What is good leadership?

Being a leader can seem like a glorified and glamorous position, because most leaders are in the spotlight and forefront of the mission or project. Every one wants to be a leader, but what does it take to be a good leader? What is good leadership, and why is leadership so important? A leader is simply defined as someone who guides or commands a group, but there is much more to a leader than that. Here in the CTF, we are not only training people to fight but we are continuously shaping the next generation of excellent leaders. Let’s use the word Leaders as an acronym to gain an in depth view of what good leadership looks like.

For this acronym, the L in Leaders represents Love. It is impossible to be a good leader if you do not love and have a passion for the very mission or project you are pursuing. Love is the very fuel that drives persistence, consistency and it even prevents burn out. Leaders also love their team as a whole, as well as the team’s ability to perform. This also ignites a team to press through opposition and obstacles they may face. In your Taekwondo training, remember why you fell in love with martial arts and what goals you have set for yourself.

The first E in Leaders stands for Excellence. A leader must always work in the spirit of Excellence. That means no short cuts or cutting corners. It means everything they do and produce must be to the best of their ability, because they set the pace for their team. It means hitting deadlines, keeping promises and continuous communication. Operating in the spirit of excellence also means consistency even through hardship. In Taekwondo class, this could be as simple as not being lazy. Don’t just go through the motions, but push yourself a little harder then the day before.

A good leader knows that their team plays an important role in their success and regularly acknowledges that. This is why the A in Leaders is for Accolades. A good leader is not egotistical and does not mind giving his team a pat on the back or kudos when necessary. A good leader knows their team works harder when they know they are appreciated and strives to reward accomplishments. After class is over it is okay to tell your teammates they did an excellent job on their kicks. Compliments are usually appreciated.

D stands for Delegate. A good leader does not stretch their self thin by performing every task themselves. They know each team member’s strengths and which task to assign them. They know all to well that there is no “I” in team and that teamwork makes the dream work. In Taekwondo, this could mean asking for help when you need it. Don’t be afraid to tell someone if you are having a difficult time and be open to receiving help.

The second E in Leaders represents Example. A good leader does not live by the motto “Do as I say and not as I do.” A great leader leads by example, and is always willing to do what he asks of his team. If a leader wants his team to be on time, he is early. If a leader expects consistency from her team, she is consistent. If a leader wants mercy from his team when he makes mistakes, he himself shows mercy. The speed of the leader is the speed of the team. A leader can never expect her team to climb higher than she has. In your Taekwondo class, this could mean showing up on time, being prepared for class, having a great attitude, and following instructions to the best of your ability.

No leader is perfect, and does not pretend to be. A good leader has the integrity to admit when he or she is wrong and does not blame others for their downfalls or shortcomings. This is why the R in leaders is for Responsible. A good leader takes responsibility for the rights and wrongs of the team because a good leader knows that a team is merely a reflection of their leader. In Taekwondo this could mean not blaming others if you misbehaved, but being honest, admitting you are wrong, and correcting your mistake.

S maybe last, but is certainly one of the most important characteristics of a leader. S is for Servant. A leader serves his team, her community, and those in need. The greatest people among us are those that serve others. A good leader does not put himself upon a pedestal to be admired while others do all the work, a good leader works hard and sometimes harder than the team to get things done. In Taekwondo class, serving could mean taking the time to help someone who may be struggling with their forms, helping someone put their groceries in their vehicle, or asking your instructors or Counselors how you can assist them.

Homework: What leadership qualities do you already have? What qualities could you work on? This week work on being the best leader you can be. Set your goals for class and passionately work on them. Don’t be lazy, push your self to achieve great things. Let your team/classmates know they are doing a great job. Be sure to ask for help when you need it. Be a good example in class and everywhere else you are. Take responsibility for your actions, and last but not least go out there and help someone!

-Brittaney Moore

Muscles of the Body

How many muscles do you think are in the human body? 50? 200? Well believe it or not, there are 600 muscles in the human body! An interesting fact is muscles do everything from pumping blood throughout our bodies, to help you lift your heavy backpack. There are some muscles we control, while others, like your heart, function without your help. In Taekwondo we strengthen our muscles through physical training.

