I’ve never seen a student, in all of my years of training and teaching, who hasn’t succeeded when they have stuck with their training. Yeah, some of them have progressed slowly, but the important thing is, they have progressed. One of the things I love about the martial arts is that we’re not in a race or competing against anyone else. Its about doing your personal best.

Its an important lesson for everything in life, hang in there and keep trying. Don’t give up, even when it gets hard. I guess I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. There were times in my own training when I questioned why I was doing it because I was struggling with one move or technique. Or a kata. Heian Sandan was almost my undoing. The first four moves. Trying to perfect them seemed impossible. Today, I look at them and think “a piece of cake”. Funny what time and practice can do.

Yesterday, my youngest son proved once again what persistence can do. He reached a personal milestone – ten straight years of training. That’s a long time in a kid’s life. And he struggled through some of it like everyone else. Today he wears his black belt with pride. He looks and acts like a Shodan.

And his students look at him with admiration. They want to be like him. He wears the title Sensei with honor and respect.

Persistence. That’s the magic potion that got both of us to where we are today. Don’t give up – especially when it gets hard. The rewards are immense for you and for those walking the path behind you. After all, you’re their inspiration. Remember, you can do anything you set your mind to.



Before I come to the dan exam, not only do I have to practice hard and consistently but I also have to write two papers. One is on the history of karate, which I think I’m going to expand on and include the history of women in karate, as that’s of personal interest to me and hopefully inspiring to young girls who might consider taking up the life-changing sport.

I also have to write one on manner. At first glance the paper on manner might seem boring and easy but the more I think about what karate manner is and what it means to the athlete the more important this ‘little’ subject is.

We teach manner all the time. Is it just bowing when you enter on the mat or when you leave? Is it just used when you begin the class? Is it only used when you greet your instructor? Of course not. Manner permeates all parts of the student’s karate life.

Manner equates to not just how you conduct yourself within the dojo but the respect that you give to your instructor, yourself and your opponent. ¬†For example, of course you bow to your opponent before you begin a technique, you’re showing respect. But aren’t you also respecting them and their abilities when you bow, keeping your eyes on them? Aren’t you also showing respect to them when you don’t turn your back? Aren’t you respecting yourself when you train hard, sweating bullets, repeating the same small little technique over and over again until you get it right?

You’re respecting yourself, your instructor who is training you and the great masters before them that devised the katas, training drills to better teach the lowly students how to reach great heights with karate.

Manner is shown through so many things, acknowledging your Sempais, your Sensei and your Shihan. It is also shown through hard work. Practice. Repetitive drills until you master one tiny little technique. Manner begins with the bow and never ends…