We recently had the opportunity to try out a BJJ uniform from Elite Sports, and look forward to partnering with them as a supplier of BJJ uniforms, and other athletic wear through their Born Tough brand. Mr. Kim Yee, BJJ 2nd degree Black Belt, wrote his review of the navy blue uniform: "Very durable and comfortable. Perfect fit. When my training partners are smashing me, I know I still look good. My favorite gi, and I own twenty!"
Attitude is Everything
“Attitude is Everything” is our Karate West motto. We recite these words in every class. What do they mean? They mean that the way a person looks at life, and the things that happen in life, is more important to that person’s success and happiness than all the different things that happen in that life. If you can keep a good attitude even when bad things happen, you will make it through the bad times and can turn them into good times.
Here are 3 strategies for developing a positive attitude:
Some quotes about positive attitude that can be helpful:
Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right. – Henry Ford
Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. – Lou Holtz
If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough. – Oprah Winfrey
Positive thoughts generate positive feelings and attract positive life experiences.
Have you every thought of martial arts as a way to learn to practice a positive attitude? Maybe not, but at Karate West, we try to practice positivity, and teach others to do so. Attitude is Everything.
Article by guest contributor, Jennifer McGregor
Easy and Impactful Ways to Stay Healthy from Head to Toe
Maintaining good health is an active process. You can’t just sit around and expect your health to keep up with you! Fortunately, it’s easier to maintain your health over time than it is to treat declined health in the future. While it may not be possible to get those six-pack abs without a killer workout routine, you can do wonders for your general health with just a few easy habits. Here are some simple ideas to get the ball rolling.
Try to Walk More
There are plenty of health-promoting actions you can take to improve your overall wellness. Getting adequate exercise is one of the most important. Regular physical activity can boost your mental health, help you sleep better, and optimize your body in several other ways. The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week. For the greatest benefits, bump this up to 300 minutes.
If you’re finding it hard to hit the minimum, park farther away from work, or try to go for walks during your lunch break. You could even engage in an at-home cardio bodyweight routine while you’re watching TV.
Swap Sugary Beverages for Water
After exercising, it’s tempting to rehydrate with a refreshing sports beverage. But these, like soda and juice, are packed full of sugar. Sugar has a variety of damaging health effects on your entire body. For starters, a diet high in sugar can impair your cognitive skills and increase your risk of depression. Of course, sugar also attacks your teeth. On a whole-body scale, sugar increases the risk of diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, and fatty liver disease.
So, try to swap sugary drinks for a humble glass of water. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help you maintain consistent levels of energy and cognitive performance. Plus, staying hydrated will keep your skin looking it’s best.
Eat for Your Gut Health
Sugary foods and beverages can also wreak havoc on your gut health. According to Forbes, a growing body of scientific research is revealing that gut bacteria is connected to obesity, inflammation, mental health disorders, and many other issues. If you want to be healthy, take care of your gut microbiome.
There are several foods that you can eat to promote the growth of good gut bacteria, including walnuts, cranberries, yogurt, kimchi, leafy greens, and high-fiber whole foods. Whether you’re battling chronic pain, fatigue, or mental health problems, incorporating these healthy foods into your diet may help.
Maintain a Healthy Beauty Regimen
A well-balanced diet is essential for glowing skin and silky hair. Many healthy foods can be used for hair and skin treatments, like honey and avocado. Since skin and hair are mostly made of protein, you should eat plenty of lean meat, eggs, and seafood. Also, opt for foods that contain essential vitamins and minerals, which will benefit not only what’s inside your body but also its exterior.
Beauty care is an important part of your daily self-care routine. That’s why it’s important to choose quality products that are ideal for your skin and hair type. Likewise, if you’re looking for new beauty products to add to your skin and hair care routine—such as makeup and hair accessories—make sure you research recommendations first. Eyelash extensions are another example; there are tons on the market, but you should read reviews for the best ones instead of randomly choosing one.
Get the Right Healthcare Coverage
Even if you’ve changed your bad habits to good ones, you still need a great doctor in your corner. Your healthcare coverage dictates which health services you use. Ensure your coverage meets your unique needs so you can stay on top of your whole-body health and take preventive action against diseases. Seniors, in particular, have several coverage options through Medicare Advantage plans. Many of these plans, like those offered by Aetna, include vision and dental care as well as special access to a nationwide network of fitness centers. Whatever your age, take a moment to double check your insurance coverage and go over your alternative options in case another plan may help you take greater control over your health.
