The Mission Statement of This Martial Arts Instructor

Each one of our students who are 9 years old and above have been asked to create for themselves a mission statement. We have talked about why that is important and how what you choose to do should always support your mission. When we live our mission, we are going to live more fulfilled lives. Remember that everyone’s mission statement is their own personal statement. It can be long, short, a poem, a quote, a picture – anything that you want it to be that tells the story of .

Joe Van DeurenI have created my own mission statement to set the example for all of our students.

My mission is: Teach Peace

My vision is: To help students and parents to understand the framework, technique and application for creating peaceful families and community.

This is my personal mission and vision. I fulfill this in many ways including, through teaching at Balanced Life Skills, teaching at the community college, doing programs at individual schools, working on programs such as Kids at Hope, Youth Suicide Awareness, Jane not Plain and doing personal one on one coaching of kids and families. There is more too, but when things come up, I have to ask myself, Does this activity contribute to teaching peace?

 Imagine if every family had a mission statement that they spoke about with their children – so everyone was headed in the same direction. They would know the why we are doing this or that activity, why we are making these choices or sacrifices. How strong would the family be then? Having peace in our relationships and family is vital to our feeling fulfilled and successful.

Creating S.M.A.R.T. goals

logoYou most probably have heard of the acronym S.M.A.R.T. applied to goals.

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Agreed upon or accountability
  • R – Realistic
  • T – Time bound

With  physical training instead of “I want to improve my pushups”, it may sound more like, “My goal is to be able to do 20 pushups on my toes by February 15, 2014.”  This goal is not general like “getting stronger”, but rather it is specific. It is measurable, the number is 20 pushups. For it to be agreed upon you may want to get a coach or friend to help you. It is realistic, this can easily be reached, even if you cannot do any pushups right now. The goal is time bound – Feb. 15, 2014 is when you will test yourself and be able to say objectively  “Yes I reached my goal or No I did not pass the test.”

We can apply the same test with other goals we may have dealing with work, community service, relationships. Make a list of your goals for 2014.  Are they in agreement with your values? Will they fill your most critical needs?  Are they S.M.A.R.T.?  By answering these questions you will be far more likely to complete your goals or decide that they are not good choices for you at this time.

How to ensure that you keep the resolutions you make

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklersWith tomorrow being New Years Day many will be making resolutions and setting goals for themselves. I was thinking about why we set goals for ourselves and decided that really it is about finding ways for us to grow. Growth is one of those spiritual needs that each of us must fill to feel fulfilled.

For us to set a goal that we have any chance of reaching, the goal must also be a way to meet one or more of our emotional needs, either short term or long term. Those emotional needs that we all have are a need for certainty in our life, variety in our life, significance or love/connection. If I set a goal of losing weight we might ask ourselves – what need am I filling if I do lose weight? Am I filling the need of certainty (certain of what?) or maybe it is significance or greater love or connection?

Then what is it that I set a high value on in my life that losing weight will give me certainty that I am living that value? Is it showing love for my family, my health, my children or receiving love/connection? Without filling a value and meeting at least two of our needs it is likely that our New Years Resolution will not be kept, even forgotten with a few days or weeks. But when 2 or more of our needs are being met, it is far more likely that our goal or resolution will be followed through on to it’s completion.

All goals must also be SMART.  Next a look at creating SMART goals.

Life Skills – Goal Setting – The Definition

Teaching Children Life SkillsEach month we will discuss a life skill with all of our students. This month the word is Goal Setting.  This word will be defined in the following ways for our students.



Young students: Goal-setting means: “I made a plan to achieve my goal!”

Older students: Goal-setting means:   “Deciding what you’d like to achieve and making plans to achieve it.”

Each age group has a worksheet that parents can use to continue the discussion at home with their children, and one for adults to allow them to think more deeply about the skill and how it applies to them. Would you like to receive the worksheet? Stop by our studio at 133 Gibralter Avenue in Annapolis, MD and tell us the age of your child. We will give you a worksheet and invite you to watch Mr. Joe discuss the word with the students in class.  You can also follow our discussions here on this website.

If you would like to become a member of Balanced Life Skills, come TRY CLASSES FOR FREE.   We are not your typical martial arts school, in fact we are an education center, working with our students on physical skills along with empowering families with compassion, awareness and respect. We believe in every child and build their self – confidence.  Balanced Life Skills takes part in community service and encourages each student to do the same.

Come in and talk to the parents that are here and watch the class for the age group you are interested in.  Learn about the Balanced Life Skills Way.

Ready, Set, Get Tough!

In 13 (short) weeks, I will be competing — and I use that term loosely — with a team in the Mid-Atlantic Tough Mudder Event. To give an overview of the obstacles I am committed to overcoming, I will submerge and swim through an ice tank, crawl through narrow, sloping pipes leading into frigid mud, slither under low-hanging live wires waiting to electrocute, leap over 4-foot high hurdles of kerosene flames, and so, so much more across the distance of 12 miles!


Why go through with this? Besides wanting to challenge myself and test my physical limits, the Tough Mudder raises awareness and funds for theWounded Warrior Project. This project is focused on reintegrating injured soldiers into society, and active lifestyles, with their programs.

If you are interested and able, please support me in the Tough Mudder event, on September 8th, by donating online here. The proceeds raised will assist many individuals and families struggling to deal with the injuries received in the line of duty. You contribution is greatly appreciated!