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Graduating Students -- Some Advice

Several of the students in my dojo are graduating. Some are going on to college or technical training programs. Some are going from middle school to high school, and others from elementary school to middle school. I always find that this is a good time of the year to "encourage" my students. Some parents also ask me to do so.

It is extremely important for Karate students to try their very best in school. School comes first, Karate third or fourth. You should only practice Karate after you have completed your schoolwork, chores at home, and family obligations. If you are practicing Karate but falling behind in school, you should take a break from Karate training until you have caught up at school.

Most students will not become Karate instructors. Most Karate instructors, at least in Hawaii, do not do it for a living. So sacrificing your education for the sake of Karate does not make any sense. Even if you plan to become a fulltime Karate instructor (unlikely), a good education will help you. If Karate is a business to you, you better become very good at business! Otherwise, you will have a very difficult time making a living and providing for your family.

If you practice Karate as a form or self-defense, self-disclipline, or for health, then you should remember your reason(s) for practicing. School and work are more important. You should only practice Karate when you have the time to do so.

If you are really dedicated to Karate and strive to train regularly and dilligently, then good for you! You will have to try that much harder to keep up with school and work.

But here is the critical thing: training hard in Karate will help you to do better in school and in work. It will help you to do better in anything that requires effort, concentration, self-discipline, analysis, etc. Karate will/should help you to be better at just about everything.

Sometimes I had a very hard time finding time to practice martial arts, particularly when I was in college, business school, and law school. Sometimes I had to miss training (unless I was the instructor). But I found that even though I missed martial arts training, it did not always mean that I had more time. Missing training might have given me a couple of extra hours, but it also meant that I was not getting exercise. Without exercise, my mind was not as sharp. I also began to lack stamina. A couple of hours of training might have saved me many more hours because it made me more focused, efficient, and strong.

When it comes to school, students should strive for the best grades. How students do in school, particularly college, has a lot to do with the types of jobs they will be able to obtain.

I have never met a person who wished that they had gotten lower grades in school! I have never met a person who wished that they had learned less!

In life, there is a big difference between being first and second. But often, there is only a small difference in effort between being first and second. If you run in a mile race and lose by only five feet, you only lost by1/1000th of the distance. Sometimes a mere second separates first from second, third, and fourth.

This means that a little extra effort can really go a long way. You do not have to run twice as fast to win, only a few feet or a second faster.

In Karate, we always have to deal with people who are faster, stronger, heavier, even more skilled. But through our effort we can prevail.

In Judo, everyone was bigger than me when I was a kid. I got used to randori with bigger kids. It actually gave me an advantage (because my center of gravity was so low). It also made me try hard -- very hard. Sure I lost sometimes. But you should have seen the surprised looks when I won!

Karate training is training in effort. If you can try hard in Karate, you should be able to try hard at anything.

Some students would do anything to avoid disappointing me (as their Sensei). They should try harder not to disappoint their parents, and themselves.

Money is not everything. Having a good job does not mean that you will be a happy person. But having a poor paying job does not mean that you will be happy either.

I have never met a person who wished that they made less money. I never met a person who wished that they had provided less for their family.

Money is good. Being able to provide for your family is good. Even if you do not have children (yet), the time may come when you might have to provide for your parents. And don't forget, that are plenty of other people you can help in your community and the world.

So try your best in elementary school, in middle school, in high school, in college, in graduate school, in everything that you do!

Try to be the first. If you come in second, that is still great. Actually, in graduate school I noticed that being first, second or third is pretty much the same. That is because there is usually more than one reward. Good firms do not only hire the #1 graduate, they also tend to hire the top 10 percent.

Don't get me wrong, you should try to be #1. But by doing so, even if you come in less, you will still have a good reward.

But trying to fail, being lazy, giving up... these will certainly lead to nothing but failure.

I have a law office. My wife has a travel agency. We have had to hire and fire many people over the years.

Once in a while you find an employee who is literally one of the 20% who do 80% of the work. You find an employee who works like 3 people, who comes to work on time, who is self-directed, honest, hard working -- someone you can count on, a person who does what they say.

That is not only the kind of person you will want to hire, it is the kind of person you should want to be!

Try your best at school and work. If Karate helps you to do this, then Karate has a value that is infinitely greater than mere self-defense. You might have to defend yourself in life, hopefully not too often. But you definitely will have to get a job and support yourself. That is a certain. You almost certainly will have a family to support too.

The grades you get now mean something. What you learn now is important. What you learn later will depend on what you learn now. So do your best on every assignment, at homework, on every test!

It is your life. Make the best of it!

For my students... this means you! For other students... this means you too!


Charles C. Goodin