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  • For Whom the Bell Tolls

    For Whom the Bell Tolls

    "For whom the bell tolls" 25 years ago today (November 1st, 1996), I opened my little Martial Arts/ childcare business for the first time. United Tae Kwon-Do-Jones Rd. was born (actually just re-imagined as I was the 3rd proprietor of that particular location). I was a headstrong 19 year old who knew it all and nothing at all at the same time. Now that was a long time ago. Currently I'm reading Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls which reminds me constantly of John Donne's great poem by the same name. "No man is an island, Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As ....

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  • Eating Chocolate Ants and Passing the Bar Exam

    Eating Chocolate Ants and Passing the Bar Exam

    "Eating Chocolate Ants and Passing the Bar Exam" Reading a book by Penn and Teller years ago, I learned the magic trick of eating chocolate ants. As a source of party entertainment, simply dip ants in chocolate and eat them. In 2002 Stephen Spielberg made a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks called "Catch Me if You Can." In the movie, Tom Hanks character, Agent Carl Hanratty never could figure out how Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Frank Abagnale managed to pass the Bar Exam since he was famous for counterfeiting and lying. In a pivotal scene, Frank discloses that he simply studied for two weeks to pass the bar exam. Sometimes, the right answer is glaringly in front of us. ....

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  • Tilting at Windmills

    Tilting at Windmills

    "Tilting at Windmills" In Cervantes' most famous work Don Quixote, we see the titular character attacking windmills. To borrow the term "tilting" from the era of knights, which had long since past, Don Quixote angles his lance for a full attack at the helpless structures. It's laughable because he's inventing giants out of buildings. To the reader, it's humorous; to the brave knight Don Quixote, it's business most severe. In life we make "mountains out of molehills" and "borrow trouble." In an interesting sermon I heard recently, the speaker said that what we focus on expands. How true that is! Whether positive or negative, our intense focus does expand no matter how irrelevant to it ....

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  • Tied Shoes, Ready to Work

    Tied Shoes, Ready to Work

    "Tied Shoes, Ready to Work" Reading "A Game Plan for Life" by coach John Wooden really helped me see the importance of dressing for success. I'm not talking about wearing elaborate clothing, but Coach Wooden really took time to describe to his basketball players how they should carefully put on their socks and to tie their shoes to perfection. He really made large lessons to college-aged kids about the subject. He theorized, and rightly so, that a crumpled sock or loose tie would be a major distraction to winning at basketball. It has to do with the mindset that goes along with the confidence of knowing that you're on solid footing. So to with Martial Arts, I've placed a brand new ....

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  • Schadenfreude


    "Schadenfreude" The Germans have a great word for what seems to be so prevalent today: Schadenfreude. The current climate for our culture and national discourse is to cancel anything or anyone who is deemed objectionable to anyone at any time. There are those who revel in the personal destruction of others and feel a great sense of joy at their comeuppance. I've hear it said that we are never more like God than when we forgive. Wouldn't it be better to have a culture that seeks to redeem those that have fallen? When teaching our children how they should behave, it's definitely worth mentioning that there's something wrong with enjoying others' suffering and to reinforce the concepts of ....

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  • Unload your Mental Baggage

    Unload your Mental Baggage

    "Unload your Mental Baggage" A friend called me yesterday and I asked him what he was up to. He said he was trying to get motivated to workout. So I asked him: "What is there to think about? It starts by putting on your shoes and going to the gym." What I try to teach all of my students is that when you think about what you have to do and you have to do it, you've worked twice as hard. Carrying around the idea of work is work itself. When you know something needs to be done, just do it! Then you'll only have to do it once. Many of us carry around unfinished work and it bears down on us for days, weeks, months, and even years! Do what needs to be done; there's nothing to think about! ....

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  • Self-Discipline isn't Fun

    Self-Discipline isn't Fun

    "Self-Discipline isn't Fun" Isn't it great when we enjoy something? It's fun to do and the time passes quickly. Much of life just isn't that way though. Former students contact me from time-to-time to ask my advice. This particular student is losing interest in training in Martial Arts. I'm the green voice in the pictured text. I urged him to ask himself the "why" he does it. And it can happen when the thing we once loved, we've grown less passionate about. However, there are times, more often than not, when we need to set aside our feelings and do what is required. What if we didn't feel like taking out the trash, finishing our homework, or waking up in the morning? Children must ....

