Thursday, February 7, 2019

Become a Black Belt in Parenting

Become a Black Belt in Parenting

You may think, from this title, I am talking about getting parents enrolled in a martial art program.  While this would be one goal, what I am talking about is totally opposite.  In continuation of my latest article “Reputation is 85% of your success.”  I speak about living up to your promises.  For example as a martial art school owner I help a student to get in shape and lose weight.  But if I don’t really follow up on them as they are training inquiring about their diet, their daily practice and try to continually redirect and reinforce a lifestyle which is conducive to losing weight and getting in shape, then I am falling short of my responsibilities.  My goal is to treat each and every student as individuals.  I know how hard that can be, but the harder we work at it, the better off all of us will be.

So in regards to the  principle of follow up and follow through who is a part of your team.  I only see most of my students 2-3 hours per week.  In only three hours I can’t do it all.  I always do my best to create a team, between, the student, the parents and my instructors.  It is my goal to get the parents on board and ask them to become an active part of their child’s martial arts experience.  If I am not doing my job as strenuous as it may be, then eventually I will fail.  The same goes for parenting.  

I will give you an example: Just recently one of my Black Belt Youth students decided to quit.  I had just recently had a conversation and talked to him about his goals and he told me he was excited to continue and take his training to the next level.

Within a week, his dad called and told me his son no longer wanted to train.  I was surprised but not shocked.  The reason why I had the conversation was I could see he was demotivated. When I pressed for a reason, the dad said “he is bored and feels he is not progressing, he is doing the same thing over and over.”  You may have had a conversation like this in the past with your child too.  I then explained how repetition is everything and we must continue to perfect the spirit and become great at what we do before moving on.  

He said, “well, I am not going to force him, it is his decision.”  I then said “well, if that were the case he would be doing anything he wanted right?”  The dad then replied “Well, it is his decision and the conversation was over.”  Now let me go a bit back in time, nearly two years ago, this same dad helped his son through his black belt test physical preparing by walking and running with his son.  The dad lost 60 pounds.  He was so thankful he even bought as a gift a scale for my school, hoping other dads would do the same thing.  Wow in only two years, he forgot, it takes effort and time, he needed to be part of the equation and encourage his child not to make a silly decision that he would regret in the future. 

Again, what I am speaking about here is setting up yourself for success.  The goal is to build a team, to hold you the parents and your child accountable.  To explain fully how they are responsible as well.  It is not just our job at the martial arts school, or the school teachers job to make that student smart, it is the parents job as well.  It is the same analogy – when a parent blames a public school teacher because their child is failing.  Truly a teacher can be part of the equation, but if the teacher is failing to teach do we sit back and allow our children to become failures.  

Of course not!.  It is our duty to always oversee the progress of our children, the bottom line is they are our children.  I know my daughter is my sole responsibility, if she fails, I have no one to blame but myself.  So isn’t it important for us to impart this wisdom on the parents in our school or for us as parents to hold ourselves accountable?  Do your best to educate and communicate with your child,  if a child succeeds, it is a Team effort, the teachers, the child as the student and the parent as the motivating force behind the child’s growth. 

Take the time to meet on a regular basis with each and every teacher.  Take the time to set goals with the teachers, and your child and then as a family unit.  Try to set mini goals and monitor the progress.  Develop a repoire in which all members of the team on the same page and work toward achieving the goals desired and beyond.  It is essential for us to put that time an effort forward as as parents and coaches and teachers.  If we don’t plan, we might as well plan to fail.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

So what is the law of impermanence?  How can it help you?

Anicca or impermanence is understood in Buddhism as the first of three marks of existence, the other two being dukkha (suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness) and Anatta (non-self, non-soul, no essence).

Impermanence, also called AniccaAaniccaAnitcha or Anitya, is one of the essential doctrines and a part of three marks of existence in Buddhism. The doctrine asserts that all of conditioned existence, without exception. All temporal things of mind, whether material or mental, are compounded objects in a continuous change of condition. They are all subject to decline and destruction. The concept of impermanence is also found in various schools of Hinduism too and I believe all religions. 

But mostly this is over Eastern mind it is still a world-wide understanding that everything is in a constant flux and change. The only thing we can certainly count on is Change.  There is no stopping it.  
Anicca or impermanence is understood in Buddhism as the first of three marks of existence, the other two
dukkha (suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness) and 
anatta (non-self, non-soul, no essence). 

Like in the last samurai. NO MIND!
Human life embodies this flux in the aging process, the cycle of repeated birth and death (Samsara), nothing lasts, and everything decays. This is applicable to all beings and their environments.  It is also plays a big part in those that believe in Reincarnation. 
Impermanence is intimately associated with The Buddha thoughts and what he taught that no physical or mental object is permanent, desires for or attachments to either causes suffering (dukkha) or pain.

Understanding Anicca and Anatta are steps in the Buddhist’s spiritual progress toward enlightenment. However for those of Western thought, who most of the time do not want to think about bad things or face anything that is negative I call this the Ostrich syndrome.

I believe that many people used to follow a different path of action 20-30 years ago. One that even though was uncomfortable they still lived by their word. In our modern society many people easily adjust this mentality by filling their heads with lies or camoflauge their actions as justification. In other words, I owe a bill, but I am not going to pay because I am not using the service or I don’t like that I broke up with my spouse but it was due to their actions alone. 