Muscles are made of an elastic type of tissue sort of like rubber bands. There are thousands of small fibers that make up each muscle. Smooth, cardiac, and skeletal are the three types of muscle in the human body. Smooth muscles, like your stomach and digestive system, tighten and relax to allow food to make its journey through the body. When you’re sick smooth muscles help you throw up and push the food through the esophagus and out of the mouth. Smooth muscles also help control the bladder, and keep your eyes focused.

Did you know that the organ that pumps blood into our body is called a heart? Can you believe our hearts are muscles? This muscle is a cardiac muscle called the myocardium. The thick muscles of the heart contract to pump blood out and then relax to let blood back in after it has circulated through the body. The cardiac muscle is similar to the smooth muscles because we do not control them.

Skeletal muscles are what we think of when we hear the word muscles. These are the muscles that show how strong we are and allow us to do hook kicks and side kicks properly. Skeletal muscles are voluntary muscles, which means we can control what they do. Your legs won’t bend into a horse stance unless you want them to. The muscles are apart of the musculoskeletal system, which is the combination of your muscles and bones. Together, the skeletal muscles work with your bones to give your body power and strength. In most cases, a skeletal muscle is attached to one end of a bone. It stretches all the way across a joint, the place where two bones meet, and then attaches again to another bone.

Skeletal muscles come in many different sizes and shapes to allow them to do many types of jobs. Some of your biggest and most powerful muscles are in your back, near your spine. These muscles help keep you upright and standing tall. They also give your body the power it needs to lift and push things. Muscles in your neck and the top part of your back aren’t as large, but they are capable of some pretty amazing things: Try rotating your head around, back and forth, and up and down to feel the power of the muscles in your neck. These muscles also hold your head high.

Muscles play an important part to the human body. Some muscles, like the cardiac muscle, we need to survive. In Taekwondo, we push our skeletal muscles to new limits to produce strength and health. Do you notice a difference between your muscles now and your muscles before Taekwondo? What activities in your Taekwondo class have contributed to your strength? Homework: This week during class take time to notice which muscles are getting stronger, also take time to notice what muscles you would like to strengthen. Until next time, never stop improving!

Article information from kids health.org

The Power of Realization

In our Taekwondo program, the CTF, it is important to produce physical strength in our students, but we don’t stop there. Our goal is to empower a sense of self worth and cultivate personal destiny. We do that by guiding our students through four stages of philosophical development: Imagination, Inspiration, Actualization and last but not least, Realization. Today let’s focus on realization because, without this, the other three stages are incomplete.

Before we can discuss Realization we must first define it. Realization in this context simply means reaching a goal. It is critical to set goals and achieve them because if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time. A wise man once said, “Work without a goal is drudgery. A goal without work is a dream. But working with a goal now that’s called success!” What goals in Taekwondo have you set and how are you working towards them? Or are you drudging through classes? Maybe you dream to be a seventh degree black belt, but your work ethic does not support that. Whatever the case may be Realization is something every student should experience consistently.

The great thing about Realization is that it comes with no limitations! The ultimate purpose of the Choong-Sil philosophy is constant and never-ending improvement. In our classes, upon reaching your achievements, new rewards are given as you set new goals. There is always new excitement and higher heights to climb. Don’t allow your hard work to be limited to class time only. Students and even parents must take time out of class to ensure consistent growth as the student climbs the achievement ladder.

Homework: It seems that many frown at the sight of homework but this will be very simple. This week, if you have not already taken time to set goals that you would like to reach or “realize” in the next 6 weeks, please do so. After you set your goals take the time to figure out what type of work it will take to make it happen. How much time out side of class will you commit to “realize” your goals? After you complete your homework share these goals with your Counselors and Instructors this week when time permits so we can support you as you “realize” your goals in the next 6 weeks. Whether the belt you wear is black or not, together let’s work hard for Black Belt excellence!

Being Thankful

A blog on being thankful before November…heresy!!!!  We haven’t even reached Halloween yet and you dare mention being thankful? Sacrilege!  Of course, everyone thinks of November as the month to give thanks, but that is no reason for us to give thanks every day of the year.  We all have so much to be thankful for whether it is our health, our family, or our jobs.  We shouldn’t limit ourselves by remembering to give thanks just one month out of the year.  I’d like to share why I am personally thankful for Tae Kwon Do and at the end of my own reflection I’d like to issue a challenge to our Atlanta Choong Sil family.