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  • Try Not to be Offended

    Try Not to be Offended

    "Try Not to be Offended" I recently heard something that was so profound, yet I couldn't find an attribution to anyone. It goes something like this:"I was taught to give no offense, but I was to work twice as hard at not becoming offended." In the culture of our business (Childcare/ Martial Arts), we try very hard to make people feel welcome and comfortable. Courtesy is our chief tenet and we want students, parents, and teachers alike to feel they are greatly valued! It's important to teach our children to respect others feelings, but at the same time strengthen themselves up for disappointment. How great it is when we overlook an offense? It should be credited to us as ....

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  • Herd Immunity

    Herd Immunity

    "Herd Immunity" These days we're hearing a great deal about herd immunity. The need for people to collectively become immune to Covid-19 is almost as hot a topic as the virus itself. The infection will cease to find hosts when a group of people has built up its system to repel it successfully. Apparently this phenomenon can be achieved with and without vaccination. Being quarantined is tough on everyone, and kids are no exception. At some point, things need to return to normal. I'm not advocating an end to quarantining here, I'm simply suggesting that the idea of herd immunity goes far beyond this singular virus. Reading The Alzheimer's Prevention Program by Gary Small has helped me ....

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  • Accepting Adversity

    Accepting Adversity

    "Accepting Adversity" It would be hard to find someone who didn't agree that adversity makes us stronger. The way that resistance builds up the muscles and difficult studies build up the mind, so too should these adversity laden times build us up as a people. Covid has reared its ugly head and people are begging for relief, myself included! A desperate economy, uncertainty in public, and loss of confidence in leaders are just to name a few of the woes affecting everyone worldwide. But the proper perspective must be that these trying times can and will make us all stronger. Job, the man whose suffering is legendarily the worst, said: "Shall we accept good from God, and not ....

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  • Spare a Jackson?

    Spare a Jackson?

    "Spare a Jackson?" Last night rioters tried to pull down a statue of the 7th president of the United States, Andrew Jackson. I wonder if they knew that he had single-handedly defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Or, that he'd paid Black soldiers equal pay to Whites (quite ahead of his time). Or, that Andrew Jackson adopted a Native American boy whose mother was killed on the battlefield when no other Native American would take the boy, Lycoya. What is the criteria for desecrating and removing historical monuments? If the answer is racism, please spare Andrew Jackson. There's a reason why he's celebrated throughout this country and has his name honored in so many ....

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  • Explain your decisions

    Explain your decisions

    "Explain your decisions" In our 7th and final blog in our 7 part series, we'll be exploring why you should explain yourself. One of the great answers to a child's question is "because I said so." This works well in establishing authority with younger children. But as they age, so does their sense of boundaries and understanding. For this reason add a small explanation to strengthen your argument and treat them like the emerging adult that they are. Dr. Laurence Steinberg says that a brief explanation of a parent's stance on subject will help build trust. However, an explanation proffered shouldn't be an open door to endless arguments. One must stick to one's principles. Follow our ....

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  • Don't try to be your teenager's friend

    Don't try to be your teenager's friend

    "Don't try to be your teenager's friend" We will be exploring the disastrous miscalculation of trying to become a buddy to your child during the teen years in part 6 of our 7 part parenting series. When one tries to be a friend instead of a parent, one lowers themselves down to the child's level rather than asking the child to elevate to theirs. Parental newsflash: your children don't think your cool! And the more you try to be, the worse you'll fail. Dr. Laurence Steinberg says that children should view their parents as something other than a friend; an authority figure, not a peer. It's almost a universal statement: "don't try to be your child's friend." However, countless parents ....

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  • Continue setting limits on their behavior

    Continue setting limits on their behavior

    "Continue setting limits on their behavior" Part 5 of our series deals with limiting behavior. Dr. Laurence Steinberg recommends parameters for children's behavior. As they age and flex their independent muscles, young people need to understand there are limits to acceptable behavior. Staying up later, more latitude in daily choices, and freedom of expression should all increase with age. However, a laissez-faire approach to raising your children can be disastrous. A child that has a parent who sets boundaries and expectations, intrinsically knows they're loved. The extremes of parenting are neglect and micro-managing. With love and attention, let your child know what they cannot say ....

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  • Be ready to adapt your parenting skills

    Be ready to adapt your parenting skills

    "Be ready to adapt your parenting skills" Part 4 of our 7 part series explores the idea of parental adaptability. Dr. Laurence Steingberg strongly recommends that parents be ready to change their parenting styles as their children age. This seems to go without saying, yet we're often surprised when what once worked, now fails. Disciplining a 2 year old is clearly different than that of an 8 year old. However, we often don't see the disparity between punishment and guidance between an 8 year old and 16 year old. As their bodies and brains develop, their spirit of independence and pushing the boundaries will undergo rapid growth if not fluctuation. Instead of throwing one's hands up, Dr. ....