We make ourselves believe that the action even though in our heart of hearts know it is wrong we lead ourselves to believe it is okay to act a specific way, with no real responsibility for our side of the situation. We do not take accountability. That is why I coined the phrase the Ostrich Syndrom. People continually put their head in the sand long enough for the guilt or pain to go away so they can move forward without doing what is right. 

So back to impermence. Let us come to grip with the mind that we are only here on this planet and only are able to do what we do for a very small amount of time.  Our planet is billions of years old, we are only a spec of dust in it’s timeline and existence. We will only live our lives for a short amount of time. When we except that and embrace our lives with the realization that we are living by the day in the here and now. Everything in our life is only there for as long as it is. Nothing is forever and nothing is defined as definite.

I hope I didn’t get too deep today.   Much of the writing came from Wikipedia when researching the law of impermanence. I used this for my Facebook live "lunch time chat with Allie." 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

I am always honored to have so many people reading and commenting on the topics that I share each and every week, month after month.  This is taken from one of my Facebook lives for what I call "Lunch Time Chat with Allie."  I do it every Thursday at 12:30 EST.  If you want to check it out. 

I want to cover a few important things that are very relevant to our world today and what we are experiencing at this time in life.  It is hard to keep a positive perspective on who we are and what we do & it isn’t easy to stay positive with so much negativity being spoken at such a large volume everywhere around us on a daily basis and I mean everywhere.

My first topic is about “Squandering opportunities” and how we justify doing so, as well as “The Law of impermanence.” Let’s make this an active conversation so feel free to comment below with questions or anything you want to say.  The only thing I ask is that you stay positive and respectful to everyone on the post.  Just write your thoughts and questions and I will do my best to address them.

Let’s first start off with the topic of “Squandering Opportunities.” This all stems from a quote that I posted on social media. 
“Opportunities are granted to those actively looking.”
Now before we go into my thoughts on this, let’s talk about what an opportunity is.  Some of you may be saying, please don’t waste my time, because I am fully aware of what the word opportunity means. However, I am not talking about the literal definition.  I am speaking about the mental connection to the word.  Here is what I mean by that.  To me an opportunity can be something positive or negative. It could be something you are familiar with or something you are not so familiar with.  We can see good and bad things as opportunities around us all day long. 

So with the mindset that everything is a lesson, or an opportunity & we will always benefit from everything that is put before us.  I know to some this may be that old Cliché.  Yeah, everything is a lesson!  Some may be saying “what if I am tired of always having a good perspective and dealing with bad things and pretending that they are a good lesson for me?” Maybe I just want to have some good luck or have it most of the time.

Luck is really non-existent in reality. If you look at life from a more spiritual mindset, you can call this Karma or destiny.  What you are supposed to receive due to your actions or past actions good or bad you will receive. 

So how do we look at negative things that have happened to us as a lesson?  That is a great question.  Oh by the way, you don’t have to kid yourself; & pretend to feel good about everything.  But it is all about thinking beyond that moment, or thinking about the future. 

Let me tell you a story about when I was training in Japan.  It was the middle of January and there was snow everywhere. The snow just started to become slush, that melted cold wet snow.  Every day I would ride my bicycle to go train, which was about a two mile ride to my teachers house from my apartment.  I would put my gi in my back pack with my belt and note book, and then ride wearing my tabi in my sneakers and my gi pants and jacket.

There was a huge bridge that any one in Noda knows.  It is a commercial thin bridge with very little space for pedestrians and bicycles. Cars zip by at 50 – 60 miles per hour and I would have to ride across it in order to get to my teachers dojo and home.  At the very end was a deep downward slope and hill. I could pick up some serious speed on it and cruise for the next few hundred feet without peddling. 
To my surprise at the bottom was about 10 inches of slush and water a literal lake.  As I lifted my feet off the pedals not to get soaked, holding my umbrella with one hand and my other on the handle bars, I coasted through the lake.  Just at that moment and I could see it in his eyes a very sadistic truck driver looked at me and veered out of his lane into the puddle and no joke laughed as he covered me in slush from head to toe.  I was cold, soaked and very annoyed. 

I arrived at Soke’s house and I knocked on his door. He answered and came out on to the landing and stood under the overhand, with a hot cup of Ocha – Japanese Green tea. I was dripping wet and you can actually still see the snow and slush on my body.  I spoke in Japanese to Soke Tanemura and Said “Waroi Otenki Des ne.”  he looked at me with a puzzled look. I then spoke in English because I thought my translation may be incorrect.  I said “it is a terrible day.”  He looked at me again with a puzzled look and said “to me it is a wonderful day.”  I of course thought to myself with an inner voice I said “of course you are dry with hot tea and I am freezing and soaked. For you it is a wonderful day, for me not so much.”  He then went on to point at an empty rice patty.  He said “this is a rice patty and I feed my family for the year with the yield we get from that rice.  The rice grows with plenty of water, so this snow, this rain is a sign from god. So it is a great day for me.” 

So after our conversation, I had an extreme change in perspective.  It really all depends on how deep you want to go, to find the good. It is not always about the lesson but about shifting perspective and sometimes looking at it from a different person’s perspective.

Continued in a few days on the Law of impermanence. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Gimme rather than Giri - The art of Loyalty!

Many years ago I wrote a post for my Face Book page on the topic of Giri.  For those who didn't read it, it got great response.  I had some rather amazing senior masters instructors who commented on that post with their insight. So I decided to rewrite the post into an article that most would appreciate.  One of the instructors who I admire tremendously is Anshu Stephen Hayes.  I give him credit for starting my Ninja journey many years ago.  Anshu Hayes said "Society is more of a Gimme rather than Giri Society."  I quote him on that and loved it.  I then asked his permission to use it while writing this quick article about the topic. 

