Finding flow: the alignment of challenge and capacity

My taekwondo instructor, Master Hakan from the Australian Martial Arts Academy talked about flow in a Zoom class this week. He’d just taken us through a strenuous warm-up, exercise after exercise, pushing us hard. As we were catching our breath, he talked about that state which sits between the mental and the physical, where our engagement with our task is so complete that we forget time. It’s a state which others might know as being ‘in the zone’.

American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi articulates the concept in his classic book, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness, first published in 1990. He says, ‘The key element of an optimal experience is that it is an end in itself. Even if initially undertaken for other reasons, the activity that consumes us becomes intrinsically rewarding…. It provide[s] a sense of discovery, a creative feeling of transporting the person into a new reality’ (2002: 67).

Part of the deal, of course, is that it takes work and this was Master Hakan’s point. A state of flow emerges when we’ve put in the effort and are pushing our capacity to the limit. We see our kicks become more defined and accurate, can hold our balance for longer and our stamina surprises us.

The elements of flow, of indeed happiness, are ‘clarity of goals, feedback, feeling of control, concentration on the task at hand, intrinsic motivation, and challenge’ (89). Understanding this changed my life. When I read Flow in 2013, I saw that a few things had gone missing. But I knew where to find them.

I recognised that feeling when I worked with words: writing, editing, creating meaning in text. I became absorbed in my task. I drew on my strengths, extended myself, and found the work intrinsically satisfying. I changed my career, gained a second Masters degree, and set up my own business.

This is also my martial arts journey in a nutshell. We start as white belts and as we learn more and more difficult techniques, we are challenged to go longer, harder, higher. But that sense of optimal experience which Csikszentmihalyi describes can just as easily come from a perfectly executed white belt foundation kick. You can see and feel your mastery; the feedback is immediate.

This morning, I felt lighter and stronger, with energy to spare … With a hot shower, breakfast and work to get on with I didn’t keep going, but it was nice to feel I could have! As I sit here now, I am still alive with sensation. Yes, it’s partly endorphins but it’s more than the physical. Flow changes you: ‘[After] each episode of flow, a person becomes more of a unique individual, less predictable, possessed of rarer skills.’ (41). And this is the extraordinary compounding effect that allows us to improve, to keep on.

Finding the balance between challenge and capacity, finding your flow, is the biggest game-changer of all because, ultimately, it is the source of our happiness.

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Instructor Tip: The Martial Arts Uniform

In this video Mrs Sarah and Mr Hakan discuss Martial Arts Uniforms. Its significance, use and representation. They explain the different types of uniforms worn at the Academy as well what to do if you forget a part of uniform at home.
Hakan: Hi, I’m Hakan.

Sarah: And I’m Sarah.

Hakan: And we’re both head instructors and managers here at the Australian Martial Arts Academy. Today we’re excited to talk to you about the importance of uniform within the martial arts classes.

Sarah: So traditionally, people who did martial arts have always worn uniforms. And so what we want to see today is how do uniforms fit in the Australian Martial Arts Academy. So we’re going to take you through the different types of uniforms, why we wear uniforms and also what the procedure is if you forget your uniform or for some reason you’re not able to wear that during your class.

Hakan: So what does the uniform represent? A uniform is a piece of clothing that helps us prepare for our martial arts class both physically and mentally. It reminds us to leave everything at the door, once we put that uniform on and tie that belt around our waist, we’re ready to get in to the class, making sure we’re giving it 100% to reap the rewards of that martial arts lesson.

Sarah: I guess it teaches us or shows everyone we’re committed to what we’re doing, we’re ready to have some fun and it makes sure that we’re able to do any activities that we put through in that class safely. So if we’re needed to grab or jump or run, we don’t have to worry about it getting dirty or anything like that because it’s made for it.

Hakan: Absolutely, yeah. It is quite comfortable and it is not restrictive at all. It might feel a little different wearing it at the start, but once you’re in it, you feel that special powers coming along.

Sarah: Yeah, it’s always great seeing someone in their uniform for the first time. It’s almost like before they were just pretending or trying martial arts and they walk out in their uniform and you can see, ‘hey, I’m a martial artists’ or ‘I’m a ninja’

Hakan: Especially with the younger kids. You see their faces light up once they put their uniform on and they feel like they’re superhero, whatever if it’s a ninja turtles or whatever they’re into. They really feel like that special character Superman and so on. So here at the Australian Martial Arts Academy, we have a different variety of uniforms. We have the introductory one which is the traditional white taekwondo uniform, which is my personal favourite. And that’s the uniform that we encourage while grading and training in class.

Sarah: So that uniform is what anyone from a white belt can wear and higher. We also have three other types of uniforms. We have our Leadership Program uniform. We have that Black Belt Club uniform and we have the Masters Club uniform. And so for people in the blue uniform, that’s our Leadership uniform, this the opportunity for them to showcase that they’re the people who have great leadership skills, are open to helping other people and committed to learning how to help others and possibly even being instructors one day if they want to be.

