The speech I wish I had given!

retirementTwo weeks ago, during my last week of teaching, the karate club held a surprise retirement ceremony at the dojo in Sutton. It was organized by Carol and Walt Sankersingh, for which I will be forever grateful.

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This is why I love teaching karate … Post II

fredWe have a program at our martial arts club called. Let’s Celebrate Feeling Good About Ourselves, It’s an important part of our program because in my experience nothing is more important for our health and happiness. Each month we celebrate a different theme relating to this, and last month we celebrated, Acting With Integrity.

Quite often, explaining concepts such as acting with integrity to young children in a way that they understand can be a challenge. So, for integrity I simply described it as, doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching, and I gave them some examples to illustrate what it means.

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Three More Reasons Why I Teach Karate

karate mr miyagiI have said this many times before and I will likely say it many times more, “I love teaching karate.” I jokingly tell the students that I love it so much because I get to make them do push-ups, but I think they see through my ruse!

The truth is I get enormous gratification from my job (did I say job, cause it sure doesn’t feel like a job!) mostly in the form of smiling faces, skills learned and positive feedback from parents.

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This Is Why I Teach Karate

I love teaching karate. It brings me enormous joy and satisfaction and I am tremendously grateful every night for every student who chooses to attend karate class.

I receive constant feedback from students and parents about how much they enjoy karate and how much they appreciate my instruction. What could be better?

What I enjoy most, I think, is the opportunity to affect people’s lives in a positive way, by helping students master techniques, while developing confidence, respect and a healthy self image. It gives me an enormous sense of satisfaction.

Every once in a while though a parent will tell me about something that happened with their child that blows me away and really reaffirms my love of teaching. The following is one such story:

From Laura…Sam’s mother:

Thought you’d get a kick out this…Sam and Jaden are practically family, and on the weekend they were “playing” and Jaden hurt Sam. Sam retaliated and hit Jaden on the head trying to get back at him. After some time out with me, Sam went over to Jaden and apologized. I watched them from a distance and saw Sam say sorry. Jaden said that it was ok, then they both did the peace over war hand gesture and bowed to each other! (something they learned at karate) Pretty darn cute!!! Made me smile! I love Karate!!!!  Laura

And I love karate too. Especially teaching it!

What makes this story so special is that Sam and Jaden are only 4 & 5 years old, respectively.  Now how wonderful is that?

I have said many times that I have the best job in the world. I am incredibly grateful that I get paid to do what I love.  Speaking which, a student asked me recently if I would rather work at a job that I didn’t enjoy, but paid me lots of money, or work at a job I love and make a lot less money. I told him that given that I had already experienced both scenarios, the answer was easy. I would so much rather work at a job I love, even if it meant making a lot less money, because you can always adjust your lifestyle. As long as you spend less money than you make, you will always get ahead.

I feel very blessed and my wish would be that everyone someday gets to feel the way I do.  It’s awesome!!!

Have an awesome day!!

Intestinal Fortitude vs Insanity: Hot Yoga, The 3rd Installment

Mid way through my third hot yoga class I found myself deep in thought. I was thinking that hot yoga actually requires a little intestinal fortitude. Some of the poses, particularly the balancing ones, are not exactly easy …. and I found my self several times feeling quite relieved when the instructor instructed us to move on to the next pose.

It made me think about how intestinal fortitude helps us cope with adversity, especially when we’re able to do it cheerfully, rather than angrily.

Hot yoga is particularly challenging because of the heat aspect … 113 degrees is a temperature I would normally cope with using the assistance of a cold Corona or icy Margaritas … and I felt quite proud of myself!

But then deep in the recesses of my mind a nagging little voice piped in with, “it’s not intestinal fortitude, it’s insanity!”

“What?” I said.

“You heard me,” the voice replied.

It was sort of like that same voice that keeps telling you to do your homework when you’d rather be watching the latest episode of your favourite television show. You’re not really listening to it, but you can hear it, and it makes you want to beat up your little brother … not, of course, that you would ever really want to beat up your little brother … I hope!

At first the voice was almost inaudible, but then it kept getting louder and I found myself unable to ignore it. Perhaps the voice was being influenced by the book I’m reading. It’s called, Gobi Runner. It’s written by Stefan Danis, a Canadian, who ran the 6-day, 250 kilometer, Gobi Desert Run, through inhospitable terrain in plus 40 degree celsius temperatures. Quite often reading this book I’ve found myself bouncing back and forth between marvelling at what it must take to complete such a race versus the insanity in even thinking about undertaking it.

I ran a marathon 12 years ago and I thought it took quite a lot of intestinal fortitude to train and run the race. I will never forget those 3 and 4 hour weekend runs in freezing cold and blowing snow. Some people thought I was nuts. Perhaps the line between intestinal fortitude and insanity is much narrower than I thought.  Perhaps there are just varying degrees of insanity depending on your point of view.

Perhaps the difference between intestinal fortitude and insanity depends on your circumstances or your motivation. Did you put your self there willingly? Are you doing it to disprove a sense of inadequacy? Are you being adventurous? Does your motivation come from a place of self love or self hatred? All relevant questions.

