Tag Archive for: Life Skills

Being able to concentrate and focus is one of the most important skills for anyone to learn. It relies on self-regulation and understanding how to be in the moment.

Many studies say how well a child can navigate life depends on their ability to self-regulate. It determines their ability to use tools in their toolbox for life and create successful social interactions.

There is a lot of evidence that clearly shows that self-regulators are more likely to be school-ready, have a greater sense of well being and will see greate academic success beyond their childhood years.

So what is it that self-regulators know that others don’t?

  • They understand that success or failure is under their control not governed by external forces. They are accountable for their own decisions.
  • They see failure as the fertilizer that develops success. 
  • They understand that success involves practice and hard work. That these cannot be avoided but should be embraced as the pay off for putting in the effort will well be worth it. 
  • Self-regulators will generally take on more challenges than others.
  • Self-regulated learners are generally more at peace, happier and successful in life
  • Self-regulation is all about teaching kids in particular how to follow instructions and persist even when they encounter enormous challenges. They understand they will find a way to overcome the challenges and reap the rewards.
  • Self-regulated children can listen, pay attention, think, strategise and then act.

But how do you build self-regulation into your own or your child’s life?

Generally, there are three components to building self-regulation into your life that will improve your focus and concentration.

  1. Develop a working memory. This means learning how to hold information in your memory while taking in new information.
  2. Develop mental flexibility. There are always many ways to reach the end goal. Being able to think outside the box and flex your mental muscle on different possible journeys and strategies is great for building mental flexibility.
  3. Develop self-control. Learn and understand appropriate behaviours rather than just doing whatever you want to do. This means you need to be able to evaluate your environment, your audience and then behave appropriately to interact or communicate.

Developing and applying self-regulation strategies at home is easily achieved. Applying these tools will help your childs focus and concentration and build those life long regulatory skills. Here are a few games you can play that reinforce these strategies.

  1. Play Simon Says. Paying attention, listening and follow directions is critical to the success of this game. It will help your childs concentration levels.
  2. Heads shoulders knees and toes. We all know this game. Listening, Identification, Concentration, being in the moment and focusing are all key elements. However, you can take the benefits of this game up a notch if you get the players to do the opposite of what is asked. Saying Touch your head means touch your toes. Flex that mental muscle.
  3. Opposites. Improving concentrate and mental flexibility is achieved in this game by showing a picture and asking the child to say the opposite of what they see. For example, show a card that displays the moon. You would expect the answer to be the sun.
  4. Colouring in. Colouring in sheets have been used for years to develop concentration and focus in children. Staying in the lines. Imagination expression. Colour management. Storytelling all come from simple coloring-in sheets. Take it up a level using Mandela’s. Circular complex abstract designs with evenly distributed patterns. these create a feeling of balance and harmony and are a great way to calm stressed kids who are looking for structure and balance in their lives.
  5. Freeze. Dance along to music and then freeze when the music stops. Like musical chairs. Dance slowly to slow songs and fast to fast songs to connect rhythms and movement. When this is mastered flip the script and dance slow to fast and fast to slow. But don’t forget to freeze when the music stops. Concentrate and control.

The 5 simple games above will help develop great self-regulation skills and improve focus and concentration even in the oldest kid. Have fun bonding and playing these simple games and watch what happens over time. You may even notice variations on the above games within our martial arts classes. Flex your mental muscle and see what you can see.

It can be hard sometimes to figure out what is going on from the sidelines. It can be tricky to understand why an instructor is reacting a certain way to certain behaviour at times. Be assured there is method to the madness and reasons behind everything.

You, as parents, are paying for your children to attend and learn valuable skills that cover so many aspects of their mental and physical development. We would be reticent to not take your trust carefully and seriously and be uncompromising in our approach to instilling the values we, and you, believe are important.

So it may be useful to provide some insight into some of the lessons and skills we are teaching at many stages throughout a class.

Water bottles, Karate bag, Mouthguard etc: This is the students responsibility. These items are theirs and they need to be responsible for preparing and bringing the items they know they need. No one else is.

Badges: These are not given, these are earnt. If a student wants a certain badge they need to work for it and can always come and ask for it. If they don’t receive a badge but someone else does then they learn self-reflection and awareness of their own behaviour or efforts.

Gradings: All about handling pressure, overcoming anxiety, having the right “I can” attitude, putting in 100% effort to achieve. Goal setting and accomplishment.

Stripes: Short term goals and achievements. Effort and reward. No effort no reward. Conquering the mountain is a journey of many small steps.

Back of the mat bowing in: This is usually as a student has arrived late to class. By having to wait at the back of the mat and be bowed in they are learning Respect of instructors and other people, punctuality, and responsibility. That they need to ensure they are ready so they can get to class on time.

Performing in front of others: This is a really hard thing to do but is such a great accomplishment. Overcoming anxiety and nerves. Developing confidence and self-belief and the ability to perform under pressure. Wait until they have to turn round and face their peers. Whole other ball game ;)

Hard intense exercise: This builds mental toughness as well as physical strength. A determination to push beyond what they think they can do and develop the self-belief that they can achieve anything they are determined to work hard for.