For those that don’t know this is Mr. Dayne writing the weekly blog, and I want to share with you why I’m thankful for Tae Kwon Do.  I was a small kid growing up. I started Tae Kwon Do when I was eight years old in Charleston, South Carolina.  Being an undersized kid can sometimes make you a target for bullies, but thankfully I was never seen as an easy target.  I was never easy to provoke; I had plenty of times in middle school when someone would try to provoke me into a fight or altercation and it was easy to walk away.  When I was training in South Carolina, the other boy who was my age and rank (O.J. Knight) was about 5 foot 9 inches when we were 12, and over 6 feet tall by the time 8th grade rolled around.  He was consistently my training partner and a bit of a rival, so when I was in school and had guys not even half his size trying to provoke me to anger, it would make me laugh because I knew that after training with O.J., fighting with any of those kids would have been a walk in the park.  It gave me the confidence to keep from getting into dumb fights or allowing me to succumb to peer pressure.  In 8th grade I had a guy shove me to the ground unexpectedly and of course the stereotypically circle formed around us as everyone expected to see a fight; the only thing I could do was laugh because I knew that if I fought this guy, he wouldn’t stand a fraction of a chance.  That confidence helped mold me into the person I am today because I know that if I was able to make it through the ridiculous, insane, and sometimes hellish training that I put myself through to reach 3rd degree black belt, there is nothing that I can’t make it through.

That’s just one of the many reasons I am thankful that I’ve been in TKD since I was 8.  I could go on for days about the things I love about this art, but I promised to issue a challenge.  If you are familiar with the Bert Show on Q100, you will be familiar with the Big Thank You.  The Big Thank You is a letter writing campaign that is held every year; the goal is simple, to have a handwritten Thanksgiving letter available for every soldier currently in the United States armed forces.  The letters cannot be political or contain any negative messages; it is simply a way of showing thanks and support for the men and women who risk their lives to protect our rights and freedoms.  This week we will begin having the Afterschool students write letters that we can donate to the Big Thank You.  I would like to challenge all of our students to write a letter as well.  Don’t worry about where you need to take it to donate it; just bring it to the TKD school and we will get all the letters donated to the Big Thank You.  We will be accepting letters until Friday October 24, 2014; the due date to have all letters donated is November 1, so we want to make sure ours are in well before the deadline.

Tae Kwon Do has its roots in the Korean Military; so a letter writing campaign to thank the men and women who are fighting for our freedom is the sort of cause that we can support.  This Thanksgiving, I would like to challenge you all to do the same.

Integrity

It doesn’t seem to matter much these days; things like success or even acceptance seems to get in the way of integrity more often than not.  We see two choices ahead of us, and at some point we have all chosen the easier, less virtuous route.  But there must come a time when enough is enough.  We can’t let the outside world compromise our integrity because once that is gone, we have lost the truest part of our souls.  A black belt is supposed to walk a different road than everyone else; when the world tells you “it’s ok, it’s just a little white lie,” a black belt must be willing to say “no, it’s not ok.”  Integrity gives us a sense of accountability; without this, one may fall into the abyss of selfishness, dishonor, and deceit.

Having Integrity is not easy; in a society where the ends justify the means a lot more than they should, it is difficult to be the lone voice of reason in an otherwise chaotic world.  Being honest with your friends is hard, being honest with the people you love is hard, being honest with yourself is hard.  It’s so easy to fall into the trap of believing our own hype, believing that we are somehow better or different from the version of ourselves that we let the world see, but sometimes having integrity is looking in the mirror and realizing that the person staring back is a complete stranger.

According to Dictionary.com integrity is: “Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.”  But where do we get those moral and ethical principles?  Our parents and teachers do their best to instill those principles on us, and yet we all know how easy it is to let those principles go by the wayside when we are trying to impress our friends.  Tae Kwon Do tries to instill those same principles in all of us, but it goes beyond just giving you the knowledge of what it means to have integrity.  Tae Kwon Do fights to give you the courage to “Stand up for what you believe in, even if it means standing alone.”

Walking the path of integrity is often a lonely one; you may face times when everyone around you is pushing you towards something you know in your heart is wrong.  Those are the moments that let us know who we truly are; in these moments of difficulty, you will discover if you are a leader who can rise above the opinions of those around you, or a follower who will simply melt into the crowd.  Black belts are leaders; black belts will go against the tide of opinion and give society an example of what it means to stand for something meaningful.  And in your darkest hour, when it seems that your tiny voice will be drowned out by a sea of negativity, black belts will stand by you  and give you the support that you will need to rise above the tide.

