Psychology & Success

How to Encourage Your Child’s Development through Martial Arts/Sports

How to Encourage Your Child's Development through Sport/Martial Arts“You are the son I never had.”

My father once said this to me and it still rings true. My father had originally wanted a son when my sister was born, but he enjoyed raising a daughter so much that by the time my mother was pregnant with me, he wanted a second one. He got the best of both worlds. He got me.

I had always been a bit of a tomboy, but when I started doing physical activities as a child, my mother wanted to put me into dance. Soccer, was also introduced to my life as a summer activity. As a young child, I didn’t really know what I wanted or what was expected of me in my involvement in these activities. I just thought they were things I was supposed to do, like school. I was never all that great in either, nor did I have a fantastic time with them. I never really felt like I fit into those activities, but I kept doing them until I turned 12. (more…)

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How to Introduce a New Sport or Physical Activity to Your Child

How to Introduce a New Sport or Physical Activity to Your ChildIt’s hard to know what a young child would enjoy as a physical activity. If you’re lucky, he or she may have expressed a fascination with something they have seen on TV or through their family and friends, but more often than not, parents have to go through a period of trial and error to find the right fit. Here are few tips for finding the right activity:

  • Talk to your child. If your child is younger, introduce a few different options that you think they might enjoy through video. YouTube can be handy for this. Ask them what they think. If your child is older, encourage them to actively take part in the decision-making process letting them choose for themselves from activities you can afford and are location friendly for you.
  • Start small. If a school or program has the option to do a trial class, give it a shot and see how it goes. If your child is young, it’s a good idea to be there with them to help ease separation anxiety if the teacher allows it. If there is no trial class, try to start them off with a shorter term commitment. If all goes well, you can go for longer terms.
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Martial Arts Teaching Tip: Going Out on a High Note

Martial Arts Teaching Tips - Going Out on a High NoteDid you ever see that episode of Seinfeld in which George manages to curry favour at his office and in his life by saying something during a meeting that gets a good reaction then leaving the room immediately after? The theory was that if he stayed around long enough he might say something stupid that counteracts the earlier effect, which then leaves a bad lingering impression of him. I’ve taken the liberty of providing a clip from that show below. While taken to a ridiculous extreme, there is research in psychology to support this theory.

The truth is that the way something ends is more likely to be remembered, even if the entire experience the whole way through gave an opposite impression. There is a great TED talk (see below) that goes into more detail about this. This concept is important for martial arts instructors to remember. (more…)

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Making Time for Goals When Time Is Scarce

Making time for goals when time is scarceRecently, I’ve been very busy working on film sets. When you’re busy working 4-5 days a week with many 12-hour plus days, if that work isn’t directly related, it can be a challenge to keep progressing toward achieving your goals. In my case, these goals are related to the development as a martial artist, as a stunt performer and as a writer.

I find that if you stop working on your goals completely when life gets busy, it can be hard to come back to it after work lets up. I’ve seen this time and time again with my Jiu-jitsu students. Their work life or their family life gets busy, so they stop training to focus on those things. After the busyness eases up, they are usually out of the habit of training and they find it harder to be motivated to do so. They may have replaced the habit of going to class with some other form of recreation or stress relief, whether it’s watching TV, playing video games, or some other pastime. (more…)

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Bring Focus & Calm to Kids Classes with this Simple Trick

0-breathing buddies focus in martial arts.jpgI have been helping out with our new Ready-Set-Kiai classes for 3-5 year-olds since September, taking on the role of crowd control while the two instructors focus on teaching the skills and running the class. At first, the experience was overwhelming, even with a smaller class of 8 students. It took a little time for the students to get used to the structure of the class. Even now, they are familiar with the structure of the class, so it runs more smoothly than it did at the beginning, but we still have to take measures to help keep the children focused on the tasks at hand throughout the duration of the 45-minute class.

I recently read a book called Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, by Daniel Goleman (available on and
). In one chapter, he describes Breathing Buddies, part of the Inner Resilience Program. This practice was adopted at a Harlem elementary school near a massive low-income housing compound, and is credited for keeping a class of 22 grade 2 children with “special needs”, from ADD to autism, relaxed and focused. When this ritual is performed, the class’s teacher says the kids don’t act out. The one day they didn’t do it due to a glitch in the schedule the teacher described them as being like a different class. “They couldn’t sit still; they were all over the place,” explained Miss Emily, the children’s teacher. Below is a video of author Daniel Goleman talking about Breathing Buddies.