Hakan: Yes, fantastic Ms. Sarah. And we also have our black uniform for the Black Belt Club classes and in this class we do the next level of training including weapons, acrobatics, patterns and some high level kicking as well. We have our Masters Club uniform which only our black belts are eligible to wear the Masters Club uniform which is the black with the red strip down the middle. And it’s a reward for them to be able to show their dedication that have shown in order to get to that point in their training.

Sarah: Fantastic. It’s always nice when someone is able to achieve that uniform and feel like ‘I’m definitely part of the team and part of a club now that’s special’. And that’s what we really love to see from our members when they can recognise ‘I’m not just starting out. I’m doing it, I’m actually getting really good at this now.’ So I guess Hakan we need to look what happens if for some reason we can’t bring the uniform or why we can’t come in to our class.

Hakan: So yeah, it’s a great point. When training in class, you’re definitely allowed to train in the full uniform with the long sleeve, your martial arts training pants and your martial arts belt. However, we do have t-shirts that we allow our students to wear especially during the summer time. But there are some occasions, some important occasions where the full uniform is a necessity. These include special events such as tournaments, black belt practice sessions and definitely gradings or belt promotions.

Sarah: Exactly right. When you’re start to where your uniform it might be a bit tricky for you to learn how to tie the belt. That’s completely normal. So feel free to just keep on asking the instructors to show you how to tie the belt and then just practice each step at a time. It’s quite simple once you’ve got it, but learning it a first few times can be a bit tricky.

Hakan: So Ms. Sarah, sometimes we may forget part of our uniform at home. Sometimes the kids tell us that their parents forgot to wash it or it’s still hanging out the back, what do we do in that instance?

Sarah: Okay, so it’s really simple. We never want anyone not to come to class just because they forgot their belt or their parents didn’t wash their uniform or whatever the excuse might be. What we want you to do is we want you to recognise that it’s important that you wear your uniform to class. It shows unity, it shows commitment, it shows your dedication and it shows that you’re hoping to make sure that everyone else knows that you want to be there. And so when you and/or your child come in full uniform, it’s ideal. But if they don’t, all we need to do is recognise, ‘I know it’s important. I’m sorry I don’t have my uniform today. Is there a possibility I could train like this today?’ And the teacher is always going to say yes. But it is really important that acknowledgement that ‘Is it okay? Can I train without my full uniform on today?’ So you need to do that if you’ve got the t-shirt, the Club t-shirt and the pants and the belt. But if for some reason, they don’t have the correct pants, you don’t have your belt on or you’ve forgotten your top and it’s a random non-club t-shirt.

Hakan: Sorry to cut you off there Ms. Sarah. We encourage all training gear to be worn within the Australian Martial Arts supplied uniform, we provide everything here at the pro shop so everything can be purchased from here. The occasional instance may happen but be sure to be training in your martial arts outfit. Now again, it looks really, really cool and to have those different uniforms helps provide our youngsters or our students to really aim and exert as a new goal for them to achieve; being invited into the Black Belt Club class or the Leadership Elite or the Young Masters Club classes as well.

Sarah: And it’s a great way for the instructors to differentiate the difference with who’s going to which class so that’s something we want to see, everyone enjoying wearing their proper uniform and having a little pride you earn in that uniform and being part of a great academy.

Hakan: Yeah, one uniform we forgot to mention here is our Instructing Team uniform which is the people you see wearing red. And for those students that do aspire to be an instructor one day, we do have a leadership development and instructor development program within the academy that we’re always looking to develop. So all the instructors will be wearing red and feel free to approach any one of them in any point in time.

Sarah: Excellent. I hope that’s helped you understand how the uniforms work in Australian Martial Arts Academy. We’re excited to see you looking sharp and being fast in your uniforms and we look forward to seeing in your classes soon.

Hakan: Thank you guys.

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Instructor Tip: Respect in Martial Arts

Mrs Sarah and Mr Hakan discuss Respect. Its meaning, how we demonstrate respect at the Australian Martial Arts Academy and how we can apply these principles to our day to day lives.

Hakan: Hi, I’m Hakan.

Sarah: And I’m Sarah.

Hakan: And we’re both head instructors and managers here at the Australian Martial Arts Academy. Today we’re excited to chat to you all about a key component within martial arts training. And that is respect. So Ms. Sarah, what is respect?

Sarah: Respect is a really important thing and it pretty much just means that you value the time, beliefs and opinions of other people. And I guess these days we’re so time-poor that we sometimes forget to think about ways that we can show respect or demonstrate respect in our everyday lives.

Hakan: Definitely. I mean, what I really love about respect the most is it takes the attention off ourselves onto others. And I think that the way society’s set up these days, is we’re so hungry and determined to pursue our own career paths and chase our goals, which is perfectly fine; but sometimes it could be at the expense of others. So applying respect and some of its practices into our lives will help us appreciate our blessings and value others’ opinions and their point of view as well.

Sarah: So true.

