Who’s Dreaming?

By senseisez

In today’s hectic world it is very easy to find ourselves, as parents, getting our children to do what all the other kids are doing:  participating in a team sport of some sort.  In some instances that is a perfectly suitable decision.  In others, however, it can be a decision that haunts the child well into adulthood. 

It is a proven fact that some kids do not function well in a team environment.  Having been involved in and having coached team sports since childhood, it is personally evident that this is the case.  The pressure or expectation for the child to perform at a predetermined level with (and in support of) his teammates is sometimes overwhelming and very often simply not possible.  To make matters worse, if the child gets an overly ambitious coach who utilizes pressure to perform, the child’s unhappiness  dramatically increases.  Don’t get me wrong; I am a proponent of team sports.  Growing up, that is all that I had, and to this day, several of my friends are those I met as a result of my team activities.  But, just because it was right for us does not necessarily mean that it is right for our children.  We should not attempt to live out our childhood aspirations through our children, as eventually, it can compromise their self-esteem.  We must let them live their own dreams, while gently guiding them. 

With that in mind, an individual activity, (karate, music or dance, for example) is sometimes a wiser choice for the parent to make or suggest for their child.  Even though the practice takes part in a group setting, the activity itself is a completely individual effort.  Each child is able to move at their own pace, guided by a loving, caring and disciplined instructor, who is able to spend one-on-one time with your child.  A well-trained Sensei or instructor will be more concerned about your child’s inner maturity and well being more so than their performance level. In time, their level of performance will develop naturally, particularly in a nurturing environment.  With proper instruction, your child will begin to exhibit increased levels of self confidence.  Because their level of confidence and their focus increases, you will notice a positive difference in their personality.  The discipline that is required to train in the dojo necessitates this change.  You will see that they work harder to excel in the classroom.  They will automatically, through their training in karate, choose to become better individuals.  And gaining this discipline and work ethic means that they will also be able to compete more effectively in a team environment! (It has been my experience that it works more effectively this way, as team participants frequently have a more difficult time transitioning to an individual activity, such as karate, although they generally adapt.)  They will come to understand the true meanings of honor, courage, discipline, determination, perseverance, humility, respect and more.  Their physical endurance levels will dramatically increase over time.  They will become leaders and achievers.  While all these positive things are happening  to your child, they will also learn how to effectively defend themselves.  A consistent misnomer is that karate is about fighting.  On the contrary, traditional karate is about developing the body, mind and inner spirit in order to live in peace and harmony with your fellow man, while being able to defend yourself should circumstances dictate such a response.  A well trained karateka is trained, not to fight, but to walk away and to walk away for as long as they possibly can.  Yamaguchi Gogen Sensei said it best: “if your fist is clenched you cannot shake hands”.  The purpose is peace without incident.  Karate (which means “open hand”) is a purposeful way of life and an activity that can be practiced for a lifetime.  Because of the mental and health benefits of karate, many karateka live well into their 90’s.  

As you ponder what you have just read, can you honestly say that you are allowing and guiding your child to pursue their path or dream and not your own?  As parents, we always want what is best for our children. However, what is best is not always what we want, but what the child needs.  I have personally made the mistake of dreaming through the eyes of my child.  Thankfully, I recognized this fault early on in his life and allowed his own personal God-given gifts to be cultivated.  Who’s dream is being followed?  Yours? Or your child’s?

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Posted in Classes for Kids, Family Activities, Health Benefits, Karate, Martial Arts, Physical Fitness, team | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Thorough Orientation

Starting a new job can be one of the most stressful situations for both the employee and the employer.  Both parties are nervous about how the working relationship will develop, and they can both be overwhelmed with the pressing need for the employee to gain the knowledge necessary to complete their job and become a part of the team dynamic.  The best way for any employer to prepare for this situation is to develop a thorough orientation program.

A new employee gathers an enormous amount of information about what is expected of them, who they can rely on, the general work ethic of the business, etc. from the first few minutes to the first few days that they spend at their new job. 

Take advantage of the opportunity to start all of your employees off on the right foot.  Sit down and determine what you think is important for a new employee to know or learn.  Poll the individuals in your workplace and gather comments about what they wish they had learned during their orientation.  What are some tricks of the trade? 

