The theme of the month for February is excellence. The root word of the excellence is to excel. To excel at something is not just to do it but to do it until you are amazing at that skill. To conquer a skill takes different effort for individuals. I have seen students come in and everything is easy. While other students struggle and struggle to master the same skills. My instructor Sensei Morris Mack has a saying that he has said numerous times over the years. "Good, Better, Best. Never let it rest. Until the good gets better and the better gets best." This month we are saying this nearly every class in class and talking about how this should look in our lives. How are you doing things? Just good? Or the best you can. Excellence only happens when the individual is striving towards the best they can do. It takes effort and intentionality to excel and achieve excellence. Although it takes around 20 hours to learn a new skill it takes around 10,000 hours to master that skill. Do you have something that you want to excel at and become a master?


It is hard to believe that it is already almost half way through the month of January. In classes this month we have been talking about goals. What are they? How should you set them? What is the difference between a 'wish' and a goal? The whole school has been thinking about what goals they want to set. We are making short, mid, and long time goals and writing them down. Several years ago, we did this as a school and I am taking those goals out of the file and students are looking at them. It is amazing how much we can change over the years and subsequently that often changes what is important to us. Many of the younger students are working on a goal of drinking more water. Whereas the older students have more concrete individualized goals such as being cleaner at home, more organized, or getting their important stuff done first. What are you wanting to do new this new year?


This weekend was very special with the second annual adult karate camp at Lazy F Retreat Center in Washington. I was honored to be asked to teach one of my favorite crane kata Koryu Nipaipo. We had around 50 adult Shudokan practitioners train over 3 days. We learned so much and had a wonderful bonding time. If you train be sure to make it a priority next year! It is so very worth the time. 


We all have heard the quote opportunity knocks. I recently saw a quote by Thomas Edison that went like this, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." In classes this month we have been talking about the thought of opportunity. What is opportunity? Most students think of it as a chance or a choice. What opportunities are in your life? Are you missing seeing them for the opportunities they are because they look difficult or hard? I remember when a family member that was in his late 20's said I can't go back to college I will be 30 when I graduate! My response was, "And how old will you be in three years if you don't go back to college?" Of course the answer was 30! Don't let the work change your choices and opportunities that have been given to you.  


It is so easy to get offended. As humans we have so many view points and opinions about absolutely everything. What does it mean to truly forgive? How can you let something go that hurt or offended you? Forgiving is an essential character trait, as the people that hold all the grudges and hurts of the past often become bitter unhappy people. It is easy to get confused between forgiving and reconciliation. They are completely different verbs! The action of forgiving only happens with one person.... YOU! To forgive you have to let it go (don't sing the song) and move on. To reconcile it takes both people to decided to forgive and then renew the relationship. The following quote says it all. "It takes one person to forgive but it takes two people to be reunited." Lewis Smede.

Sometimes, due to a toxic relationship being reunited is NOT your goal and that is definitely ok. We must always forgive the other person so we don't hold on to those burdens and hurts. Who in your life should you forgive today? 


"Perseverance is stubbornness with a purpose" John Shipp

The theme of the month for April is Perseverance. Literally the word broke down means "through severity". So I think of the word perseverance to mean to continue no matter what the circumstance. We all will have difficult times in which we just want to give up. There is a story about one of the most famous inventors in American history.

Thomas Edison's laboratory was virtually destroyed by fire in December, 1914. Although the damage exceeded 2 million dollars, the buildings were only insured for 238,000 because they were made of concrete and thought to be fireproof. Much of Edison's life work went up in spectacular flames that December night. At the height of the fire, Edison's 24-year-old son, Charles, frantically searched for his father among the smoke and debris. He finally found him calmly watching the scene, his face glowing in the reflection, his white hair blowing in the wind. "My heart ached for him," said Charles. "He was 67 - no longer a young man- and everything was going up in flames. When he saw me, he shouted, 'Charles, where is your mother?' When I told him I didn't know, he said, 'Find her. Bring her here. She will never see anything like this as long as she lives." The next morning, Edison looked at the ruins and said, "There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew." Three weeks after the fire, Edison successfully completed the first phonograph.  (Sower's Seeds)

What can you have perseverance in?



This month we instead of making New Year's resolutions in the karate school, we are talking about good and bad habits. How long does it take to break a bad habit and develop a new one? Much of the time, bad habits are hard to break simply because they begin as enjoyable activities, which we want to repeat. This is because, when we do pleasurable things, our brains release dopamine, a chemical that activates the brain's reward center. This encourages us to do those things again, and the activity becomes a habit. Essentially, we do what we reinforce whether good or bad.

You can break bad habits and, in some cases, replace them with positive behaviors. Unfortunately this takes time; research shows that, on average, you'll need to engage in an alternative behavior or thought pattern consistently for an average of 66 days for it to become a habit. (This can vary from 18 to 254 days, depending on the behavior and the person.)

This can seem overwhelming. But stop and think about the last time you kicked a bad habit for good. It felt great, didn't it? Three steps that can help are as follows:

Step No.1: Make It Conscious

The first step is to figure out when -- and why -- you bite your nails, crack your knuckles, or engage in any other bad habit.