One of the instructors who I admire tremendously is Anshu Stephen Hayes.  I give him credit for starting my Ninja journey many years ago.  Anshu Hayes read my article and responded "Society is more of a Gimme rather than Giri Society."  I quote him on that and loved it.  I then asked his permission to use it while writing my blog.
I also had to take a quote from another amazing martial art master Pete Ticali who has always treated me with respect and kindness.  This is what he had to say - which is a great explanation of the word Giri.  Master Ticali wrote "With Rank comes Privilege, and some might understand with Privilege comes responsibility. With responsibility comes Duty; and Duty evolves to a deep Obligation, which lays the foundation for the culmination of Giri.... One might note that I have changed from English to Japanese. I do so because I know no English word to properly translate the word Giri and do it justice. In simple layman's terms, I would explain Giri as the debt you gladly accept; even with the knowledge that you will pay this debt till your last day of your life, and on that day you will know you haven't scratched the surface of "paying enough".   

Giri is what one might owe their parents, their grandparents; their country and those that they honor as their Sensei.   As a footnote, I firmly believe that as Sensei, part of our Giri is to teach those thousands (if necessary) to find the few with whom our Giri can be entrusted (passed on) to. I believe that those who follow the way, can understand."

Master Ticali has spells out for us the truth of martial arts and the way that I was brought up in my martial art training and the way it should be taught and practiced.  Unfortunately for many, these lessons are nothing but words, strung together into sentences, things that go in one ear and out the other.  I do not blame anyone because this concept isn’t taught as much any longer and is not a part of the culture. 

There was an ancient time, when someone made a commitment verbally and their word was as good as anything.  People would work till their dyeing day to fulfill their word and what they call an obligation.  It used to be admissible in the court of law, nowadays even a written contract is not adhered to by many judges.  They find it in their mind to interpret the written word to suit their own needs or the dialog that is going on at present time. 

I have found teaching and running a school with hundreds of students over the almost 3 decades that not even 1% of the people I deal with can even comprehend the word Giri.  I think maybe the modern adaptation we can call it convenience "Giri!"  The reason I say this, is most students, parents and people you deal with are loyal when it best suits them.  Anshu Stephen Hayes said it perfectly when speaking of the topic “Gimme rather then Giri.”  While others do not even attempt to understand, they look at the martial arts as more of a commodity.  

Something purchased something due to them because they have paid tuition.  I want to shake them and all the readers into the realization that the lessons are never the same without the true understanding of dedication, loyalty and honor.  In fact, I have argued till I am blue in the face with martial artists, coaches, and Martial Art Industry heads, that by taken this lesson out of the martial arts, the student isn’t even learning true martial arts.  They are only practicing the physical (the martial) and without these traditions, the martial arts are nothing more than just fighting techniques.  Simply though with the mental, spiritual and lessons of old, the martial arts are limitless and they shape the student in ways unimaginable. 

Is this possible any more in our society for us to learn GIRI or is it only going to be "Gimme?" My personal feeling and this is based on my past 50 years of martial art training.  There are only a select few that will truly understand the meaning and will act on it and make it a part of who they are.  I continually teach hoping that as I get better, I will also get more people who understand the concept. 

To dive in a little deeper let me share a story of a conversation with one of my black belt students.  This student trained with me for about 8 years and received his black belt.  He then went on to open a gym of his own, and stopped his training.  He was obligated to me financially for another two years, signing a contract that spelled out his financial obligation but decided he was going to cancel that by stopping payment on his credit card.  When I asked him about it, he said to me, “when is it that the student gets Giri from their teacher?” I thought this to be a rather interesting conversation to have so I entertained the question.  However, I knew the minute he asked that question, he didn’t have a clue about the word and what it meant.  He went on to say, ”he was dedicated and trained hard to be where he was and he gave me his loyalty by helping at the school and teaching and was wondering when I would show giri back.” 

I tried to explain the concept of Giri many times in face to face conversations, and I think in the literary sense it is even more difficult.  If a student has Giri – Loyalty and feels obligated to their teacher, then the obligation has already been met by their sensei.  In other words, the sensei has already earned Giri. They have taught, trained, nurtured, guided and raised that student up through the ranks, gave selfishly of their time, effort, a dojo to train, lessons to learn, personal talks (during class and I am sure outside of class).  

Through the dojo friendships are made with like minded people and relationships are forged all due because of their affiliation with that teacher.  They as an instructor have already done their part, changing the very fiber of that student over many, many years of hard work.  The very essence of who that student is, has been influenced by these lessons and that sensei.   No matter whether that student continues to train, leaves their teachers side and opens up on their own martial art school, continuing to teach the martial arts, they have a debt that can never be repaid. 

As Master Pete Ticali said “Giri is what one might owe their parents, their grandparents; their country and those that they honor as their Sensei.   As a footnote, I firmly believe that as Sensei, part of our Giri is to teach those thousands (if necessary) to find the few with whom our Giri can be entrusted (passed on) to. I believe that those who follow the way, can understand."

With our society becoming more of a WIIFM – "What’s in it for me society," we are slowing losing a very beautiful part of human interaction.  We are slowly being brain washed to believe that everyone owes us something.  We look at most interactions as transactions with equal parts.  When the reality is, many interactions are much more than that.  I teach my students no matter how rich you become, how successful you become or intelligent through school and life experiences. You are never your parents equal. You can never repay them enough to walk away and say this obligation is complete and has been met.  Without them giving you so much, even if it is just giving birth to the child.  That debt could not be paid. Without them, you would not exist. 