Hakan: So how do we apply respect here at the academy?

Sarah: There’s a number of ways that we really practice respect and from the very get-go, what we do is we teach people to walk in and be thankful that they actually have an academy to come in and practice at. And to stop and take the time to recognize that they’re about to do something in their life that’s meaningful and powerful. And so as soon as they walk in the doors, they bow. And this is a really important way to show respect or to think about respect. And so they bow when they enter the door and before they come on the training mats, they’re also going to bow as they enter the mat. And so I think that’s a really great way for them to recognize that what they’re doing is meaningful. And that there’s other people around there who are there to train hard and to think about all these and to leave their problems at the door.

Hakan: Yeah, fantastic. I mean, the act of bowing itself symbolizing the traditions and honouring the past of the martial arts, be it taekwondo or karate, or whatever style you practice, we need to acknowledge the fact that it’s been passed down for centuries and it’s got so much history behind it. Now, in class when we’re training, we acknowledge our partner, we bow towards them, we give them a high five. How about to instructors? What do we ask students to do to our instructors?

Sarah: Well, between instructors what’s really important is that mutual respect. What we see is the instructors acknowledge the students and the students acknowledge their instructors. And so this is as easy as saying hello to someone and it’s something so simple but it’s the small things in life that we sometimes forget to do that make your life that much happier. And it’s great seeing someone come in who isn’t very happy, being greeted by the instructor and changing their whole outlook and smiling and leaving the academy feeling great; and vice versa. The students can also do the same thing to the instructors. Just by saying hello, bowing to the instructors and calling them by their appropriate names. So for example, if they’re addressing the Master, I’ll show respect to him by bowing and saying hello to the Master. If they’re talking to an instructor, they’ll say hello Mr. Hakan or Ms. Sarah and that way they acknowledge that they are important, they have a role as an instructor in society.

Hakan: You know, I really love the respect because of a number of other reasons as well. First, for example, we need to respect our competitors. If we are competing, we need to understand that that person is there to help us become our better selves and that’s why we got training partners here at the centre as well. So we sometimes, I think, that element of sportsmanship gets forgotten; or we come in to the dojo and we’re all wearing our martial arts uniform, that gets rid of all sense of hierarchy, I guess, or any sort or meritocracy because we’re all on that level playing field. So regardless what religion or race or wealth, we all come together, we respect each other, we train together, we improve and we reach our goals collectively. So I think that level of respect is really fundamental both within martial arts training and applying it to our day-to-day lives. So it’s a great segue to get into that, Ms. Sarah. How can we take the martial arts principles here in training and then apply it in their lives?

Sarah: What I love about coming to martial arts is that it reminds me to think about what you do outside of the academy, and in particular with that of showing respect. What we want to do is we want to make sure we walk the talk and demonstrate in our everyday lives what we practice at the academy. So that little things like saying hello to someone as you enter a shop –

Hakan: Eye contact.

Sarah: Yeah, eye contact is important. We expect these things in many of our children yet we don’t follow through with them in ourselves. And so I think it can be really great just to make sure that we take the time to acknowledge that that person is there. Whether they’re paid to be there, whether they’re supposed to be there or not is beside the point that that person is valued. And the way that we do that is just by saying a simple hello and a smile. I love the masters’ approach to respect and his favourite way to demonstrate respect outside the academy is to make everyone smile. And often in our team meetings, his message to us would be make sure you make someone’s day today.

Hakan: Yeah.

Sarah: And he tries to do that every day. I think that’s such a fantastic example which reinforces that even the most senior person takes the most time and care to think about how they can help others.

Hakan: Yeah, a smile can definitely go a long way. Even on the phone, sometimes you know when we’re catching up, you can really sense when someone’s smiling on the other side even though that you can’t physically see them. Now, moving on to that, one thing we also need to think about is respect to ourselves. I mean, keeping fit with martial arts training or any other type of exercise, eating right, getting the correct sleep is very important elements. I guess we need to respect ourselves in order to be able to respect our community and our society.

Sarah: That’s exactly right, Hakan. I’m really passionate about encouraging other people to take care of their body. No one else is going to take care of your body, it’s you who needs to do that. And so the best way to really encourage yourself or show respect to yourself is to recognize it’s important to make time to think about what am I actually eating, how often am I attending my training sessions or martial arts sessions to make sure that I’m physically and mentally in the right place right now. And that kind of respect teaches you that you’re worthwhile. So if you want to build confidence, it comes from the core of taking care of your own body.

Hakan: Absolutely. So we hope that video has clarified the definition of respect, how we apply it here and how you can use the same principles in your day-to-day life.

Sarah: Let’s see if you can go out and make someone else’s day a little bit better. And we’d like to encourage the respect spirit worldwide.

Hakan: Thank you.

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Did you make your bed today?

According to research 59% of you will say ‘No’. 27% will say ‘Yes’. The rest will have paid someone else to do it for them. What if I told you that many great leaders make their own beds? Will this change what you do tomorrow?