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How to Adopt New Healthy Habits

Almost everyone I’ve ever met has a desire to adopt new healthy habits, whether it’s establishing a regular exercise routine, eating healthier, meditating or quitting smoking, reducing drinking, minimizing TV/Internet use, etc. It is readily accepted that it takes at least 30 days to establish a new healthy habit or remove a negative one. Here is a TedTalk discussing how 30-day challenges can change your life:

Matt Cutts says that if you really want something badly enough, you can do anything for 30 days. I believe this is true, as I discussed in my blog post How to Move Past Excuses & Start Living the Life You Choose, but in wanting it, you might have to find ways that make you stick to it, ones that are personal to you. (more…)

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5 Reasons We Resist the Practice of Meditation (& How to Deal with Them)

5 Ways We Resist the Practice of Meditation and How to Overcome ThemOf all the healthy habits I’ve introduced in my life over the years, meditation is one that has had the greatest impact. With only 20 minutes of daily sitting, focusing on my breath and letting go of busy thinking, I have found that I think more clearly, work more productively, exert greater control over my emotional states, and am more grounded in all aspects of my life and my endeavours.

Doctors and scientists have compiled plenty of research that confirms a wide variety of benefits, including reduced stress, improvements in mental conditions (anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc), reduced incidences of illness, enhanced creativity, increased productivity, and more besides. Read more about the benefits of meditation in this detailed list from Psychology Today. With all these documented benefits, one might wonder why more people don’t adopt meditation as a habit. There are many reasons why as a society, we aren’t so inclined to try it or maintain it. Here are some of the issues we face and how to deal with them:


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The Benefits of Being an Uke for Belt Tests

On the surface, being an uke or “beat-up dummy” for a belt test can seem like tough gig. The role of uke (Japanese for one who receives) involves holding pads for strikes and attacking the student testing so they can demonstrate their knowledge and abilities. But if you look past the surface, there are a number of benefits the uke receives while being hit, thrown and submitted.


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Advice for People Starting a Martial Art Later in Life

Advice for Older Students Taking Up a Martial ArtThere are a lot of people who harbour a secret desire to train in a martial art, but don’t pursue it in earlier in life for whatever reason. As they age, after years of watching action movies or professional fighting, the notion creeps back into their minds in their 30s, 40s, 50s, even 60s. Most let themselves be talked themselves out of it, citing various reasons like “I’m too old to start an activity like that as a complete beginner,” or “My body just can’t take what it used to,” or “I’m just so out of shape, what’s the point?” Well, I’m here to say, it’s never too late if you approach it correctly.

The thing is that there is some truth behind the cited reasons above, but it can be worked around. Here are 3 tips for on how to approach taking up martial training later in life: (more…)

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How to Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway

How to Feel the Fear and Do It AnywayTo live life to the fullest we have to take risks. The things that really give our lives meaning all involve some form of risk, whether it’s starting a business, getting married, or starting a martial art. Some risks, we are more comfortable with, whether it’s because of our personalities or our personal histories. Others types make you more anxious and fearful. Often times it is the risks that make us most uncomfortable that are the experiences that have the most potential to transform our lives. But for us to attain this, we have to feel the fear, move past it, then do that which causes the fear anyway. Here are a few ways to do just that.

1. Research. Whatever it is that you want to do that scares you, big or small, learn as much as you can about it. Read about it. Watch videos. Talk to people who do it. Let’s say you want to take up a new activity like a martial art, but you’re afraid of looking foolish. Put in the time to research schools so you find the best style, instructors and training atmosphere for your needs. When you find one that interests you, familiarize yourself with what they do. Get in touch with the instructor and ask questions that help ease your fears. Then, when you decide to give it a try, you’ll feel more comfortable going in. Becoming familiar helps alleviate fears, just as it does for the child who needs to be shown there is no monster under their bed before you turn out the lights at night.


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