What Motivates Me to Continue?


On this Valentine’s Day, a bunch of us are expressing our love for the martial arts we study!  This blog is going to be short and sweet because I really want you to have the time to read what everyone else has to say.  I’ll provide links to others’ articles below.

What motivates me to continue studying Shindo Jinen-Ryu Karate?

I have many reasons to continue bowing, sweating, shouting, forcing my muscles to work when they want to quit, lugging mats in and out of gymnasiums, and occasionally yelping in pain. I’ll start in chronological order, as my reasons for continuing in Karate have accumulated over time.

1) My daughter wants me to train with her.

2) I need to shed some extra pounds.

3) I love kata and bunkai.

4) There’s more than enough in Karate to keep me busy until I’m no longer physically able to do it.

5) I’m growing and changing.

6) I love finding out I can go beyond where I once thought my limits were.  Facing and pushing through challenges is quite a rush!

As promised, here’s a list of the other participants’ blogs.  Please make their Valentine’s Day special and leave a word or two of affirmation in their comments boxes!

Jackie Bradbury, “The Stick Chick:”  Why Do I Train?

Katy Garden: “Love of Martial Arts

Brian Johns: “What Motivates Me to Keep Practicing Martial Arts?

J Wilson: “What motivates you to take martial arts?”


Trash Talk Tuesday: Weak Analogy

Time once again for us martial arts bloggers to learn:
1) How NOT to make a case for or against someone or something
2) Why certain comments set our teeth on edge
3) How to stay focused when discussing our arts

It’s Trash Talk Tuesday!

White Belt Wally says, “I’m studying Karate, therefore I’m just like Bruce Lee!   Watch me do a flying kick!”


White Belt Wally has very little in common with Bruce Lee.  The differences between him and Bruce Lee are vast, therefore White Belt Wally is using a weak analogy to argue that he can do a flying kick.

When the differences are minor, you have a strong analogy:

Sensei Sam says it is possible for a student in Hayashi-ha Shito Ryu Karate to adapt to Shindo Jinen-Ryu Karate fairly easily because the basics are very similar.   Therefore, White Belt Wanda doesn’t have to fret about switching to another style after she moves from Seattle to Portland.
If you’d like to learn more, you can follow along in the book The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn

The Best Athlete in the Family

Let me introduce you to the best athlete in my family.

17 pounds of cute!
17 pounds of cute!

Don’t let his small size fool you.  Dex is speedy enough to keep up with larger dogs, his endurance is incredible, and his agility is jaw-dropping.  He hops and trots through the treacherous jumble of slippery logs on the beach like it’s nothing.

Ready for action!

He delights in movement.  One summer we taught him to do a little Parkour…

Let’s get a little closer and slow it down some.

Every paw precisely placed.  Strength gathered and released as appropriate.  Breath synchronized with what his body is doing, jaw relaxed.  Timing of each step and leap – perfect.  Natural, graceful, and yes, joyful movement.  He doesn’t think.  He doesn’t worry.  He just moves from instant to instant.  His body knows what to do.  Each movement leads right into the other.

Man, I wish I had all that in my Karate!!!

Guess what?  Dex has a handicap.  He was born with bad knees in his back legs – his right bothers him more than his left.  The kneecaps are prone to popping out of place.  He knows how to pop them back in.  When Dex first came to us, the muscles that support those knees weren’t well developed so he often limped or even refused to put weight on his right back leg.  Daily walks, especially uphill walks, have bulked up those supporting muscles nicely so Dex rarely limps anymore.   The building up process was a bit rough for him, but he always has been overjoyed to go for a walk.  Wow.  There are times I have to talk myself into exercising!

So there you have it.  A little furry creature with a positive attitude and incredible athleticism.  An animal who overcomes the challenge of a handicap every single day and who lives in constant appreciation of the simplest things (like tidbits and tummy rubs).  Maybe I could learn something from Dex.

Trash Talk Tuesday: Either-Or

Time once again for us martial arts bloggers to learn:
1) How NOT to make a case for or against someone or something
2) Why certain comments set our teeth on edge
3) How to stay focused when discussing our arts

It’s Trash Talk Tuesday!


