By Jenifer Tull-Gauger

It seems we all have busy schedules these days, and the more people in the family, the more schedules there are to keep track of.  The good news is that people with a lot of activities tend to use their time more wisely, on constructive activities that help them grow as people and contribute to society.  The bad news is that too many of us float between a wise full schedule and just too much, so one additional activity or change can throw our life into chaos and make us lose sight of priorities.

I have often seen this overload happen to our students, and I am saddened when they cut out karate in an attempt to find some balance.  As the years go by, I hear later that so many of those students regret their decision to quit.  They prove over and over that it is very difficult and rare to start up again and stick with it a second time.

I am a firm believer that we can learn from the past experiences of others.  Many of our students have proven that it is possible to make dojo training a meaningful part of your life, in addition to school or work, church, and scouts or sports.  This schedule–four activities done weekly or more often–is doable for many, but it is a lot.  Usually when a student tries to add more than that, it proves to be too much, and something has to give.  Please be aware of this as you make karate a part of your life, and mindful of your priorities and your/your children’s time whenever you think about adding another activity to the plate.

Remember: people, both old and young, need DOWN TIME too!  Don’t schedule out every day and evening of the week, allow time for unstructured relaxing, family cuddle time and “me” time.  I recommend prioritizing work or school and immediate family first, and spirituality and karate second.  Notice that all of the above priorities feed and help each other, and create a balanced life.

For example, work puts food on the table, school helps educate kids to better their futures, spiritual growth helps feed the non-physical body, and karate helps promote physical health, stress reduction, and social and spiritual growth.  A person who prioritizes these things and works on all these areas is someone I want to spend my time with, and I’m sure many others feel the same.

Then there are other goals a student may have, like being in the major leagues, or helping the dispirited, or being an author.  Those things are important too.  A well-rounded, stable martial artist will be better able to conquer anything else they set their mind to.  They will be better at all their roles in life because of being a rounded martial artist.  Purposefully prioritizing will help with this.

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