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Learning How to Persevere is a Lesson That Will Last a Lifetime

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It goes by many different names. Perseverance. Persistence. Steadfastness. What it means is to avoid quitting, to keep on going even when you want to give up.

 

Nothing in life goes as you expect. You fail a test. You get an unexpected bill. You can’t master a particular skill. These obstacles can deter many people. They can make the universe seem like it’s out to get you. That can become an overwhelming feeling. To not quit is to handle this with both gentleness and toughness.

 

The toughness has to come from failing and getting back up to try again. Quitting isn’t falling or failing. Staying down – that’s the quitting part. It takes training to always get back up again, to be resilient in the face of what seems overwhelming. It takes resolve and self-confidence.

 

That’s where gentleness comes in. You have to be understanding and forgiving of yourself. You have to learn because if you stubbornly make the same mistakes over again, you’ll fail the exact same way. Failing is an act of learning, and not quitting means putting those new lessons you’ve learned into practice.

 

Put those two things together: getting up, and learning from having fallen in the first place. It’s a difficult habit to learn, but once you do, life opens up to you. Not quitting is a rare combination of softness and hardness, because we will always be failing at something in life. The key is to get back up again, lessons learned and implemented, so that we can try again.

 

Not quitting isn’t just trying the same thing over and over again until you break either the obstacle or yourself. Not quitting is being open to learning, expanding what you can do and what you think you can do. It’s the act of removing doubt, because the number one factor in our staying down and thinking we shouldn’t get back up again? That’s doubt, and doubt is what we need to beat. At Key Martial Arts, we focus on expanding what you can do, teaching you new skills and new habits that don’t just translate into martial arts, but also help you carry the lessons learned here into other avenues of life.

Can Video Games Be Healthy Pastimes or Are They Bad for Your Child?

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Video games take up time. More than ever, many games also have built-in addiction mechanics. Some games pump up their playtime with collectibles and repetitive challenges in order to make a 10-hour story into a 40-hour game. It’s good to be conscious about which games or parts of games use their gameplay to convey a story, and where games turn gameplay into a form of process addiction.

 

Children are less likely to put down a repetitive game or a game based around collectibles where there are no real end-goals. Beware of games that rely almost entirely on collection mechanics. In many of these games, the gameplay itself is a form of teaching process addiction. Story games need plot movement, puzzle games need solutions and harder puzzles, but collectible game mechanics essentially just repeat the same set of processes over and over again.

 

That 10-hour game artificially pumped up to 40 hours will still be finished in close to the same amount of real time, but length isn’t the greatest way to assess these games either. There are 100-hour games filled with quick-moving, emotional stories. There are six-hour games that are deeply repetitive. Treat games just like you would TV – sit with your child and talk to them about how they’re thinking during the game. Ask questions and be a partner. Are they utilizing their brain, empathizing with characters, and thinking creatively about challenges? Does the game make you think as you watch? Or are they simply repeating the same process over and over again without much thought? If they’re playing a game that makes them think, it can be healthy in moderation, just like reading. If they’re playing a game that turns their brain off, even a half-hour of it can be wasted time.

 

Also be aware of the online environment in which your child plays multiplayer games. Even innocuous games such as Minecraft can’t control online interactions or what other players online at the time choose to say.

 

Games and TV also can’t be the only regular activities your children do week after week. Martial arts is a good option for exercise, meeting new people, and developing coordination, self-discipline, and confidence. Even if you take another path, keep your children engaged away from the screen – in band, sports, dance, whatever it might be. Have them try different things, but also have them commit to one or two. Video games can be a healthy hobby in moderation. Like anything else, there are good ones and bad ones. Just make sure that it’s not the primary outlet your child has.

Hidden Work Behind Movie Fight Scenes Reveals an Important Lesson

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When you watch a movie like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” or “Captain America: Civil War,” the fight scenes that take place may only last a few minutes, but they are the product of months and months of training. Fight choreographers and trained stunt people develop the choreography together, writing it, practicing it, filming it, taking out what doesn’t work and trying something new, and then starting that process all over again until the fight choreographer and director are happy with what they’ve got. Then they hand it to actors who themselves train for months on end to be able to act out the finished choreography, and those actors practice and practice the fight scene until they can do them believably.

