Character Chats

What is Courage?

What does courage mean?

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. I have two master’s degrees in education, which means that we’ve developed this curriculum to best meet the needs of our youngest student who’s three, and our oldest student who is 85.

And this month we’re talking about courage. We’re starting off this month talking about what courage means. It means that you can face your fears. It means that when you are faced with something difficult, you can keep going, you can keep moving, you can keep trying. You are determined, and you’re doing the best that you can in spite of those fears.

Story of Courage

As we were talking about what courage was, and I was looking over my notes, I was reminded of a story about back when I was in the classroom, I had two students, one who was very much afraid of spiders and the other who was very much not afraid of spiders, and a spider went walking across my classroom.

And for those of you that don’t know, I taught first, second, and third grade at the time. So you can imagine the chaos that would ensue if a child was suddenly very much afraid of a spider and shrieking about the spider crawling across the floor. And so I went to step on the spider. I myself do not like creepy crawly bugs. However, I needed to be the grownup in the adults and show some courage and calmness. So I went to squish the spider, and as I was about to step on it, the other student who felt that he needed to save the spider came running up and he’s like, “You have to save it. You cannot kill it. You have to save it, save it, save it. It has to live.” And so I had one student on one side yelling at me to kill the spider, and the other student on the other saying, “Save it, save it, save it.”

I don’t like spiders, but had to find a way to save this creature with the most calm I could find and the least amount of chaos that had already ensued. And so I had to show some courage. What I did was I grabbed a piece of paper and my coffee mug, and I put the coffee mug on top of the spider upside down, so it was now trapped. And then I put the piece of paper underneath the coffee mug and we carried it outside, and I released it into some shrubs that was right outside the door.

This is my best analogy of courage because creepy crawly bugs and I yeah, don’t like them. And when I’m faced with that kind of fear, that kind of unease, that kind of moment of startle, if You will, that’s when your courage comes in. That’s when in spite of it all, you have to take a deep breath. You have to be calm, and you have to move forward so that learning can continue. So that things at home can be done so that projects can be completed, so that whatever it is can then continue to move forward. Because courage is about meeting those challenges with determination. And sometimes things get in the way. Sometimes we need to face our fears.

Facing Fear With Experience

Younger kids have a lot of fears because they don’t have a lot of experiences. Adults, we have a lot of experiences we can draw on. We can compare things to other things. We have experienced trying new foods. We’ve experienced trying a new activity. We’ve experienced traveling a few times so that we kind of understand.

I’m not saying that that doesn’t give us some fear. That is not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that we’ve had some of these life experiences so that we have a better understanding of how things are going to go. Younger students, “What if I don’t like it? What if they laugh at me? What if I fall down? What if I get hurt? What if, what if, what if.” A lot of younger students don’t have the life experiences that grownups have that adults have, and so they have a lot of additional fears, and teaching them how to demonstrate courage, how to continue moving forward in a positive way, how to face those challenges is really what we’re going to talk about this month.

How it Ties in

And I find it to be a really great wrap up. Last month, I know we were talking about determination and the month before, we were talking about a good… I can’t remember the word as this gave me right now, but we were talking about determination last month. So I find courage to be a good wrap up because you face those challenges with determination and you face those fears, concerns, nervousness, new experiences with a sense of, “I can do this.” And so as we talk about courage this month, we’re going to talk about how much we can face our fears.

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