10 POWerful Conversation Starters To Teach Your Kids Discipline



Winning is NOT the Goal!

Respect...Believe it or not, winning is not the primary goal behind training in Taekwondo. The truth is that Taekwondo, and most Martial Arts for that matter, are designed to skillfully avoid win-lose situations, to avoid conflict altogether. In the broadest sense, training in Taekwondo is meant to help people enjoy happier, more fulfilling lives… It’s about “concurring the self.”

While it may sound vague, that phrase has real meaning. You; “conquer yourself” by recognizing; “something greater than yourself.”

The two basic elements that lead to and reflect that conquest are respect and discipline, respect for yourself and others and discipline for controlling your emotions such as anger and fear. For a young student, this concept may at first seem hard to grasp but with nurturing and time, it becomes an intrinsic part of their lives.

Those who complain that today’s kids have no respect for authority don’t always realize that respect, like discipline, is something that is best taught by example and all too often the right examples are few and far between.

You can see this particularly in our sports, where emphasis is squarely placed on winning, particularly, winning at all costs. Even teamwork seems to have fallen out of favour; we put the spotlight on the individual stars in their moment of conquest.

Kids today need and want someone or something to respect along with a strong idea to hold on to and believe in. In that sense they’re not much different than most adults. This is where the study and practice of Taekwondo can very often fill that void.

Respect happens the first time a student steps into the dojang and bows to the flags and the instructor. Far from being a long time tradition, the bow is an outward expression of respect for someone in authority (the instructor) regardless of their age, size or gender.

Discipline is the backbone of Taekwondo. Most dojang’s have basic rules of conduct and protocol, either posted on the wall or explained orally in class. These are put in place to create a more conducive environment for learning along with a proper and safe training atmosphere within the dojang. Rules such as; “All uniforms must be clean and in good condition” and; “Students must be courteous and helpful.”

There is also the discipline that is demanded by the instructor. Some instructors choose to remain aloof, treating their students with a stern politeness that seems more like disdain, while others take a more personal, softer approach. Whether it’s with the rod and the stick or with gentle affection the end goal of both is to instill a discipline that will help nudge the student to a higher level of learning, growth and enlightenment.

The benefits of respect and discipline might not be glamorous or immediate, but they are certainly character building, life changing and lasting.

It may came as no surprise that children who practice Taekwondo on a regular basis usually get better grades in school, are happier, better prepared to meet life’s challenges, have higher self-esteem and are more relaxed and at ease with others.

You might say that dojang respect and discipline applies to every aspect and area of life. “Students must be courteous and helpful,” is certainly not a bad idea anywhere, anytime.

By conquering oneself, we learn these greater truths… That all people, including yourself, deserve respect and that discipline makes anything possible.

By Master Tim Bell

ITA / WTF 6th Dan Black Belt


Pushing to the Limits and Beyond!

Pushing the LimitsYou’re eight hard minutes into your set, your lungs are burning, your legs are cramping and your grip is more silly putty than Kung Fu like, everything in your being is screaming STOP! This is where most of us will throw in the towel and stumble off, but what if it’s wasn’t a physical but a mental block?

Lately there has been a lot of new science coming out that’s been leaning hard towards the latter.

Traditionally we’ve been taught that our muscles get tired because we either run out of gas or build up too much lactic acid-and that’s why we stop. The problem is that no one has ever proved that muscles were getting too little oxygen or fuel. As a matter of fact most studies showed that we never recruit more that 50% of our muscle fibers during any intense exercise.

Dr. Timothy Noakes one of the world’s most prominent experts in the area of exercise physiology realized that since we activate our muscles through the brain, our brain must also be responsible for how long, hard and fast we could exercise… This certainly makes sense.

The more research that Dr. Noakes conducted on his “central governor theory” the more the evidence mounted.

So to what degree can the governor in your head control performance?

