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Teach martial arts to your kids with videos! SERIOUSLY?

boy in karate uniform and smiling

While searching online for inspiration on a topic for this week’s blog I got sidetracked by a particular article with advice how to teach martial arts to your kids. It caught my attention because our own karate school has produced online videos as a part of our curriculum. The article turned out to be an advertisement for videos to assist parents in teaching martial arts to their kids. SERIOUSLY?

First things first

The first question to ask yourself before taking on this endeavor is why do you want your child to learn martial arts in the first place? For some people it is simply a means of physical activity at home. Keeping kids moving is important, especially if they have been sitting most of the day.

In most cases, though, it is because either your child has expressed an interest or because the parent has an interest! It could be due to bullying or poor self-esteem. You might think a little self-defense training could help. Or your reasoning might have to do with poor attention skills. After all, martial arts is great for building focus, right? Yes, it can be, and here’s a great article to explain why that is true. But the most important reason for success in any of these areas is having a great martial arts teacher. You are probably a great parent, but are you a great martial arts teacher?

Your kids deserve the best teacher

An experienced martial artist is the person who should be teaching martial arts to your child. From a technical point of view, there is no one better. Years of experience are behind each kick and punch, and there has likely been thousands of kicks and punches thrown. Professional martial artists sometimes get a bad rap. After all, it is extremely physical and can appear to be aggressive. ( Not!) Understanding the comprehension necessary to execute particular techniques, or the cognitive skills required for quick decision-making, will make a parent appreciate the need for a professional to teach your child.

Where you live will determine the availability of a martial arts professional. Read this to help you ask the right questions when considering martial arts classes for your child.

It’s the journey, not the destination

That is so cliche I never thought I would actually use it. Guess what? It’s a cliche for a reason; it’s so true! In my 20+ years in the martial arts I have had some of the best experiences of my life. I can remember my very first class – the trepidation and excitement of it all. Eventually making friends and lifelong relationships, we were all training with a common purpose. We received direction from a teacher, our Sensei, who knew each of our strengths and weaknesses. Karate classes became my “happy place”.

Learning self-defense, gaining self-confidence, improving focus and attention span and having a physical outlet are great reasons for your child to learn martial arts. However, likely the best reason a parent should let a professional martial artists teach their child is to give their child the opportunity for a most memorable journey!

Links to our student’s journeys

Below are a few links to our Student Spotlight feature of our blog. Kids, teens and adults share their thoughts on their training!

Student Spotlight 36 Student Spotlight 31 Student Spotlight 6/27/2018

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Are all black belts instructors? Part 1

title on top of background

The quick answer to the question “are all black belts instructors?” is maybe. An easier question to answer is “are all black belts teachers?”. That’s a hard no because there are differences between teachers and instructors.

The differences between teachers and instructors

For the sake of argument, let’s say that all teachers are instructors, but not all instructors are teachers.

The instructor

Think about all the different types of instruction you have received throughout your life. The short list includes tying your shoes, getting dressed, riding a bike, swim lessons, balancing a checkbook, cooking a meal, driving a car and changing a diaper. Most of those scenarios involve one person showing another person, or people, how to get from point A to point B.

You will encounter instructors throughout your life. Many times, however, the word instructor is used synonymously with the word teacher. You may have been told that the individual standing in the front of the martial arts class and wearing a black belt is your teacher. If he or she is in charge of the class then he or she is definitely an instructor. Not necessarily a teacher.

To make it even more confusing, many martial arts disciplines, like The Bushido School of Karate, use terms like Shihan, Sensei, Deshi and Sempai. Those titles and their definitions will be the topic of Part 2 of “Are all black belts instructors?”, so stay tuned!

The teacher

Let’s go back to the list of instructors you’ve had in your life. Any one of them could have been easily replaced with another instructor. That is the difference between an instructor and a teacher. Teachers cannot easily be replaced.

Teachers make the effort to know each student’s strengths and weaknesses. They push you out of your comfort zone and care about your progress. Realistically, a student who holds a green belt (intermediate level) in karate could instruct a white belt (beginner level). When the instructor becomes vested in the student’s success and can impart the wisdom received only through their own trials and tribulations, the instructor becomes the teacher. And then…

The teacher becomes a student

By learning how to teach effectively, the teacher becomes a student of his or her own students, or karateka. Teachers are humble enough to be willing to continue to learn, especially from those they are teaching! Understanding and embracing this is the difference between an instructor and a teacher.

Some black belts are instructors, some are not, and some are teachers!

I hope I have successfully explained why the statement “some black belts are instructors, some are not, and some are teachers” makes sense. Earning a black belt means you have passed a series of requirements. It does not mean you are now a teacher, or even an instructor, although sometimes those requirements may involve instructing or assistant-instructing in classes.