Provide employees with a ‘new employee’ workbook.  This workbook should contain information about key policies, as well as provide information on general procedures, etc.  Don’t forget to cover items like harassment, vacation, sick leave, holidays, payroll procedures, overtime, dress code, standards of conduct, safety, emergency procedures, visitors, email, and internet use.  Show them their workstation; issue keys; discuss mail and shipping, telephone use and supply purchases.  Tour the facility, and include restrooms, mailrooms, copiers, faxes, parking, printers, supplies, kitchen, emergency exits, etc. on your tour.   Introduce them to the team, provide them with their schedule, a time card, and a full description of their job duties and performance expectations.

This all may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.  While you are going about your day, jot down a few notes about how you want things to be done.  If you see a behavior that you do not like, make sure you note it.  Use all of this information to benefit your business.  Your current employees will thank you and your future employees will be able to start off on the right step.  Your employees will be well trained and equipped with the knowledge to help make your business a success!

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The Ladies’ Secret

The small island of Okinawa is known for having the highest number of centenarians (people over the age of 100.)  Research has been conducted and multiple books have been written on the Okinawans’ secret to long, healthy, and happy lives.  I am sure that there are many secrets and tips that we can learn from these individuals, but I learned the most important secret during a trip there in 2008.

One morning while walking on the beach, my family and I observed people out in the wee hours of the morning exercising and doing tai chi and yoga in the sand.  There were people walking, swimming, and running, but this wasn’t what caught our eye.   What caught our eye were two elderly ladies…

These ladies were fully covered from head to toe with bonnets, life vests, and goggles.  They were each at least 80 years old, and they were both swimming and having the time of their lives.  At one point, they got excited about something on the edge of the nearby net.  They giggled and gestured for us to join in their discovery of a school of minnows.  They flirted with my son and blushed at his responses.  They were completely lost in the moment and enjoying every second.

This story may not sound very special, but it was.  It was amazing and memorable!  If you closed your eyes you could have easily thought that these two old ladies were young school girls laughing and playing in the water.  The absolute innocence and purity was priceless.  What a refreshing lesson about life and happiness.  It was a lesson about the power of your thoughts and your state of mind.

The two lessons I learned that day were:

1. Be a child again!  Have fun and enjoy life like you did when you were seven years old.

2. Cherish your friendships – they are valuable!

It isn’t about living longer; it is about living a happy and fulfilling life!

If you would like to hear more about my journeys to Okinawa, or about karate (or Ohana Karate), contact me today!

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Make Changes Today for a Better Tomorrow

With the financial problems facing the country, many individuals have been faced with tough decisions.  They have found themselves forced to reassess their priorities and change their lifestyles to accommodate this new way of life.  Contrary to what you may think, though, this has been a wonderful thing!  People are realizing more than ever that excessive material goods like big cars and extravagant homes are just not that important.  Life isn’t about the high paying job you have or the fancy title you hold.  The most important things in life are your health and your relationships.

Think about your family, your colleagues, and your friends.  How many of them smoke, drink, or eat poorly due to stress, over-commitment to work or activities, or by choice?  How has this behavior affected their health?  How many of these behaviors do you engage in?  Today is the time to examine your life and make changes that will lead to an improved health for tomorrow.  Here are a few tips that will make a huge difference:

Get More Sleep:  Most of us do not get enough sleep.  Adding just one hour of sleep per night could help you drop 14 pounds this year!

Drink Water:  Water helps you re-energize and keep going.  Not drinking enough leads to acne, headaches, and dehydration. 

Exercise Your Body and Mind:  Physical activity is important for maintaining a healthy body weight and body composition.  Being physically active helps in lowering your risk for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, improves your mood and lowers your risk of depression.

Keep your brain active by solving crossword puzzles or math equations, reading, writing, imagining, and creating.  Volunteering and being socially active are also good ways to keep the brain energized and active.

Think When You Eat:  Get in the habit of just “thinking” before you put anything in your mouth.

Do Something You Love:  We all need to grow and feel like we are reaching worthwhile goals; we have a desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.  Everyone needs a “passion” in their life.  Find yours.