Within my martial art journey I have had many students leave my school, and move on. Some quit martial arts entirely while others trained elsewhere. Even a handful of them have moved on to open their own schools.  Very few have given me credit or came back to thank me.  This is not necessarily a bad thing because as a Sensei we do not need the thanks.  However, it does show that Giri has never been established and is something that a very small percentage of people understand.   I guess it goes back to that one statement of the student asking when does an instructor show their student Giri – the WIIFM – what’s in it for me mindset.    The journey is yours, who has touched your life enough for you to be indebted to? That is your life’s question.  Do you understand what Giri is?  Enjoy the journey........

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Don’t worry, not everything traumatizes your child!

As a parent of an almost 19 year old girl, I have done my share of sheltering and protecting. I was very conscious of what she watched on TV, what movies I allowed her to see, what she saw on the internet, who she spent time with and events, parties and people I allowed her to associate with. I was the modern day parent of the 21st century. 

I saw this not as being over protective, but more so as actually parenting my child and watching out for her best interest. I grew up in a very different time and environment - when the saying “the village raises the child” mindset really did ring true. My poor mom raised me all by herself and worked three jobs. So she really wasn’t around as much as she would have liked. She also did her best as a parent with the limited time she had. I didn’t really have much direction or time spent with my dad. He was pretty much and absentee parent without much effort in regards to the parent module. 

So I spent a ton of times with friends, exploring, hanging out, and at times getting in trouble. There were two saving graces in my life and one was music. I was in a rock band my entire life growing up and my goal was to become a Rock Star. The other was my martial arts this somehow was a natural thing for me and became my passion along with music. When I could have been hanging out and getting in trouble, I was rehearsing in my garage with my band or training at my martial art school. 

You may be thinking get to the point. Well, here you go……………… 

Here is my advice from a parent of a 19 year old college kid and a martial art teacher with 50 years of experience and 30+ years of teaching experience. 

1) Time spent staying busy is not necessarily time spent well. Just being wisped from activity to activity, does not make a well-rounded child. Sometimes less is more. 

2) You are not your child’s friend. You are their parent. That doesn’t say you can’t be best friends but it is certainly a different model. For example: I was always friends with my teachers in the martial arts, but they were not my buddies. They would put me in my place in a second. They were my mentors and as parents we are the example, the leader, the hero, the rock and the friend. We are NOT their buddies. I hope this makes sense. 

3) Remember, your child will not hate you or be traumatized if you do MAKE them do things they may not want to do at the moment. The one thing I hear more so now than ever, is “I don’t want to force my child to do this or that.” I think that is total bull, because you are forcing them every day. Let’s take potty training for example. Some say let them go when it is right for them and they run around in diapers till they are five or 6. Other parents push their children and they are potty trained at 2 or 3 the latest. I have never heard a child grow up blaming their parents for pushing them to be potty trained. In other words, pushing your child to stick with martial arts or music or sports, will not traumatize them. It will build them into productive youth, teens and adults. Make decisions based on what YOU know is right for them. They are not old enough to make good decisions yet. When they are, it will be good decision making based on how you taught them, not by chance. 

4) Do not give up so easily. What may seem like a huge mountain now, will become a small speed bump in the future. I have many parents that allow their children to quit training in the martial arts or sports because they are demotivated or bored or not happy. They do not realize that in 2, 4 or 6 months down the road their entire perspective could change. The goal is to get through the sticking points and not give into to them. Push past and you will be on the brink of excellence. Remember, they will never truly know what they missed out on, if they quit. 

5) Last but not least, look into your crystal ball and see, or imagine what the future may look like if they quit a said activity, then flip the scenario and envision what it would be like if they stuck with that particular activity. What would they be like in five years with it, or without it. Try to have some foresight on the future. Before you give in. 

In closing, I would like to say, being a parent is not an easy job so I commend you. Not everyone knows what to do, or has the support system to help them through. So I know you are doing the best you can with what experience you have. Remember, you are their only hope. The more time you spend, the better child you will have. Do your best to find the balance of freedom and expression allowing your child to have a life filled with exploration and imagination. Do not allow your children to control their own lives, always remember you are the parent and they will not hate you for being one. Our children see our parenting as love, not hate. Maybe not initially but in the long run.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email me at  Feel free to share this blog post with your friends and please comment below if you like what you read.  It helps others to feel comfortable with commenting. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

An Unlikely Gift!

There was a man who was having trouble with his marriage.  He and his wife grew to the point that they didn’t communicate, and truly disliked the sight of each other. 

The man approached his father and asked  “‘Father, I can't take it anymore.  My wife is driving me insane! She makes my life miserable, she goes out of her way to make me feel bad and I just can’t stand the sight of her.  I honestly want to kill her, but I'm afraid someone might find out that I did it. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in prison but I just need a way out.  Please help me!

The Father replied  “I can help you, but there are a few things you will have to do,  to make sure you are not looked at as a suspect.”

The son replied “I will do anything. I am at a point that I myself no longer want to live.”

The father went on to give him the rules. 