In order for a black belt to be a teacher, he or she ultimately has to be willing to learn from the newest of students. It’s a journey worth taking!

Stay tuned for “Are all black belts instructors? Part 2”

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It’s Women’s Health Week, and some things have changed ladies!

national women's health week logo

The guidelines for how women should take care of their health has changed ladies. I am sharing this quick video segment which aired May 15th 2019, on Hoda and Jenna’s Today show hour.

Did I hear that right?

Did I hear that right? Did she really say women should no longer perform self-checks for breast cancer? I listened and re-listened. Yes, she did say that. I think the hosts were just as perplexed as I was!

Upon hearing that I had to do some research of my own. Granted, it was not thorough and relied solely on what Google would deliver to the first page after searching “newest guidelines for womens health”. But I believe many, if not most health care providers are not aware of this new information. In fact, this is what I was able to find from the Cleveland Clinic, and you can clearly read that self-exam’s are still recommended.

So now what are we supposed to do?

Old information collides with new information; what are we supposed to do? The days of blindly following what a health-care professional recommends should be long gone – I hope. You should not believe one or the other based on a) this short video segment nor b) what is provided by the Cleveland Clinic in a quick PDF file about women’s health.

YOU need to be your own advocate. YOU need to ask questions and compare the information. YOU need to be as comfortable as possible making your own decisions based on the many streams of information available. Unfortunately, some of what you uncover will be outdated and just wrong. That’s why you need good relationships with everyone on your health care team. You have a right to be heard and listened to. And you have a right to ask questions – it’s YOUR health!

You can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself!

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Is it hard to get a black belt?

If you have learned that it is hard to get a black belt, you were misinformed. That’s right! It is easier than ever to get a black belt. Just type “martial arts black belt” in any search engine and you will find many results. Click on the site you like the most, and place your order. You will get a black belt delivered to your door in a matter of days. Imagine that! You can get a black belt in any style of martial art, or many styles, all within days! And you thought it would take years!

It’s not easy to earn a black belt

Ah! There is a big difference in those two words: “get” and “earn”. Getting a black belt is a matter of having a credit card. Earning a black belt is an entirely different concept. There are many different systems in place for the many styles of martial arts to achieve “their” black belt. Sadly, some are not as tough as others. (Yes, I said tough. It should be tough!) This post is not about those huge discrepancies – maybe in the future I’ll comment on that. This is about earning, and becoming, a black belt.

At The Bushido School of Karate earning a black belt is a minimum of 3 years of training. A student’s training towards that goal begins on their very first class. Kicks, punches, self-defense, kata – those are all important techniques and requirements and become more challenging at each level of training. Many times a senior ranking student can adequately teach these techniques. On the other hand, learning to work with others, good sportsmanship, fairness, conflict resolution, compassion, empathy, leadership skills and mentoring are the responsibility of a black belt.

To become a black belt you have to train as one!

Earning a black belt is far different than getting a black belt; becoming a black belt is the next part of the journey after earning one. We always remind our students that if all their requirements are demonstrated, he or she will earn the next belt. A green belt with strong knowledge of their curriculum will be promoted to red belt. Once promoted to red belt, it is then that the student has become a green belt. Once a red belt is earned, the next part of the journey is becoming a red belt.

Moving into the role of becoming a black belt is a responsibility we do not take lightly. Black belts are expected to help and assist in classes for their fellow students. This reenforces a black belt’s already strong and impressive techniques, but the purpose is even more important. It affords a black belt student the opportunity to become a black belt: a black belt student humbling him or her self to learn from a white belt is where the journey of becoming begins.


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The reasons for the kiai in martial arts

karate kicks on a pad

In order to understand the reasons for the kiai in martial arts, we need to break down the word kiai. Ki = inner energy, Ai = join. When a student kiais’ it is the joining of all your energy. It is a very personal thing, believe it or not, but there are physiological aspects that should be the same for everyone.

Physiological aspects of the kiai

The properly executed kiai is not a scream. If you think about it, screaming is what you do when you are afraid! Certainly a martial artists looking to engage all of his or her inner energy would not want to scream.

Screams generally come from your throat. Kiai’s do not. If martial artists screamed out kiais, we would all lose our voices very quickly. And your voice is a weapon, so you wouldn’t want to wear out your weapon. A properly executed kiai is a much deeper sound than a scream because it is generated in your torso. Put your hands on your waist with your feet about shoulder width apart. Now lean from side to side. In order to maintain balance, you need to engage your core muscles. These same muscles help to “push-out” a proper kiai. ( Even more reasons to strengthen those ab’s!)