Do it for Your Kids:  Here is the best reason of all to start today – your kids!  Healthy living is not something you “do”, it is something you “become”.  It is a lifestyle.  Your children will learn by example.  What kind of example are you?

Take at least one of these tips and put them in place today.  Your body, your mind, and your family will thank you.

If you are looking for more tips on how to build energy, increase your fitness level, strength, or flexibility, contact Sensei Sam Larioza today.  Sensei and his staff at Ohana Karate are always available to discuss any questions you may have!

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Promotions Mean More Than a Belt

A few times a year, Ohana Karate holds belt promotion ceremonies, which recognize the hard working karate students who have progressed.  At each of these events, hundreds of spectators, including parents, grandparents, family members, and friends, gather to celebrate the many accomplishments of these fine young people.  Accomplishments?  Plural?  Yes, absolutely. 

When the students of Ohana Karate are presented with new belts, it isn’t just because they have learned and developed their skills in kicking, punching, blocking and fighting.  They need to have developed these skills to have earned their belt, but there is much more to it than that.

Ohana Karate has a student creed that we use as a guideline for developing and working with each of our students.  We want everything that we do, say, and hear to reinforce the character traits we believe to be of utmost importance.  These character traits include: gratitude, justice, wisdom, courage, self-control, kindness, self-respect, a positive attitude, hard work, integrity, humility, and excellence.  Students exhibit these traits in their classroom performance, their interaction with their instructors, their interaction with their peers, and more importantly, in how they behave and conduct themselves outside of the classroom.  Sensei Sam Larioza and his instructors work closely with parents to make sure that the lessons that are taught in the dojo extend outward into the community.

Student focus and self-control are also clearly demonstrated in the precise manner in which students are taught to execute basic kicks and punches.   Through repetition of these forms or “kata”, students not only learn perseverance, but they also reinforce the fundamental skills necessary to achieve the next level in their martial arts training.  During their in-class evaluation, the students display their courage and self-confidence by performing these “katas” in front of a huge crowd.

If you or your child would like to be one of these beaming students with a new belt, contact Sensei Sam Larioza of Ohana Karate today.  We look forward to working with your family to make you part of our Ohana!

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Karate – A Family Affair for Health and Life

A Family that Practices Together Stays TogetherMany adults are more than eager to place their children in classes, like martial arts, for example, but very rarely do these parents become more than spectators.  I often ask myself why.  The health benefits of karate or any other organized class or sport are astronomical and health is not the only benefit.  I encourage parents to become students and attend classes, with or without their children, for many different reasons.  Yes, it would be nice to get more business, but more importantly, parents need to be a role model for their children.  If parents put importance on being physically fit and on being part of a group or a team, etc., the child learns from this.  And a child who is encouraged to become physically fit and be involved in sports is much more likely to be successful in their endeavors.  The best way for parents to demonstrate the importance of physical activity is to show it by their actions.

If a parent drives their child or children to a class two, three, five days a week, why should they just sit and watch when they can get involved, get active, and learn?  Most parents have a list of excuses – they don’t have enough time, they don’t have enough money, they are completely uncoordinated, etc.  The list goes on and on.  So, let’s tackle them one by one.

  1. If you have enough time to drive your child to a class or sport, you have enough time to participate in one yourself.
  2. If you are worried about having enough money for lessons, speak to the instructor or teacher.  Many instructors provide a family rate or reduced rates when there is more than one participant.
  3. If you are uncoordinated, why not work on gaining an awareness of your body that will alleviate this symptom?

 Now let’s look at just a few of the benefits of participation in sports, particularly karate: 

  1. You will improve your flexibility.
  2. You will improve your stamina.
  3. Your energy level will increase.
  4. Your fitness level will improve.
  5. You will be stronger.
  6. You will increase your mental focus.
  7. You will encourage strong family values.
  8. You will have the opportunity to serve as a mentor for other children.
  9. You will gain confidence in you abilities to try and learn new things.
  10. You will have stepped out with courage into a new territory.

The next time you take your child to class, read the brochures and find a class and time that works for you.  Speak to the instructor and tell them your fears and reservations.  Take the step toward a new you and a new family!

If you are looking for a martial arts class where family is the focus, please join Sensei Sam Larioza at Ohana Karate.

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