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Mr. Due's View From the Mats

By Mr Due 05 Oct, 2017

I am doing a self-defense seminar for kids at an elementary school. I do this all the time, but a few years ago, things went totally off when; 

A kid asked me, as a very matter fact

If I call for help, won’t that bring another stranger? 

Boom! Moment of clarity… 

That question was.. For me,

A defining point and I realized

What we are teaching is WRONG

 

Kid logic is simple

There is no grey

There is only black and white…

It just is….

 

I looked at her…

And everything changed

 

In that moment I totally understood

Never worry about the Stranger…

Call the Saviors…

In that moment, everything changed

 

I stopped looking at the evil

I started looking at the good

Evil exists

But the vast majority is not only good

 

They are saviors

They will come to someone else’s aid

They look at every child as their own

They are people that will do the right thing

 

No matter what

No matter how

No matter what the consequences

No matter the outcome

 

We care for our own

Even if they aren’t ours

We will, as parents, do what is right

For any kid in dire need

 

It suddenly changed everything.

In one innocent question

Everything I taught washed away

Everything changed….

 

I no longer teach Stranger Danger…

I now teach, STANGER SAVIOR

 

When you yell...

When you call for help…

When you are afraid….

Remember….

 

Another MOM is near

Another DAD is near

The POLICEMAN is near

The FIREFIGHTER is near

 

The GRANDMA is there

The GRANDPA is there

The TEACHER is there

There is SOMEONE THERE

 

Every one of them will help you

Every one of them will assist you

Every one of them will call for assistance

Every of them will DIE for you

 

There is far more good in the world than bad

CALL ON THE GOOD

 

The good will come

Every time

All the time

The good will come

 

It will come without question

It will come to protect you

It will come and ask questions later

And if necessary, without mercy

 

Don’t be afraid of strangers

Call upon

 

THE SAVIORS

By Mr Due 13 Jul, 2016

Pokémon Go is sweeping the nation at speeds I never imagined. However, I have already seen and heard that people, while trying to “catch them all” have done some pretty stupid things. I am sure that all the Darwin Awards given this year will be to GO players that obsessed with looking at their screen instead of being aware of their safety. If you are going to GO; GO safely. Remember, video games are great, but being safe is IMPORTANT.

1)   Keep your head UP.   First and foremost, keep your head up. You cannot be aware of even the simplest dangers, like walking into something, if your head is always fixed on your phone. Moreover, keeping your head down on your phone makes you far more prone to being attacked because you can be surprised. No matter whether you are texting or playing GO, when you are walking around in public, keep your head up and your attention on your surroundings. It will keep you from being a victim not only of others, but your own stupidity.

2)   Don’t GO and Drive.  If texting and driving is bad, GOing and driving has to be the combination of driving drunk while texting. Never GO and drive. If you are a passenger, don’t suddenly exclaim that there is some Pokémon nearby (just that sudden exclaim can cause an accident) and don’t ask the driver to stop, slow down or otherwise drive recklessly or dangerously. I don’t care if the rarest Pokémon in the world shows up on I-75, don’t slow down and for heaven’s sake don’t stop.   It is a video game. It isn’t worth your life or the lives of others.

3)   SAFETY FIRST.  If you are on foot, NEVER try to get the Pokémon that is in a roadway of any kind. If you can’t get it from the sidewalk, leave it be. It that Pokémon is in midair just out of reach, don’t lean over a railing to try and get it. Gravity is real. This game is not. If that Pokémon is in any place that presents you any danger whatsoever, let it go. You will find it later.

4)   Respect Private Property. Going into someone’s back yard at 1:00 a.m. is asking to be shot, arrested, or bitten by a very protective dog. SERIOUSLY! People get real grumpy at their best, violent at their worst, when they have people creeping around their house at inappropriate times or inappropriate places. GO doesn’t give you a license to be creepy. Building sites, private homes, government properties and the like are not places to GO. GO is not a license to trespass. Be respectful of other people’s property.

5)   Be CAREFUL when you go to the Pokestops, Lures and Gyms.  There are many business and well-meaning people setting them up everywhere in an attempt to get people to visit their shop or business. That is fine. HOWEVER, criminals have already gotten on the bandwagon. There have been reports of criminals setting up Pokestops, Lures and Gyms and robbing people that show up at them. No virtual reality treasure is worth your life or your real property. Be aware and look before you leap. If something doesn’t look right or doesn’t feel right, it isn’t worth it. Keep your head up and be smart. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t.

6)   Put on your Head Gear. Seriously, if there is a Pokémon on my floor during class and you have to get on the mats to get it, put your headgear on. I won’t REALLY hurt you. I won’t even stop you. But I will make it an adventure worth remembering, I promise.

7)   BE POLITE and RESPECTFUL in public places.  Parents, I can already hear the complaints of the servers and any fellow patrons of a restaurant if you allow you kids to run around and find Pokémon in dining establishments. We far too often let kids ignore common manners and be part of the dining experience by letting them play on their devices at restaurants because it is easier than making them behave. But if you let them run around and play GO, don’t be surprised if you are asked to leave. Oh, and don’t be upset if they ask you to do so. That isn’t a “them” problem. As a parent, that is a “you” problem.

8)   Never play GO in a learning environment. School, Church, Lessons, Homework, etc. If it is learning time, take their device. GO will be highly addictive. It is meant to be. If you want your child, or even yourself, to learn something, you have to have the discipline to put the device away to really learn something. If they have the device in their hands and are thinking about what the device says, can they focus on the lesson of the here and now? Of course not!

9)   GO is a Pedophiles Christmas Gift.  Seriously! This game will create places where people of different ages will gather playing and enjoying the same activity; something very unique in this day and age. Many of the younger participants are not the type to be out and about to begin with because they enjoy gaming activities that are usually done at home. GO will get people out of the house, which is a good thing. But at the same time, many of the younger participants are insecure, have low self-esteem and introverted by nature. Gather them together and what do you get? I think the military term is a “target rich environment.”

Pedophiles, by their very nature, will do activities that kids enjoy to be around them. Strike up a conversation with them. Develop “friendships” with them. In others words, groom them to be their next victims. I cannot image how joyous pedophiles are right now. Now they have an excuse to be in the same area with younger teens and kids that is considered “socially acceptable.” Meanwhile, the kids and teens are so consumed in what they are doing, they are unaware of potential dangers. Pedophiles are sure to set “lures” and to create “gyms” where the kids will come flocking. Once the game is updated to allow people to trade their catches, watch out. Even the convicted sex offenders that are banned from being around children’s gathering places like schools, playgrounds, and churches are not prohibited from being around these hot spots.

Yes, I know the VAST majority of the players will be well intentioned. But you always have to watch out for those that don’t mean well. Imagine a Croc in the watering hole in those nature documentaries. Lurking. Waiting. That is what pedophiles are doing right now. They are waiting for that young bull or gazelle separate from the heard to take a sip of the water as they swim gently, subtly closer to their prey. They are ready to lurch from those dark waters and take them below. The minute that you bull or gazelle is close enough, they will strike. Don’t be that young bull or gazelle. Be the lion.

Video games are awesome. I play them all the time. In fact, most martial arts instructors are total geeks and gamers. But even when you do something like gaming, you have to be careful and make sure you protect yourself in the REAL world and show disciplined enough to make a game enhance you entertainment experience and not take over your live. More than any game in history, this game has the potential of making people forget that delicate balance because it is so mobile, just like we are. So keep it in check. Never let it rule your, or your child’s, life.

By Mr Due 11 Jul, 2016
I am Mr. Perdue’s 1st student. That’s a pretty cool thing to be able to say. I wanted to write a reflective piece about my 20 years with Mr. Due!

When we first met, I was 7 years old and the school was not even built yet. There was no carpet on the floors (this is before puzzle mats were even available) and the railing was half installed. As I remember it, my mom and I were looking in the window of the school and Mr. Perdue came out to say hello from the cleaners next door. He told us who he was and that the school was opening soon. I told him “I already watch power rangers I know what I’m doing!” He laughed and took our information. He even let me kick a target. I came back for class a few weeks later. Once I finally got started I loved it!