The 3 reasons why we teach our students to kiai

At The Bushido School of Karate there are 3 specific reasons for every kiai:

To scare the attacker, or bully

Imagine the shock you feel when someone surprisingly yells “BOO!” right in your face. It is disarming, and just might give you enough time to get out of a bad situation.

To call for help

A strong kiai will have a resounding affect and will alert others. A very important reason to continuously practice kiai’s is so that doing it becomes second nature. It is the same reason we practice the same kick over and over: to get better at it. When an individual is under a stressful situation, he or she may temporarily lose the ability to speak. This is a result of adrenal stress conditioning – (a topic for another day!) . But if the kiai is practiced as often as the kick, there is a better chance of a loud outcome.

To feel stronger ( the joining of your energy )

It is hard enough for adults to comprehend this concept, at least at the beginner level. So there had to be a more relatable way to get this very fundamental idea across to our younger students.

We give our students a narrative of the sounds made by a person attempting to lift a heavy box. Usually this is not done silently. For some mystical reason those grunts and groans give us more power. So kiais work in the same way; they give us more power.

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3 reasons to use Apple Cider Vinegar

There is definitely more than 3 reasons to take apple cider vinegar daily; much more. Also known as ACV, there are scientifically proven reasons why this stuff carries a potent punch to boost health. I started taking a “shot” every day because my bad cholesterol (LDL) was high for 2 years in a row. Rather than begin medication, I decided to try a more natural approach. “Dr. Google” displayed pages and pages of “natural ways to lower cholesterol”. In the first 3 pages almost every article and link contained the words apple cider vinegar! So begins my journey.

1. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Fights Diabetes

(Click the heading to read the full article written by Kris Gunnars, BSc and published in

By far, the most successful application of vinegar to date is in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels, either because of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin (5).

However, high blood sugar can also be a problem in people who don’t have diabetes. It is believed to be a major cause of aging and various chronic diseases.

Pretty much everyone should benefit from keeping their blood sugar levels in the normal range. The most effective (and healthiest) way to do that is to avoid refined carbs and sugar, but apple cider vinegar can also have a powerful effect.

Vinegar has been shown to have numerous benefits for blood sugar and insulin levels:

  • Improves insulin sensitivity during a high-carb meal by 19–34% and significantly lowers blood sugar and insulin responses (6).
  • Reduces blood sugar by 34% after eating 50 grams of white bread (7).
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime can reduce fasting blood sugar in the morning by 4% (8).
  • Numerous other studies in humans show that vinegar can improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels after meals (910).

For these reasons, vinegar can be useful for people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or those who want to keep their blood sugar levels low for other reasons.

If you’re currently taking blood-sugar-lowering medications, check with your doctor before increasing your intake of any type of vinegar.

2. Could help lower both total cholesterol and triglycerides.

(Click the heading to read the full article written by Jennifer Berry and published in

cholesterol blood test

Apple cider vinegar may lower cholesterol levels.

High triglyceride and cholesterol levels can increase a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke. Also, a high total cholesterol level raises the risk of heart problems.

Some evidence suggests that taking apple cider vinegar could help lower both total cholesterol and triglycerides.

12-week study investigated the effects of taking apple cider vinegar in people on a low-calorie diet. The researchers found that participants who took apple cider vinegar not only lost more weight than those who took a placebo but also had lower triglycerides and total cholesterol.

The people who took apple cider vinegar also had significantly raised levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Doctors sometimes refer to HDL cholesterol as “good cholesterol” because it can help lower the risk of heart problems.

3. Athlete’s foot remedy

(Click the heading to read the full article written by Katie Wells and published in

The sour, tangy crunchy mama favorite that helps with everything from heartburn to dandruffcan also be one of the best natural remedies for mild athlete’s foot.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV for those familiar with this crushed, fermented apple product) has been used since the times of Hippocrates, when it was prized for its medicinal properties. It’s known to be especially beneficial against yeast and fungus, and many people take it internally to keep candida in balance.

To use ACV to remedy athlete’s foot, make sure you’ve got a good, high-quality, unpasteurized version (the ones still containing the “mother” are better, and you can even make your own!). Of course you can also buy in stores or online, I get mine here.

In a foot bath container, mix together:

Soak your feet for around half an hour. You can also apply plain ACV directly to the infection with a cotton ball. Apple cider vinegar will likely sting, so be aware and dilute more if necessary

Ways to include it in your diet

So it is not the easiest thing to drink on its own. I was shocked by the smell as soon as I opened the bottle. While some people put a teaspoon in their morning tea, if I can smell it, I will gag. Not pretty.

My routine is to pour 1/3 of a shotglass and have a full teaspoon of honey at-the-ready. I hold my nose, drink the ACV as fast as I can and follow-up immediately with the honey. I swish the honey to cover every part of my mouth, thus leaving a sweet flavor rather than acidic. Works for me!