Suppose you were told to snatch a 20 kg kettlebell for 15:00 minutes without keeping track of your reps and not to switch arms until the half way point, but what you’re not told is that the clock you’ll be using is just a tad slow.

At the 15:00 minute mark you end your lift, even though with the slow clock you unknowingly ended up doing a 20:00 minute set… BOOM!

So what happened?

Your mental governor established a performance limit of 15 minutes but that in no way reflected your actual fitness level and ability.

The fact is that your brain always sabotages your physical performance, when you feel fatigued and done, it’s only an emotion. It has zip to do with your actual physical state.

When brain activity was measured on cyclists as they peddled to their limits, the limbic lobe (the emotional center of the brain) lit up as their intensity increased and in turn the cyclists began to slow and show signs of exhaustion.

The more active their limbic lobes became, the more emotion they tied to exertion and the more they began to disengage in the activity.

As anyone who is active or competes knows, performance can differ drastically from one set or day to the next. Physiologically we might not have changed but what may have changed is our mental state.

What researchers also found was that those athletes who were able to detach themselves from their emotions, such as, not thinking about their laboured breathing or burning legs, almost always ended up performing better.

In competition you are constantly checking in and evaluating your body’s emotions and states, the key is to not look or think of them as a positive or a negative, but as a neutral or grey area, otherwise your brain will begin to set limits… And nothing kills a set quicker than limits.

Our biology sets our true limits (health, age, musculature, etc.), but how close we get to those limits is determined solely on what we choose to believe.

Believe and you shall achieve.

By: Coach Tim Bell

OKC / IKSFA Level 1 Coach and Competitor

ITA / WTF 6th Dan Blackbelt Instructor


Into The Zone

The Zone 2What is it and how do we get there? 

The Zone: Also known as flow, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the execution of the activity. In essence, the zone is characterized by complete absorption in the process.

The Zone is the state of mind where records are broken, goals are reached and dreams are made… It’s where all the magic happens.

Training your mind to develop sharp mental focus is a key skill for success in Kettlebell Sport. The ability to get and stay in The Zone helps set the stage for an environment that is conducive for optimal peak performance.

Kettlebell Sport is a physically tough enough gig as it is, what’s even tougher is doing it with sabotaging self-doubt, trepidation and negative thoughts swirling around your head.

Everyone is capable of getting into The Zone, it’s actually hard wired into our DNA. It’s our “Flight or Fight” response to immediate trauma & stress.

Here’s what happens when it’s called into action:

  • Your heart rate quickens.
  • Your breathing slows and your skin sensitivity heightens.
  • Your eyes create the illusion that everything happens in slow motion. In a crisis, that’s so you can look for an avenue of escape, or fight off an adversary.
  • Blood gets diverted to your brain and to the large muscles; this gives you mental clarity, as well as inordinate speed, strength, balance, and agility.
  • Your conscious mind shuts down; your intuition takes over.

Sound familiar?

Some people feel these cues and begin to panic, losing physical and mental control. In a sports context it’s commonly referred to as “Choking.” For example, quitting the set or losing focus and dropping the Bell.

On the other hand some people feel immediately at home, with feelings of euphoria as all of their mind and body faculties’ harmonically synchronize into one, 100% ready to take on the task at hand… This is The Zone.

Just like we train our bodies to compete and endure we need to spend just as much, if not more time training our minds. One can’t succeed without the other.

Here are 3 tricks that I use to help myself get into The Zone. They work quite well for me, hopefully they’ll work just as well for you:

The Reboot 

Before I think about touching the Bell I hit “Crtl-Alt-Delete”. Our brains are like a computer, if too many windows are open, things tend to slow and freeze. It’s important to channel our focus on the task at hand versus sharing it with mindless, sabotaging thought. There’s nothing that will kill a set quicker.