I am currently a 5th degree black belt, married, and own my own small business. However when I started, I was a 7 year old shy kid that dealt with bullying just like a lot of kids do now. Right around the time I got started with TKD I got dubbed by a few kids in school “Power Ranger Kid” Not because I did martial arts, but because I had this really really cool Power Ranger shirt I used to wear to school. It hurt my feelings at the time when they called me that, but martial arts gave me the confidence to let it just glance off of me and not really bother me too much. Partially because Mr. Perdue playfully called us names like Goober (which I learned was a southern term for Peanut. I sounded even more southern back then, if you can imagine that), knuckle head and the like. So very soon, being called the “power ranger kid” didn’t bother me at all.

Over the years, I would meet some of my best friends in class and make some great lifelong connections through different taekwondo events. I have been to 14 summer camps, 6 black belt conferences and probably close to 50 tournaments. I learned that it didn’t matter if you win or lose. I didn’t get my first medal until I was a 2nd Degree. But at those events, I have met some of the most fun and talented people who push me to get better every time we get together. I learned that you really compete against yourself more than anyone else.

One of the things in the past 20 years I always have to give Mr. Perdue props for is he still spars TODAY…he still works out hard TODAY…and he is still scary TODAY. I have seen Mr. Perdue with a broken nose keep sparring at testing, break his foot just before testing and test anyway, break his wrist and kept breaking wood at a charity event, broke his chin and keep riding, I don’t know too many people who can say they pushed through life like that. I think in 20 years I have learned more from that than anything. Sometimes life won’t go your way, but you just need to keep pushing hard and it will all work out for the best. Not too many people know I’ve had 3 “no- changes” but after each time I learned and got much better because of it.

As I am writing this and trying to think of how to condense 20 years of memories into a short blog and not make this require chapters to finish, but I will leave you with one of my coolest memories of the past 20 years. Nation testing January 2010, I was a 3rd degree senior testing for 4th degree and Mr. Perdue was a 5th degree testing for 6th degree. For those of you who don’t know, going from a 5th degree to 6th is your last testing ever. 6th degree is considered Master. The only 2 people testing from our school were the two of us, which is odd because Westerville usually tests anywhere from 5- 10. Before we went out I said, “Perdue we are going out with 8 bars between us, and we’re coming back with 10!” Of course during sparring I got a cut in my eyelid and had to keep going…just like I planned right? But sure enough for his last testing he passed and became 6th degree and I passed and became 4th degree. I still feel like from being the shy, first student I was, to testing next to my instructor and both of us passing was such a memorable experience I’ll never forget.

I am excited for the next 20 years and me becoming a 6th degree Master soon myself in only 2.5 short years! If you are not taking class somewhere, give it a shot because I had fun at age 7 and I still enjoy this just as much at age 27. See you at the next event!
By Mr Due 09 Dec, 2015
Once upon a time, when the school was younger, there was this Dad. He meant well. He really did. But there came a time when the instructors had to just step in and tell this Dad to shut up and let them do the teaching, not him!

web white Belts 2 copyThe boy was a good kid. He usually behaved in class but not always because he was, after all, a typical seven year old boy that just loved life as a seven year old boy should. At times, he would misbehave on the end of the rail as he and his buddy would push and shove a little to see who got to go first. Sometimes he would play with the target instead of holding right. He would do the head bob push-ups just so he could be the first one done; or he would just keep talking and laughing with one of the other kids when he was supposed to be listening. But most of the time he would try real hard and he was making good progress. But on those days when he was being… well, a seven year old boy, it drove his father nuts because the father KNEW he could do better.

It was on one of those days when the seven year old boy was being exceptionally seven years old, the father said something just the wrong way and the instructors had had enough. Mr. Dominach (who now has his own school in Independence, KY) was running the floor and he grabbed the dad and put him in the office. I could tell he was ticked. I also could tell the Dad was in for it that day. As soon as the Dad sat down, Mr. Dominach LET HIM HAVE IT!

“Mr. Perdue, you have to knock it off! You are expecting too much of Jeremy and you are killing his love for Taekwondo. I am in charge of his training, NOT YOU. Just like you told me when Jeremy started! From now on, when Jeremy is taking class; YOU ARE IN THE OFFICE!” I went to say something stupid like “Hey, this is MY school.” when I saw that Mrs. Morgan (my manager) was standing behind him with her arms crossed. It was a full Coupe d’état. I held up my hand and yielded. Not because I wasn’t in charge; but because I knew, as an instructor, they were right!

While I always meant well, that is when I realized that I was the worst Martial Arts Dad EVER! For the next several years, whenever Jeremy was in class, I sat in the office. No matter how well I trained the other kids and even the instructors that were teaching my son, I had to understand that I was not the best instructor for my own son. Why? Because I was superimposing my desire for his success on him rather than letting him discover the desire for success for himself. I was depriving him of learning his own self-focus and self-discipline instead of that which I imposed on him.

As the years have passed, I understand now from experience that sometimes our parental criticism can do far more harm than good. As parents we have to remember that athletics is about the process as much as or more so than the results of any particular practice or game. The longer they participate, the more lessons they will learn. So the key is make it enjoyable so they don’t get discouraged. Does that mean everything should always be rainbows and sunshine where everyone wins all the time and the coach should never give direct evaluation on performance and effort? Far from it! They should have setbacks. They should see that their efforts in practice contribute to results on game day. The coach SHOULD hold the kids accountable for their effort and their performance. That is where the kids learn life skills through athletics.

However, in the vast majority of cases, coaching from the sidelines adds an additional negative layer to their efforts that is unneeded and, in most cases, unwarranted. What is the fun in that? No matter how qualified we may be in that sport, we as parents should back off and let the coach do it. That way when the setbacks do occur, as they should, we can there with the ice cream and the pat on the back to make that little setback seem insignificant and very temporary so they can focus on the next game, match, practice, etc. No matter what the sport or the athletic activity, what our kids need most from us isn’t our criticism, but our support.
By Mr Due 13 Apr, 2015
“Tori Perdue! Third attempt Sir!” The judge yelled. For me, the testing stopped and the world started to move in slow motion. I may be the chief instructor and I may have to run the testing, but first and foremost I am a parent. At this moment, I was just a dad with a little girl who was trying yet again to pass testing. At our school, as like many others, at higher ranks breaking is required to pass to the next level. This was her fourth attempt at this rank. All of her other setbacks had been for her breaking and we had become preoccupied with getting her over this hurdle.

Tori Break 09In the slow motion world which occurs when your adrenaline kicks in, I saw Tori bow. She looked at the wood and the second she picked up her leg, I knew she wasn’t going to break it. Little things told me that it wasn’t going to happen. Her eyes closed. Her knee didn’t chamber well enough and her spacing was all wrong. She wasn’t determined to break it. She was just hoping to. Unfortunately, hope is rarely sufficient.

Sure enough, the next sound I heard was a soft THUD of her kick hitting the board but the board not breaking. She looked at the board with a stunned expression. She composed herself, bowed out, and shook the hands of her holders as she collected the boards and made her way to the side to watch the others attempt to break their stations. She was so dignified. No tears. No drama. She sat down next to one of her friends that tried to console her. At that point I had to look away and deal with the rest of testing. I knew she was upset. But I didn’t realize how upset until much later.

After testing, we have a tradition of going out and celebrate/commiserate the results with the instructors and students, just like we do after tournaments. While outcomes of the day matter to everyone, what matters more is the comrade and spending time together reliving the night’s events. Tori was fine all evening and laughed and joked with the other kids that were there. I was surprised how she was taking it in stride.

Later, as I tucked he into bed and kissed her on the forehead she asked, “Papa, are you still proud of me?” If you had listened very carefully at that moment, you would have heard my heart rip in half. Now, at bed time, she showed that she was, indeed, hurting on the inside.

