Brown Belt At Last!

This first quarter of the year is turning to have a number of milestones for us. My son turned eight. Two weeks after that day, we passed our grading to Brown Belt (3rd Kyu, Shotokan Karate). Before the month had ended, we received a letter that my son passed his swimming assessment and can join the next stage. We are very pleased about our achievements! We should be. We worked hard to reached our goals. But working hard is not enough to accomplish tasks on time. A plan or strategy is required.

If there is a will, there is a way.

Four years ago, I had set my mind for Matthew to learn Martial Arts (the goal). I had been aware of the classes available around the area where we live, but they will only accept six year-old kids. (He is only three at that time.) To prepare my son, I borrowed Karate kids books from the library. I tried not to use movies for Karate is always shown with violence and with unbelievable stunts. I found Kid's Karate of TSKAGB ( They accept four year old and move the kids to the Teen's and Adult karate when they are six. I enrolled in Karate when my son joined the teen's class.

How to start moving from point A to B?

I find it much easier to reach my goals if I had set it as S-M-A-R-T goal. SMART goal means:
  • S for Specific (You must define exactly what you want to achieve. To know if this is what you want, you should feel happy when you imagine yourself having reaching your goal.),
  • M for Measurable, Meaningful, Motivational (You should be able to assess yourself on specific times to be able to determine how much effort you need to put on, to achieve your goal.  The thought of you are near in reaching your goal should motivate you.),
  • A for Achievable, Attainable and Action-oriented (Don't set yourself to disappointment. You need to set a goal that is achievable with a stretch to give you a challenge, therefore giving you lots of action and excitement),
  • R for Relevant, Result-oriented, Rewarding (A goal could have a lot of mini goals which are all relevant to the major goal.  Going for your goal would require many actions, but still results is the factor that will get you there. Lastly, it must be rewarding, and this will surely motivate you along the way.) and
  • T for Time-bound (Goals must always have a deadline to achieve. This will add excitement and challenge.
If you have your goal defined in SMART formula, I say you are a quarter of the way in reaching what you want. Our training curriculum, supply the other ticks to have a SMART goal, which makes halfway the road to success in reaching our goal. The other half is about a list of things you need to do to get there and make sure it happens.

And Action!

Having a “to do” list is not enough. This is always followed by the “actions”. When enrolled in a training or study program, the curriculum is the “to do” list. There is clause in our Karate curriculum: “We have to practice as often as possible as everyday.” From Karate class we learned about: “Little but often like just ten minutes everyday.” This method is so effective! Ten minutes everyday is just right to remind ourselves the best way to do the things we need to improve ourselves nearer to our target goals. I find this technique so good, that we use it a lot, like on my son’s practice his writing, maths, playing his guitar and many more.

“Win-Win”, then “little but often” can make practices result to perfection

“Little but often like just ten minutes everyday”, is a brilliant idea. However, this method alone, cannot improve the skills, especially when dealing with six year old kids. Lucky for me, my son wants karate so much and do not want to lose it. I told he will stop his Karate if he refuses to practice. So at the start, we have to practice more than ten minutes, because we always end our practice with three consecutive correct moves in its best form. This way, we train ourselves to remember the correct and good ones. This is our win-win. When we often practice with our best movements, our practice shortened to ten minutes. If we stop practising, we notice the slack in our movements and we realised we need to start all over again until we get it right.


To do some task, I often need some tools to set my mood. I call these things reinforcement. To be able to execute some good moves in Karate, I realized I need to do some exercises also, which is a good thing. I have to be honest, I do find myself wanting to watch the television than having press-ups and sit-ups. Whenever I feel like this, I would play my "Get up and go" musics, to perk me up for my exercise. This tactic never fails. To be active, my reinforcement is my son. Being active with him while spending quality time is a great gift to myself and to him, another win-win.

Above all, when feeling down, I have some visual aid that always draw out a smile from myself. It has a title "Don't ever give up!", which is very much appropriate. I have no doubt that this will get us to black belt.

Many things are possible if we put our minds to it. So would you like to be a black belt, rockstar, a magnificent chef or _______________ in the future?

I hope you had a nice time reading this blog. Until next time.