Category Archives: General Martial Arts Topics

Ask Dr. Robyn: COURTESY

8-23-2015 6-15-34 PM

Dear Dr. Robyn,
In a conversation with my children’s grandparents the other day, they pointed out that so many children these days don’t use common courtesy. It’s all “me, me, me!” I think they are right. Can you provide some tips so we can make sure our children aren’t part of the problem?
— Jade & Pete G, Omaha, NE

Dear Jade & Pete,
In order to raise courteous children, we need to make sure we teach them and show them how to be courteous! But we also need to expect them to show courteous actions without dismissing disrespectful actions. Sometimes, we do one without the other.

In order to raise courteous kids:

(1) Take the extra moment to teach your child: When your child does not remember to use manners, hold the door or help others, don’t jump in and rescue. Take the moment to teach your child the right thing to do. Ask them politely, “Please hold the door for the person behind us. It shows courtesy and it’s what we would like others to do for us too!” Even small children can show courtesy!

(2) Expect courteous actions: Whether it’s at the dinner table, walking into a store, taking the groceries into the home or interacting with friends and family, expect your children to show courteous, developmentally appropriate conduct. Expect table manners, holding the door for others and a helping hand. When we expect kind conduct and relay this to our children, they are much more likely to show it.

(3) Provide courteous opportunities: When you see an opportunity to lend a helping hand or overtly use manners, take it! Say to your children; “that elderly woman is struggling with her bags and getting to out the door– what do you think we should do?” Allow them to hear the courteous way you order from a restaurant and ask them to shadow you by ordering in the same way after you. You can even go to a public area with the intention of looking for courteous opportunities.

Finally, get your family involved with charity: When we can show our children the many people, animals and places that are in need to help, it can ignite their empathy and desire to help. It can also help to underscore how fortunate they are and help them to see that they have the ability and resources to help others. Through charity, our children can learn to show concern and kindness for others and do something that can help others!

Here’s to your success!

Dr. Robyn Signature

Kid Martial Arts

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Ask Dr. Robyn – LOYALTY



Dear Donna,
Thank you for writing in about this interesting dilemma. Loyalty is a tough concept for children to understand, especially when it comes to friendship, family and doing the right thing. We want our children to be a loyal person with strong character.

Here is where I would start:

(1) Help to define what loyalty is: Loyalty is being faithful and committed to someone or something. It says to the person you care about; “I have stuck by you, I am sticking by you and I will stick by you in the future.” But we must also be loyal to ourselves and our values. At times, the best way to be loyal to someone is by looking out for them. It may result in doing something that the other person doesn’t like. We must help those we like or love do the right thing as it is part of showing that we care for that person.

(2) Help to define what loyalty is not: Loyalty does not mean
that you will allow your friends to break the rules, do dangerous acts and compromise their values without standing up for what is right. You can stick by a friend without endorsing their choices just as you can value your friend without denouncing your own values. That means, if you care about your friend, speak up when s/he starts going in the wrong direction. That’s what friends do.

(3) Commend loyal acts: It’s not always easy to be loyal. In school, many children will choose popularity over sticking by a friend who has fallen out of favor. And it’s easy to see how a child might join in when friends are making unkind jokes about another friend instead of sticking up for that person. Loyal people will stick by and stick up for those who they care for even in challenging circumstances. When you see your child making the tough choice, recognize him for it. Tell him; “I know what you did wasn’t easy. It shows your loyalty and your strong character. It was not only right but courageous.”

Loyalty is confusing for children so be sure to continue to discuss it. Provide hypothetical scenarios at the dinner table and ask your children “what would you do?” Offer your thoughts and listen to their thoughts as well. Over time, they will learn how they can be a loyal person with character.

Here’s to your success!

Dr. Robyn Signature


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The Cost of Getting Lean

Click Here to read the Awesome article that goes with the infographic below…

Keep up the good fight!


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Gas Station Clerk/MMA Fighter Takes Out Would-be Thieves

This is such a great story… I love Martial Arts!!!


As always, keep up the good fight!

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July 30, 2014 · 1:18 pm

You Don’t have To Like It, You Just Have To Do It!