Staying Healthy

We have reached the end of September; National Childhood Obesity Awareness month is nearing its close.  But just because September is ending, doesn’t mean that we should forget all about living healthy and eating properly.  Many people who advocate healthy lifestyles are big supporters if vitamins and supplements; now that the months are turning cold and winter is nearly upon us, you will find many people loading up on Vitamin C, Echinacea, and several different supplements they take to stay healthy.  For Tae Kwon Do training, vitamins and minerals can help your body recover quickly and stay fit for long periods.  But what are the best vitamins/minerals to take if you want to maximize your body’s efficiency?  Here is a list of some things you can add to your diet, as well as their positive effects on the body.

 

  1. Protein—If you are trying to build muscle, protein is the way to go. If bulking up is your goal, there are plenty of protein supplements, shakes, meal replacement, etc. to help you get there, but even if you aren’t trying to turn into The Rock, extra protein in your diet will help you build lean muscle as well.  More protein will also help your muscles recover more quickly after exercising.
  2. Dietary fiber—Good intestinal health is important for everyone, but it can be especially important when you being active. Trying to do some of the kicks in Tae Kwon Do while you are having digestive issues is not a fun experience.  Fiber is especially important if you have increased your protein intake; a common side effect of a high protein diet is constipation.
  3. Calcium/Vitamin D—Strong bones make for a strong body. This is very important in a high contact activity like Tae Kwon Do.  Calcium is used by our bodies to fortify our bones and it also helps in blood clotting; vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium more effectively.  Fun fact: our skin absorbs UV radiation from sunlight to produce vitamin D, so increasing your vitamin D consumption is as easy as getting some fresh air.
  4. Vitamin B—There is a long list of vitamins in the B vitamin family (B12, B6, Folic Acid to name a few). The B vitamins are important in helping our body make energy from the food we eat; they are also essential in the production of red blood cells.  If you are ever feeling low on energy, put down the Red Bull and grab yourself some B vitamins.
  5. Omega-3 fatty acids—Even though “fatty” is in the name, omega-3’s are actually very good for the prevention of heart disease. They have been shown to help lower cholesterol and they can help with blood pressure.

The nice thing about the supplements listed above is that all of them can be obtained through your diet.  But if you have specific restrictions on your diet for religious or personal beliefs, all of these substances are available as pills, shakes, oils, or whatever method you prefer to consume them.  Be sure to consume the recommended levels of any supplements you want to add to your diet.  Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, so be sure not to give your body more than it can handle at one time.

Motivation

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” -Zig Ziglar

We are well into National Childhood Obesity awareness month, and our last two entries have dealt with exercising and healthy eating.  One thing that we can all agree on is that it is not easy to make a major life change, even if it is a positive change.  When an adult decides to make a change in their life it can be difficult; it is easier to build positive habits as a child but there is a trickier challenge when it comes to children: why?  Adults can answer the question of why they need to exercise or eat properly for themselves, but sometimes even if a child knows the proper answer to the questions of why, they will need extra motivation to remind them of why what they are doing is important.  Here are a few tips to help keep your child motivated in their activities…we will use Tae Kwon Do class as an example.

Attending Classes

This seems like a no brainer but this goes for parents as well as kids.  It may seem like a small inconvenience to sit and wait for your child to finish a 45 minute or hour long class, but imagine how much it means to them when they look back and see mommy or daddy watching them learn something new.  Even children who don’t like to perform in front of people can find a certain spark that comes with performing in front of their parents.

Positive Reinforcement

This goes beyond just telling them that they did a good job.  Ask them if they learned anything new or exciting in class that day; if you show an active interest in what they are learning in Tae Kwon Do, it will let them know that what they are learning matters.  The more excited you are about their training, the more excited they will be.

Finding Sources of Inspiration

Whether it is videos on the internet, or letting them watch a higher rank at a tournament/test, seeing someone who is proficient at martial arts can be highly motivating.  Mr. Dayne was originally inspired to do martial arts thanks to the Power Rangers; watching black belts at a tournament or watching a black belt test can help show your child what they have to look forward to if they keep up their training.