1) You are going to have to make amends with her, so no one suspects you are in a bad marriage. They can’t even see you speaking a single negative word about her.
2) You will have to take very good care of her.  Be kind,  be grateful, be patient, be caring, be less selfish, and listen more, help her with chores and anything she needs. Remember, people will be watching how you act around her. How you treat her will determine how they see your marriage and they will see in your actions how you feel. You have to truly play the part.
Here is a powder. While you are making her breakfast every morning put in one teaspoon of this in her orange juice.  Then sit with her and speak to her about the day ahead of you.  Every day you have to put a little in her food and it will eventually build up in her system and she will slowly die.

Thirty days had gone by and the son came back to the father and said “I have done what you said, on a daily basis and I have fed her the poison, but somehow my mind has shifted.  I no longer want her to die! I have come to love her once again, with all of my heart, just like I did when we first met and I feel she can see and feel the way I have been treating her and she loves me again as well.  How do I cut the effect of the poison?”

The father smiled and said “my son you already have.  The powder I gave you was only rice powder. It actually is good for you.  Do not worry she is not going to die.  The only poison that was there was the poison inside of you!  Once you learned to love her again and to not look at the negative, or the things that bothered you.  When you started looking at the good things, and remembering the things that made you fall in love in the first place.  The poison started to go away on its own.  You truly healed yourself and saved your marriage.”
When we feed grudges, look for the negative, only seeing what is wrong, but never remind ourselves of what is right, our appreciation, admiration, good will, and of course our love slowly dies. When we make peace with ourselves and with those who offend us, we learn to deal with one another on an entirely different level.  We learn to treat those how we would like to be treated.
Then, and only then we will have the initiative to love, to give, to offer, to serve, to care for others and live life to the fullest.  You do not need to win alone or to be served or to take advantage of and exploit someone else. You learn that the more you do for others, the more you will feel the rewards. 
We all need to stop, pray and ask for that antidote called forgiveness and remind ourselves of love!

Allie Alberigo is an author of five books.  His newest book is really getting rave reviews.  To pick up a copy FREE just pay shipping and handling.  Click the book below. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

“Sometimes people don’t know when to shut up.”

Now I am sure the title caught your attention, but in defense, I am not trying to be rude. I wanted to share with you my thoughts on the spoken word. As we know, a written word in a literal sense is most of the time understood based on the sentence structure. However even using punctuation for enfaces we still can take things out of context. For example “have a nice day.” Or “Have a NICE DAY!’ One can be perceived as a nice gesture while the other a dismissal. 

While texting and reading emails and posting on social media, many time things can be taken way out of context. That is why I would rather speak to someone face to face to show them how I feel with body language and facial expressions. However we are not always able to do that, so we have now added in filler words to show the intention. Such as you are so funny…. Lol……….. or I just read this and I am LMBO – laughing my butt off. These little fillers help to show the emotion of what the writer is feeling, without taking the chance on any miscommunication. 

With the lives we live in our modern 21st century society, communication is becoming harder and harder even though we have so many avenues to communicate. My suggestion is to live by the old golden rule, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. It is better to hold your tongue, than try to share your opinion if there is a chance that someone may take your words incorrectly. I don’t suggest staying quite all the time, especially if you feel the topic is in need of an objective opinion but be selective in what you say and remember people are very protective over their opinions. Be careful you don’t attempt to say something light heartedly and without knowing offend the other person. 

There are some areas too that you need to always be extremely careful with and that is stepping over the line. Even at times when you joke, the joke may not be made appropriately. For example: When speaking to your school teachers, martial art teachers, parents, spouses etc. Always remember spoken words, are easy to speak, but hard to retract or take back. The goal of course is always think before you speak, and think twice before you write something or post something. My recommendation is wait a day or two before you respond on hot topics. You may find after a few days, the thing that bothered you will diminish in priority and may not even be of importance any longer. 

I am finding more so then ever, that people are too free to speak their mind, insult others and call them names. I remember when I was young, if you said something offensive, you might end up getting punched in the nose. So we were more careful not to offend because it may have ended up in bodily harm or at least a bump or two. It may have resulted in a fist fight or a serious argument. Nowadays, the average person will think nothing of insulting another, cursing at them and calling them names, this sometimes over the most minor of issues or disagreements. I am always shocked and in awe at how easily two civil individuals can end up in a cursing match, insulting each other over a simply disagreement.

Remember, this thought – what will it all mean in a few days, or a week or a month. Will you still be annoyed at that person or angry enough to curse them out? I would guess “No.” So I highly recommending following this rule. 

1) Take a breath and if you are upset – wait a day to response or post something. 

2) If you are not happy with the results ask yourself “do I need to fight with this person over something so trivial or their opinion. Remember everyone has an opinion. Just like we all like different flavors of ice cream. 

3) Don’t be so quick to judge until you have walked some steps in their shoes. You don’t know how they formulated their opinion. Seek to first understand. 

4) Do not judge others until you know what they too are going through. Do not be angry if your opinions clash, or are different. They may have a totally valid point of view from their perspective. Maybe it is different from yours but it still may be valid. 

5) Do your best to have an open mind. If you want to debate, do it nicely without any name calling or person feelings attached. If we approached things from more of an open mind point of view, then we most certainly will be more open to their thoughts too. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Maybe we are just using the wrong words.

“Imagine if a simple shift in words could make a huge difference in the outcome? “

Just recently I had a chat with my leadership team and instructors in training at my martial art school.  Our topic was on the word “responsibility.”  I asked many of the students what they thought the word meant  and a current theme came up.  They mentioned “Chores.”  I found this interesting and I ran with it. 
Looking at the very meaning of the word according to the dictionary may say a lot for how people look at it.  The word Chore as defined means – noun – 1 - a small or odd job; routine task. 2. The     Chores, the everyday work around a house or farm.  3. a hard or unpleasant task: Solving the problem was quite a chore.

