AIK Kenpo Juniors: Truth

Kenpo Juniors Blog - Truth #1

The Bushido Code is a code of conduct applied by the Samurai of Japan from about the time Europe discovered the Americas up until the end of World War II. It’s like the Code of Chivalry, or our own rules at AIK here in Tucson, Arizona: a list of ways for warriors to behave. Bushido consists of eight ethical principles to help you live up to the responsibility of being able to harm people with your body. Throughout your martial arts journey, you’ll read and think deeply about each of these principles. For this training cycle, we’re going to focus onTruth.

Being truthful is simple on the surface: it meansdon’t tell lies. But if you scratch that surface, you find points of complexity that can impact your training, your relationships and your life.

“Little White Lies”

What if your friend asks how she looks in an outfit that looks terrible? Or if your little brother asks whether or not a certain character who likes winter holidays and chimneys actually exists outside the realm of imagination? Telling the truth might do more harm than good.

Lying to Yourself

You see this often in training, where a tired student does half a pushup instead of a full pushup, or practices a technique with only 80% focus. That student often tells himself he’s working hard, but the Truth is different. The trouble with lying to ourselves is that we’re so good at it we don’t always catch ourselves in the act.

Lies of Omission

This can be very tempting when asked about something that might get you in trouble. If your parents ask if you finished your Math homework, “Yes” iskind oftrue, even if you only did your math and left your social studies incomplete. In some cases, leaving out information helps people focus on the most important parts of conversation. Other times, you’re being as untruthful as if you told an outright lie.

Letting Others Lie

What about letting somebody else tell a lie? Like with a lie of omission, you’re not lying. Does that make it all right to not contradict the person who’s not beingTruthful? Does that kind of lie matter? If your brother is lying about his homework, is that different from letting a friend add “creative details” to a story he’s telling about a fishing trip?

The answers to these questions aren’t easy, and Truthfully (see what we did there?) it’s better for you to explore your own answers than to hear them from us. But we will give you a hint. Whenever you catch yourself thinking you should avoid theTruthask yourself why you want to. If the answer moves you toward something good, then it might be okay. If it’s to avoid something you don’t want, facing the Truth now is always the warrior’s way.

Parents’ Corner

Truth is often a sticking point when parenting tweens and teens. The painful truth is that your children will lie to you. It’s an unavoidable part of their testing limits and exploring their place in the dynamic of your family. Although lying shouldn’t be permitted, getting into a dramatic family problem over telling lies can cause more harm than letting a fib slide.

The best parenting experts recommend two pieces here. First, create an atmosphere at home and relationship with your child where she feels like she can tell you the truth without your overreacting. Kids lie in part to avoid a conversation or confrontation they fear the truth will create. Second, choose your battles. If your child tells a small fib about doing a chore, it’s okay to just call them on it without levelling a serious punishment for dishonesty. Yes,Truthis important, but so is understanding and helping your child feel safe.

Kenpo Junior Blog - Truth #2

We wrote last month about how important truth is in communicating with the people you care about. This month we’ll learn about how important truth is in figuring out what you believe and act on. What happens when a truthful person makes decisions based on a lie somebody else told him? Although the person’s motives are good, the results are often bad. As a warrior and martial artist – a person powerful enough to create change in the people and the world – it’s vital that you act on accurate information.

One place this is especially important is when you read the news, a textbook, a research paper or anything else that will impact what you believe is true. YouTruthexercise for this quarter is to read four pieces of nonfiction writing. These can be:

- Newspaper articles

- Blog posts about current events

- Magazine articles

- A section of a textbook

- Part of a nonfiction book

- A research study

- The transcript of a news podcast or TV show

- An interview with an expert

Once you read each piece, look at it again paying close attention forbias.Bias is when somebody who claims to be telling the truth is actually telling one or more kinds of lie to convince people that something else is true. Few nonfiction works tell outright lies, but many tell the kinds of subtle lies we discussed last month. For example…

Little White Lieswhere the person writing makes a person or decision look better than it actually is, often because the writer wants to flatter the subject or convince a reader to listen to the subject

Lying to Yourselfhappens a lot in the news, religious debates and with academic texts. The writer has convinced herself so well that a certain point of view is True that she ignores evidence or arguments against it.

Lies of Omissionare some of the trickiest in nonfiction. If a writer wants to convince readers of something, it’s easy to simply not bring up any facts or ideas that contradict what they want you to believe.

Letting Others Lieis one of the oldest tricks in the dishonest reporting book. Writers do it by interviewing somebody (or quoting another text) that says something that isn’t true. That way, the writer “didn’t lie”…but he didn’t do his best to make sure the information he presented was true.

Chances are that you’ll find an example of some kind of lie in everything you read. This isn’t supposed to show you that you shouldn’t trust the experts, press and teachers in your life. Instead, it should help you understand the importance of making sure the “facts” you act on are true.

Write what you find out in a journal, and discuss them with your parents, friends or a teacher. For one of the pieces you read, make some notes about how you would have written it differently if you wanted readers to have a more Truthful resource.

Parents’ Corner:

This assignment might require a little more help from you than others in your child’s Bushido journey. That help will likely take two forms.

When choosing subjects for the assignment, your child will benefit most from reading several different kinds of writing, and might need an assist from you for identifying good reading.