“Honey, of course I am! Your form was awesome and gets better every time I see it! The combinations you did sparring were incredible and I saw that wicked hit you just shook off. You rocked tonight.” I said.

“But I didn’t break my wood! AGAIN!” she said with clear frustration in her tone.

“I know, but you will.”

“I don’t know.” She said. Of course she would doubt herself in this moment. Who wouldn’t?

“I do. You are too awesome to let something like a little piece of wood stop you. I am proud of you not because I love you, I am proud of you because you are awesome. You’ll get it. It’s just a matter of time. It’s not ‘IF’ you are going to break your wood. It is a matter of ‘WHEN’ you will break it.”

There was silence for a while then she said. “Ok. Good night Papa.”

“Love you!” I said as I went to leave.

“Love you too Papa.”

Whether it is physically, socially or academically, there is nothing more frustrating for a parent than to watch your child struggle. As a father, I know this all too well. But if we, as parents, don’t let them struggle, how will they grow to take on the challenges they will face later in life? Much of life, after all, can only be learned by trial and error. It is one of the things I love most about martial arts training for kids. Parents CAN’T do it for them or even help them. (Parents that try, by the way, usually do more harm than good.) The kids have to do it on their own.

Because they must do it on their own, they grow stronger spiritually and emotionally. That is why lessons learned in martial arts is so transferable to everyday life, especially for kids. Their success is absolutely determined by their own efforts. Not their parents or other teammates; just their own actions. Does this mean they will struggle? Of course they will. I hope they will. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be special. But can they do it? Of course they can! And they will. Just like I told Tori, it isn’t a matter of IF, it is a matter of WHEN!

Parents, I know it is hard. But I can tell you both as a parent and an instructor, these little setbacks they have today will have huge benefits in the future! Just like I tell the students, I NEVER promised you it would be easy. I promised you it would be WORTH IT! And sometimes, as a parent I can honestly say, it is harder on us than them.

Two months later, I heard the familiar call again. “Tori Perdue, First Attempt SIR!” I looked up and again the world seemed to slow down. This time, there was a different look in her eyes. She wasn’t hoping the wood break; she had more determination in her eyes than I had ever seen before. In a matter of seconds, it was all over and all of her stations were broken on the first attempt. As she bounced with excitement to bow out, she was beaming. She looked at me and gave big thumbs up and a smile. After the testing was over, I told Tori “I am so proud of you!” She looked up with a big smile and said, “I know! You told me so!”

I had to smile. She listened? I never thought my kids listened to ANYTHING I had to say!
By Mr Due 20 Feb, 2015
Everyone has one, a breaking point. A point where you look at yourself and say, “I can’t go another step. I am done. I can’t do it.” We all feel it. We have all been there. So what happened? Did you quit? Or did you keep going?

I was talking to a young man the other day who is scared to death about sparring. In our school, we spar all the time. He is actually an instructor. I know what you are thinking, how can an instructor be afraid of sparring? To be honest, I don’t know. I love it. But he, well, he doesn’t. He came up to me complaining about yet another minor bump or bruise and asking to not spar that day. I knew he wasn’t hurt. I knew he was fine physically. But emotionally, I knew he was reaching his breaking point.

Because I am a martial arts instructor, I know many people may think I ridiculed him or went all “Cobra Ki” on him. But the truth is much different. I just looked at him and simply said. “I know you don’t like sparring. I can see you are afraid of getting hit. But what you don’t see is that you are really good at it and have too much talent to waste it.” He looked down for a moment and realized that he hadn’t been fooling me for quite some time. “Look.” I said, “Get out there. Being brave isn’t about not being afraid. Being brave is being scared out of your mind and you keep going. You can do it. Go!”

Every time I tell him to put on his gear, I can see his tribulation. I can see the conflict within. I can see him….put on his gear, get out there and do the best he can. Is he good? No, he is OUTSTANDING. He has more natural talent than I have ever had. But he is afraid to spar. And every time he puts his gear on, he gives me his best. And every time, I respect him more. Why? Because courage is having the strength to overcome what you are afraid of doing or don’t believe you can do. Without the fear, there is no courage and thus, no glory.

I have students that are afraid of being in front of people testing. I have students that are afraid to break their wood stations. I have students that are afraid of getting hit. I have students that are afraid of not meeting their parent’s expectations. I have students that are afraid of being laughed at. I have students afraid to wear the white pants because it “makes their butt look HUGE”. I have students that are afraid because they are old. I have students that are afraid because it is something new.

Yet every day, they are on the mats. And every day…..Every SINGLE DAY, they persevere. They overcome their fears. And every day, I respect them more. They inspire me. They make me face my fears, my weaknesses and my shortcomings. As any Instructor does, I find inspiration in my students because while I encourage them, they encourage me, and each other, to rise to levels none of us ever could accomplish alone.

Everyone has a breaking point, even me. When I hit it, as I have several times in my life, I have always found someone that will look at me and say, “You can do it!” That is when I found the courage to take that next step and accomplish what I was ready to give up on. That is when I found the inner strength to succeed. That is when I went where I never dreamed I could go. That is when I made what I thought impossible, possible.

When you see someone struggle, no matter when no matter where, remember, it is your time to encourage them. To give them some of your strength so they can find their own. With encouragement, anything is possible.
By Mr Due 08 Oct, 2014
When my son was very young, he tried to play with nearly every kid in the neighborhood that would play with him. He just loved being with other kids and being outdoors. For the most part, everyone Jeremy Punchin the neighborhood got along well. But there was one other boy who would, from time to time, just be a complete jerk. On one particular day, Jeremy came to the house visibly upset. I asked him why and he told me that the other boy was being very demeaning to him, calling him names and pushing him around a bit. “You know what to do, don’t you?” I asked. “Yeah,” Jeremy snarled. “PUNCH HIM IN THE NOSE!” I started laughing. “NO, NO, you don’t have to do that. Just don’t play with him. And if you are playing with him and he starts acting like a jerk, just look at him and say he is being a jerk and you are going home.” Jeremy looked at me with a puzzled look. “How will that help?” “Look,” I said, “NO ONE likes rejection. The best way to punish anyone is to deprive them of your time and attention. That is why time out works for parents. Never spend time with anyone that wastes it by being mean or abusive to you.”

I wasn’t sure our little talk worked at first. Then there was the day I found out he perfectly understood what I was talking about. The doorbell rank and the boy from down the street was at the door. Jeremy opened the door, looked at him in the eye and I heard him say “NO, I don’t want to play with you today because you were a complete jerk last time.” He didn’t even give the boy time to respond as he slammed the door in his face. Talk about a statement. Jeremy just bounded up the stairs like nothing was wrong and went to his room to play like nothing happened. “What was that about?” I asked. “Oh, he was a jerk yesterday when I was at his house. So I’m not going to play with him.” I couldn’t help but smile. Over the years, a certain level of respect was established between the boys. They were friends. But it was well known, treat Jeremy well or he was done. He wasn’t wasting his time with you.

Bully Prevention and Awareness month is in October and I would feel irresponsible if I didn’t address the issue here in my blog. I could point out all the facts and delve deep into all the facts and figures that everyone else is already talking about. I could rail against this or that and sound like all the other people writing about it. But I won’t because; bully defense is actually quite simple. It is about saying NO.

People are programmed to say YES. YES is how we cooperate in a civilized society. YES gets up accepted. YES makes other people happy. So saying YES becomes a habit. YES is the easy answer. If we say YES, people will like us and we will have more friends. It doesn’t matter if we really like someone, respect someone, or want to be with someone, we will say YES to make them happy even if it doesn’t make us happy because, after all, if we say YES they will like us.

That may sound ridiculous at first. But the more you think about it, think about how many times you said yes…But wanted to say NO! Now imagine being a kid. Someone is playing rough with you. Or they are not treating you well. You want to say NO, but you want to be liked. So you assume saying YES will make it all better and go away. But the more you say YES, the worst it gets.

