Character Chats

Tunnel Vision

What is tunnel vision?

So here at True Balance Karate, we have a social emotional learning program called True Character. I’m Master H, owner and chief instructor here at the studio, and we have developed this curriculum to best meet the needs of our youngest students to our oldest students.

And this month we’ve been talking about vision, using your eyes, using your mind to help you accomplish your goals. And today we’re talking about tunnel vision. That hyper-focus, can’t see anything else around you, kind of tunnel vision that goes on.

And you can kind of see it when a younger kid is working on a worksheet at school. And let’s say part of the worksheet has to do with coloring, and part of the worksheet has to do with answering a couple of questions. And they’re like, I’m going to color this the best I know how. And they’re just going to spend eight hours making sure they stay in the lines. And that is their hyper-focus and that is all that they see, and that is what they’re concentrating on.

You can also see it in projects that people work on. They tend to gravitate toward the thing that they like the best and the thing that they feel the greatest at, or the thing that interests them the most. And then they have tunnel vision and they’re like, yeah, I’ll get to the next part later. Yeah, I’ll get to the next part later because this is what I want to make sure is totally well and perfect and good, and I can do it and nothing else is really going to matter too much.

Finding Balance

And when we get into that tunnel vision, it has its positives, yes, but it can also have its negatives because part of your vision is seeing the whole picture.

So two weeks ago I talked about my kitchen counter, and if I have tunnel vision and all I want to do is clean up my kitchen counter, well maybe I’ll just take the mess and move it over to the coffee table. And now my kitchen counter’s clean and that’s all that really mattered, but the mess is still there because all I did was move it to the coffee table.

So it’s a matter of having that motivation along with that awareness of what it is that you’re trying to accomplish, what your vision is for your end goal, to help you really utilize your tunnel vision in the best way possible. So as we’re going through, it’s teaching that balance, it’s teaching that awareness, it’s teaching that empowerment piece of yes, do that thing that you do really, really well, but also make sure that you see the other pieces and you do those as well.

Find joy in one piece, make sure you accomplish the rest with some purpose, with some positivity and with some determination so that the whole thing is at the standard that you’re looking for to do.

Sometimes we see that here in the karate studio, kids really like to do forms, so they work really hard on remembering their forms, but they don’t necessarily like to fall as much. So that’s like, I’ll get to it when I get to it. And so it’s a matter of finding that way of being well-rounded, of being able to do everything, some things better than others.

I’m not saying that everything needs to be the same in terms of the way they do it. What I am saying is that we can’t get into, the only thing I’m focusing on is this, and the rest of it can all be forgotten because then you find yourself only being good at math or only being good at reading, or only being good at drawing.

Growing Awareness

And as adults, as parents, we know that people are good at many, many things, and it’s a matter of introducing those skills to everybody around us so that we have that vision of what it is that we’re all working towards, that awareness.

And tunnel vision is not being aware. So we want to include more opportunities for awareness and make sure that we recognize and guide our students, our children, away from things that get them stuck in that one only seeing thing.

And so as we’ve talked about vision this month, we’ve talked about it from the standpoint of what is it? How do we use our eyesight for it? How do we use our mind to see what we want to be able to do? And how do we avoid being in that tunnel vision, that I only focus on one thing?

Because if we’re going to accomplish goals, if we’re going to work towards our own particular purpose, if we’re going to have a positive, optimistic attitude, we want to make sure that we are as well rounded as what we see and what we accomplish and are aware of the world around us so that we can take care of each other.

Thanks, and I’ll see you on the mat!


True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here