While our monthly discussion topic in our child classes is discipline, I thought that I would share a little technique that I have been using for many years now, which does wonders to inspire self-discipline.  I discovered it back in the late nineties upon reading a great book entitled “Rogue Warrior”.  The book is about a Vietnam War Veteran Navy Seal named Richard Marcinko, in which he shares many of his experiences during the war.  In the book, Mr. Marcinko explains that a soldier has many difficult tasks to complete, many of which are quite unpleasant.  However, these assignments must be executed in order to complete the mission.  There is no saying, “I just don’t want to do this”, or, “I can’t do this”.  The job must get done!  Mr. Marcinko had a little phrase he would use… “You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it”!

It has been many years since I read “Rogue Warrior”, and as you would expect, my memory has faded on most of the book’s details.  However, this little phrase is one very powerful detail that I remember very clearly.  I have said this phrase to myself on many occasions and it has given me the drive to follow through and complete whatever it is that needed to be done.  The best example I can give is the numerous times that I did not feel like working out.  There have been many times (and I’m sure many of you can relate to this) when it was time to work out and I found myself on the fence, considering blowing it off, and I would think of that phrase.  It would get me up and to my workout every single time.  There was even one incident that I remember when I was staying in a cheap motel and I needed to take a shower.  Not surprisingly, the hot water was not working.  I was ready to turn off the water when I said to myself, “you don’t have to like it, you just have to do it”!  Yes… I toughed it out and took the cold shower.

This powerful little phrase can apply to any aspect of life in which discipline is needed.  I am thankful to Richard Marcinko for leaving such an impression on me with this simple little phrase.  I hope you will give it a try!

Click the button below to start instilling some discipline in your life or in the lives of your children…

GSN001_RedKeep up the good fight!

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Some Thoughts on Courage…

This month, we have been teaching our child students about courage.  It’s funny… when you ask them if they know what it is to have courage, they all seem to answer the same… “it means you are not afraid of anything”.  It is so refreshing to see such innocence.  I can actually remember being a child and thinking that there was nothing my dad was afraid of.  Of course we all learn as we mature that there is nobody on earth who does not feel fear.  I explain this to them and tell them that having courage is doing something that you believe is necessary, even though you may be afraid to.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines courage as “moral or mental strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty”.  Therefore, having courage is having the ability to overcome your fear and face something or do something that you feel needs to be done because it aligns with your personal beliefs.  The courageous individual can control his fear and does not let his fear control him or his actions.

Some obvious situations that children can relate to that require courage are standing up to a bully or learning to ride a bicycle without training wheels for the first time.  However, danger does not always have to be present for one to be courageous.  Consider the situation of a person’s first time speaking to a crowd.  It really amazes me, but according to studies, the thing that the majority of people fear most in life is public speaking (apparently, death is second on this list).  There is really no inherent danger in making a speech.  However, it takes a lot of courage for most people to speak in front of a crowd for the first time.  Obviously, the public speaker must face the fear of embarrassing himself.

When explaining the meaning of courage to the students, I always make sure that they know the difference between having courage and being stupid.  You see, just because you do something that you are afraid to do does not mean that you are courageous.  For instance, I would be more scared than the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz to jump from the Tobin Bridge into the Mystic River just because it was hot out.  To actually do it would not be courageous, but rather stupid.  It is stupid because being hot is obviously not a good enough reason to justify taking such a big risk.  It is only an act of courage if the risk is worth taking.

So what is it that makes the risk worth taking?  The intended result of the courageous act must produce benefits that exceed the value of that which is at risk.  Taking the example of a child learning to ride a bike without training wheels for the first time, consider what is at risk and what the intended result would be.  The likely risk for the child might be a minor injury, such as a skinned knee or a cut on the arm.  There is also a risk of a more serious injury such as a broken bone or a sprained ankle, but this risk is much lower and less likely to happen.  The benefit of course, is that the child learns to ride a bike, giving that child a certain freedom and a great deal of enjoyment from this activity, perhaps for the rest of his or her life.  In addition to this, it will give the child an increase in confidence to face other challenges he or she is certain to face in the future.  In this instance, I think most would conclude that the risk is worth taking.

Why do we as Martial Artists feel that it is important to have courage?  Courage builds strong character, which is what we are all about in the Martial Arts.  There are many times during everyone’s life when they are faced with a situation in which a difficult decision has to be made.  Sometimes the right decision involves carrying out an act that may put one in danger or in a position that they are not very comfortable facing.  We want our students to have the ability to evaluate these situations and have the confidence to decide what is right.  When the right thing to do is something that is dangerous or uncomfortable, we need them to have the courage to execute.  No matter how the situation turns out, there should be no regrets.  Only a person of strong character can carry this out.