An ad in a comic book reads:  Either train yourself to fight using Sensei Rockum Sockum’s Home Study Karate Kourse and never get bullied again or continue living life as a wimpy little weenie!

If we really have no more than two things to choose from, there is no fallacy.  In this case, there is a plethora of choices.  Sensei Rockum Sockum hopes we’ll think being a wimpy little weenie is so intolerable that we’ll think we must buy his product to avoid this awful fate.  Always question the agenda behind an “either-or” statement and think of alternatives.

If you’d like to learn more, you can follow along in the book The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn

Learning Preferences

150122_LearningI taught my two daughters at home from birth up until last year – some sixteen years of homeschooling in all.  Before my first daughter started kindergarten, I learned about learning preferences from a seminar.  Some people prefer to learn by hearing, some by watching, some by doing.  Over the years I’ve added more to this concept. Some people have a primary preference and a secondary preference, and I’m sure there are some people who can happily adapt to whatever is presented.  There are people within each group (audio, visual, and kinesthetic learners) who like to be presented with the “big picture” first and some who prefer to be given the parts so they can assemble the whole.  There’s yet another layer of preferences!  Some people love collaboration and constant conversation with instructor and peers and some prefer to work quietly, alone, and with minimum feedback.  Putting it all together, you might have a student who prefers to learn by watching, wants to piece together the whole from the parts, and loves collaborating with others.

When I came back to Karate, one of the first things I noticed was all three modes of learning are accommodated, and any other individual learning preferences can be addressed as well.  You see Sensei do the technique, you listen to her talk, you do it yourself.  Academic classes tend to shortchange the kinesthetic learner – one is expected to spend a great deal of time sitting still in a desk.  In Karate, “big picture” people are free to clunk through a technique and refine over time.  “Assemblers” can piece things together at their own pace, and if they’re really struggling, Sensei will come around to help.  In my experience, most Karate classes tend to favor those who want to work alone and with minimum feedback.  If this is the case, students who love collaboration and constant conversation are free to spend time outside of class doing exactly that.  If you’re one of these people you should come early to class, stay late, and find someone to practice with on days you don’t have class.  If you have a learning challenge, you will definitely need extra time.

Finding the label for my own learning challenge was huge. Its name is Directional Dyslexia. Now that I have its name, I don’t have to feel anxious about it.  It’s part of who I am.  If I find myself fighting anxiety, I remind myself to figure out ways to adapt.   I have some tips for those who struggle with directional dyslexia – please see my blog post, “Dyslexia – a Path to the Heart of Karate.”  If you don’t want to read the whole thing, I’ll sum it up.  I have tricks and ways of labeling things other than “right” and “left.”  Bunkai is vital to my kata.  If I’m really floundering, Sensei will come around to me eventually.  Time before and after class and practice time are vital.  In short, I have to work hard.  So does everyone else 🙂

I don’t have much authority to speak on other learning challenges.    I’ve seen people with physical or mental challenges in tournaments and promotions and I can say that there is a lot that can be overcome.  However, ultimately it boils down to the individual.  For some people, Karate simply will not work.  I have an autistic daughter who doesn’t train with her sister and I.  I respect her distaste for violence, and loud noise isn’t her cup of tea either.  She gets enough group learning at school, so outside of school she prefers solitary activities.  No way would she be able to take even the little love taps I get from time to time in class.  I’m a grouch when I’m laid up with an injury, she’s worse.  The most I can hope for is to teach her a few self-defense things.

There’s tons more that goes into learning, but it all boils down to the student’s responsibility to self-advocate and the teacher’s responsibility to be aware that different people need different things.  Group learning does necessitate that each individual adapt, but practice time and individual instruction can be tailored beautifully. We students must structure our own learning process because every single one of us has different preferences, challenges, and needs. Practicing on your own and taking advantage of time before and/or after class to talk to your instructor for a minute or two pays off big time – that’s taking charge of your learning process. I’m very grateful to my Sempais (senior students) and Senseis for being there as much as they can before and after class, and for my older daughter who practices with me.  Help from others is a huge part of success.  Remembering something you’ve overcome is a great thing to do when the gloom of self doubt sets in.