Joining In Yourself

The family that kicks together, sticks together.  There are several families in our Tae Kwon Do school and all over the Choong Sil national organization that train together.  The power that comes from knowing that your family is going through the same training and work that you are doing, can be an extremely powerful motivator.  And even if Tae Kwon Do isn’t you activity of choice, make an effort to be active and let your child see that getting up and doing something productive is a priority in your family.  Don’t let your child be the only one taking steps to be active.  Exercise, martial arts training, and working out can be difficult activities; nothing can make that time easier than knowing that the people you love are by your side and know what you are going through.  We can all achieve our greatest goals if we have the right people, right environment, and the right motivation in front of us.

Healthy Eating

This exercise stuff isn’t quite as bad as I thought—See, when you find something that you enjoy doing it doesn’t even seem like work.  Did you check out that Tae Kwon Do School?

Yeah they are pretty good—Did you meet Mr. Dayne?

The bald guy? Yeah he was ok.  He let me punch his abs and I had to go ice my hand.—Yep, that sounds like something he’d do.  But how do you feel otherwise?

I don’t really feel all that different—Well, exercise is wonderful but it is only one step in the right direction if you want to truly start living a healthy lifestyle.

What do you mean?—What have you been eating?

The same stuff I usually do—That could be your problem.  Exercise is an excellent way to start getting fit, but if you are taking in more calories than you are burning, then you will find it difficult to lose weight if that’s your goal.

You never said anything about changing what I eat.  So do I have to get on one of those diets I hear about all the time—Once again, be wary of anything that promises quick and easy results.  Changing your diet is not easy; our bodies need a certain amount of nutrients in them to function properly, and thanks to marketing, taste, and convenience, we tend to crave the things that we need the least in the most quantities.  The key thing to remember is that once you start eliminating things from your diet, you may start to crave them psychologically; whether it’s eliminating carbs or cutting down on your portion sizes, you may find it difficult to retrain your mind to fit your new eating habits.

But what does that have to do with exercise?—Healthy eating gives you the energy and helps keep your mind clear so you can focus more when you are working out (like in Tae Kwon Do class for instance.) Eating healthy food helps keep you alert, and it keeps your body in balance which is very important especially if you are doing martial arts.

So which diet is the best?—Honestly…it depends on you and your body.  If you are used to eating bread with every meal, a low carb diet will probably be hard to stick to.  If you are used to eating large portions at every meal, cutting those portions in half will be a struggle.  You have to do some research and find a plan that suits your tastes, it’s hard to keep to an eating plan that restricts you from eating everything you have spent your life enjoying.

So how do I find the right diet?—The internet is a good place to start, but consulting with a doctor or a dietician is also a good plan.  And don’t think of it as a diet.  People start and stop diets all the time; what you’re doing is changing your eating habits for the long term.  That’s why it’s important to not just find a diet that restricts everything that you enjoy eating; if you grew up in an Italian family—eating pasta, bread, and pizza—and then you suddenly decided to cut out all carbs permanently, you would probably be pretty miserable and very willing to quit that plan.

What can I do in the meantime until I find the right diet…I mean eating plan?—It’s always a good idea to cut down on fast foods.  An increase in your fruits and vegetables is a good idea as well; if you like snacking during the day, instead of potato chips and snack cakes, try grabbing some fruit or veggies instead.  Cut down on sodas and juices; water has no calories and it quenches your thirst just as well as diet Coke.  Americans in general eat portion sizes that are much larger than what our bodies need.  Try to pay attention to the “serving size” label on the food you are eating, and instead of eating until you are full, try to cut your portion sizes down to what the “serving size” is supposed to be.

That sounds hard—It is, if you try to drastically change your diet overnight.  That works for some people, but if you know there are certain foods that will be hard to give up, make those adjustments slowly over time.  Our bodies have gotten used what we put in them over the years; it will take time to give yourself new eating habits.

When it comes to diet and exercise, it seems like I am fighting against years of what my body has become used to—Your body and your mind.  That’s why it’s so important to start developing good exercise and good eating habits at a young age.  Once you have been doing the same thing for years and years, it is very difficult to change your habits because everyone likes being comfortable.  But if you stay consistent, you will find that you will get slimmer, feel better, and have more energy for whatever exercise you are doing.  (*cough, cough Tae Kwon Do)

 

Exercise

September is the start of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, so now is as good a time as ever to discuss the most well-known method of preventing obesity: exercise.  Now there countless exercise programs available: P90x, Crossfit, martial arts (*cough cough), so there are plenty of ways for us to get out there and get active.  Building good exercise habits is especially important when we are young. I’m sure many people who have struggled to complete New Year’s resolutions can agree that trying to get into the habit of exercising can be difficult if you aren’t already used to it.  Luckily, there are plenty of ways for adults to start exercising and working to keep themselves fit, and if we pass these lessons along to our children, it will help give them a foundation for a healthy lifestyle.