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  • Stay involved

    Stay involved

    "Stay involved" In continuation of our parenting topic, "staying involved" is the third and next great advice from Dr. Laurence Steinberg. This seems to go without saying, except that someone desperately needs to say it. Many times family members may live in the same household, but rarely see each other. They are simply passing each other in times and places and various meal appointments, if any exist. Even now in our locked-down society, many are further quarantining in their own rooms without regard to virus spreading. A caring and thoughtful parent will try to engage with their child several times throughout the day expressing interest, guidance, and supervision. Though helicopter ....

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  • Can't be too loving

    Can't be too loving

    You can't be too loving Continuing in our 7 part series, Parents, you can't be too loving! The idea of love can be expressed in different ways to our children, and an overabundance can seem to be contrary to the concept of tough love; it isn't. Hugging your children or telling them that you love them can never be a mistake with regard to wise-timing. On the contrary, withholding affection has devastating consequences. A child that knows he or she is loved has the opportunity to flourish, whereas the one who's insecure has a lifetime of psychological roadblocks. Though you may make mistakes in the moment you choose to say or display your love, be sure you err on the side of too much. ....

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  • What you do matters

    What you do matters

    What you do matters Today we'll begin a small 7 week theme of how to raise your child, especially entering into or in the trenches of their teenage years. These 7 rules for successful parenting come directly from psychologist and professor Luarence Steinberg. Rule #1: What you do matters We know that children are like sponges, soaking in their environment and that includes parental input. This can be verbal and nonverbal of course. We think they're just not listening, but research shows that they actually are. More importantly, they're paying attention to what we do as parents. Let's lead by example and have our words match our actions. As they grow older, they'll decide how ....

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  • Fighting Boredom

    Fighting Boredom

    Fighting Boredom In years past, my family would make at least one annual trip from Texas to Nebraska. With young kids in the car, it would take about 15 hours with multiple stops for eating, gas, and restroom breaks. I often thought about why my body was so tired after all that driving. It seemed that doing nothing but steering would build up an energy reserve. As it turns out, doing nothing (or near it), can be really draining. In order to keep kids from getting bored and driving everyone crazy, there should be a variety of activities and exercise, physical movement, and rigorous play should not be pushed to the background. If we want their minds and bodies to function at their peak, ....

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  • Distance means Caring

    Distance means Caring

    This is a lonely time for just about everyone. People are trying to stay connected as they best they can while being quarantined. The strong drive to be among others can be seen at your neighborhood park. There are joggers, bikers, walkers, kids, dogs, and even fishing lines are being cast about. Something's changed drastically though: people are still courteous and smiling, but they're giving quite a breadth of space when passing by. The first few times I observed this, I felt a bit insulted as though they'd assumed I was carrying the virus. Logically, people want to steer clear of even the chance of getting it, but then why go to the park in the first place? It's in our nature to be ....

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  • The greatest teacher

    The greatest teacher

    According to Robert Kiyosaki, the Dalai Lama said one of his greatest teachers is Mao Tse Tung. Though driven out of Tibet, he marks the experience as the one he learned the most from. What terrific perspective! When one faces adversity and struggle, it should cause them to grow. Too many of our young people are coddled and over protected. Let's help them learn about bad experiences and horrible people so that they can grow stronger and wiser. To shield them from the world is to diminish their capacity to flourish within it. Follow our Cypress-Jersey Village-Jones Rd. blog: ....

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  • Self-sufficiency is the greatest lesson

    I feel very fortunate to be able to travel around the country meeting some of the very best teachers on the planet. Some are in education while others are in Martial Arts. Regardless, a great teacher is one who can impart knowledge to others and inspire them to be more. One of the greatest lessons that I ever learned about teaching came from Stephen Covey's book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In it, he describes getting his son to take ownership of the yard work. Instead of micro-managing him, he focused on the relationship and built the expectation of a clean and attractive yard together. How do we get children to do things for themselves? It's not by making them do ....

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  • Better Together

    that the idea of public speaking makes the speaker fear rejection and ostracization. How confident can someone be without learning how to feel comfortable around other people? Though I usually think that too much emphasis is given to socialization, we do our children a great disservice if the only interactions they have are online. Recently my son was considering a very prestigious engineering college. All of those who attend this university are quite brainy and analytical. The person promoting the college spoke about the college's internal attempts to address the students' overall lack of socialization. They said that in the real world, even the smartest engineers must navigate the ....