If you notice most words associated with the word chore mean something unpleasant or negative.  So why is it that we are not getting our children to love doing their chores?  It is quite simple – it appears to be punishment. Even if we bribe them with reward, it is something boring, hard, or annoying and unpleasant.

After speaking to my students I asked what the word responsibility meant. You know what was really interesting, it was a word shift. Most of my leadership kids and teens do chores. I said "the word of the day, is responsibility." Then I asked "who does chores." Many of them raised their hands. Then I asked "tell me some of your chores." They responded with amazing things. Feed my puppy and make sure he has water, clean and feed my hamster, clean my room, clear the table after dinner, go to bed on time, do my homework. Etc. I asked are those chores or a responsibilities?

They replied with the answer “it is a chore.” I explained further. If you didn't feed, your puppy or hamster or clean its cage what would happen. They responded "they would get sick or die." If mom or dad or both parents didn’t pay their bills and buy food and feed you, what would happen? They laughed.   I asked is it a chore for mom or dad, to do all of those things.  They all looked at me as if I was crazy.  You know why because it is just a responsibility.  Quite frankly doing all of those things for my daughter never felt like a chore. Although it was tough at times, I was still happy to have worked as hard as I did.  I asked “by having you do what you are supposed to do, is it a chore or a responsibility?”  When I explained it in that manner – they seemed to have looked at it differently and responded it is a "responsibility."

I used the word responded and responsibility in the same sentence to prove a point. How we teach or shift a person’s perspective is all about word association and how smart decisions are formed. I highly suggest that we stop associating work with the word chore and replace it with the word responsibility.  Making our children do chores is like asking them to do something terrible, but keep giving them responsibilities and it will make them feel accomplished and unstoppable just like adults. 

Each time they do things on their own without having to be reminded give them praise.  Make sure that they understand, they are expected to act responsible, and if they do not there are consequences.  Not punishments!  But if they don’t feed their hamster or puppy there are major consequences.  Responsibility is essential in our modern day society, yet so many people act without it.  How many people respond to difficult and unpleasant situations shows a lack of integrity, clarity? But a responsible person is expected to act professionally and accordingly and by acting with this level of responsibility it establishes who they are and who they will be in the future.   Just my two sense on this. I know it is cents, but I did it again. Sense vs cents during chores.

What do you think about this? 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The 5 Gateways to Happiness!

Are you aware that my book is still available. 

Thank you to all of those people who picked up a copy of my book.  It was shipped and read all over the world.  I am honored and so excited that people have read it, and commented positively.  I still have it available and I am still giving it away at my cost of shipping and handling at $8.95.

My goal is to help people, by shifting perspective and understanding the power of the mind.  I am hoping that people will read the book and if they use one strategy, then it will have been worth writing. 

I would be honored if you have the book and read it, to do a review on Amazon, or other media outlets. It will help spread the word.  Also, if you read the book and found it to be positive and you think it can help someone, pick up a copy and send it to them.  Let's pay this forward and really make a change on our planet.

You can simply click here to order your copy today!

Thank you in advance, and thank you for being on the quest to help the world.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The art of Exceptional-ism!

I know, I know at times I make up words or improperly string words together to make a point.   However, in my opinion this would be a great word.  How does one go from mediocre to exceptional?  How does one take on the journey of becoming amazing?  How does one celebrate the quest to be exceptional or live the life of their dreams on a daily basis?  Exceptional-ism is a choice and a life-style!

In the 21st Century we have become used to the thought that if this doesn’t work, I will just do the other thing instead.  We are inundated with choices and options for our children and ourselves so if one thing doesn’t work out, we move on to the next.  This goes against all I was taught as a child.  Remember the old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  Well, that saying has been replaced with “if at first you don’t succeed try again, and if that doesn’t work or it is too hard, or inconvenient, we will find something else and quit the thing that is giving you a difficult time.” 

In the 21st century most parents and adults are searching for that one thing that hits every point on their check list.  It excites, motivates and you are good at it.  Well, 99.9% of the time, this is not really going to happen.  If you are lucky, maybe you find the activity on the first try and stick with it.  However, the reality is, we continually search for our children or ourselves to shine in the activity that is best for them.
The age old saying is, you can polish a dull, ugly stone and with enough polishing it because a beautiful work of art possibly even a diamond in the rough or a gem.  The theory of practice makes perfect, is true.  We have a saying in the martial arts -  fall down 9 times get up ten. Basically it implies don’t quit, don’t give up, don’t  give in.  The real thought behind the sayings is simple, if you want something or as parents you want things for your child, then DO NOT let them quit.  You may want to refer to my other blog post “I quit!” or “Mom, I want to quit, will you quit with me?” 

I have also heard hundreds if not thousands of times parents tell me, “we don’t want to force our child.”  I know for a fact this is simply not true, because you force your children to do things all the time.  What if your child didn’t want to go to bed on time or brush their teeth, would you allow it? The answer is, NO!   So the real question is why do you say you don’t want to force them to do something.  The real true answer is you aren’t sure if this is worth pushing or forcing or arguing  with them over.   That leads to the old defeatist statement – We chose our battles wisely.  I know this is true for some, but the reality is, you know what is right for your child and what their future will hold if you do force, encourage and stay consistent with an activity you will see and achieve results unimaginable.  If I had a dollar for every person that heard my speech and didn’t listen I would be a millionaire. However, I also have heard those that did take my words of advice, stood tall and held their ground.  They have come back to me with praise and accolades on why it was the best choice they ever made.   