Sparring: This is tough for a lot of students but there are real reasons why a student must spar. It develops confidence, the inner strength of character, situational awareness being in the moment, speed & movement, strategy, resilience, and control.

Partner drills: It is all about working together to be better. Problem-solving, leadership and coaching where you can help you and your partner.

Games: Reinforcement of principles and techniques. Awareness and agility to respond. Strategic thinking. Working together. Developing motor skills. Healthy competition and most of all some FUN!!

Website videos: These are provided to give students the ability to be the masters of their own achievements. They are responsible for their ability and there are no excuses as the tools are provided. This drives a great attitude, foresight by looking at other videos, learning and additional information-seeking behaviours.

Not addressing mis-behaviour by others: We are teaching them to recognise inappropriate behaviours in themselves and others. To develop the courage to speak up and use their voice so that they are simply not letting others do things they know that they shouldn’t be doing or will end up affecting them.

Sitting in seiza, eyes closed: Meditation, calmness and control. Breathing and reflection. Quieten the heart and mind.

Whole class attitudes: If a class of students is not focusing and displaying inappropriate behaviour, then this needs to be addressed, and sometimes sternly. They need to understand that there is a code of conduct in life and at the dojo that they need to adhere to. Some children take this hard as Sensei is an authoritative figure they look up to in their lives and the telling off or expression of disappointment can really hit home for them. But there is a reason, albeit very rarely, a class will be told off on mass. Certain students may be the cause but it is the responsibility of the group as a whole to help and guide each other if they know someone is not doing what they should. Standing by and watching when you could have done something about it is all too common these days.

The Martial Arts: The ability to have some insight on how to defend yourself, avoid and diffuse situations. Confidence and belief in your abilities. Pride and humbleness and emotional control. Patience.

These are some of the things we are constantly trying to reinforce in many ways. There are many others buried all over the place.


Hopefully, this gives some insight into what is happening in any given class. Any and all actions have an underlying meaning and are focused on our core belief of inspiring the best that is within everyone.

We are not going get it right 100% of the time, we are human. But if you ever have any concerns or questions please feel free to contact Sensei Chris at any time to discuss them.

Anxiety. It is a horrible sensation. Everyone experiences it at some point in their life to varying degrees.

Whether it is planning an event, preparing for a job interview or getting married, we all find ourselves on the edge of reason now and then. But what do you do if that feeling does not go away? That your children constantly experience stress? Martial arts can help.

Anxiety in Adults
Sometimes as adults we don’t realise the extent of our issues. You may be suffering from chronic anxiety and not even know it. A lot of the time, as adults we like to deflect and blame our stress on outside elements or that we are so busy we just haven’t had time to decompress.e This might be true but no matter how much relaxation you get you may find your stress levels remain high or jump back to a high level quickly when you are back to your normal routine.

Disorders that relate to anxiety can have not just emotional and mental effects but physical as well. Constant tiredness due to poor sleep patterns, twitching muscles, frequent colds, and illness are all sure-fire indicators that you are overstressed. When these symptoms drag on you need to seek medical advice.

Anxiety in your child
Anxiety can be hard to spot in children. They have not yet developed the tools or language to handle and describe the emotions they are experiencing.
Common symptoms in children of anxiety can be seen in poor impulse control, disruptive behaviour or dropping grades at school. It can easily be misinterpreted as shyness in kids. You want to encourage your child to express their feelings in healthy, productive ways and to try and communicate through pictures or play. One activity that works well for children suffering from chronic anxiety, just like adults, is martial arts.

How can it help?
Most martial arts practice involves a hefty amount of physical activity which is a great way for people of all ages to release pent-up energy and aggression. Chronic anxiety often manifests as panic attacks, aggression and/or breakdowns. Martial arts requires bursts of high energy which is great at dealing with lingering tension. The physical exertion, just like a good gym workout, encourages endorphin production, which is proven to directly improve brain function, moods, emotion control, and help promote sound sleep patterns.
While martial arts employ many physical benefits it is the psychological ones that provide the most benefit.

It does not matter the “style” or “system” you do, discipline, belief, and self-trust are going to be a huge focus. Martial Arts teaches people to work with their instincts and make confident decisions quickly. Applying this skill outside of the dojo in your day to day lives at work, school or at home tend to find the ability to not dwell on decisions helps them reduce their tension and stress.

Martial Arts can help with your anxiety

Healthy activities like martial arts can help chronically anxious children and adults in healthy productive ways. Whether it is being used just as a physical outlet for stress or also for the many mental benefits such as self-esteem, confidence, discipline, decision making, focus, courage and performing under pressure.

Anxiety is a horrible chronic disorder that has a massive impact in the lives of those it affects. Seek help and advice if you think you or your children are suffering from anxiety. It is better to ask for help sooner rather than have to overcome greater obstacles later.