 

  1. But every time I start a new diet or program, it works for a little while and then it stops—If you find an exercise program that promises fast results with little effort, it’s probably a scam.  If you want to see long term results, you will have to put in a long term amount of work.  The reason so many people give up on their New Year’s Resolutions is because once they start exercising, they will see immediate results…which is normal.  But once their results start to plateau or slow to a trickle, many people get discouraged and quit.  Nothing worth having comes easy.
  2. That sounds like a lot of work—It doesn’t have to be; you don’t have to spend hours at the gym every day, but come up with a plan to exercise a few times a week.  Don’t get discouraged if it seems like you are plateauing.
  3. But I have a lot to do and I don’t want to be sore all the time—The human body is an amazing machine.  Yes, you might be sore in the beginning but if you are consistent with your exercise plan, your body will adjust to the new rigors you are placing on it.  Think of it this way: in Tae Kwon Do there is only one way to do a front kick.  The only difference between a black belt and a white belt is that the black has done a lot more front kicks than the white belt, and with that consistent practice comes ease.
  4. Ok but I don’t really like working out, it’s not really my thing—No problem at all.  Do you like to dance?  Bam, that’s exercise.  Do you enjoy stretching or things like yoga or Pilates? Exercise.  Many things that people enjoying doing occasionally can give you a pretty good workout if you commit to doing it more than just once in a while.  Sports, dancing, martial arts (*cough cough), as long as it gets you up and moving around, consider it exercise.  But you won’t see results if you just do it for fun every now and then; find something that you enjoy and make an effort to do it at least a few times per week.
  5. Is that it?—Not quite. There’s all sorts of ways you can supplement you’re exercise plan.  Instead of driving your car to the store, why not walk? (unless the store is really far away.)  Instead of using the elevator all of the time, use the stairs.  If you have a pet, take it outside and spend some quality time playing in the yard.
  6. This sounds like a lot of work—Don’t look at it as work.  There are athletes who spend 6-8 hours a day doing nothing but training and exercising for their entire lives without going crazy.  They are doing what they love, they don’t see it as work at all.  Find something you are passionate about that gets you up and moving around. (Tae Kwon Do for example)
  7. They are doing it for a paycheck—True, but how often do you hear of athletes who have made millions in their career but they never seem ready to call it quits? Michael Jordan, Brett Favre, and Roger Clemens are just a few examples of guys who weren’t ready to retire from the game they loved.
  8. So I have to be like Michael Jordan?—Everyone wants to be like Mike, but you don’t have to be a world class athlete.  Find something you are passionate about and commit to making it part of your routine.
  9. You keep using that word “Commit”—Well if you want to start exercising and living healthy, it’s not something you can come into 50% or you will quit.  You have to understand that living healthy does not come with going to exercise once a month.  That’s why it’s so important to find something that you enjoy doing.  And even if it isn’t your favorite thing in the world, if you have the right people around you, it can still be fun.
  10. So something like dancing?—Find yourself a good partner.
  11. Sports?—Who doesn’t like being on a team with their buddies and just having a grand old time.
  12. Martial Arts—Who mentioned that one?  If you think it’s the right thing for you, just be sure you find a place that can work you hard, but still show you some love at the same time.
  13. Know where I can find a place like that?—There has to be at least one school in the area like that.  If the place is really worth it, it will probably have at least two locations to choose from…it will probably be run by a family that all does Tae Kwon Do together.
  14. Sounds cool!—Yeah it’s a pretty cool place.  When you go ask for Mr. Day…I mean just go in and ask some questions and try it out.  I hear they have a pretty sweet one month deal going on.

Study Habits

School has been back in session for just about one month now, so it is safe to say the honeymoon phase is over.  September is upon us and now that everyone has had a chance to recover from their summer vacation, now is as good a time as ever to start practicing good study habits.  Obviously being able to study is very important for kids in school, but there are also times when adults need to have good study habits as well.  Adults have lots of responsibilities in their day to day routines, so if an opportunity arises for them to take a test for a promotion at work or enter a program to get a degree or a special certification, they need to be able to study just as effectively as any child in school.  With that being said here are just a few tips to help anyone who finds them self struggling to study.

