Dedication is required.  This is the passion the desire to follow through on your plans, to see them come to fruition.  Without dedication, you will lose the motivation to continue.

Will power is where you motivation and dedication are born.  Having the strength of mind to practice, good days and bad,

Nobody achieves a black belt without sacrifice.  Sacrifice time that could have been spent with family and friends, money spent on training that could have be spent on debts, missing out on social occasions like parties and gigs, sacrificing your body, learning to live with pain and discomfort.

Whatever your dream, give it time, dedication, will power and sacrifice and it will be worth it in the end.

The 1st discipline it to turn up for training.  Be on time, be ready to train and be ready to give 100%.

“Children don’t quit Karate, Parents do.”  If you want your child to benefit or even receive their black belt and more, than you as a parent need to have a black belt commitment too.

Why do you want your child to learn Karate”

Parent – “I want them to gain discipline and confidence”

Sensei to Parent : “Then here are the things you, as the parent need to know and follow no matter what:

1. You must be consistent bringing your child to class. Schedule your Karate days and move things around them so your child doesn’t miss classes or attend sporadically. Why? Because discipline and confidence come from doing structured things, not random things.
2. When training gets tough and your child doesn’t want to go to class because it’s not “fun” you will tell them “get your Gi and let’s go” no matter what. Why? Because you can’t build discipline on your schedule, only doing what you want when you want. You also can’t build confidence by avoiding things that are hard to do or tough. Only by failing and then overcoming that failure can you grow confident. It is not easy but it is worth it.
3. When your child loses interest (which comes and goes by the way) you will say “Get your Gi and let’s go”. Allowing your child to just give up something because they have lost interest leads to teaching them how to be a failure in life. Teaching your child the value of commitment and seeing things through is part of the discipline process. The loss of interest in kids happens but then they wish they wouldn’t have “quit”. Teach your child not to be a quitter.
4. You aren’t committing to attend Karate. You are committing to get good at Karate and earn your black belt. When your child wants to quit you will say “Are you a black belt yet?” and then say “Get your Gi and let’s go”. Children who see their training through to black belt will learn what it means to truly earn something which builds confidence and discipline. This will be invaluable in their lives as they grow into adulthood (going off to college and more).
5. Karate will build confidence, discipline, focus and more BUT you have to be committed to it no matter what. You can’t just show up when you want and expect your child to gain from it. It takes work so teach your child the value of working hard. When you, the parent, are involved in their training they grow strong in their confidence and discipline. Don’t be “that parent” that just lets their kid start and quit things. Get them to the dojo and watch them develop strong, focused, driven and confident so that they can have a great life!

Learn to respond not react

Reactions are spontaneous automatic knee jerk answers to things.  Responses are considered more thoughtful.  Reactions tend to be immediate and focus solely on the immediate situation in front of us, responses however focus on the bigger picture taking in all the facts and consequences of our actions.

Your hand touches a hot stove and you pull it away immediately, someone calls you a name and you lash out angrily both of these are examples of reactions.  You don’t think, you don’t stop to consider your options.  A response on the other hand considers all the facts and weighs up the consequences of our actions.

When sparring you should learn to respond rather than react.  Your opponent feints an attack and you react, or you learn to watch your opponent’s movements and respond only to their legitimate attacks.  Reading their eyes, focusing on their shoulders and their body movements, keeping relaxed and calm.  This is practiced when facing a partner in training.  Slowing their movements down with sustained focus and awareness (Zanshin)

‘Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
~Lao Tzu

Much of our lives is spent in reaction to others and to events around us. The problem is that these reactions might not always be the best course of action, and as a result, they can make others unhappy, make things worse for us, make the situation worse.

Why would we want to make things worse?

The truth is, we often react without thinking. It’s a gut reaction, often based on fear and insecurities, and it’s not the most rational or appropriate way to act. Responding, on the other hand, is taking the situation in, and deciding the best course of action based on values such as reason, compassion, cooperation, etc.

Let’s take a quick example:

  1. React: Your child breaks something. You immediately react by getting angry, perhaps yelling, upsetting the child and yourself, worsening your relationship, not making anything better.
  2. Respond: Your child breaks something. You notice your anger reaction, but pause, take a breath, and consider the situation. First response is to see if your child is OK — is she hurt, scared? Second, realize that the object that is broken, in the larger view, is not that important. Let it go, adjust to a world without it. Third, help her clean up, make a game of it, show her that mistakes happen and that it’s not something to dwell on. Fourth, calmly talk about how to avoid mistakes like that in the future, and give her a hug.

This choice presents itself to us all the time, whether it’s our mother nagging us, our co-worker being rude, our husband not being kind enough, and so on. There will always be external events that bother us, but if we learn to respond and not just react, we can make things better and not worse.

How to Learn to Respond

The main thing to learn is mindfulness and the pause.

Mindfulness means watching ourselves when something happens that might normally upset us or trigger some kind of emotional reaction. Pay close attention to how our minds react.

Then pause. We don’t have to act immediately, just because we have an internal reaction. We can pause, not act, breathe. We can watch this urge to act irrationally arise, then let it go away. Sometimes that takes a few seconds, other times it means we should remove ourselves politely from the situation and let ourselves cool down before we respond.


Watch the reaction go away.

Now consider what the most intelligent, compassionate response might be. What can we do that will help our relationship, teach, build a better team or partnership, make the situation better, calm everyone down, including ourselves?

At first, you might mess up. But in time, you’ll learn to watch this reaction, and you’ll get better at the pause. Don’t fret if you mess up — just resolve to be more mindful when it happens next time. Take note of what happened to trigger your reaction, and pay attention when something like that happens again.

Be mindful, pause, then consider a thoughtful, compassionate response.

Student Name:   James O’Neill

Age:   8

Grade:   6th Kyu Green Belt

Class:   Green-Blue Intermediary

Length Training:   3 Years

Favourite Move:   Jump Kicks

Favourite Kata:   Pinan Nidan

Hobbies:   Swimming

Sensei’s comments:  Very dedicated  and enthusiastic student.  James is passionate about his training and never misses a class.  He has really progressed lately.


Mistake upon mistake. Or life as one continuous mistake. Progress in the martial arts as in life, is based on making mistakes, recognize them, fix them and make new mistakes.

Nobody is perfect, life is not perfect, but as karate ka we aim for perfection. But this attitude should be maintained with a gentle touch. Don’t be too hard on yourself, berate yourself too harshly or criticize yourself too much. Recognize your mistake or failings, correct them and make new mistakes. Recognizing mistakes is not a sign of weakness but takes a honest strength of character. On or off the mats, seek to be the best most authentic version of yourself.

Karate is about improving the character. By improving ourselves, we model a better example for those around us, which in turn improves the society around us. A good karateka should never be cruel, favouring compassion, caring and courtesy. Never a bully, never mean spirited, careful in knowing the words they speak can cause longer lasting damage then their fists and feet.

Karateka should never be cowardly, be brave enough to walk away from a fight, when you know you could damage the opponent. Be brave enough to defend the weak, seek the truth, be brave enough to be honest in all areas of life. Brave enough to admit their weaknesses and face up to changes that need to be made.

Never give up, Never give in

Success in the martial arts as in life requires perseverance. Long term training can go through peaks and depressions on the journey to Shodan or beyond. Attitude is everything in the martial arts, never giving up, never giving in is vital. Your opponent will never hit as hard as life. Life will knock you down and keep you down if you let it. As the japanese sayings says, get knocked down 7 times, stand up 8.

In all things be Indomitable in spirit. Rise up, train hard, chase your dreams, study deeply, never settle, never give up, and never give in