I am a busy person. That was what I used to say. Because it made me sound important – important people are always busy, right? Actually, no. Being busy is a choice. Just like choosing how I fill my days is a choice. If we’re too busy to do something, we’re making a choice to prioritise the things we do. When I was a busy person, I never made my bed. What’s the point? Nobody sees it and it’s going to get messed up anyway when I get into bed at night. So making my bed was considered a waste of time. Time I don’t really have because I’m a busy person. Being busy means I need to be efficient with my time and that, in turn means I can’t waste any of it doing things that are useless and add no value. Things like making my bed.

 

Great leaders make their beds

Until I found out that many great leaders make their beds. That’s right. Great leaders make their own beds. They don’t see it as a waste of time and they don’t pay someone else to do it for them. Great leaders make their own beds. But why??

One great leader summarised it succinctly in a University commencement speech:

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”

What he’s saying is that one simple task is all it takes to spark your sense of accomplishment and is the encouragement you have to get other tasks done throughout the day.

Another reason to make your bed every morning is because it’s the little things that matter. Making your own bed is not something that you do for anyone else. It’s something you do because it matters to you. But why should making your bed matter to you?

You lie in the bed you make

There’s a saying “You lie in the bed you make.” It is often used in a negative context. However, taken literally, do you really want to lie down on a messy bed every night? Your bed is the first and last thing you see every day. Don’t you want the last thing you see every day to be something you’ve accomplished? For me, making my bed is important because if nothing else goes well for me throughout the day, by the end of that awful day, I know I’ve done at least one thing well. I’ve made my bed.

Making your bed is not the most exciting thing that happens to you every day. No one is going to appreciate your effort in making your own bed. In fact, no one else will even notice or care if it is made or not. But you do it anyway, because it’s the little things that matter. Great leaders don’t do things because it’s exciting, to be appreciated or to get noticed. Great leaders are everywhere, getting things done and making things happen. They are often doing the things that no one wants to do and no one notices. Great leaders know that it’s the little things that matter. If someone cannot be tasked with doing the little things well, how can that person be responsible for the bigger things?

The most difficult part about making your bed

When I say I make my bed every morning, I don’t mean it is hotel quality (my bed looks nothing like the picture below). Far from it. Every morning, I flick the doona across the bed and I’m done. I don’t smooth out the wrinkles on the bed sheet (there’s not much smoothing out anyway, because it’s a fitted sheet) and I don’t have to rearrange the pillows (because there’s not that many to arrange).

(On a side note, I’ve never figured out why there are so many pillows on hotel beds when we really only have one head and so should practically only need one pillow. Perhaps being a minimalist might explain my confusion.)

So it really doesn’t take much time for a child – or anyone, actually – to make their own bed. The most difficult part about making the bed isn’t the time it takes to make the bed. The most difficult part is having the discipline to make it every morning.

If great leaders can find time to make their own beds, we can find time to make our own bed. I’m no longer a busy person. Busy is a choice. Great leaders make their own beds. Every morning.

Will you make your bed tomorrow morning?

 

Amy Koit

www.kidsmoneyhabits.com

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AMA Theme of the Month of May: Courtesy

BEING RESPECTFUL, POLITE AND GRATEFUL
This month in our classes the overarching theme is Courtesy. Discussed throughout the classes and specifically in our Mat Chat component.

Courtesy can be a neglected virtue. But like many others, it is a virtue of habit. We learn to be courteous when we develop a habit of being grateful, polite and respectful. We can teach our children to be courteous by consistently modeling polite behaviour. Through our actions. Our children see how we behave and follow suit.

This month we will be talking to your child about manners, constructive critisicm and gratitude. You can help at home by reinforcing these principles. Show your children you are grateful for their contributions by complimenting them if and when they complete their tasks. Offer constructive critisicm on homework or other activities thank your child for valuing your opinion.

At the Academy, we teach your child that it is courteous to address adults using “Miss” “Sir” and “Master and how to bow to instructors and classmates. We also teach them to be courteous in their daily lives by respecting themselves and others, being politie and responsive in conversation. By paying attention at school and at home. As always, we want to partner with you to teach teach your child valuable lessons he/she can use long after they achieve their Black Belt.

Teaching your children the value of courtesy and good manners is yet another way you can equip them to be successful in life.

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How to fit Martial Arts into your busy life.

JESSICA STEWART, MOTHER OF 3, EXPLAINS HOW SHE BALANCES FAMILY, WORK, MARTIAL ARTS AND SHOPPING
The other day my mother noted, surprised, that I’d been doing taekwondo for five years and I realised how it’s become a part of my life. With three kids, full-time work and a general disinclination towards exercise, how did I get here? I think it’s a combination of planning, commitment and taking advantage of a few indirect benefits.

First up, I needed to be organised with something to push me. Having a sport with a built-in structure of milestones and targets has definitely helped. Why would you stay a white or yellow belt, limited to basic kicks, when you could be blue, or red, or black? Nailing a hard technique is such a buzz. But you don’t need martial arts to set targets. A friend taught herself to run by starting out walking and then running home. She moved the point where she started running further and further back until she left the house running. Now she’s doing 10ks.

