Character Chats

What is a Motto?

What is your motto?

Here at True Balance Karate, we have a social emotional learning program called True Character. And this month, we are talking about resilience. I’m Master H, owner and chief instructor here at the studio, and together, we have developed this curriculum to best meet the needs of our youngest students who are four, and our oldest student who is 85.

Resilience Recap

And we’ve been talking about resilience this month. We started off by defining it. Then we talked about problem solving and how we can use our resilience to really identify the problem and then write down a number of different choices and options and solutions to that problem. And then prioritizing and picking which one’s going to help us the best.

Last week, we then talked about what resilience was going to look like, taking a few deep breaths, pressing pause, having an I-can kind of attitude, using words like how do I solve this problem rather than why, so that we’ve got more actionable items.

Friendly Reminders

And this week, we’re talking about our resilience motto.

And as I was brainstorming this idea, one of the things that came to mind was the fact that just last week, we had a lot going on here at the studio. Within our area, we had a tournament. And the to-do list had gotten quite long for myself. And if you’re anything like me when the to-do list gets to be quite long, full of things to do, some of them are big, some of them are small. It winds up becoming overwhelming to the point where you’re almost frozen in your inability to work on it.

And I grabbed a red pen, and I wrote across the top of the page, “Breathe,” on one side, and then, “Take it one at a time,” on the other. And every time I wanted to halfway do one and halfway do the other, so I was working towards the finalizing both, I would like underline, “Take it one thing at a time,” so that it was a very physical reminder to myself that the only way to get through everything I needed to do was to take it one thing at a time. And that was the motto that I had last week. That was my ability to be resilient, because at the end of the day, I did get everything done when I needed to get it done.

And sometimes we can use mottoes that we’ve heard a million times, like, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” or, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” All of those old adages, they fit with the resilience model. They fit with what we’re trying to do. They help remind us of what it means to be resilient.

You’ve heard me say over and over again these last couple weeks about how no one grows in the comfort zone, because it’s a true statement, and it helps remind us that that’s a good thing, because that is a good thing. We want to learn. We want to grow. We want to push ourselves. We want to be better than we were a minute ago, five minutes ago, yesterday, last week, last month. We want to continuously push ourselves, and the only way to do that is by constantly using our resilience.

Making It Personal

And so, as we’re wrapping up this month, think about what your motto would be. Could it be the same motto all the time? Sure. It absolutely could be the same motto all the time. Could it be the motto you need at that moment in time to help you get through that situation? Yes. Yes, it absolutely can.

So it’s a matter of what is going to help you embrace that situation, learn from it, grow from it, bounce back from it so that you are standing taller, straighter, confident, proud, accomplished, ready to take on the world, demonstrate your resilience, all of those things. The motto can change along the way. It can be the same along the way. Either one works.

Using Our Resilience

So as you’re thinking ahead, as we’re moving into next month’s topic, as we’re wrapping up resilience, put into practice some of those things. As you are faced with a problem, how can we solve it? If you’re talking with your child or a fellow student or something like that, make sure that you’re imparting with them different ways for them to look at things. What would you tell yourself? What could you remind yourself of all the time? Can you bounce back? … those types of things.

I remember one time we actually… In my classroom, we wrote whatever was causing us problems that moment in time on pieces of paper and taped it to a ball, and then we threw it at the gym wall. We went in the gym and we just kind of kept throwing it at the gym wall. And then at the end, all the kids said that they felt better because it gave them a physical release.

And then we sat down and talked about, “Well, what did we write down? How can we solve them, now that we have a clearer head, now that we’re able to take a step back and think about it in a different light?” Sometimes that’s what it takes, is having more of a physicality to it all when it comes to how are we going to demonstrate our resilience.

So as we continue on, continue to practice your resilience. Continue to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Come up with the motto that works for you.

And we will see you on the mat, thanks!


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