Exceptional-ism is forged on consistency and practice, going through trials, tribulations, failure and success is all part of the journey.  A student only becomes exceptional if you they put the time in or you push the envelope for them.  Remember, they are no aware and do not have the knowledge you have to make decisions. That is why it is called coaching or parenting.  I have taught martial arts for over 35 years.  I have taught 10’s of thousands of students in my martial art school.  I have taught all over the world and have even coached thousands of martial art school owners and teachers.  My goal is to encourage you to stop searching and simply stick with your activity and become amazing becp,e EXCEPTIONAL.   

Friday, January 5, 2018

Push through the Pain of the things you don’t like.

How we can push through what we do not like to do it over and over and learn it and get used to it then you can be liberated from it.

When I was a very young child my parents enrolled me in a martial art school. My memories of that
school consisted of a huge amount of fun but I don’t recall it being the fun that we look at these days. In other words, within my schools we disguise repetition through fun drills and exercises that capture the child’s imagination and creative learning. We even do this with teens and youth as well. It is more of a science than anything else and as teachers we have to understand the way the mind works.

I do admit, we live in a totally different time then when I was a child and we have to adapt to the times. What I remember as fun, really was hard work, exercise and repetition. I remember even at 3 and 4 years old, my goal was to be amazing. I don’t know if it was my mindset, but I was very competitive and I always wanted to strive to be the best at all I could do and even be the best in the class. I also remember classes being extremely difficult and the tone would change. My teachers would put me through the class and it seemed they were mad at me. I never let them see me demotivated but I always wondered why Sensei was mad at me. I would later find out, my mom has spoken to him about me talking back to her, or not doing my chores or being disrespectful. In fact, they never mentioned it to me in class, however they showed me. I would ask my mom why Sensei was mean today and she would say because I spoke to him about being disrespectful. I am not sure now, if the lesson would be as well received with our generation of parents and children. However for me, it taught me many valuable lessons:

1) Life is not fair.

2) Life has its ebbs and flows. Sometimes things don’t go my way.

3) Life inevitably will beat you up at times.

4) Life is not always about getting what you want, sometimes you have to suck it up and deal with it.

5) Life is not a big fluffy place. Sometimes the world could be cruel.

I realized at a very young age, that life is not about getting everything my way. In fact a great lesson that I learned was even though I am not getting my way, I have to find a way to make it suit me. In others words, I need to find the good in every situation as difficult as it may be and ask myself “how does this situation suit me?” Since I was a 3 years old, I was brought up in the martial arts. I learned to deal with life through an esoteric philosophy and Eastern mindset. I was taught that failure was a good thing. In fact, without it, I could never succeed. If I did succeed without failing then it was far too easy to learn and do.

I learned early on, that if I expected of felt the world, people, instructors, bosses or teachers owed me something I was in for a rude awakening. However, in public school, I did an awful lot of blaming others for my lack of success. Until I realized all the whining in the world wasn’t going to save me and I needed to take my success in my own hands, I basically struggled. I was continually looking for others to change my outcome. I know now, there are many people that may assist on my journey however not as many people will be there taking me through it. I am responsible for it.

The other day I had a few very interesting conversations with parents of students in my school. Interestingly enough, they both had the same theme. The theme was, I was urging the parents to push the children past their comfort zone or stumbling blocks. Their response was “I know my child and that is not the way things work with them.” What this leads me to believe is they have accepted their behavior as who they are, not looking at their potential. Everyone has a god given potential. Some use it while others don’t even recognize it. Sadly, some of the most talented people don’t recognize their potential. I can say from experience that some of my best students were not those that had recognized their god given potential and a natural ability. It was those that recognized their potential and pushed hard to become the best they could be.

The reason why I wrote this article was from a comment that my Yoga instructor said during one of our sessions and it is very similar to what I say as a martial art teacher. We have to push through the pain, expand our comfort zone, so that the things we do not like, become easy and we can do them without any stress or ill feelings. Even though they still may not be our favorite activities, they are still activities that we do not try to avoid. We have to push through the pain, through the boredom, through the repetitiveness. We have to inspire ourselves to do it because it is good for us, not because we love it and enjoy it so much. We do it because it is what we need, no matter who difficult it is.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Mom and Dad I want to quit, Can you quit with me?

The title of this article may sound confusing; however, when you read on, you will see the relevance to a parent’s life and common daily occurrences. I have been running a martial art school for almost 30 years. Before running this particular school I ran another school when I was a teen-ager. So I have been around parents and children for almost 4 decades. 

Image result for picture of a quitterWe have a saying amongst martial art school owners – “behind every demotivated student, there is a demotivated parent.” Before you get angry, stop reading or take that saying the wrong way, allow me to explain. I realize most parents are the most motivated individuals on the planet. I also realize that parents dedicate their lives to the pursuit of happiness, the success of their children and they will stop at nothing to help their children achieve these goals. 

However, the problem in parenting at times is lack of tools or strategies and methodology of parenting skills. After all, there are not many courses, out there that teaches a fool proof system on parenting. No matter whether your child is in the martial arts, plays a sport, instrument or it has to do with school, we all run into the same problems. Children get bored, frustrated and want to quit. My school has been open so long, that I get to see children grow up to be adults and even have children of their own and they rarely say, they were happy they quit. Most of the time, I hear stories of how the adult has been regretful their entire lives because they didn’t stick with their martial art training and should have continued. In fact many parents enroll their children because they wished they hadn’t quit when they were younger. They blame their parents saying things like “they were the parents, I was the child, I didn’t know any better,” or they say things like, “They should have made me stay, and my life would have turned out much different than it did.” 