Pick Up a New Hobby
Engaging in hobbies is another excellent way to support your mental health. For example, setting aside personal time to participate in an activity you enjoy can reduce stress. And, if you learn a cool new skill, you’ll find more fulfillment and confidence in your life. For the best mental health benefits, choose a skill that really challenges your brain—this can enhance your cognitive skills, and is especially important for adults over 60. Martial arts is an ideal choice that works both the mind and body. You’ll not only learn self-defense, but also self-control, and that can be a huge boon to your wellness efforts.
Taking concrete steps for your health is a wonderful act of self-care. If you’re finding it difficult to make healthy choices, start really small. Perhaps this means doing something as simple as stepping outside for a minute during a busy workday or pouring a glass of water to sip at your desk. While these tiny actions may not feel like much, getting your feet wet with the idea of self-care can give you a great foundation on which to build healthy habits down the road.
When you think of martial arts, do you think of someone who can fight? That’s not unusual, and if anyone claims to be a martial artist, that person should have good self-defense skills. But martial arts teach so much more!
The first things taught in martial arts class, are the positions Attention and Bow. We learn that when standing at Attention, we are using self-control to stay still, display good posture, and we are practicing our ability to focus and pay attention. Attention is the first thing necessary for being ready to learn anything. Our Bow comes from Attention position, and it shows respect, which is the primary base for all human relationships. In learning Attention and Bow, we are learning how to learn, and how to relate to others, including how to choose when to use our martial arts skills. Control of ourselves and how we respond to others are the hallmarks of a true martial artist.
Also in the first lesson at Karate West, we will teach a basic front kick and a punch, so a student learns some techniques that are useful for self-defense right away. We had a student many years ago who successfully used those 2 techniques within a week of learning them, when he was attacked in a bar. Most members may never be physically attacked, so self-defense is not our only focus in teaching techniques, but it is part of it. Members learn to block and to evade, and how an effective offense is often the best way to be defensive. Martial artists also learn how to defuse or avoid situations that could become threatening, without using physical contact. Besides self-defense, martial arts teach balance and fitness (flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular endurance). Martial arts can be practiced as competitive sports, or practiced with focus on the artistic aspects. Which benefit is most important will depend on each student. Karate West teaches martial arts to offer experiences in all of the different aspects, and requires a certain level of mastery of each, in order to earn ranks. However, each student gradually finds his or her own special love for some aspect, and will tend to develop more strengths in that area.
Karate West helps our students learn to set goals and achieve them; how accomplishment can take hard work; how to strive for excellence in all endeavors; to be respectful to others; and how karate can be so enjoyable!
Focus in Martial Arts
Many parents elect to enroll their children in martial arts classes to help them develop focus. Sometimes the child has been diagnosed as ADD or ADHD; sometimes there is no diagnosis, but a parent feels that their child doesn’t pay attention very well, or bounces around all of the time. We don’t often hear from new adult students that they want to develop their own focus through martial arts, but after training for a while, it is not so uncommon to hear them say how their ability to stay organized and focused has improved.
Does martial arts training really develop focus? It’s not magic, nor is it instant, but martials arts does develop focus in its practitioners. In martial arts, one of the first things we talk about is attention, defined as watching and listening, as well as using our attention position, which shows self-control. We teach students to focus on their own image in the mirror, while practicing techniques, and to focus on the teacher whenever the teacher is giving instruction. These behaviors are positively reinforced. Then we use various kinds of targets to practice striking techniques, so that students learn to focus their attention and their power. Using targets is a very effective way to develop focus, precision, and power. The sound, feel, and sight of striking targets all give feedback, and reinforce every bit of effort put forth. Instructing the students to emphasize different qualities on different repetitions of the strikes, also helps develop focus. For example, one quality of practice may be speed, hitting as fast as possible, and another may be power, hitting as hard as possible, yet another may be extension, with the target being held increasing high or far to require more reach. We also do drills that introduce distractions, to make students practice staying focused.