Step No. 2: Put It in Writing So It Really Sinks In

Keep a log for at least a week and then look at the data. What are your usual triggers are. "Do you do it when you are anxious or bored?"

Step No. 3: Bait and Switch

Once you realize when and why you are biting your nails, cracking your knuckles, or engaging in any other bad habit, the next logical step is to find a not-quite-as-annoying temporary or permanent replacement for it.

Many of the kids at the dojo are working on simple things like cleaning their rooms, brushing their hair or teeth, or even working on not throwing fits! What do you want to work on?




Our theme of the month for November is Gratitude. As we enter into the holiday season it is so easy to lose sight of being thankful for our lives. . I like the quote by Brian Tracy, "Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step towards achieving something bigger and better than your current situation." Hardships happen how can we learn from them and still, this is really tough, be grateful for the lesson. If you plant a tree and stake it so it does not move at all, it will not grow deep roots. Meaning if the stakes are removed and the wind blows and the ice comes it will fall down. Remember that ice storm last winter? In my neighborhood the trees looked like a bomb went off. People are much like the trees, when life's adversities come they are not fun, but they do strengthen our character. So what in your life are you grateful for?


October's theme of the month is Faithfulness. We are talking about what it means to be faithful and how that looks in our lives. Most of our students defined faithful with words like reliable, honor, consistency, and following through with something. Being faithful obviously has different meanings based on context. The act of being faithful in a marriage is not quite the same as being faithful to brush your teeth twice a day. What areas in your life do you wish you were more faithful in? How do we 'grow' our faithfulness? In our discussions, we have all decided that in order to be more faithful, we first must learn to make habits and then keep on doing those habits! Everyone in the karate school is striving to take one area and make new habits and become faithful where we have struggled. Why don't you join us in our quest and foster more faithfulness in your life!!

Treasuring Loved Ones

Last weekend was a very difficult one as my family and some very close friends watched a very dear man pass away. After a second stroke Thursday, Leroy slipped into a coma. This was a shock to many as his diagnosis of cancer was less than two months ago. What struck me is how many people had regrets...wishing they had taken the time to visit even though seeing such a strong man ill was hard. I learned the lesson that if you love someone take the time everyday to show it somehow. It is the simple gestures of a meal, short visit, helping someone in need that speak so much more loudly than verbal words. Regret is a terrible thing as life rarely has do-overs. You can't take back neglect or harmful words especially if that loved one has died. Then we are left with the burden of wishes and 'if only'. So hug the people that matter and tell them you love them. It just might be the last thing you get to say to them.

June Theme of the Month, HUMILITY

The Family Karate Center has life-skill themes of the month. With these themes we talk about different character traits or goals to live by. We also tell stories that illustrate the life-skill that we are discussing. The theme of the month for June is humility. What does humility even mean in today's competitive society? If one goes to Webster's the synonyms (similar meanings) and antonyms (opposite meanings) give us a clue to what humility means.


demureness, down-to-earthness, humbleness, lowliness, meekness, modesty


arrogance, assumption, bumptiousness, conceit, egoism, egotism, haughtiness, hauteur, huffiness, imperiousness, loftiness, lordliness, peremptoriness, pomposity, pompousness, presumptuousness, pretense (or pretence),pretension, pretentiousness, pride, pridefulness,  superiority, toploftiness

Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all. ~William Temple

So far I have found most kids don't even know the word humility! How do we learn to be good winners and have the character trait of humility in our lives?  We will be talking about these questions and more at the end of classes.

Meet Toni


Toni Mueller is testing for her second degree black belt this spring. She has years of experience teaching BSF, homeschooling her children, and karate. Toni teaches in her community in Springfield close to Hamlin Middle School in a local church. When not teaching karate, Toni does web design, takes care of her dad and kids, and enjoys her cats.

Meet Morganne

Morganne Roy is a second degree black belt. She has been training for 12 years. Morganne enjoys teaching younger children. She is graduating this spring and plans on attending Lane Community College in the fall pursuing a Psychology degree. Morganne enjoys drawing and watching Fringe, Star Wars, and Princess Bride.

Meet Jaron


Jaron Martindale is a second degree black belt that has been working with and teaching kids for over six years. Jaron has qualified and competed at the AAU Nationals in Chicago. He is currently attending school at Lane Community College pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice. Jaron’s hobbies are reading, archery, and collecting swords and knives.

Meet Jeff


Jeff Wagner, Sensei Elida’s brother, is a third degree black belt/ He has been teaching more than 12 years. Jeff has a bachelor’s degree in Pastorial Studies from Eugene Bible College. He is an avid football fan and enjoys playing with and walking his dog.

Meet Sensei Elida


Elida Wagner is the owner and chief instructor at the Family Karate Center. She has a 6th degree black belt in Shodokan Karate-do and has been teaching karate for over 30 years. She has certificates in effective coaching and refereeing. Sensei Elida has successfully medaled at both Nationals and international tournaments. She has degrees in Anthropology, History, and is a landscape contractor/designer.  You can find Elida gardening, listening to music, and reading when not teaching karate.