I love the word NO. My kids, my wife, or my staff and they will tell you I LOVE the word NO. I will say it at least twice before I say YES. Why? Because you can always say YES after you say NO; but you can’t say NO after you say YES.

Now, imagine you are that same kid. Someone is disrespecting you or being more physical than you would like. You say NO, and walk away. Refuse to play. That refusal of acknowledgement and rejection is hard for someone to take. Even if that someone feels superior and like they have some reason to treat you poorly. It adjusts their thinking. NO is a powerful word. NO is a word of assertiveness. More than anything else, NO means you value your own opinion and have respect for yourself. NO means that if you do not make me happy, I will not make you happy. NO reestablishes order and puts things in balance. NO means, I will control what I am doing in my life and whom I will be doing it with.

If you want to make a kid bully proof, teach them it is perfectly fine to say NO! Show them how to say NO! Then show them how to back up that NO with action! Then back them up when they do!
By Mr Due 01 Oct, 2014
I was working with a little girl the other day that was as cute as a bug. She had the kind of smile that could make any adult just melt and spoil her. AND SHE KNEW IT! It was obvious she had used her charms many times on her parents and teachers. How could I tell? Because any time things got slightly difficult, she would immediately ask for help from one of the instructors before even attempting to try to do it on her own. Of course, they were just too happy to comply. Unfortunately for her, my daughter was the exact same way and over time I became immune to such attempts.

On this day, I was trying to show her a rather simple kicking combination that required more balance than her belt level was used to doing. Sure, I knew she would have trouble with it at first. But I also knew her, and the other students in class, could all do it with a little effort, focus and practice. Hey, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing. After demonstrating the technique a few times, I had them all practice the combination. Sure enough, when it was her turn, my little cutie pie attempted the combination twice and when she didn’t immediately succeed, she turned to me and said “I need help!”

Now, as an instructor, I have to admit, I get a real kick when this sort of thing happens. “Really, let me see it again so I can see what you are doing wrong.” She stuck out her little tongue, picked up her foot and tried again. This time a little better than the last. “I’m not sure, can you do it again.” This time she did it even better. “Oh, I see what you need.” She looked up at me. “You don’t need help, you need PRACTICE!” That is when she realized that her cute trick didn’t work. She rolled her eyes, sighed, stuck out her tongue and kept trying. While she didn’t completely get the kick down, she made great progress and I am sure she will get that combination in no time.

One of the things I have always guarded against, both as a parent and as an instructor, is swooping in and fixing things too soon when the kids are having problems with something. Real lasting development never comes easy; which is why it lasts forever and never has to be retaught. The next time your child struggles, whether it is something physical or their math homework, smile and say “You can do it. You just need PRACTICE!”
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Mr. Due's View From the Mats

By Mr Due 05 Oct, 2017

I am doing a self-defense seminar for kids at an elementary school. I do this all the time, but a few years ago, things went totally off when; 

A kid asked me, as a very matter fact

If I call for help, won’t that bring another stranger? 

Boom! Moment of clarity… 

That question was.. For me,

A defining point and I realized

What we are teaching is WRONG

 

Kid logic is simple

There is no grey

There is only black and white…

It just is….

 

I looked at her…

And everything changed

 

In that moment I totally understood

Never worry about the Stranger…

Call the Saviors…

In that moment, everything changed

 

I stopped looking at the evil

I started looking at the good

Evil exists

But the vast majority is not only good

 

They are saviors

They will come to someone else’s aid

They look at every child as their own

They are people that will do the right thing

 

No matter what

No matter how

No matter what the consequences

No matter the outcome

 

We care for our own

Even if they aren’t ours

We will, as parents, do what is right

For any kid in dire need

 

It suddenly changed everything.

In one innocent question

Everything I taught washed away

Everything changed….

 

I no longer teach Stranger Danger…

I now teach, STANGER SAVIOR

 

When you yell...

When you call for help…

When you are afraid….

Remember….

 

Another MOM is near

Another DAD is near

The POLICEMAN is near

The FIREFIGHTER is near

 

The GRANDMA is there

The GRANDPA is there

The TEACHER is there

There is SOMEONE THERE

 

Every one of them will help you

Every one of them will assist you

Every one of them will call for assistance

Every of them will DIE for you

 

There is far more good in the world than bad

CALL ON THE GOOD

 

The good will come

Every time

All the time

The good will come

 

It will come without question

It will come to protect you

It will come and ask questions later

And if necessary, without mercy

 

Don’t be afraid of strangers

Call upon

 

THE SAVIORS

By Mr Due 13 Jul, 2016

Pokémon Go is sweeping the nation at speeds I never imagined. However, I have already seen and heard that people, while trying to “catch them all” have done some pretty stupid things. I am sure that all the Darwin Awards given this year will be to GO players that obsessed with looking at their screen instead of being aware of their safety. If you are going to GO; GO safely. Remember, video games are great, but being safe is IMPORTANT.

1)   Keep your head UP.   First and foremost, keep your head up. You cannot be aware of even the simplest dangers, like walking into something, if your head is always fixed on your phone. Moreover, keeping your head down on your phone makes you far more prone to being attacked because you can be surprised. No matter whether you are texting or playing GO, when you are walking around in public, keep your head up and your attention on your surroundings. It will keep you from being a victim not only of others, but your own stupidity.

2)   Don’t GO and Drive.  If texting and driving is bad, GOing and driving has to be the combination of driving drunk while texting. Never GO and drive. If you are a passenger, don’t suddenly exclaim that there is some Pokémon nearby (just that sudden exclaim can cause an accident) and don’t ask the driver to stop, slow down or otherwise drive recklessly or dangerously. I don’t care if the rarest Pokémon in the world shows up on I-75, don’t slow down and for heaven’s sake don’t stop.   It is a video game. It isn’t worth your life or the lives of others.

3)   SAFETY FIRST.  If you are on foot, NEVER try to get the Pokémon that is in a roadway of any kind. If you can’t get it from the sidewalk, leave it be. It that Pokémon is in midair just out of reach, don’t lean over a railing to try and get it. Gravity is real. This game is not. If that Pokémon is in any place that presents you any danger whatsoever, let it go. You will find it later.

4)   Respect Private Property. Going into someone’s back yard at 1:00 a.m. is asking to be shot, arrested, or bitten by a very protective dog. SERIOUSLY! People get real grumpy at their best, violent at their worst, when they have people creeping around their house at inappropriate times or inappropriate places. GO doesn’t give you a license to be creepy. Building sites, private homes, government properties and the like are not places to GO. GO is not a license to trespass. Be respectful of other people’s property.

5)   Be CAREFUL when you go to the Pokestops, Lures and Gyms.  There are many business and well-meaning people setting them up everywhere in an attempt to get people to visit their shop or business. That is fine. HOWEVER, criminals have already gotten on the bandwagon. There have been reports of criminals setting up Pokestops, Lures and Gyms and robbing people that show up at them. No virtual reality treasure is worth your life or your real property. Be aware and look before you leap. If something doesn’t look right or doesn’t feel right, it isn’t worth it. Keep your head up and be smart. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t.

6)   Put on your Head Gear. Seriously, if there is a Pokémon on my floor during class and you have to get on the mats to get it, put your headgear on. I won’t REALLY hurt you. I won’t even stop you. But I will make it an adventure worth remembering, I promise.

7)   BE POLITE and RESPECTFUL in public places.  Parents, I can already hear the complaints of the servers and any fellow patrons of a restaurant if you allow you kids to run around and find Pokémon in dining establishments. We far too often let kids ignore common manners and be part of the dining experience by letting them play on their devices at restaurants because it is easier than making them behave. But if you let them run around and play GO, don’t be surprised if you are asked to leave. Oh, and don’t be upset if they ask you to do so. That isn’t a “them” problem. As a parent, that is a “you” problem.

