Maximizing Your Karate R-O-I*

Congratulations!  You’ve finished the introductory program, completed the paperwork and received a new crisp white gi. You’re a full-fledged karateka.

Welcome to the path/way of the empty hand. Btw, it’s not really “empty”, but vast, infinite, large enough to fill the sky.

So let’s focus on a few things that will help maximize your *return-on-investment (time, sweat, energy and dollars) and pave the way toward martial success. 

Consistency counts. Most professional dojo offer classes early or mid-mornings, lunch times, evenings and weekends.  They make it easy for even the busiest students to train regularly.  Check your dojo schedule, select two or three classes you can attend on a regular basis, and then, prioritize each session as an appointment with yourself.
You gotta make it a priority to make your priorities a priority. – Richie Norton 

Punctuality matters.  Whether you’re catching a flight, taking an exam, participating in a job interview, or arriving for a first date, being on time is essential. As a future black belt who understands karate practice helps develop solid life habits, you’ll want to get to the dojo on time – or early.   One other thing – being punctual signals to your karate teachers and dojo family that you value them and the training.
Arriving late is a way of saying that your own time is more valuable than the time of the people who waited for you. – Karen Jay Fowler 

Be patient…and be passionate.  In beginner classes, everything is new – techniques, drills, combinations, terminology – and challenging.  You’re in the hands of experienced teachers who know how to communicate – physically and verbally. Great instructors are the ones who motivate students on day 1…or day 10,001.  Listen, watch and do your best.  Most importantly, be patient.  At the same time, keep the fire of desire stoked by remaining locked-in (engaged) and loaded with determination and commitment to achieve your goals.
Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek. – Mario Andretti  

Be respectful.  The well-known maxim karate begins and ends with courtesy is as, if not more, relevant today as when it was written by Master Anko Itosu in the 19th century.
Unlike many of the new techniques you’ll discover, treating others with care and demonstrating rei (courtesy) is relatively simple.  Bowing, shaking hands, and saying please, thank you and you’re welcome in each class demonstrates respect for your teachers, seniors and fellow students. These actions go a long way toward creating a warm, positive learning environment which is the key to continued advancement.
Treat people exactly as you would like to be treated by them. – Golden Rule

Be realistic…and be humble. Goals are accomplished by applying effort toward viable objectives. Even if we reset the bar (up and down) with time, age and changing priorities, there are a few constants: being realistic and remaining humble.  Students rarely possess the same physical attributes and true martial training isn’t about besting your class mates, but bettering yourself.  The wise karateka keeps it real, tunes-out the ego and tunes-in to his/her teacher and their own body. S/he is also mindful that in a dojo, we work together toward common purpose – becoming the best possible person we can be – rather than in competition with others.
You shouldn’t want to be better than everybody else, you should want to be better than you ever though you could be. – Anonymous 

Celebrate…and be humble.  Each stripe and belt is a tangible marker of martial gains – an adhesive or fabric pat on the back. Take time to celebrate and appreciate your accomplishments and those of your dojo family.  Assess your progress to date with a humble and honest heart, and then, recommit to your goals, or establish new ones.  While you’re at it, don’t be afraid to fail. Fall, get up and get back in the game ready to celebrate the next win.
Celebrate your successes. Find some wisdom in your failures. – Sam Walton

Bottomline: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Chinese proverb
You’ve taken the first step toward karate success and embarked on a journey that is unique to each student.  Your sensei can guide you, but the road from white to black belt and beyond is a personal path. Although each student’s destination and route may be different, successful karateka have a few things in common.  They are consistent, punctual, respectful, patient, realistic and humble.  Above all, they’re passionate.

More than a half-century after my first karate class I still find the journey exciting. My R-O-I has been astronomical. Martial arts have given me more than I could ever invest in return, and my sincere hope is that fifty years from now, you, too are reaping the benefits of a life enriched by karate-do.  Ossu!




  1. Great advice, so inspirational I want to join . This is exactly what new students and even veterans should hear and put into practice…and be part of this remarkable martial arts school.

  2. Thank you for posting this awesome advice and encouragement . What an awesome Dojo!

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