My daughter’s aptitude and love for taekwondo was another key driver in keeping me going too. Use your children’s enthusiasm to motivate you!

Logistics can be tricky. I know a few families who all train together, parents and kids, which is a fabulous way to do it. My daughter was introduced to AMA through a friend and I’ve been sharing the driving with her parents from the beginning. I would swing by after work, do an Adults class, then bring the girls home. Find out if any children living locally are interested in coming along. There might be some days you can share pick-ups and drop-offs.

It’s helped that I’ve mostly had some flexibility at work. I negotiated a 10am-6pm day when I went back to work full time years ago and I still take care of mornings, organising breakfast and school. My husband does afternoons and dinner (he’s a great cook!).

I’ve been vigilant in keeping Saturdays for taekwondo. Sometimes I know I’m going to be there for a few hours so I pack a towel, and use the shower in the changing room. Stretched out on the grassy village green of the Addison Road Community Centre with a good book, or my laptop, it feels like a second backyard. With trees to climb and plenty of friends, there aren’t any complaints from Eleanor either if she has to wait for me. She was deep in conversation with a fellow student just this week while his mother looked on in astonishment at his new-found social skills.

Sundays we keep for family time and shopping—getting the week’s groceries done in one hit has long been crucial to our household’s collective sanity. Sometimes we give the kids a pass-out, but mostly we do it together. Ok, they might not love it but they don’t complain much either. We do mega loads of laundry on the weekend too which I’ve found more efficient than bits through the week.

These are things that worked for us—there isn’t a cookie-cutter answer and everybody will have different routines. The Nike slogan, Just Do It is on the mark. It doesn’t matter what, only that you do. I made the time and then, without really noticing, it became a habit.

And the thing I’ve found about commitment is that it’s bankable. You get to a point where you can draw on it. And I did in the year getting to my black belt. My 6am wakeups to train in the dark and the cold depended on it. And I’d do the afternoon class, drive Eleanor home, eat quickly, and return for the evening class. Once, I was wondering aloud whether I manage it that day and my instructor (that tough taskmaster Ms Sarah!) said ‘just come back’. And I knew she was right. All I had to do was pick up my keys and turn around. My training helped me stop thinking how hard it might be, and just set my body to autopilot.

You can too.

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10 Reasons why you need to teach your children to set GOALS!

As we are approaching the end of the festive season it is important to refocus once again and start planting our seeds for a successful year ahead. As a family it is vital to cultivate a sustained motivation to grow and progress as individuals, irrelevant of age. It is just as important for kids to develop these motives as well as adults.

Correct goal setting methods will make the process enjoyable, challenging and fulfilling for our kids. Instilling this culture within the household will build and develop children’s self-confidence and discipline as they successfully achieve these short and long term goals. Follow these steps to ensure you are providing your children with the correct guidance.

HOW YOU CAN HELP 

  • Help your children set S.M.A.R.T goals. Work with them on setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
  • Have your children Write Down their goals, for school, home & martial arts.
  • Set a Time-Line for their goals, both short and long term.
  • Help them develop PASSION in different aspects of their life. This will give them the drive to pursue during the challenging times.
  • Decide as a family how you will CELEBRATE once they achieve their goals. Including the small stepping stones.
  • Help your children place a VISUAL REMINDER in your home where they can see it every day to remind them to remain active in pursuing their goals. A poster or a hand written note is a fantastic tool.
  • Make sure your children understand that in order to achieve our goals, it requires TEAMWORK. Showing appreciation and gratitude to everyone involved.
  • Facilitate your child achieve their goals by setting them up with a BUDDY. A friend from school, neighbour, or even siblings, so they can help and support each other.
  • Sticking to the weekly schedule will develop their CONSISTENCY & PERSEVERANCE. Inadvertently, there will be instances where there may an unexpected hurdle in the way, such as an illness. Overcoming these will help the kids refocus on the task at hand.
  • And last but not least, be a ROLE MODEL. Children are like sponges, soaking in everything they hear and see, especially from their parents. There is no better way to be a role model to our children by setting and achieving our own goals!
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10 Reasons why you NEED to remain Hydrated this Summer

IN 2017 DO YOU WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT, LOOK BETTER, HAVE MORE ENERGY, BE HEALTHIER AND IMPROVE YOUR MEMORY?
Training in the Martial Arts is a life style. Health, happiness, safety, balance and strength are some of the many benefits. Maintaining a well conditioned body starts with good hydration.

Start the day with a glass of water and then get to the fridge or water cooler for a refill every couple hours. So how much water should we be drinking? As a general rule of thumb, health authorities recommend you follow the 8 X 8 Rule. That is; 8 eight ounce glasses per day (equivalent to 2 litres). During days of work-out this should increase.