8)   Never play GO in a learning environment. School, Church, Lessons, Homework, etc. If it is learning time, take their device. GO will be highly addictive. It is meant to be. If you want your child, or even yourself, to learn something, you have to have the discipline to put the device away to really learn something. If they have the device in their hands and are thinking about what the device says, can they focus on the lesson of the here and now? Of course not!

9)   GO is a Pedophiles Christmas Gift.  Seriously! This game will create places where people of different ages will gather playing and enjoying the same activity; something very unique in this day and age. Many of the younger participants are not the type to be out and about to begin with because they enjoy gaming activities that are usually done at home. GO will get people out of the house, which is a good thing. But at the same time, many of the younger participants are insecure, have low self-esteem and introverted by nature. Gather them together and what do you get? I think the military term is a “target rich environment.”

Pedophiles, by their very nature, will do activities that kids enjoy to be around them. Strike up a conversation with them. Develop “friendships” with them. In others words, groom them to be their next victims. I cannot image how joyous pedophiles are right now. Now they have an excuse to be in the same area with younger teens and kids that is considered “socially acceptable.” Meanwhile, the kids and teens are so consumed in what they are doing, they are unaware of potential dangers. Pedophiles are sure to set “lures” and to create “gyms” where the kids will come flocking. Once the game is updated to allow people to trade their catches, watch out. Even the convicted sex offenders that are banned from being around children’s gathering places like schools, playgrounds, and churches are not prohibited from being around these hot spots.

Yes, I know the VAST majority of the players will be well intentioned. But you always have to watch out for those that don’t mean well. Imagine a Croc in the watering hole in those nature documentaries. Lurking. Waiting. That is what pedophiles are doing right now. They are waiting for that young bull or gazelle separate from the heard to take a sip of the water as they swim gently, subtly closer to their prey. They are ready to lurch from those dark waters and take them below. The minute that you bull or gazelle is close enough, they will strike. Don’t be that young bull or gazelle. Be the lion.

Video games are awesome. I play them all the time. In fact, most martial arts instructors are total geeks and gamers. But even when you do something like gaming, you have to be careful and make sure you protect yourself in the REAL world and show disciplined enough to make a game enhance you entertainment experience and not take over your live. More than any game in history, this game has the potential of making people forget that delicate balance because it is so mobile, just like we are. So keep it in check. Never let it rule your, or your child’s, life.

By Mr Due 11 Jul, 2016
I am Mr. Perdue’s 1st student. That’s a pretty cool thing to be able to say. I wanted to write a reflective piece about my 20 years with Mr. Due!

When we first met, I was 7 years old and the school was not even built yet. There was no carpet on the floors (this is before puzzle mats were even available) and the railing was half installed. As I remember it, my mom and I were looking in the window of the school and Mr. Perdue came out to say hello from the cleaners next door. He told us who he was and that the school was opening soon. I told him “I already watch power rangers I know what I’m doing!” He laughed and took our information. He even let me kick a target. I came back for class a few weeks later. Once I finally got started I loved it!

I am currently a 5th degree black belt, married, and own my own small business. However when I started, I was a 7 year old shy kid that dealt with bullying just like a lot of kids do now. Right around the time I got started with TKD I got dubbed by a few kids in school “Power Ranger Kid” Not because I did martial arts, but because I had this really really cool Power Ranger shirt I used to wear to school. It hurt my feelings at the time when they called me that, but martial arts gave me the confidence to let it just glance off of me and not really bother me too much. Partially because Mr. Perdue playfully called us names like Goober (which I learned was a southern term for Peanut. I sounded even more southern back then, if you can imagine that), knuckle head and the like. So very soon, being called the “power ranger kid” didn’t bother me at all.

Over the years, I would meet some of my best friends in class and make some great lifelong connections through different taekwondo events. I have been to 14 summer camps, 6 black belt conferences and probably close to 50 tournaments. I learned that it didn’t matter if you win or lose. I didn’t get my first medal until I was a 2nd Degree. But at those events, I have met some of the most fun and talented people who push me to get better every time we get together. I learned that you really compete against yourself more than anyone else.

One of the things in the past 20 years I always have to give Mr. Perdue props for is he still spars TODAY…he still works out hard TODAY…and he is still scary TODAY. I have seen Mr. Perdue with a broken nose keep sparring at testing, break his foot just before testing and test anyway, break his wrist and kept breaking wood at a charity event, broke his chin and keep riding, I don’t know too many people who can say they pushed through life like that. I think in 20 years I have learned more from that than anything. Sometimes life won’t go your way, but you just need to keep pushing hard and it will all work out for the best. Not too many people know I’ve had 3 “no- changes” but after each time I learned and got much better because of it.

As I am writing this and trying to think of how to condense 20 years of memories into a short blog and not make this require chapters to finish, but I will leave you with one of my coolest memories of the past 20 years. Nation testing January 2010, I was a 3rd degree senior testing for 4th degree and Mr. Perdue was a 5th degree testing for 6th degree. For those of you who don’t know, going from a 5th degree to 6th is your last testing ever. 6th degree is considered Master. The only 2 people testing from our school were the two of us, which is odd because Westerville usually tests anywhere from 5- 10. Before we went out I said, “Perdue we are going out with 8 bars between us, and we’re coming back with 10!” Of course during sparring I got a cut in my eyelid and had to keep going…just like I planned right? But sure enough for his last testing he passed and became 6th degree and I passed and became 4th degree. I still feel like from being the shy, first student I was, to testing next to my instructor and both of us passing was such a memorable experience I’ll never forget.

I am excited for the next 20 years and me becoming a 6th degree Master soon myself in only 2.5 short years! If you are not taking class somewhere, give it a shot because I had fun at age 7 and I still enjoy this just as much at age 27. See you at the next event!
By Mr Due 09 Dec, 2015
Once upon a time, when the school was younger, there was this Dad. He meant well. He really did. But there came a time when the instructors had to just step in and tell this Dad to shut up and let them do the teaching, not him!

web white Belts 2 copyThe boy was a good kid. He usually behaved in class but not always because he was, after all, a typical seven year old boy that just loved life as a seven year old boy should. At times, he would misbehave on the end of the rail as he and his buddy would push and shove a little to see who got to go first. Sometimes he would play with the target instead of holding right. He would do the head bob push-ups just so he could be the first one done; or he would just keep talking and laughing with one of the other kids when he was supposed to be listening. But most of the time he would try real hard and he was making good progress. But on those days when he was being… well, a seven year old boy, it drove his father nuts because the father KNEW he could do better.

It was on one of those days when the seven year old boy was being exceptionally seven years old, the father said something just the wrong way and the instructors had had enough. Mr. Dominach (who now has his own school in Independence, KY) was running the floor and he grabbed the dad and put him in the office. I could tell he was ticked. I also could tell the Dad was in for it that day. As soon as the Dad sat down, Mr. Dominach LET HIM HAVE IT!

“Mr. Perdue, you have to knock it off! You are expecting too much of Jeremy and you are killing his love for Taekwondo. I am in charge of his training, NOT YOU. Just like you told me when Jeremy started! From now on, when Jeremy is taking class; YOU ARE IN THE OFFICE!” I went to say something stupid like “Hey, this is MY school.” when I saw that Mrs. Morgan (my manager) was standing behind him with her arms crossed. It was a full Coupe d’état. I held up my hand and yielded. Not because I wasn’t in charge; but because I knew, as an instructor, they were right!

While I always meant well, that is when I realized that I was the worst Martial Arts Dad EVER! For the next several years, whenever Jeremy was in class, I sat in the office. No matter how well I trained the other kids and even the instructors that were teaching my son, I had to understand that I was not the best instructor for my own son. Why? Because I was superimposing my desire for his success on him rather than letting him discover the desire for success for himself. I was depriving him of learning his own self-focus and self-discipline instead of that which I imposed on him.