Another way martial arts trains people to develop focus is by using memorization. Yes, educators look down on rote memorization these days, but using one’s mind to memorize increasingly long or difficult pieces, takes concentration, and develops the ability to focus. At Karate West, we do a little work on memorizing some spoken lines, but mostly we train people to memorize movement lines, in combinations of techniques used for sparring or self-defense, and in learning more traditional forms. Of course, we don’t expect that in a self-defense situation a student will make sure to only do a set response in a set order, but having repeatedly practiced such a response will make it more possible to respond automatically and successfully.
Focus is a skill we all require to be successful in completing daily tasks, throughout our lives, and martial arts practice is one way to help train ourselves to improve that skill.
Do you wish your kids (or someone else) showed you greater respect? What is your definition of respect? How did you learn about respect?
Most of us have learned about respect, from our parents and teachers, and through various life experiences. Like most life lessons, some of our learning has been formal, and some of it informal. Do you ever wish that respect was something in which everyone got more formal education? Most people agree that our society could benefit from more exercise of respect.
What is respect? One of the dictionary definitions of respect is, " high or special regard: esteem." At Karate West, when introducing children to the concept, we tell them that showing respect means treating other people the way we like to be treated, and how they want to be treated.
Respect for our instructors does NOT mean that they should be put on pedestals to be respected more highly than anyone else. We believe that all relationships should be based on respect, so we try to teach the importance of showing respect, both formally and informally, to even our youngest students, and expect it from all the adults in the school, as well as the children. In martial arts there are practices built-in that are designed to make showing respect a habit. We believe this is an important benefit to all who come to Karate West, something we hope that all of our students carry with them throughout their lives.
Bowing is one of the formal habits we practice in martial arts, which is not necessarily carried outside the school, though some of us have found ourselves bowing through doorways at home and other places out of habit. Learning to be a good listener is one of the habits that should be followed in every setting and relationship. We teach children to focus their eyes on the person speaking, and to take turns talking. Learning to take turns in physical drills, and to be good partners with others in class is another lesson in respect. We practice using courtesy words with each other, and addressing instructors and parents as "Sir" and "Ma'am." Our teachers do not belittle students and students do not belittle or speak or act rudely to each other. Our high expectations for respectful behavior are generally met, and parents team up with us to help students keep showing respect outside our school, as well. Adults in class also show respect for each other, recognizing differences in ages, sizes, and abilities; learning to help each other work to their own strengths.
Showing respect is good for everyone, and studying martial arts is a good place to get practice in this valuable skill.
Achieving the rank of black belt is no easy task! In order to achieve your goal you need to be S.M.A.R.T! Here is a formula to help you set yourself up for success.
This week we are focused on the A or Achievable. We have a saying in the martial arts that setting a short range goal that you believe that you can achieve. Then, once you reach it you will be able to see a little bit further. Another saying that you might be familiar with is that inch by inch is a cinch; yard by yard can be very hard. Each of us has enormous potential and most goals are attainable if we simply develop the habit of using the S.M.A.R.T. formula.
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Achieving the rank of black belt is no easy task! In order to achieve your goal you need to be S.M.A.R.T! Here is a formula to help you set yourself up for success.
This week we are focused on the M or Measurable. Black Belt is a long range goal; it can take anywhere from 4-10 years to achieve! The check points we use along the way in the martial arts are either colored belts or in some style, certification levels. These would be considered short to mid range MEASURABLE checkpoints to keep us motivated and on track to hit the long term goal of black belt.
We all experience pain, discomfort, disappointment, and frustrations.
That difficulty is an opportunity to get stronger, to develop character, to gain a new perspective. Anybody can fall apart; anybody can get bitter—that’s easy. But what that’s doing is wasting your pain.
That pain is not there to stop you; it’s there to develop you, to prepare you, to increase you.
In 1982, researchers aboard the space shuttle Columbia did an experiment with honeybees. They took them up into space to study the effects of weightlessness on them.
According to a NASA memo, the bees “were unable to fly normally and tumbled into weightlessness.” Then it was reported that “the bees have all gotten stationary.”
The bees did not have to use their wings, did not have to exert any effort, did not have any resistance. They just floated around.
Later they all died. They may have loved having it easy, having no adversity, but they weren’t created for that. You might say that they enjoyed the ride, but they died.
We need life’s challenges, struggles, and hardships. They make us better.
Don’t just go through the challenge. Grow through it. Learn the lesson, develop the new mindset, improve your skills, and you will come out stronger on the other side!