 

Whether it’s a real confrontation that suddenly erupts in your daily life, a sparring session, or you one day become a choreographer, stunt person, or actor, any kind of self-defense follows this same arc. If you have to defend yourself one day, it’s not what you do in that moment that makes you capable of doing so. It’s what you’ve done for years beforehand.

 

In a real-life confrontation, most people without training think of what their body does next, and by the time they’ve made up their mind and communicate that decisions to their muscles, the shape of the confrontation has changed. Whatever that decision was may be obsolete.

 

For someone who’s trained, you don’t need to think of what your body has to do, of how to stand and position yourself. Your body is already trained to do that. In many ways, your muscles think on their own. Muscle memory kicks in and you protect yourself without having to think of it.

 

Fighting is a self-fulfilling prophecy. In a real-life situation, if your brain can’t think about anything else beside the fight that’s about to happen, that fight is inevitable. You can’t avoid it. If your body can take care of that thinking on its own, through training, it frees up your brain to start thinking about how to defuse that fight, about how to stop it before it happens. That’s the real strength of martial arts, to train your body to the point where your mind is freed up to recognize and make more choices.

 

Sometimes that will mean you handle a fight better, sometimes it means you can avoid the fight entirely. Months and years of training give you more control over the minutes that count the most. You can be stronger and more aware in many situations. And who knows – maybe one day, you’ll have the training to choreograph or star in the next “Star Wars” or “Avengers.”

Why Do We Draw From Many Different Martial Arts?

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When studying martial arts today, it’s valuable to include elements from various martial arts. This allows students to have a broader awareness for self-defense and to be more adaptive to various situations.

Many schools have an attitude of there being a best way or a true way. They may even teach that other martial arts are wrong. The truth is that every style of martial art has its own strengths and weaknesses. Every style has its own philosophies and strategies. Some have completely different body mechanics.

Take switching from taekwondo to aikido, for instance. Taekwondo is a powerful martial art that uses lightning quick kicks. Aikido is a smooth martial art that focuses on joint locks and throws to use an opponent’s body against them.

Taekwondo requires maneuverability – you’re bouncing on the balls of your feet so that you’re never caught flat-footed. You can hop back, forward, side-step, and spin or reverse a kick with strength and speed. Taekwondo is very focused on body momentum. The body rises and falls, the shoulders open and close, all to create acceleration with every movement.

Aikido, on the other hand, requires strong grounding and flat feet so that you can use an opponent’s momentum against them. To raise on the balls of your feet weakens your own base and throws you off-balance. If you have strong grounding and you’re pinning someone’s wrist against their body, they can’t move you. If you’re up on the balls of your feet like in taekwondo and they push against you, you’re going to fall to the ground.

These two different martial arts use such different strategies that the most basic, Day One lessons about body mechanics that are taught in each almost completely disagree. Neither one’s right and neither one’s wrong. It’s important to understand they’re just going about self-defense in different ways. That’s why we teach elements of multiple martial arts through the foundation of kenpo. It allows well-rounded training and the ability to continue picking up and training in a variety of martial arts styles. We offer child, teen, and adult classes and tailor training so that every student can get the most out of their ability.

Asia’s New Love for Mixed Martial Arts

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Mixed martial arts has become a very popular pastime in this country.  The physical, mental, and emotional benefits are numerous.  Mixing various forms of martial arts has produced programs that can be very individualized and extremely powerful.  There has also been a lot of controversy about mixed martial arts, as it has diverged quite drastically from the original martial arts formats.  Here, in this country, that controversy is not being fought as loudly as it is in Asia.

In the country that is credited with the foundations of martial arts training, there is a noisy debate regarding the worth of mixed martial arts.  However, the younger generations certainly aren’t backing away from this newer form of training.  In fact, they are signing up in record numbers for classes.

The television exposure alone has definitely brought increased attention to this sport, which explains why so many young people, here and overseas, are signing up for MMA instead of karate or jujitsu.  In Asia, the love for MMA has grown even more rapidly.  One source explained this phenomenon, by comparing sports media between America and Asia.  In America, there are numerous, large, televised athletic events – football, baseball, basketball, etc.  Pan-Asia does not have sports media sensations.  At least, they didn’t before this growth of MMA.  And, now, there is the opportunity to broadcast mixed martial arts, and possibly other martial arts forms throughout 11 countries.