As the years have passed, I understand now from experience that sometimes our parental criticism can do far more harm than good. As parents we have to remember that athletics is about the process as much as or more so than the results of any particular practice or game. The longer they participate, the more lessons they will learn. So the key is make it enjoyable so they don’t get discouraged. Does that mean everything should always be rainbows and sunshine where everyone wins all the time and the coach should never give direct evaluation on performance and effort? Far from it! They should have setbacks. They should see that their efforts in practice contribute to results on game day. The coach SHOULD hold the kids accountable for their effort and their performance. That is where the kids learn life skills through athletics.

However, in the vast majority of cases, coaching from the sidelines adds an additional negative layer to their efforts that is unneeded and, in most cases, unwarranted. What is the fun in that? No matter how qualified we may be in that sport, we as parents should back off and let the coach do it. That way when the setbacks do occur, as they should, we can there with the ice cream and the pat on the back to make that little setback seem insignificant and very temporary so they can focus on the next game, match, practice, etc. No matter what the sport or the athletic activity, what our kids need most from us isn’t our criticism, but our support.
By Mr Due 13 Apr, 2015
“Tori Perdue! Third attempt Sir!” The judge yelled. For me, the testing stopped and the world started to move in slow motion. I may be the chief instructor and I may have to run the testing, but first and foremost I am a parent. At this moment, I was just a dad with a little girl who was trying yet again to pass testing. At our school, as like many others, at higher ranks breaking is required to pass to the next level. This was her fourth attempt at this rank. All of her other setbacks had been for her breaking and we had become preoccupied with getting her over this hurdle.

Tori Break 09In the slow motion world which occurs when your adrenaline kicks in, I saw Tori bow. She looked at the wood and the second she picked up her leg, I knew she wasn’t going to break it. Little things told me that it wasn’t going to happen. Her eyes closed. Her knee didn’t chamber well enough and her spacing was all wrong. She wasn’t determined to break it. She was just hoping to. Unfortunately, hope is rarely sufficient.

Sure enough, the next sound I heard was a soft THUD of her kick hitting the board but the board not breaking. She looked at the board with a stunned expression. She composed herself, bowed out, and shook the hands of her holders as she collected the boards and made her way to the side to watch the others attempt to break their stations. She was so dignified. No tears. No drama. She sat down next to one of her friends that tried to console her. At that point I had to look away and deal with the rest of testing. I knew she was upset. But I didn’t realize how upset until much later.

After testing, we have a tradition of going out and celebrate/commiserate the results with the instructors and students, just like we do after tournaments. While outcomes of the day matter to everyone, what matters more is the comrade and spending time together reliving the night’s events. Tori was fine all evening and laughed and joked with the other kids that were there. I was surprised how she was taking it in stride.

Later, as I tucked he into bed and kissed her on the forehead she asked, “Papa, are you still proud of me?” If you had listened very carefully at that moment, you would have heard my heart rip in half. Now, at bed time, she showed that she was, indeed, hurting on the inside.

“Honey, of course I am! Your form was awesome and gets better every time I see it! The combinations you did sparring were incredible and I saw that wicked hit you just shook off. You rocked tonight.” I said.

“But I didn’t break my wood! AGAIN!” she said with clear frustration in her tone.

“I know, but you will.”

“I don’t know.” She said. Of course she would doubt herself in this moment. Who wouldn’t?

“I do. You are too awesome to let something like a little piece of wood stop you. I am proud of you not because I love you, I am proud of you because you are awesome. You’ll get it. It’s just a matter of time. It’s not ‘IF’ you are going to break your wood. It is a matter of ‘WHEN’ you will break it.”

There was silence for a while then she said. “Ok. Good night Papa.”

“Love you!” I said as I went to leave.

“Love you too Papa.”

Whether it is physically, socially or academically, there is nothing more frustrating for a parent than to watch your child struggle. As a father, I know this all too well. But if we, as parents, don’t let them struggle, how will they grow to take on the challenges they will face later in life? Much of life, after all, can only be learned by trial and error. It is one of the things I love most about martial arts training for kids. Parents CAN’T do it for them or even help them. (Parents that try, by the way, usually do more harm than good.) The kids have to do it on their own.

Because they must do it on their own, they grow stronger spiritually and emotionally. That is why lessons learned in martial arts is so transferable to everyday life, especially for kids. Their success is absolutely determined by their own efforts. Not their parents or other teammates; just their own actions. Does this mean they will struggle? Of course they will. I hope they will. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be special. But can they do it? Of course they can! And they will. Just like I told Tori, it isn’t a matter of IF, it is a matter of WHEN!

Parents, I know it is hard. But I can tell you both as a parent and an instructor, these little setbacks they have today will have huge benefits in the future! Just like I tell the students, I NEVER promised you it would be easy. I promised you it would be WORTH IT! And sometimes, as a parent I can honestly say, it is harder on us than them.

Two months later, I heard the familiar call again. “Tori Perdue, First Attempt SIR!” I looked up and again the world seemed to slow down. This time, there was a different look in her eyes. She wasn’t hoping the wood break; she had more determination in her eyes than I had ever seen before. In a matter of seconds, it was all over and all of her stations were broken on the first attempt. As she bounced with excitement to bow out, she was beaming. She looked at me and gave big thumbs up and a smile. After the testing was over, I told Tori “I am so proud of you!” She looked up with a big smile and said, “I know! You told me so!”

I had to smile. She listened? I never thought my kids listened to ANYTHING I had to say!
By Mr Due 20 Feb, 2015
Everyone has one, a breaking point. A point where you look at yourself and say, “I can’t go another step. I am done. I can’t do it.” We all feel it. We have all been there. So what happened? Did you quit? Or did you keep going?

I was talking to a young man the other day who is scared to death about sparring. In our school, we spar all the time. He is actually an instructor. I know what you are thinking, how can an instructor be afraid of sparring? To be honest, I don’t know. I love it. But he, well, he doesn’t. He came up to me complaining about yet another minor bump or bruise and asking to not spar that day. I knew he wasn’t hurt. I knew he was fine physically. But emotionally, I knew he was reaching his breaking point.

Because I am a martial arts instructor, I know many people may think I ridiculed him or went all “Cobra Ki” on him. But the truth is much different. I just looked at him and simply said. “I know you don’t like sparring. I can see you are afraid of getting hit. But what you don’t see is that you are really good at it and have too much talent to waste it.” He looked down for a moment and realized that he hadn’t been fooling me for quite some time. “Look.” I said, “Get out there. Being brave isn’t about not being afraid. Being brave is being scared out of your mind and you keep going. You can do it. Go!”

Every time I tell him to put on his gear, I can see his tribulation. I can see the conflict within. I can see him….put on his gear, get out there and do the best he can. Is he good? No, he is OUTSTANDING. He has more natural talent than I have ever had. But he is afraid to spar. And every time he puts his gear on, he gives me his best. And every time, I respect him more. Why? Because courage is having the strength to overcome what you are afraid of doing or don’t believe you can do. Without the fear, there is no courage and thus, no glory.

I have students that are afraid of being in front of people testing. I have students that are afraid to break their wood stations. I have students that are afraid of getting hit. I have students that are afraid of not meeting their parent’s expectations. I have students that are afraid of being laughed at. I have students afraid to wear the white pants because it “makes their butt look HUGE”. I have students that are afraid because they are old. I have students that are afraid because it is something new.

Yet every day, they are on the mats. And every day…..Every SINGLE DAY, they persevere. They overcome their fears. And every day, I respect them more. They inspire me. They make me face my fears, my weaknesses and my shortcomings. As any Instructor does, I find inspiration in my students because while I encourage them, they encourage me, and each other, to rise to levels none of us ever could accomplish alone.

Everyone has a breaking point, even me. When I hit it, as I have several times in my life, I have always found someone that will look at me and say, “You can do it!” That is when I found the courage to take that next step and accomplish what I was ready to give up on. That is when I found the inner strength to succeed. That is when I went where I never dreamed I could go. That is when I made what I thought impossible, possible.