Here are ten of the major benefits you’ll reap if you stay well-hydrated…

1. Weight Loss

Drinking water instead of soda or sugary juices will quench your thirst—minus the excess calories and plus all the benefits of helping your body flush out the byproducts of the fat and other toxins

2. Skin Elasticity

Drinking water keeps your skin moist, supple, and elastic—thus lessening your risk of developing dry issues like dermatitis, aging skin, and infection.

3. Muscle Efficiency

Being hydrated is essential for keeping those muscles strong, lubricated, and energized. Why? Because H20 aids the transport oxygen to your muscles so they are prepared when exerted.

4. Balancing Mood

Because water aids in body regulation and brain function, it’s also closely related to balancing mood and emotions

5. Temperature Control

When you overheat; you sweat. And the evaporation of sweat on your skin is the way the body cools itself down and maintains a healthy temperature. Understandably, drinking enough fluids is essential for sweating and replenishing your water supply.

6. Memory Function

Proper hydration will improve the blood flow and oxygen flow to your brain, strengthening cognitive function and memory.

7. Joint Lubrication

Your joints, spinal cord, eyes, and brain are surrounded and protected by water. Remaining hydrated is vital to their well being.

8. Healthy Bowel Function

Water aids the elimination of waste material, making bowel movements and urination possible and comfortable, and excreting waste products that would otherwise poisoned the body and cause disease.

9. Aids Digestion

Water provides the ability for your body to eat and digest food—via the water is in your saliva and within your digestive tract.

10. Better Immune Health

Think of drinking water as your secret weapon to fighting off illnesses, improving lymph fluid within the immune system and preventing headaches, joint pain, muscle weakness, fatigue, and lightheadedness.

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10 things to consider when selecting the Martial Arts School for your family

So you’ve decided to enrol your child into Martial Arts? You are aware of the many benefits Martial Arts training offers, or maybe you did it when you were a child and want your offspring to share the same values and experiences. You are on the right track, however it can be quite overwhelming when selecting the right Martial Arts School for your family. With a multitude of resources and unique terminology, selecting the right school can be daunting. Furthermore, the absence of a governing body underpinning the Martial Arts Industry, can have a huge impact on the outcome of your Martial Arts journey. In order to avoid the confusion and simplify the process, the below steps can be used as a funnel in determining the right school for you and your family.

  1. Determine your desired outcomes and goals

    Starting Martial Arts is very exciting. There are many life changing transformational benefits of Martial Arts. Our first recommendation before selecting a school is to determine why you’re taking Martial Arts. What are you looking to get out of it? Is it; to develop self-confidence, improve flexibility, qualify for the Olympics, discipline and focus, respect, overcome mental barriers, self-defence, learn the history and foundations, weaponry, make new friends or even pave a career path. While these goals might change, establishing your key outcome from the start will clarify your goals in the process. Write down your goals beforehand and be specific even if you’re not sure which style you wish to practice. This will enable you to determine schools that have strengths in those selected areas, ensuring that you are one step closer to achieving those goals throughout the process. Selecting the school with the right fit will make the process enjoyable and fulfilling.
  2. Safety

    In any Martial Arts program, one of the most important aspects that should be emphasised is safety. From the exercises that are practiced in classes, to the way warm-ups are presented, safety has to be paramount. Does the school have the necessary safety equipment such as mats and first aid to ensure protective environment? Is it a full time dojo, with dedicated full time staff? A common misconception is that because its “Martial Arts” it might be inherently dangerous, however, Martial Arts has some of the lowest injury rates in comparison to other sports such as rugby league or soccer. In fact, regularly we see students enrolling in Martial arts as a result of injuries in other sports as a means of rehabilitation. A Martial Arts dojo is often the safest place to go.
    3. Age Appropriate Classes

    So you have found a few schools which could help you achieve your goals and has a professional and safe program? A big differentiator will be age appropriate classes. The next thing to consider is the age bracket of the programs offered by the school. Often a good sign of a school being well established is determined by the number of age brackets on offer. For example, a 16 year old may not want to train with a 10 year old, or a 4 year old with a 12 year old. It is crucial to look for small age ranges. Ideally, schools that offer programs for ages of 3-4 years apart. Creating the depth in curriculum necessary in hitting those developmental milestones in the growth and development of our kids. A further step to determining the credibility is to determine if there are also skill levels divided up into low range age groups. For example; Classes for kids from 6-9 years old, which include beginner, intermediate and advanced options. This will ensure the speciality and maintain the high level of quality of service from the instructors teaching these programs. Members’ part taking in the classes will also feel more comfortable training with peers with a similar skill set and age.