China is on the radar, despite being a difficult market for media gurus to infiltrate, in part because of the strong tie to tradition.  The first MMA event from China was aired not that long ago. The youth is getting beyond the holds of ancient tradition.

The same companies that are showcasing these events on an international level are hoping to do the same for other martial art forms in Asia – Karate, Kung Fu, etc. There is hope that with that added exposure, the interest in these will also grow and, perhaps, even renew that dedication to the foundation provided by these ancient arts.

Saving Summer Sanity with Martial Arts Training

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All over the country, kids are enjoying the freedom of summer.  No more classes, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks… But, for many parents, that means that the stress has only just begun.  Having kids at home for the summer can often mean boredom, arguments, and an abundance of noise.

If you are one of those parents who struggles with the chaos of having kids home during summer break, then you may want to consider the advantages of martial arts training.

Remember, during the school year, kids aren’t just busy learning, they are being exposed to teachers, classroom assistants, and even counselors.  These individuals help them stay on task and ensure the children have a sense of structure.  Over the summer, all of that disappears.

Martial arts, though, can offer a substitute for the classroom over the summer.  There are many advantages of martial arts training during the summer months:

  1. Prevent Learning Loss Every teacher will tell you that it is common for kids to forget much of what they learned over the summer, but martial arts keeps the brain active and can, therefore, help reduce the amount of learning that is lost during the downtime.
  2. Structure The martial arts classes provide a bit of structure for kids who crave it. Scheduled at the same time week after week, the kids know that when and where they have to be, and once there, they are exposed to even more structure, in the form of instruction.
  3. Prevents Weight Gain Another problem that many kids and parents have to contend with during the summer months is weight gain. Readily accessible snacks, television, and video games can lead to a kid packing on pounds during the break from school.  Martial arts provides physical activity, but also teaches children to respect their bodies, which can reduce the snacking habit.

Martial Arts Training for Anger Management

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There are millions of people in this country who have difficulty controlling their anger or who experience unexplained bursts of anger during the course of a normal day.  Unfortunately, this can cause serious problems for the individual.  There is, of course, the danger that those people will cause harm to others as a result of their uncontrolled anger.  However, the regular, intense states of frustration can also cause damage to that individual’s immune system and overall mental state.  These people, who are in need of anger management skills, may experience a tingling feeling across the body, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, severe headaches, sinus pressure, and fatigue.

For some, anger results from feeling overwhelmed with various aspects of life.  When this is the case, stress reduction can greatly improve the person’s ability to control the outbursts of anger.

This is where martial arts training comes into play.  Because martial arts are workouts for the brain as well as for the body, the training can really help a person avoid- and overcome stress in life.

Breathing and Focusing Techniques 

In order to perform many of the martial arts movements correctly, a person has to be able to focus his or her thoughts.  Through intense focus and with the proper training, a small child can break a board with his or her own hand. Imagine then, what an adult could accomplish with the same abilities.  And, it’s not just about the board, but the ability to focus on a task without allowing outside forces to disrupt- or disturb you.  This is what is needed in order to overcome the stresses of life, and much of that can be accomplished with the help of martial arts training.

Harnessing Emotions

Martial arts can also allow a safe outlet for anger.  It can teach a person to focus that anger, that power within the sparring ring or to execute a more powerful kick aimed at a training bag.  The idea is to learn to harness the anger and to focus it on an acceptable target.  The physical exertion combined with the ability to work through these things in the dojo can provide a person more peace in other areas of life.

Martial arts is not anger management counseling, and we are not suggesting that it can be a direct substitute.  Rather, it may be beneficial to combine the two.  Speak with your counselor and your physician before signing up for classes.

Let Your Little Martial Artist Have a Little Screen Time

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As parents, today, there is a lot of pressure to get kids away from television-, tablet-, and smartphone screens.  Kids love them, but we recognize that there are many disadvantages to allowing them to be seated in front of one for long stretches of time.  It is, actually, one of the many advantages of signing kids up for martial arts classes.  While they are in the dojo, they are not sitting in front of a tablet or television.

However, that being said, there may be good reason to allow young martial artists to enjoy some screen time when they are not training and are not in school.