When you see someone struggle, no matter when no matter where, remember, it is your time to encourage them. To give them some of your strength so they can find their own. With encouragement, anything is possible.
By Mr Due 08 Oct, 2014
When my son was very young, he tried to play with nearly every kid in the neighborhood that would play with him. He just loved being with other kids and being outdoors. For the most part, everyone Jeremy Punchin the neighborhood got along well. But there was one other boy who would, from time to time, just be a complete jerk. On one particular day, Jeremy came to the house visibly upset. I asked him why and he told me that the other boy was being very demeaning to him, calling him names and pushing him around a bit. “You know what to do, don’t you?” I asked. “Yeah,” Jeremy snarled. “PUNCH HIM IN THE NOSE!” I started laughing. “NO, NO, you don’t have to do that. Just don’t play with him. And if you are playing with him and he starts acting like a jerk, just look at him and say he is being a jerk and you are going home.” Jeremy looked at me with a puzzled look. “How will that help?” “Look,” I said, “NO ONE likes rejection. The best way to punish anyone is to deprive them of your time and attention. That is why time out works for parents. Never spend time with anyone that wastes it by being mean or abusive to you.”

I wasn’t sure our little talk worked at first. Then there was the day I found out he perfectly understood what I was talking about. The doorbell rank and the boy from down the street was at the door. Jeremy opened the door, looked at him in the eye and I heard him say “NO, I don’t want to play with you today because you were a complete jerk last time.” He didn’t even give the boy time to respond as he slammed the door in his face. Talk about a statement. Jeremy just bounded up the stairs like nothing was wrong and went to his room to play like nothing happened. “What was that about?” I asked. “Oh, he was a jerk yesterday when I was at his house. So I’m not going to play with him.” I couldn’t help but smile. Over the years, a certain level of respect was established between the boys. They were friends. But it was well known, treat Jeremy well or he was done. He wasn’t wasting his time with you.

Bully Prevention and Awareness month is in October and I would feel irresponsible if I didn’t address the issue here in my blog. I could point out all the facts and delve deep into all the facts and figures that everyone else is already talking about. I could rail against this or that and sound like all the other people writing about it. But I won’t because; bully defense is actually quite simple. It is about saying NO.

People are programmed to say YES. YES is how we cooperate in a civilized society. YES gets up accepted. YES makes other people happy. So saying YES becomes a habit. YES is the easy answer. If we say YES, people will like us and we will have more friends. It doesn’t matter if we really like someone, respect someone, or want to be with someone, we will say YES to make them happy even if it doesn’t make us happy because, after all, if we say YES they will like us.

That may sound ridiculous at first. But the more you think about it, think about how many times you said yes…But wanted to say NO! Now imagine being a kid. Someone is playing rough with you. Or they are not treating you well. You want to say NO, but you want to be liked. So you assume saying YES will make it all better and go away. But the more you say YES, the worst it gets.

I love the word NO. My kids, my wife, or my staff and they will tell you I LOVE the word NO. I will say it at least twice before I say YES. Why? Because you can always say YES after you say NO; but you can’t say NO after you say YES.

Now, imagine you are that same kid. Someone is disrespecting you or being more physical than you would like. You say NO, and walk away. Refuse to play. That refusal of acknowledgement and rejection is hard for someone to take. Even if that someone feels superior and like they have some reason to treat you poorly. It adjusts their thinking. NO is a powerful word. NO is a word of assertiveness. More than anything else, NO means you value your own opinion and have respect for yourself. NO means that if you do not make me happy, I will not make you happy. NO reestablishes order and puts things in balance. NO means, I will control what I am doing in my life and whom I will be doing it with.

If you want to make a kid bully proof, teach them it is perfectly fine to say NO! Show them how to say NO! Then show them how to back up that NO with action! Then back them up when they do!
By Mr Due 01 Oct, 2014
I was working with a little girl the other day that was as cute as a bug. She had the kind of smile that could make any adult just melt and spoil her. AND SHE KNEW IT! It was obvious she had used her charms many times on her parents and teachers. How could I tell? Because any time things got slightly difficult, she would immediately ask for help from one of the instructors before even attempting to try to do it on her own. Of course, they were just too happy to comply. Unfortunately for her, my daughter was the exact same way and over time I became immune to such attempts.

On this day, I was trying to show her a rather simple kicking combination that required more balance than her belt level was used to doing. Sure, I knew she would have trouble with it at first. But I also knew her, and the other students in class, could all do it with a little effort, focus and practice. Hey, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing. After demonstrating the technique a few times, I had them all practice the combination. Sure enough, when it was her turn, my little cutie pie attempted the combination twice and when she didn’t immediately succeed, she turned to me and said “I need help!”

Now, as an instructor, I have to admit, I get a real kick when this sort of thing happens. “Really, let me see it again so I can see what you are doing wrong.” She stuck out her little tongue, picked up her foot and tried again. This time a little better than the last. “I’m not sure, can you do it again.” This time she did it even better. “Oh, I see what you need.” She looked up at me. “You don’t need help, you need PRACTICE!” That is when she realized that her cute trick didn’t work. She rolled her eyes, sighed, stuck out her tongue and kept trying. While she didn’t completely get the kick down, she made great progress and I am sure she will get that combination in no time.

One of the things I have always guarded against, both as a parent and as an instructor, is swooping in and fixing things too soon when the kids are having problems with something. Real lasting development never comes easy; which is why it lasts forever and never has to be retaught. The next time your child struggles, whether it is something physical or their math homework, smile and say “You can do it. You just need PRACTICE!”
By Mr Due 17 Aug, 2014
Several years ago, I had a mother come into the school and told me her daughter couldn’t continue taking class because of the upcoming school year. I was puzzled. “I don’t understand.” I asked. “Why do you think you have to take your kid out of class due to school?” The mother was obviously overwhelmed as she nervously said, “Because she has started taking AP classes. There is NO WAY she can do that and do this TOO!” I laughed and then pointed to the instructors teaching on the mats. “ALL of my instructors are in AP classes and they are here a lot more than your daughter.” The mother looked at me with astonishment. “Oh, and several doctors and therapist in the area send me kids because they need help with academics. The lessons we teach here apply to school. Dummies don’t do martial arts!” Needless to say, her daughter continued and did exceptionally well in school and on the mats.

It seems at the beginning of every school year; I see this emotional response from parents. (In fairness to parents everywhere, this only happens with their first kid. Parents never react this way with the second one.) They hear words like Advanced Placement, Magnet School, Homework and Accelerated Program and assume their child now has to study far more than they did before. Sure, they will be asked to do a little more, but not nearly as much as parents think and certainly not more than they can handle. The reason most kids are placed in advanced courses is because they were bored in the standard courses and can handle the faster pace of class with ease. If it is going to be overly hard for them, they wouldn’t be placed in the class. For the most part, the AP course is just going to challenge them at an acceptable level for their grade and age, nothing more. They are not being suddenly thrown into a college level course on the subject matter.

But what bothered me most is this parent’s mistaken assumption that all other activities should cease and desist so her daughter would have time to study. While this emotional response is somewhat understandable, doing it would actually be counterproductive and will lead to a significant decrease in academic ability. The human body is not designed to sit all day in a classroom and then sit all evening doing homework. In order to perform, both physically and mentally at its best, our body needs to recalibrate itself. It does that with vigorous physical exercise.

Don’t believe me? According to the CDC, “Physical activity can have an impact on cognitive skills and attitudes and academic behavior, all of which are important components of improved academic performance. These include enhanced concentration and attention as well as improved classroom behavior.” “In some cases, more time in physical education leads to improved grades and standardized test scores.”

It doesn’t take much effort to find study after study supporting the link between athletic activity and academic performance. Some of my favorite studies have found;

Students committed to an athletic program do better with time management and are far more likely to achieve their athletic and academic goals.
That vigorous exercise alone could result in as much as a 0.4 increase in GPA’s.
Students with GPA’s of 3.5 or HIGHER are three times more likely to participate in vigorous athletic activity than students with a GPA under 3.0.
Middle School students that are physically fit scored nearly 30 percent higher than other students on standardized tests.
So the evidence is clear, if you want your kids to do well in school, they NEED vigorous physical activity. If you really think about it, these studies are no different than the ones corporations have done for years that indicate adults that exercise are more productive in the workplace than those who don’t. If anyone has ever been to a stress management seminar at work, what is the first thing they tell you? EXERCISE! Why would people think it is any different for kids?