    4. Friendly, welcoming positive environment/atmosphere & leadership qualities

    Martial Arts locations are essentially the same thing. A large hall, with mats and mirrors. A key area to consider when determining the right school is the atmosphere when you step foot in the dojo. What is the aura like? What vibes do you sense? Is it friendly, welcoming, empowering, or is it testosterone fuelled with hard core personalities? Either way, there is a demand for both, it’s just a matter of determining where you will feel most comfortable. What is the general level of service like? Do they practice what they preach in terms of respect? Do the staff walk the walk? Are there leadership qualities infiltrated through the programs, or is it about the head honcho? Are there a team of leaders in the age groups and programs, so members have role models of all different shapes and sizes. A Martial Arts dojo with the ideal environment should cultivate and foster a leadership system. This ensures a fun friendly culture welcoming the growth and improvement throughout the programs.

    5. Life skill component

    Most Martial Arts School advertise that they teach respect, discipline, focus, confidence. But is it taught, spoken about, demonstrated clearly in classes? While adults might be able to recognise these benefits, it may be difficult for kids to make the connection. A great Martial Arts School has the Life Skills entrenched in its curriculum and consistently raises awareness on how the physical drill covered in class helps improve desired personal qualities and life skills. This can be done in a multitude of ways. Through mat chats or small group discussions, overarching themes of the month/week, worksheets or tailor made leadership/instructor development programs. Ensure the reasons why you enrol in Martial Arts are clearly and consistently covered through their curriculum.

    6. Content and Curriculum, will my child continuously be challenged?

    In order to reap the benefits of Martial Arts training, one must view training for the long term. Realistically this is a good 3-4 years which is often the length of time required to attain a Black Belt in most styles. Throughout this process it is crucial to see whether there is continual development in content covered. Will there be new techniques, self-defence moves or potentially weapons introduced which will help to keep members engaged and motivated? Or is it just the same techniques covered? A reputable Martial Arts institution will have the breadth, as well as the depth in their syllabus which will challenge members for life. Will there continuously be options to grow and develop throughout ones Martial Arts journey through the programs offered? Are their upgrade, higher level programs which can be unlocked at certain levels of rank? A good sign of this is to have a look at the number of higher belts present. If there is a lot, then that school ticks this.

    7. Teaching methods, Content delivery and understanding the target market taught

    Another question to ask is how the Instructors are interacting with members? As Martial Arts is a sport that is open to all age groups, teaching methods will vary immensely across these programs. Is it the same instructors across all age groups or are their specialist instructors? Are they completely engaged while teaching children? Is the method of delivery matching that of the demographic in class? People learn the most when they are having fun and loving what they do. Do the instructors create this environment and do they have rapport with their members?

    8. International recognition and affiliation

    Unfortunately the Martial Arts Industry does not have a specific governing body to ensure best practice. Therefore it is crucial to ensure the school you plan on attending is legitimate in qualifications, insured and legally safe. Furthermore, you can check to see if your school is affiliated with a National and International Body. For example the World Taekwondo Federation or the World Karate Federation. This way, the certificates received for the hard work are recognised all around the world. The tighter the links with these international bodies, or even the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the purer the style of teaching will be.

    9. Flexibility in schedules and program

    In our time poor society, making sure that you can attend classes is crucial. After all, you only reap the benefits if you attend the classes. Many professional schools have a variety of week day, weekend and morning or evening sessions available to help make it easier for you to make it to class regularly. Many of these schools also allow you to make up missed classes and change your times and days if you need to. This will help you to reach your goals faster.

    10. Fun

    And last but not least FUN. Martial Arts training has to be challenging, rewarding and fun. Students must always be safe, learn something new and have fun each and every session. This will ensure that motivation is sustained. A fun environment is determined by the culture of the academy led through their vision and mission. A fun environment is developed through their instructors and fostered through the members and families of the Schools community.

We hope this 10 step guide has helped you gain clarity on selecting the right Martial Arts school for your family. The experiences and life transformation benefits are available for all people. We would like to wish you all an enjoyable, safe and challenging Martial Arts Journey.

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Instructor Tip- How Martial Arts Builds Confidence

Instructor Tip How Martial Arts Builds Confidence –

Hakan: Hi, I’m Hakan.

Sarah: And I’m Sarah.

Hakan: And we’re both head instructors and managers here at the Australian Martial Arts Academy. Today we’re going to be talking about a very important area in which we address, through our content and our delivery, and that’s addressing the area of confidence. One of the major reasons why people want to start martial arts is to gain more self-confidence. And what are some of the signs we see with these people who walk in through the Academy doors?

Sarah: You’ll have noticed them yourself. There are things like not being able to stand straight, they just don’t show their confidence in their body, they’re not necessarily able to grab eye contact with people, maybe they’re not very vocal, so even if they’re thinking something or want to ask something, they don’t have that confidence to actually go out and ask, “What is that person? What is responsible? How do I get help?” So I’m really keen. I’m so passionate at the Academy about making sure that people build this confidence, that it oozes out of their body so that they are able to achieve those things. They want to feel happy within themselves.

Hakan: Definitely. I’m a firm believer that martial arts is just a vehicle, like the physical elements, the kicking and the punching, is just a tool to develop this confidence so that they are strong, they stand up for themselves and like Sarah said, they have this level of confidence and positivity oozing from their body. And what’s a shame is that often it’s these type of people who don’t have that self-belief, that are victims of the bullying, not only at school but in the workplace as well.