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  • False Confidence

    In a very enjoyable book, "Live by night," the author Dennis Lehane's character Thomas says a line to his son Joe that's so well-said that I just had to pass it along: "You're not sure of anything except your own certainty. Confidence you haven't earned always has the brightest glow." How true! I run into students whose biggest stumbling block is their confidence in themselves. I would rather have a student who lacked confidence than one who falsely trusts in themselves. You can help the former gain confidence, but it's quite a trick to convince the young and foolish in the error of their poor thinking. Follow our Cypress-Jones Rd-Jersey Village blog: ....

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  • What does your face say?

    I heard this story a number of years ago, but think of it often. During Thomas Jefferson's presidency, he and some fellow travelers came upon a dangerous river. A bystander watched what the men were doing and selected the President, Thomas Jefferson, to ask if he could cross with them. President Jefferson agreed and had the man climb on his horse. Once they reached the other side safely, one of the men in the party asked the man why he had asked the president instead of someone else. He had no idea that he had asked the President: Thomas Jefferson. His answer was simple: on many of your faces was written the word "no." On his face was written "yes." Let's be sure that we write onto ....

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  • The last step is enforcement

    Wanting to children to have a productive break from school, I tell my students that I want them to do two things this summer: read and do chores. Reading improves their brain (and attention span), and chores helps them learn skills while helping out their families. Along the same lines, I offer parents an E-contract. The "E" stands for electronics. It's a simple sheet of paper with 7 squares for 7 days and room on the bottom for 2 signatures. The parents dictate how many minutes or hours the children spend playing with tablets, video games, tv's, phones, etc, each day. It's a contract between the parents and their children and I recommend they place it prominently on the ....

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  • Alexa, shut up!

    The other night I asked my home device Alexa to wake me up in the morning. It also gave me the option of waking up to music which I thought was a pretty neat trick, so I allowed it. The next morning I awoke to Bon Jovi blasting out of the machine. Due to the loud volume level, my vocal attempts to silence Alexa went unheeded. I had to shout "Alexa," turn off! Later, it reminded me of how kids (and adults too), can't receive much in the way of input if constantly giving output. The real trick is to listen twice as much as we talk, so the information can flow in the proper direction. We want Alexa to shut up so it can work, there's a lesson for all of us too surely. Follow our ....

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  • What great customers we have!

    Not a bad likeness, I think. This was a drawing given to me by one of my young Tae Kwon-Do students. It was his parting gift to me and his thanks for my instruction as he moves to another part of Texas. We will all miss you Kavin! I'm always amazed by my students and their abilities. It's a great joy to work with young and old people alike, and to see the many talents and signs of good character come forth as I get to know them. I'm a truly blessed person to be surrounded by so many special and loving people. Though I may fail to say thank you, at least know that my heart is absolutely filled with gratitude for all of my wonderful customers. I learned recently that the greeting ....

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  • How firm a foundation!

    In church on Sunday I heard a wonderful hymn: How firm a foundation. In it, a line spoke to me: "What more can He say than to you He hath said?" Of course "He" refers to God, but it made me think about the way we humans think and act. We are always looking for something new, when largely what we need has already been given to us. This is even more present in children who lack the mental and emotional maturity to distinguish things of value for things that are new. Let us help children see that they don't need a new thing, but rather to understand the value of what they've been given. This goes for the spoken word as well as the material item. Follow our Cypress-Jones Rd-Jersey ....

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  • Success is just around the corner from failure

    The other night I noticed how hard a student of mine was working on their Taekwondo pattern. He's made significant progress and the complex sequence of movements has not been easy for him to execute. Even though he didn't realize it, I wouldn't let him "stripe," or advance. It's not that he did such a poor job, it's that I expected more from him. With young children, getting a reward can sometimes be counterproductive to real achievement. For instance, an easy "A" in school will make them think they are so smart that they don't have to study or do homework. In my way of thinking, I would rather have the young person strive a little more for that stripe if only so that they don't rest ....

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  • Where are all the good teachers?

    I had a bittersweet run-in yesterday. I waived at a teacher I've known for about 15 years. Her boys took Taekwondo lessons from me and I would always see her at a local elementary. I told her that I thought she didn't work there anymore since it'd been about a year since I'd bumped into her. She said that actually she was retiring this year and looking to pour her energy into another career as she was still quite young. She confided that the reason for her exit was that elementary school aged children were allowed to openly disrespect teachers, even going so far as to say "f-you" without any real consequences. She said that she didn't need daily verbal abuse, especially from kids. ....

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