The voice was clearly at odds with my rational mind that couldn’t help but think about Victor Frankl’s magnificent book, Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he documented his experience in surviving the Auschwitz concentration camp during WWII. All concentration camp survivors, I think, displayed incredible intestinal fortitude.

I think it’s okay to test yourself. Knowing you have a little intestinal fortitude can help you get through difficult times, and these are undoubtedly difficult times.

In any event, my mind was eventually drawn back into the yoga studio. It was time to have a drink and high five my yoga partner for another enjoyably awesome experience. The voice was gone, hopefully, never to return. But if it does, I’ll just remind it that I have lots of intestinal fortitude. I’m a Toronto Maple Leafs fan 🙂

Have an awesome day!

Hot Yoga: Part Deux

I did my second hot yoga class today and like last week, found it to be a very enjoyable experience. I feel physically tired, but mentally invigorated!

I do have one concern though. Where are all the guys?

Today I was one of only two guys in the class. There were lots of women…mostly dressed in tight spandex…which makes you wonder where all the guys were!

In the 80s there was a popular saying, ‘real men don’t eat quiche.’ A more relevant slogan this day in age would likely go something like this, ‘real men don’t do yoga.’ Real men, it seems, do ultimate fighting, play football and participate in extreme sports. Perhaps if there was full contact yoga more men would get involved. “Now for balasana (child’s pose).” BAMM!

There’s another thing real men don’t do, and that is, express their feelings. Real men just hold onto them until an explosion occurs, mostly in the form of heart attacks, strokes, and the like. A different sort of BAMM!

Now, of course, a strong argument could be made that I’m not really one to talk. After all, I just started doing yoga myself, but in my defense, I wanted to for a long time, I just found lots of legitimate reasons to procrastinate.

I’ve long held the belief that yoga is a life extending activity and more importantly, a quality of life enhancing activity. I think the same is true for expressing your feelings. They both have a way of releasing stress, even more than watching grown men bash the bejeepers out of each other.

So c’mon guys, put on your spandex, grab a mat and head to your nearest yoga studio. I think you’ll enjoy it. After that, you might even be inspired to unburden yourself of all that emotional pain you’ve been carrying around with you.

What’s holding you back? BAMM!

The Joy of Hot Yoga

Today I did my first hot yoga class … and I’m happy to report that my body and self esteem survived intact … although I’m not so sure about my t-shirt and shorts.

For those of you who’ve never done hot yoga, it’s pretty much like regular yoga, except that you’re in a room where the temperature is quite warm. For today’s class, it was a sizzling 113 degrees Fahrenheit!  Now that may not seem very hot to those of you who live in Arizona or somewhere near the vicinity of the equator, but in Canada in mid-January, I can assure you, it has the intended effect.

Prior to the class, I was feeling a little apprehension.  Would I be able to handle the heat? Would I embarrass myself in front of all these seasoned yoga people, or whatever you call them? Perfectly reasonable questions to ask, I’m sure you would agree.

However, upon arriving at the studio I discovered that I wasn’t the only newcomer, and so with rented mat in hand and brimming with confidence, I entered the yoga room.

Expecting to be hit by a wave of stifling heat, I was pleased to discover that the room didn’t feel that hot at all…I failed to take into consideration that, with the door opening and closing, the air temperature near the door is somewhat cooler than the rest of the room. Duh!

We were first instructed to lay down on our mats, close our eyes, relax and breathe. This was great. With each inhale, I could almost hear my muscles say, “thanks Fred,” as they fell deeper and deeper into a relaxed state. It was quite tranquil.

And then the lesson started.

We began with a series of poses that were challenging enough to test my balance and flexibility, but not enough to send me into panic mode, and for the next 20 minutes or so I felt quite comfortable. Silly boy!

After the second or third drink break, I started to notice it. The heat. It was subtle alright, but it just kept coming.

Then all of a sudden, BAMM, as if it occurred spontaneously, I realized my entire body was bathed in sweat. And there was no stopping it. It just kept getting warmer and warmer and I just kept getting sweatier and sweatier.

I first knew I was in trouble while trying to do the tree pose.  My hand kept slipping off my knee, like a cowboy on a greased pig. Next, while in raised plank, sweat dripped relentlessly from my forehead, nose and chin.  Even my ears were dripping sweat and didn’t think ears could do that. I watched helplessly as each bead of perspiration fell from my face and disappeared without a trace into my poor mat.

My tongue, dry as a bramble on the desert, cried out for water, as I panted wildly like a dog in the hot sun. With each subsequent pose my thigh, calf and butt muscles screamed in agony, as the sweat continued to pour off me like an angry river.

“Only 30 more minutes,” I heard the instructor say, cheerfully.

“What!” I said desperately to the guy beside me displaying the demeanor of a Buddhist monk relaxing leisurely on the beach.

He just smiled.

Clearly, I was on my own. I would have to muster up the courage to carry on and finish this endeavour…and I did!

Several gallons of sweat lighter, soaked from head to foot, my t-shirt and shorts completely saturated, I walked triumphantly from the room. I felt good!

Later, upon arriving home, I was feeling full of life, when I looked in the back of my truck and discovered that my t-shirt and shorts were now frozen solid and stuck to the truck.

Can’t wait for my next class!

Have an awesome day!