Sarah: 100%.

Hakan: So, first day, how do we address this here at the Academy?

Sarah: This is one of the great things about learning martial arts here is that from the moment they come in, the first thing we teach someone is how to stand strong. And I believe that if you can come in and practice confidence, it’s something physical that you’re doing with your body, it’s going to become a habit, it’s just something innate in your body. So we teach them to stand strong, teach them to have eye contact, and we show them that mutual respect and that it’s an expectation for us to be confident in ourselves at the Academy.

Hakan: So what Sarah is saying is from day one, we’re teaching them how to stand, how to look confident, how to have that presence. The first thing we show them is charyot. What’s charyot, Miss Sarah?

Sarah: Charyot is feet together, hands by your side, and our chins up with eye contact, looking at the person who is talking to us.

Hakan: Now, what might a person who isn’t so confident, a child who isn’t confident, what kind of stance do we often get?

Sarah: They’re hugging their mom’s legs, they maybe not looking at us, they maybe a little bit nervous or holding on to something, looking at the ground.

Hakan: Just trying to avoid any kind of confrontation, even if it’s a simple confrontation in conversation with family members, or with people that they’re familiar with. So we’ve got a certain stance and we call this charyot and the students who respond, respond with attention. So they’re automatically standing strong, having that eye contact, and getting that vocal command out there as well. And this, all of a sudden, just takes them to a whole new level. This is from day one.

Sarah: And this is so empowering for them to realise, especially if they haven’t had that confidence, “Wow, I’m doing things that confident people do. I’m standing like that person I looked up to before and wanted to be like. And the values that I saw in them, I have in myself.”

Hakan: And what’s amazing is once that student has started their journey, again, regardless of what age they are, the feedback we get 3 months in, 6 months in, often from parents who come and say, “My child all of a sudden is feeling so much more confident at school with their presentations. They’re standing nice and firm. And it just has a flow and effect to all aspects of their life.” Now, every 3 months, we also have a specific challenge. What will these be, Sarah?

Sarah: These are our belt promotions. What I really love about this is it clearly shows what you couldn’t do before and what you can do now. And this is amazing because physically it’s showing you things that you couldn’t do and how much all of your work and persistence helped you achieve those goals. And you recognise that if you keep on going, you’re going to be able to do whatever you want to do, if you can put your mind to it. And it also helps overcome those mental barriers of standing up in front of people or presenting to someone else. And let’s face it, that’s a fact of life, if you want to have a job, you want to go for a job interview, we need to be able to talk to other people and it’s quite amazing for us to see all of these people get out of their comfort zone and be so happy and so proud of themselves for achieving things. It’s great they get the presents, the belt, the certificate, the medal at the end, but ultimately the best thing is them having fun because they’re seeing how much they’ve improved and they’re showing confidence.

Hakan: Absolutely. It’s that consistent scheme of new belt, new challenge, that fear, “Am I going to okay?,” training towards it, ticking that box off, getting that new level, and then moving onto another challenge. Consistently getting comfortable being uncomfortable and then looking back and seeing how far they’ve come. We’re a firm believer of creating future leaders in the community and we have our instructor development program and we have kids as young as seven, eight, developing and demonstrating leadership abilities right the way through to adults as well.

Sarah: And of course it needs to be within their range of what they’re capable of doing for that age group, but it’s amazing, one of the best things, I think, about our Academy is being able to see some of those people who get up after doing martial arts for 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, and having other people come into the Academy, meet them for maybe one or two minutes, and say to me, “I want my child to be like them,” or “I literally want to be like that person there.” Because they demonstrate all of those abilities that we recognise as special and as confidence in other people. And I think that’s one of the most rewarding—it’s just being able to stick at something and recognise that I’m good at something because I can apply myself to it.

Hakan: Yeah, absolutely. To wrap it up, I think that the beauty of martial arts is that it is an individual sport. So we have a fantastic team, the reason why the confidence element is addressed so well, is that they are essentially doing it on their own.

Sarah: It’s about you. It’s not about anyone else. It’s social, it’s fun, but it’s about you.

Hakan: So that’s how martial arts, at the Academy here, we address the confidence element. Anything you want to add to that, Miss Sarah?

Sarah: No. I’m just really hoping that all of you out there have that confidence enough to achieve goal that you put your mind to and that we’re creating these amazing, great leaders. We do it through martial arts and I love the fact that these young people, they don’t even recognise they’re special. It’s just normal for them. I can’t wait to see some our 18-month children who are training at the Academy now, when they’re 18-years-old and still training at the Academy. I think that’s just an amazing experience to witness.

Hakan: To have in all aspects at all stages of their lives. So hopefully that clarified how confidence is entrenched in martial arts training and if that’s an element you would like to go down, please feel free to contact one of us here at the Academy. We’ll be happy to help you out.

Sarah: Have a great day.

Hakan: Thank you.

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