Unfortunately, exercise programs that would increase academic performance are not occurring in most schools. Due to budget cuts, most schools have now either taken physical education completely out of the curriculum or have reduced the amount of time spent in PE to the point it is no longer effective. Even when offered, PE programs are so risk adverse that they rarely rise to the level of vigorous. That means it is on us, as parents, to get our kids involved in programs that can offer the physical activity necessary to increase their academic performance.

So far, I have been just talking about vigorous exercise in a generic fashion that would apply to nearly any sport a student would take seriously. But I want to now take the opportunity to brag a little about how we in the Martial-arts community have been so successful and why we get referrals from physicians, psychologists and occupational therapists around the nation.

We accept our role! – In the martial arts community, instructors generally accept our role to be a positive influence in our student’s lives on and off the mats. We understand that personal balance is the key to a success in life. We all need to sweat, love, laugh, cry and learn each day to be better people. So when little Johnny comes to class and we hear he hasn’t been doing his homework, you bet we will try and teach him why effort academically is so important and how we equate his learning off the mats to what he is learning on the mats. Nearly every day, you will hear instructors show the kids how their effort on the mats transfers to their academic and overall personal success.

We are an Individual Sport – Because we are not a team sport, everyone is doing something all the time. There is no bench and there is no waiting to be involved. Thus, we definitely provide the vigorous workout needed to get all the benefits talked about earlier. Moreover, some of the smartest kids I know didn’t do well with team sports because of the social aspect of team sports. Being on a team is great if you are good at the sport. But for many, the social pressure of possibly “letting down the team” because they just aren’t as good as the other kids on the team takes its toll. That sort of social pressure just doesn’t exist on the mats. What kids and teens find on our mats is support for their efforts and a positive place where they learn that their personal effort is more important than anything else.

Focus and Self-Discipline – Learning to focus our minds and control our bodies on the mats works the same parts of the brain that forces us to focus and pay attention in the classroom. Moreover, on the mats, we learn every day that we have to try and do the things we hate well in order to be successful at what we love to do. Nothing teaches that more than a push-up. It is rare you will find the student that loves to do push-ups. Yet, the self-discipline to do that push-up well is no different than doing homework. You show me a kid that learns how to focus and try hard on a push-up, I will show you a kid that can do the same in the classroom and with their homework.

Self Confidence – On the mats, we learn how to deal with frustration and how to continue trying to accomplish our goals no matter how many little setbacks we may have. Success after such setbacks gives us the confidence we can take on anything and succeed. Whether that is learning our new form or how to solve that math problem, we succeed because we know we can. We approach our intellectual goals the same way we do our physical ones. With a positive attitude, we will overcome. Our success isn’t in doubt. The only thing in doubt is the matter of time it will take us to be successful.

Safety – What is one of the first signs that a kid is being bullied at school? Their academics suffer. It is hard to focus on your lessons in the classroom when you are more worried about the bully between classes. Self-Confident kids who can handle themselves and can say no to anyone at any time rarely have to deal with this situation. Thus, they are able to focus on the lesson at hand and learn in the classroom free of fear.

I could go on and on about how our students in the martial arts community do well in school, but I think I have made my point. What kids learn physically they also learn intellectually; they are just the same lessons just taught a different way. So if you want you kid and teen to succeed in school, I will see you in class, on the mats, working hard!

(For the record, I got stuck writing this article. After struggling for an hour, I got on my bike and rode for an hour and a half. I came back and finished it in 15 minutes. Oxygen to the brain works every time!)
By Mr Due 16 Jul, 2014
A young man came in to try his first class the other day. He was recommended to us specifically by his doctor because I have a good reputation of working with kids that have learning issues. When I looked over his intro sheet, I saw that he was ADHD, ODD and had several other letters in his medical history. I asked his mother if there was anything else I needed to know about like diabetes, asthma or anything physical. “No, he just has a huge alphabet of learning disabilities.” She told me. I laughed. “Yeah, we call that the Alphabet Soup!” She smiled. “So, I take it you have seen this before?” She asked. “Are you kidding? I see it all the time.” I said as I put down the clip board and started walking to the mats. “If anyone knows what your son is going through it’s me. Back in my day they had only two letters. L and D. I got this!”

Later in class I was working with this young man on the first half of the White belt form. Every time I would try to add a move, he protesting that I was going too fast when, in fact, I wasn’t. I looked at him and said “I am not going too fast. You need to just try and do what I am doing. Around here, effort is everything. You don’t have to get it right. You just have to try!” “But I am ADHD.” He protested. “You have to show me stuff a little at a time.” At this moment I understood what was holding him back, more than anything, was HIS belief in HIS diagnosis. I looked at him and said “BULL! ADHD makes it hard to learn stuff in a boring classroom while sitting on your butt! Around here that means you are GIFTED!” He looked at me with a funny expression. “Look, when it comes to being physical and doing something on these mats, you are gifted! So shut up and do what I tell you!”

His eyes bugged out of his head when he realized some crazy old man wasn’t playing ‘the alphabet game’ and he started doing what I told him to do. Within 3 or 4 repetitions he was doing the first half of his form with ease and precision. An accomplishment most at his age could not do. Afterward, I gave him a high five and told him “Around here we have only two labels. Kids that try hard and kids that don’t. Try hard and you will be fine. Got that?” He smiled and said “Yes SIR!” For the rest of the day, his label was gone.

While I am flattered that this boy’s doctor recommended me by name, I really don’t do anything special for my “alphabet soup” kids other than understand their frustration that most of their day is spent doing the one thing they are least talented at, sitting in a classroom. However, I never let them use it as a crutch or and excuse on the mats because their condition has little relevance to either what we are doing or how we are teaching it. In fact, most kids with difficulties in school are the best kids on the mats.

Before you think that this is going to be an article about how we shouldn’t label kids, you couldn’t be more wrong. The alphabet soup the kids have today is important. I tell parents to have their kids evaluated all the time so they can get the help they need to be as successful as possible in the classroom. I have seen far too many parents resist having their kid “labeled;” thus making their child’s experiences at school a nightmare. The alphabet soup helps teachers know what teaching stimulus will work with each student so they get the most out of their formal education. So if you aren’t sure, have your child tested.

At the same time, however, that alphabet soup does not define who we are as people or what we can achieve; especially OUTSIDE of the classroom. That diagnosis only tells people who do not know us well how we are wired and what stimulus we handle best. I went through it myself when I was diagnosed with dyslexia back in the days when they couldn’t be more specific. People will, because it is human nature, try and tell kids with a diagnosis what they can and cannot do. THEY ARE WRONG! Anyone with a diagnosis can do whatever they desire so long as they are willing to put in the time and effort. Unfortunately too many people, particularly kids, fall into the trap of believing the diagnosis is who they can become. For all of you with a label, or for parents of a kid with a label, do not fall for that trap.

Moreover, what many without a diagnosis don’t understand is that outside of the classroom our wiring has given us gifts that don’t translate to academia. For instance, with my form of dyslexia I can see things in three dimensions from a drawing with ease. I can also look at something that requires assembly and can see how it goes together with little instruction. Give me a 3D puzzle and you will be amazed how fast I solve it. Most of my ADHD kids tend to be very good at judging space, timing and angles. That, and they live in the moment, makes them some of the best sparer’s on the floor.

I could go on, but the point I want to make is that our diagnosis may say we aren’t the ideal student IN the classroom. But last time I checked, life doesn’t happen in a classroom. Life happens OUTSIDE of it.

(P.S. – There are also diagnosis’s and letters in the alphabet soup that make kids perfect for academia who have severe issues outside of school. Yes, we work really well with them too! But that is a different article for a different day.)
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