In a parent’s defense, being a parent myself, we tend to choose our battles. We don’t want to go through life miserable continually bargaining, fighting and arguing to get our children to do what is the correct thing for them. Remember the last time you checked out at the super market and your child started bargaining for gum or candy. You said “No,” but eventually gave in. However, if we don’t parent (teach and discipline), then what is the sense to parenting at all. It is easy to be a parent, but the art of actual parenting is difficult. 

So our article title “Mom and Dad I want to quit, can you quit with me,” is so true, because when a child is bored or demotivated and they want to stop. The parent may stand strong and fight the child or even force them to go to their martial art classes or other activities. But eventually the child will win out. With enough pressure from the child, enough tantrums, enough struggles, a parent loses their motivation. So in essence the child pressures the parent into quitting as well. We may not see it that way, but the reality is both the child and parent quit. We realize as parents that a child has so many opportunities in the 21st century, they quit martial arts, they take up gymnastics, and they quit gymnastics they take up swimming and soccer. You get my point, they are in a perpetual cycle of quitting. Which will eventually become a character trait whether you like it or not. Children rarely stick with many activities long enough for them to benefit them in the real world. To become amazing. They quit long before, they master, or semi master that particular skill. 

The martial arts due to its diverse nature, it can help a student young and old in a myriad of ways. However, some are not evident until they experience that particular lesson or struggle. So for example as they get older and start college, they may find the discipline that they have learned long ago in their martial art classes can be applied to their schooling. Or even their job, or interview process and most of all it is never too late to learn self-defense. So why is it that people quit? It is quite simple; complacency of the activity, or routine and boredom breeds contempt or lack of interest. Because of the way the activity is perceived it is looked at as a stimulant. In other words, they get used to it and it is in their mind the same old, same old is going on... Repetition breeds contempt in many cases, however it is the most important part of mastery.

It is our goal as martial art teachers to always keep things fresh but what makes a martial art teachers job so difficult is they deal with children for many years. At least in the public school system a teacher and the student spend a year together then they move on. Even in our school system this type of learning is failing our children. They become great at cramming for a test, spending way to little time mastering the material and moving on. They do not work toward mastery, they work on mediocrity. There is very little time or enough time to stay on a topic to become proficient at it. In fact I coined the phrase “mastery not mediocrity.” 

In a martial art school with years of repetition a child turns to an adult and continually becomes proficient at “The Self.” They are always improving who they are as human beings and growing.

Check out this testimonial I just received. 

“Hello Shihan I've been thinking about this for a while and I've been having this idea bounce around my head for a years. I still remember the times when I was younger and I trained with you all the way up to brown belt as a child. I was very nervous knowing that I would be eventually taking my black belt test and I decided to quit. I have to say, I regret this still to this day. It's something that I still harp on at times and I would live to actually earn my black belt and practice for the rest of my life. I wonder if my life would have taken a different path if I stuck with you and the martial arts. I don't know if you know for the last 5 year I moved and started a new life in a new state and I seen that you just opened a new dojo which is literally 10 minutes from me in Delray. My mom has been an inspiration to me that she kick boxes and started off with you as well. I feel like I need an outlet and would like to join your dojo again. And start over learning Ninjutsu, possibly to complete my goal and journey toward being a better person. 

In essence this person regretted quitting for many years and this is only one out of hundreds of students that have told me this. 

You may be asking – what can you do to win this battle as a parent? 

Here are some suggestions: 

1) Always be the parent. Never allow your child to decide things on their own or coerce you through resistance to change your mind. All Character trait are developed within the first 10 years of a child’s life. This is a very crucial time. So within this time you need to set good examples and make choices for your child. As difficult as it is, or as hard as it may feel, you must persevere. This is the trait we are also teaching your child. So if you allow them to quit, or you say I choose my battles wisely you in essence are sealing their fate to be that way for ever. It takes a ton of really dedicated hard work to change your personality or character traits.

2) Teach the “Stick-to-itiveness” Attitude. Many times parents will say, we are not quitting we are going to finish out our year. Or the Smith Family are not quitters we are just taking a break. I know that when they say this, they just don’t want to admit to themselves that they are quitting. Stopping after a year is quitting. If you went to college and stopped after a semester or a year and didn’t go back, that would be considered quitting. However, we don’t like to label ourselves or children as quitters, but if they start and don’t complete the skill to at least black belt then they quit. 

3) Understand that your children will not hate you, if you force them to do what is right for them. They may not like you for a small period of time, but they will love you in the end. I have never had a child who received their black belt say “my parents made me go and I hate them because of it.” They always thank them, hug them and say they love them because of it. So do not stop, push through the hard times. It is you as the parent that has to be strong for the both of you. Your martial art teachers will be there with you through thick and thin. Changing hats, personalities and language as your child grows through the ranks, always deepening or attempting to their relationship with your child or you as an adult. 

In closing, if you had a crystal ball, you would see that keeping your kids in any activity for a long time is beneficial. Teaching them the “I am not going to quit attitude”, will change their lives forever. The martial arts are life changing in every way but you have to stick with it long enough to see that. Also, remember the old saying, “Quitters, never win and Winners never Quit!? Don’t allow you children to stop, because the benefits are endless. Take this from a dad and a martial art instructor with over 50 years of experience.