After the assignment is over, we’ve noticed that some of our students go through a phase where they question everything. Questioning things is good, but it can get obnoxious. You’ll need to help your child figure out how to strike a balance between being a smart consumer of information and being a rude know-it-all.

And of course, with this assignment and all others, we’re here to help in any way we can.

Kenpo Junior Blog - Truth #3


You’re already old enough to know what bullying is. You’ve seen it at school more than once. You’ve probably been bullied a few times, and maybe you’ve been a bully yourself. Sad as it is, bullying is a part of going to school – but it doesn’t have to be a part you put up with. This is your American Institutes of Kenpo Field Guide to Bullies.

Bullying is like any other kind of violence. It’s wrong – it’s always wrong – and in some ways it’s your job as a martial artist to stop it. Also like violence or crime, you can do things to stop it not only when bullying is happening, butbeforeandafterthe bullying occurs.

Stopping Bullying Before it Starts

The best way to stop bullying is to remember why it starts to begin with. Bullies try to make other people feel bad about themselves as a way of making themselves feel better…which means they only target people they think they can beat in a verbal or physical fight. If you look and act confident – which isn’t so hard for a karate student such as yourself – bullies will look for other people to pick on. They don’t want to risk starting something that will make them feel and look weaker than they already feel.

But protecting yourself from bullying isn’t enough for a warrior in training at AIK. You should also befriend classmates who you see being targeted by bullies. Make it clear without being a bully yourself that you like and want to protect weaker or smaller children at your school.

If you’re up for arealchallenge, you could even try to become friends with the known bullies. Help that person feel good about himself or herself for reasons that don’t include being cruel to others, and influence his or her behavior by leading by example.

While Bullying is Happening

Your biggest goal if you see bullying (whether from outside or inside) is tostop the bullying. Nothing else matters in that moment, especially not looking cool or tough.

The best way to stop the bullying is to leave the area. Don’t talk to the bully: bullies practice winning verbal battles and love the attention. Just leave. If you’re the one being bullied, this is simple. Put one foot in front of the other until you’re someplace else. If it’s somebody else, just put an arm around your friend and lead him away while talking about something that has nothing to do with the bullying.

If a bully tries to prevent you from leaving, leave anyway. If he physically prevents you, call for help. Only use your martial arts as a last resort – if help isn’t nearby, or if the bully starts actually hitting somebody. Even then, hit the bully in the arms and legs so you don’t injure him, and run to escape as soon as you can.

After the Bullying is Over

The only way to make bullying be truly over is to make the bully stop bullying. Once an incident is over, go immediately to the teacher (or whoever’s in charge if it happens after school) and tell the story as calmly as you can with as much detail as you remember it. Sometimes it helps to write things down.

When you get home, tell your parents as well. Work with the adults in your life so they know what’s happening and who’s involved.This is not tattlingor snitching. This is letting the adults who are responsible to keep kids safe know what they need to so they can do their jobs

Kenpo Juniors Blog - Truth#4 (Assignment)

Your upcoming test won’t just be about the physical material you’ve learned over the past months. Sure, the kicking and punching is fun, and it’s probably why you stepped onto the deck with us in the first place, but it’s not the most important part of your training or the part you’ll use most often in your life.

That’s why your test will include the physical parts of what you’ve learned, but also an assignment about the Bushido value of “Truth.” You will have to demonstrate mastery of both if you want to pass.

But don’t worry. You’re well prepared. By now, you’ve heard about, thought about, talked about and practiced Truth for four months. All that’s left is to finish your written assignment. Your job is to turn in a paper about what “Truth” means to you. Depending on your history, interests and passions, this could take a number of different forms:

  • A simple essay describing your feelings about Truth
  • A story from your life about telling the Truth when it was hard, or about failing to tell the Truth, and what happened because of that.
  • An interview with a mentor about the Truth
  • Stories from history, mythology or fiction that inspire you to tell the Truth
  • A book report about something you recently read where somebody told the Truth, even when it was hard
  • A report on a current event about a person or a group telling the Truth
  • An analysis of how Truthful a recent news item you saw was

These are only ideas. You can write about anything you like, or even do an art project or presentation instead of a classic report. If you need any ideas or help, talk it over with a teacher or your Instructors at AIK.

Turn in your assignment on the day of your blue stripe test, so your instructors can review it. Expect to discuss it and answer a few questions before or during your actual Test Day.

Parent’s Corner

Talking about truth with teens can be hard, because by now your teen has lied to your face. You’ve caught him sometimes, and he’s gotten away with it other times. A few times, you knew he was lying but decided to let that go because you were working on more urgent matters at that particular moment.

The point is, you and your teen and Truth have a history, and not all of it is lovely. This can become a road block in the process of talking about this assignment. Interviews with some of our child development gurus offer the following advice:

  • If Truthfulness as a behavior problem has been an issue, try to keep this conversation about the assignment – not past history. Work together to create and celebrate a mutual success from which you can build future successes surrounding Truth.
  • Be open and honest about your feelings regarding any Truth-related problems you’ve had, but be clear that your feelings are yours to deal with. Avoid adding guilt or annoyance to the interaction.
  • As with all other things, warmth and affection are the most important aspects of communication between a parent and a child.

And of course, we’re here at AIK to help you in any way we can.

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