A recent story, which made headlines here and elsewhere, demonstrated the impressive moves of a child, who was simply using his training in martial arts to mimic the moves of a well-known celebrity martial artist.

You can watch the video of the six year old prodigy on YouTube, or by following this link.

This child is obviously very gifted and dedicated to the study of martial arts – in the dojo and in mainstream entertainment.  That ability doesn’t just happen overnight, but his display may just serve as evidence of what kids can learn by watching, and sometimes that watching is done on a screen.  Do we expect to see the same from every six year old that enters martial arts classes?  Of course not.  However, there is a lot to be learned through watching others, and there are so many inspiring videos to be found on the internet these days, as long as you are prepared to act as the filter, to ensure that the child is only seeing appropriate videos.

So, while we are in complete agreement that many kids spend far too much time tied to electronic devices, we do agree that there might be times when the internet could beneficial.  Watching and mimicking the skills of experienced martial artists may just give your child a boost in his or her own formal training.

This is true, not just for young martial artists, but also for kids involved in a large variety of skill-oriented programs – athletics programs, dance, art classes, singing, and more.

Martial Arts Classes as a Senior

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Just because you are over the age of 55 doesn’t mean that you are done living, done having fun with life, done learning new skills.  There is a changing point of view related to aging, and we believe that that is a wonderful thing.

In addition to helping people stay healthier and happier, it also means that more adults are trying martial arts for the first time.  That can be a very empowering experience and one that we definitely want to encourage.  After all, self-defense is a very important skill, and staying active can prolong your life.

There are a few tips that we want to offer, though, if you are considering trying martial arts for the first time:

  1. See a Doctor First Though this sounds very cliché, it is a very important point to make. A doctor can help you determine whether or not your body is capable of taking on the stretches, maneuvers, and intensity of martial arts training.  We want you to feel good about your training, not bad because of it.
  2. Give it a Try Most studios will let you sit in, take a look, or even try a martial arts class out before requiring you to sign up and pay a membership fee. So, make the most of the opportunity as you try to find the best fit for you.
  3. Stretch! We cannot emphasize this enough. Regardless of your age, stretching is an essential part of martial arts training.  As we age, we tend to get tighter and less limber.  That means a greater risk of injury.  Do your body a favor and stretch before and after each workout.
  4. Treat Martial Arts as a Piece of Your Workout Strategy For most people, martial arts training will be just once or twice per week, that leaves a lot of time for other activities. We suggest that you do some conditioning or strength training outside of the dojo to keep your body fit and prepared for classes.
  5. Talk to the Instructor Be sure to speak up if you have questions or concerns, if you are having trouble with particular movements, if you have been injured, or if you simply don’t understand the instruction. It is important to be open with the instructor.  You will get more from the classes, and it could prevent injuries or unnecessary soreness later.

Choosing the Right Foods to Fuel Your Martial Arts

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It is really important to feed your body the right way, especially if you are training as a martial artist.  You are asking your body to perform at its peak potential, but that definitely isn’t going to happen if you are not giving it the right sort of fuel.

While we would never deny any person the joys of a tasty, sugary treat, or the occasional order of chips or fries, these things should really be enjoyed in moderation. There are many very delicious options that will serve your body much better as you put it through a rigorous martial arts routine.  So, be sure that you are getting a good mix of grains, vegetables, protein, dairy, and fruits to give yourself the advantage in the dojo.

Attempt to mix and match from each of these categories at each meal.  Also understand that within each group – especially proteins, dairy, and grains – there are superior choices, and lesser selections.

Whole grains are always best.  They are packed with fiber, which will be more slowly broken down by your body, which means that you have that energy boost for a longer period of time, and that your blood sugar levels remain more consistent.  Look for brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole grain bread, or, when you are in need for a quick snack, baked tortilla chips.

In the protein category, consider fish, chicken, turkey, and other lean proteins.  These aren’t adding unnecessary unhealthy fat to your diet.  There are good fats, however, and proteins like nuts, beans, and salmon can give you the best of both.

Dairy is another concerning area.  Some dairy is high in sugar, fat, and calories, however if you choose the right dairy, you will get an energy boost and deliver a healthy dose of necessary vitamins to your body.  Look for skim milk, light yogurt, and healthy smoothies.