Keep up the good fight!

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A Lesson in Self-Control

Over the past two months, I found myself in two separate situations that made me ponder as I looked back at them. I actually learned a lot about myself as a result. One of the incidents happened just a couple of weeks ago. My wife, two daughters and myself were lounging around at home on a weekday during the mid-morning hours, a little while before I leave for NSMAC. My wife decided that she would take a ride to Dunkin’ Donuts with our 2 year-old daughter to get us a couple of coffees. She was also planning to stop and get gas for her car. She was gone for about fifteen minutes when I received a phone call from her. I answered the call and she was crying hysterically, as was my daughter who I could hear in the background. She said that she had a problem at the gas station and that she would tell me about it in a couple of minutes when she gets home. I went outside to meet them in our driveway and when they returned, my wife was still crying but was a bit more calm than she was when she called on the phone. However, my daughter was still very upset and we had a very hard time calming her down.

My wife explained to me that she pulled up to the gas pump at the gas station and she asked the attendant to put $30.00 worth of gas in her tank. The attendant apparently misunderstood her because he filled up her tank and the total came to $44.00. My wife only had $30.00 with her and she told him that she had requested he only put $30.00 of gas in the tank. At this point, the attendant got very upset and started screaming at my wife, saying that she better pay him and it that it was not his mistake. Well, those of you who know my wife can probably figure out that she was not going to take this kind of treatment from anyone, and she started screaming right back at him. My poor daughter was in her car seat and was very frightened by the whole scene, and she started crying and screaming. At this point, the managers came outside got involved. While my wife is a regular customer at this gas station, they knew who she was and told her to go, and they can work out the outstanding balance with her at another time. The managers obviously handled the situation very well. However, I was still not happy to just leave it at that. I saw my 2 year-old little girls crying hysterically because of some jerk and it made me furious! Also, this same jerk treated my wife with enormous disrespect and this just added more fuel to the fire.

So I got into my truck and headed down to the gas station. When I pulled into the gas station I got out of my truck and I stormed over to the attendant. I started getting in his face, yelling expletives at him and basically just putting the fear of God into him. The managers came running out and told me that they were very sorry for the incident that had happened and it would not happen again. I expressed to them my dissatisfaction with their choice of people to work for them and I paid them the balance that my wife left behind.

The other situation happened earlier this summer. My wife and I and four of our friends, two men and two women (they were not couples, just friends) went out on a Saturday night for some appetizers and drinks at a local tavern. One of my male friends and me noticed that there was a Golden Tee video golf game across the room and we went to play. Needless to say, once we got started playing, we spent most of the rest of our time doing so. A little later in the night, the other guy we were with came over and said that there were two guys sitting at the bar making wisecracks to the ladies. Now this type of thing does not bother me one bit, as long as the ladies are comfortable dealing with it and can handle the situation. Therefore, I was of the position that I would leave it alone unless it gets out of hand. However, my friend that was playing golf with me went crazy! He went over to the two men and started yelling in their faces, shoving them and challenging them to a fight. In fact, my other friend and myself had to hold him back or else he would have killed these guys. Well, the two guys that were harassing the girls got thrown out and we were allowed to stay. These guys apparently are known by the bar staff for their type of behavior.

Anyhow, like I said… I started to ponder the two situations and I came to a couple of conclusions. I thought about my behavior in the gas station situation and about my friend’s behavior in the bar situation. Although my and his behavior appeared to be quite similar, it was very, very different. You see, I was in complete control of myself at the gas station. Sure, if you saw me, you would have thought I was a maniac! However, I was thinking very clearly during the entire event. I had the presence of mind not to out my hands on the attendant, which could have had legal ramifications. I did not have to be restrained and I had no intention of getting into a physical altercation with this dope. I just wanted to teach him a lesson by giving him a little scare, and perhaps send him a message that he is not going to disrespect people in the manner that he did and get away with it.

When you consider my friend’s behavior at the bar, there is no denying that he was completely out of control. If we were not there to restrain him, who knows what he may have done to these guys or perhaps what may have happened to him. And I do not only mean physically… he could have developed some major legal problems for himself.

Bottom line… thank the Lord for my Martial Arts training. I am 100% certain that my ability to control myself in these types of situations is all due to my Martial Arts training.

Keep up the good fight!

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