 

  1. Figure out what works best for you:  Depending on your personal preferences, you may be a visual learning, an audio learner, or a practical learner.  The first step to being able to study effectively is simply figuring out what works best for you; there is no point in spending all your time reading and looking at charts if you are not a visual learner.  It will take some creativity to find what works for you, but taking the extra time to figure out your most effective studying techniques will save you a lot of time and frustration in the long term.
  2. Don’t cram: We are all guilty of cramming at some time; it may work for some people but cramming is not a good technique in general.  If you understand the material you are studying, a cramming session the day before a test could help keep the information fresh in your mind.  But if you don’t have a grasp of the information at hand, all cramming will do is give you a lot of memorized facts without the necessary comprehension needed to do well on a test. (Not to mention the lack of sleep that comes with cramming can have many negative side effects as well.)
  3. Set aside specific time to study: Studying is much more effective if you do it gradually over a longer period than if you try to cram as much information into your mind in one sitting.  If you are a student, it’s a great idea to set aside some time after you finish your class/homework/project, to go over any new material while it is still fresh.  This will give you a much better chance at retaining and understanding whatever material you are learning.
  4. Give yourself breaks: It is just as important to rest as it is to study.  If you do find yourself studying a lot of information at once, be sure to give yourself planned breaks in between studying.  Give your mind a chance to rest and reset.  Just because you are not actively looking studying something doesn’t mean your mind has shut off.  Your brain will keep committing information to your long term memory during your break time; giving your conscious mind a break can do wonders for helping you retain large amounts of information.
  5. Come up with a studying plan and follow it:  This might be the hardest one to adhere to.  Our schedules can get very hectic from day to day.  Kids may have afterschool activities along with their school work, and any adult that has a test looming probably also has a job and other responsibilities in addition to any academic work they have.  If you don’t come up with a studying plan or give yourself goals to accomplish by a certain date, you may find yourself trying to cram as much information into your brain at the last minute.
  6. Actually study: For many people, studying in elementary school was an easy task.  Many people can get through middle school and high school without dedicating a lot of time to studying as well.  The problem arises when you go to college and beyond; if you haven’t already established good study habits by the time you reach adulthood, it can be very difficult to pass a class or earn a degree by doing the bare minimum.  As you get older, people expect you to be able to handle larger and more complex amounts of information, and if you’ve never developed good study habits, you may find yourself losing out on a promotion or a great opportunity because you never learned how to properly push yourself past the point of just doing enough.

It’s never too late to learn good study habits.  Going back to school later in life is not uncommon; being offered a promotion that requires additional training is not uncommon in the workforce.  Whatever the reason may be, you never want to find yourself missing out on a great opportunity because you were unable to learn new information.  There is an old saying many of you probably know: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  What you may not know is that there is more to the saying: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks…unless that dog has learned how to properly manage his time and has a set schedule for eating, chasing cats, and studying for the upcoming defense of his dissertation.”  …or something like that.  Sorry, I spent last night trying to cram quotes for this posting, so I might have gotten a few of them mixed up.

I know what you are thinking, what does this have to do with Tae Kwon Do?  First of all, the study techniques listed above are a great way for you to learn your Tae Kwon Do definitions for belt testing.  The meaning of the belt colors, the meaning of the forms, our philosophy, it’s all part of the history of Tae Kwon Do, but good study habits don’t have to be limited to just the definitions.  Imagine for a second (see what I did there?) that Tae Kwon Do is like math class, but instead of doing practice problems, you are doing kicks and punches.  If you have to study and do practice problems to get good at Calculus, then it makes sense that you have to practice doing Tae Kwon Do to get better at it?  In math class, if you don’t understand how an equation works, you can ask the teacher for help; the same is true in Tae Kwon Do if you don’t understand how a kick or block works.  The only difference is that instead of practicing and studying with a pen and paper, in Tae Kwon Do, your hands and feet are the pen and paper.  And just like with math class, the more practice problems you do on your own, the more you will understand the subject, and you will eventually become proficient at it.  Anyone can learn how to punch and kick, but being a black belt means understanding how every technique fits into the grander scheme of Tae Kwon Do, and you will not be able to see the big picture if you don’t put in the time he fit all the pieces together.