Archive for January, 2015|Monthly archive page

The Price You Pay

We had a new student join the dojo last week. Dave is a Red Belt* from a TSD school in the area. Seems a bit awkward in his technique, but he’s a big teenage kid, so yeah, awkwardness will ensue at that age. Body be trippin’ right? Nice kid, too. Seems eager to learn and willing to make an effort, so I hope our school’s a good fit for him. He’s going to have some unlearning to do, but that wont be a problem either.

I was talking with his Dad Saturday, just about the dojo in general. He mentioned to me that one of the reasons he pulled Dave out of the TSD school was the cost. It would have been over $1200 to test for Black Belt.

Over twelve hundred dollars. Just for the test. I’m hoping that’s an error in recollecting the details, because that’s a really steep price tag for just a test. That kind of money would cover my dojo’s dues for nearly two years.

I wonder about the reasoning behind the cost. Large scale franchises tend to have a lot of overhead. Even so I have to wonder. I’m registered with the Okinawa Karate-Do Association, as is my school, and yet my Shodan test was less than a sixth of the cited amount. Maybe its because we’re not as widespread as TKD or TSD franchises, but I think there’s something else to it. As I said in my post “Taking the Black”, it takes about five to six years to reach Shodan, but here’s the thing: many people see Black Belt as an endpoint, a state of mastery (although it’s anything but that). For a younger student, especially when facing college and other responsibilities, that’s the time to quit. This leads me to wonder if the reason for the high testing fee is part overhead and part money grab.

It also begs the question of what’s required to advance beyond Black Belt, besides the years of continued training.

On the other hand, I feel grateful for being in the school that I’m in.


*Belt ranks vary between schools, but from what I know a Red Belt in Tang Soo Do is the equivalent to a Brown Belt in our school.


Being Fit and Resolute

It’s a New Year, and with it come the infamous resolutions. Some of you are planning on this being the year you lose weight. Having been on my own Fitness Quest for two years now, I understand how daunting it may be to get started — and how hard it is to keep at it. It’s important to know your own expectations and to set goals accordingly, and to be flexible enough to adjust them.

Some things to keep in mind as you embark on your own Quest:


Saying you plan on losing “X” number of pounds is a good idea, but it can lead to frustration. If you’re new to this, a fitness routine is going to take some getting used to. You’re also going be spending some time figuring out just what the hell you’re doing — as we all have different bodies, we all react differently to nutrition and exercise. Because of that your weight will fluctuate a bit. Maybe you’ll lose a little one day, gain a little the next.

Day to day weigh-ins can lead to frustration. Take that trip to the scale only once a week, or maybe every two weeks. Remember that your goal is fitness, not just weight loss.

If you’re working with weights, don’t fret if you’re starting out light. You’re stressing your body in ways it may not be used to. Better to start with a light workout so you can develop good form and steady control right from the beginning. That’s more important than lifting something heavy, even if your goal is to “get swole.” Don’t even get me started on Crossfit.


In fact, don’t set any hard dates to your fitness goals at all. I know some of you might be thinking of swimsuit season, but the best way to get a bikini body is to put a bikini on your body.

Losing X pounds in Y months maybe be a good measure of progress, but not so much for setting goals. Unless you really know your metabolism you might have set your expectations too high or too low. It also can get frustrating when you hit a plateau — and you will hit one — when things don’t appear to change much. Undertaking a Fitness Quest involves making and experiencing changes. Fat and muscle mass will fluctuate as you exercise, eat and rest. Again, look to the overall progress you’re making. Even a little improvement — an extra five pounds on the bar, ten more minutes of running — is what you need to keep you going.


You’re gonna cheat. You’re gonna skip a workout. You’re going to have that candy bar.

Relax. It’s okay.

The word “diet” is often reviled as a word for strict and unpleasant denial. It’s really just what you eat over the course of the day. When you embark on your Fitness Quest, your diet may change. How that changes depends on you (and maybe a doctor or nutritionist if you consult one) and while you might need to adjust your caloric intake, banning treats can lead to frustration and binging. It’s a cycle you can avoid thanks to moderation.

The same goes for “skip” days. Diligent as you may be with your schedule, there will come a time when you have to duck out because of another commitment. It happens. You don’t need to do a double workout later to make up for it. In fact, if your workouts are both regular and intense, you’ll need an occasional break to rest and heal up (and that’s very true if you lift). What’s important is establishing the habit of regular exercise and not giving up. Stay the course and you’ll be okay.

If you want to improve your health with fitness and diet, consider what you’re capable of doing. You might be able to jump in full steam, or maybe you need to take small steps. Take the time to find out what forms of exercise and dietary habits work best for you. It might be as easy as not having that daily candy bar, or just doing doing 30 minutes of yoga. Maybe you need to shift your feeding to six small meals per day, switching between weights and karate as I’ve been doing.

Being “fit” is not a goal, but a way of life. If you want that, you can have it, without fear, without guilt, without shame. You can also have it while having fun and feeling good about your body no matter how you look.

You can do it.

I’ve got your back.

Now kick ass.