Character Chats

How to become excellent physically

Our social emotional learning program here at True Balance Karate is called “True Character.”

This month, our word-of-the-month is excellence. Excellence means consistently striving towards our personal best in order to reach our own potential. When we’re working to be excellent, we’re working hard every day to try to be the best that we can be.

Today, we’re going to talk about what it takes to be excellent physically.

Excellence in martial arts

Let’s start with our martial arts — with our karate practice.

Part of being excellent physically is paying attention, working hard every time in class to do your very best, and always trying to be a little bit better.

Now, if you fall over when you’re trying to kick, is that a fail? What does fail mean? “Fail” means “First Attempt In Learning.” When we mess something up, we need to understand that’s part of learning.

It’s not failure. You’re not giving up. You’re not stopping something. You’re not throwing in the towel and tossing your belt aside because you fell on your behind when you were trying to kick.

You learned, “Oh, when I did it that way, I fell on my behind. How about I don’t do it that way next time?”

When we’re trying to be excellent in our martial arts, we’ve got to understand that “fail” is First Attempt In Learning. You’re going to mess up. Things are going to happen. If we always learn from it, then we’re always growing and moving forward.

Eat good foods

We want to be excellent with our body — we want to make sure that we’re physically excellent.

The first aspect of that is eating good foods. It’s important to feed our body the things that it needs.

I always say that I like to think about how a food makes me feel, not necessarily how it tastes right then and there. Some of the foods that taste best that moment make us feel a little cruddy later that day.

You’re not going to have a giant cheeseburger and fries from McDonald’s two minutes before you come out on the karate mat. You’re not going to feel very good doing karate. You might even see the burger and fries come back again.

You want to have food that really helps build you up, builds vitamins, helps you to be stronger. There’s nothing wrong with having a dessert here or there, but not at every single meal. Think about nourishing, getting your body the right vitamins, the right nutrients, the right things it needs in order to be strong.


Exercising is another way to be excellent physically, which of course is what we do here. We want to make sure that we’re constantly exercising and working our bodies.

When we use our muscles, we build our muscles. When we don’t use them, we lose them.

Same thing goes with our balance. When we use our balance, we build our balance. When we don’t, we lose our balance.

To keep ourselves feeling good, feeling strong, having lots of energy, we have to keep exercising and pushing ourselves — getting that heart rate up, moving every single day.

When my kids have a day off, what do they do? Especially in the summertime, where they really don’t do much and they just sit in front of the screen the whole day.

Their whole energy level is lower. They don’t feel as good. Constantly saying they’re tired. Lethargic. They walk through the house almost like they’re sick.

When there’s a day where they get up and move, come in here for class, work out with us in the morning; their energy level is much higher the whole rest of the day.

We’re going to make sure that we get that exercise to push ourselves.

Get rest and sleep

Rest and sleep, teenagers. Make sure that we get lots of rest and sleep. In order for our body to rebuild and keep strong, it has to get the proper amount of rest.

You can eat a fantastic diet, the best in the world. You can exercise an hour and a half every single day. You can do all of the right things physically. But if you then only get three or four hours of sleep at night, your body is going to break down.

We really want to make sure that we get enough rest, which means going to bed on time. It means, just like everything else with excellence, figuring out what works for us.

Does reading a regular book help settle my mind? Is reading on my phone okay? Do I need to turn on the blue light filter on the phone so I can read at night?

What time do I need to start going to bed? When can I eat what? Maybe I shouldn’t have something with sugar or caffeine close to bedtime.

What time do I need to get up in the morning to be ready for the day?

Again, just like everything else that we’re trying to be excellent with, we can work hard to try to be excellent at sleeping — to get the best and most rest that we can get.

Show respect for your body

Another way to be excellent is to show respect for ourselves and our bodies.

This is an important one some of us have had to learn the hard way. Sometimes when something hurts, we have to show respect for it and let it rest.

We say this in class all the time. Somebody comes in and maybe, for example, they fell. We get that a lot — fell off the bike, really hit their knee hard and it hurts a little bit.

When this happens, it’s important to show respect for it. I’ll tell them it’s okay, you don’t do a lot of kicks today. Make some variations.

Sometimes we really don’t feel good at all. We’re coughing, we’re sick. We want to show respect for our bodies. Give ourselves time to rest. You know what, why don’t we not go to class today? You could always go on Zoom and lightly follow along.

The more respect you show for your body, the more respect you show for rebuilding injuries and sickness, the stronger our bodies become.

Don’t consume dangerous things

Another thing we do to respect ourselves physically is to not put dangerous things in our body. We want to make sure that we only put clean things that are supposed to be in there.

A simple example: let’s say you’ve got a cough and you’re taking some cough medicine. You only want to take the amount you’re supposed to take for it. Taking extra doesn’t make the cough go away faster, it just winds up becoming dangerous.

We want to make sure that we’re only eating foods that are safe for us. We want to make sure that we’re not having too much caffeine. At a certain age (our younger students) we shouldn’t have any caffeine at all.

Those things are all dangerous for us. We want to make sure that we’re only eating and drinking things that we’re supposed to at our age, and that we’re always keeping ourselves healthy and keeping away all the dangerous things that are just going to make us feel worse later.

Excellence is an important word. It’s a very important part of life.

Remember, excellence is never being perfect. Excellence is really all about, every day, trying to be the best that you can be at whatever it is you’re doing.

Thanks, and we’ll see you on the mat.
– Master Helsdon