Welcome to Master Key Monday.

MASTER KEYS are necessary principles, techniques and strategies for success, the vital few keys when put into action virtually guarantee Black Belt achievement.

  1. Article I’d love you to read.

Unpacking the Science: How Playing Music Changes the Learning Brain

Music is fantastic for your brain, learning and your well-being, which is why we here at SMAA are strong proponents of martial arts and music as disciplines. Ms. Michelle and I both play instruments, as do our children AND our newest instructor Mr. Dwayn teaches guitar to children in addition to being a lifelong martial artist. Read the article for the specifics.

  1. Lessons from Little Ones

I was out cycling with my family recently, a ride that began with a long uphill climb, one fairly challenging for adults on road bikes and more challenging for young children on 18 inch wheels without gears.

After we rode to the top of the hill, my elder daughter, Siena, smiled at me with a gleam in her eye and said, “Daddy, we have to make it up the big hills so we can enjoy the fun ride going down the hills on the way back.”

There is it, words of wisdom from an 8-year old. There might be parents who trudged to school uphill, both ways, as kids, but for the rest of us going uphill rewards us with the thrill of us the reward of coasting downhill. Conversely, if you roll downhill first, you must pedal uphill at some point, guaranteed.

The two (the ups and the downs) cannot be separated, so you might as well enjoy coasting downhill AND the effort it takes to get to the top.

  1. Book I just finished reading.

It’s summer, which means we all get a free pass, we get to kick back with some maybe-mindless, summer reading. I just closed the back cover on the book, “14,” by Peter Clines.

If you are watched the TV Show, Lost, like a good mystery, are a fan of H.P. Lovecraft and have seen the excellent movie, Cube, then this wild ride set in an unusual LA apartment building may be for you.

(Full book snob disclosure: The book prior to 14 I read was, “Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf, so I earned my popcorn-munching, sic-fi novel)

2. Quote I’m pondering.

Good quotes are concentrated wisdom.

“The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.”


I got back in the pool today after a long time off. I’m not yet a strong or fast swimmer but I so enjoy the peace and mindful time I can spend in the water.

In the two lanes next to me where a couple of hard-core swimmers. I could tell before I dove in because I heard them talking about times and noticed their swim fins and other swim paraphernalia.

Sure enough, they swam about 150% of my speed, without stopping for countless laps.

As I swam I could feel my competitiveness well up inside me; I wanted to keep pace with them, even for one lap.

Then, my good sense kicked in.

Swimming is obviously “their thing,” that they spend a big chunk of their time doing, unlike me.

This was my time, not theirs. It did not matter what they did, or for how long. Besides, they weren’t even in my lane. They could just as well be in a different pool.

I remembered the above quote and re-focused on me and my own swim goals.

Instantly I felt better and, as a result, actually swam farther and faster than I had originally intended.

Yes, I left the pool while they were still stroking away, but comparing me today to me yesterday, I am happy with myself and my performance.
3. Event I’m Celebrating

Today is my parents’ 52 (or is it 53rd?) Wedding Anniversary! If you’re wondering where I got my views on the values of longevity, commitment through ups and downs and making it through the toughest times together, then look no further then my mom and dad.


4. Party I’d love you to attend

This Saturday is SMAA annual picnic, held at our school and grounds, at 10 AM (NO CLASSES). This is a great time to mingle and get to know the teachers and other families at SMAA, have some good picnic food, and just have fun before academic school starts.

We will award the trophies from our recent sparring tournament, Summer Spar and medals from our Summer Olympics.

Did i mention, Salsa (the food) Contest?!  Make the best salsa and win a cool prize. Everybody wins when you make tasty food!

It’s also SMAA’s 18-Year Anniversary, so come celebrate!

That’s all for now.

To your success,