Here’s my reboot sequence;

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Unclench your jaw.
  3. Consciously slow your breathing. Inhaling through the nose, exhaling through the mouth.
  4. Shut down the open windows in your brain and visualize a dark screen.
  5. Hold that image for as long as it takes to vividly see the dark screen and for calm to take over.

Click the Light Switch

Click the switch one way the light goes on, click it the other the light goes off, it never fails. It’s a great metaphor, but it’s also a great technique for finding the zone and staying there.

Here’s how to do it;

  1. Imagine your head as a light switch.
  2. Shut your eyes, lower your head to your chest and hold the negative thought.
  3. Raise your head to the ceiling & lower it to your chest 3 times.
  4. Open your eyes.

When you raise your head the negative thought dissipates. When you drop your head it comes back. By the third repetition the negative thought almost always drifts away.

I guess Mom was right: Keep your chin up.

Create an “I” Statement

 Your subconscious brain can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night in a moment of flux, scared and frightened because a dream seemed so real and lifelike? It’s because it usually takes a few moments for your subconscious mind to separate between the two.

Whenever you feel a negative thought a positive affirmation will help get you back in the game.

For example, if you’re having a hard time getting up for your set or a comp, use an affirmation like “I got this” or “I own this!” anything that will help you conjure up a subconscious vision of success.

See it, say it, and believe it!

Just as it takes time and patience to master your lifting technique it takes the same to master The Zone.

Practice these three techniques and in time you’ll enter the zone at will, developing more self-discipline, concentration, optimism and you will feel more, calm, relaxed and more connected, when it matters the most.

The Zone… It’s where inspiration & dreams translate into action & results.

See you on the platform.

Coach Tim Bell

OKC / IKSFA Level 1 Sport Coach & Competitor

6th Dan ITA / WTF Black Belt


Zen and the Art of Breathing

Breath 2Whether you’re lifting your child, a piece of living room furniture or a Kettlebell, it’s probably your natural inclination to hold your breath. There is nothing natural about holding your breath, unless of course, if you’re keen on trying to set a new world record or impress your friends.

We are hardwired to breath. Right from our first breath to our very last, we don’t have to think about, it just happens, but sometimes when we’re under stress, physical and mental, it can disrupt our natural breathing rhythms, this is when we have to consciously get it back on track.

When it comes to higher levels of Kettlebell training, sport or fitness the ability to synchronize your breathing to the movement of the bell is paramount to attaining ones sport or fitness goals.

Even though breathing is perhaps the single most important ingredient to all athletic / fitness performance & success, many trainers and coaches rarely mention it or give it it’s due.

When it comes to Kettlebell lifting proper breathing and relaxation go hand in hand. Try holding your breath for a moment and see what happens, your body tenses, your blood pressure shoots up, your muscles fatigue, your lactic acid builds up and then panic sets in… Not exactly a perfect relaxation scenario.

When lifting a Kettlebell, breathing always precedes movement. Breathing should always be done through the nose and out through the mouth. Here’s why; Inhaling through nose reduces upper body tension and lowers blood pressure, inhaling through the mouth creates upper body tension and raises blood pressure.

Too Much Tension = Loss of Endurance, Speed & Strength.

As a practicing Taekwondoist for the last 40 years, proper and relaxed breathing has always been the cornerstone of any integrated movement in my Martial Arts training… It was my first lesson on the mat.

Here’s a great example of what happens when you breathe with tension and breathe with relaxation while lifting a Kettlebell.

Both charts below were recorded using my Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor, during a 10:00 minute (6 – R, 4 – L) Snatch set with a 24 kg, Pro Grade Kettlebell at an average rep speed of 20 rpm, under the exact same lifting and rest conditions (60 minutes between sets).

The only conditions that were dissimilar between the sets was the type of breathing (mouth & mouth, nose & mouth).

Lift 1

The breathing was done primarily through the mouth during all phases of the movement over the course of the 10 minute set.

Breathing 2

Lift 1 Synopsis:

  1. The heart rate was erratic and choppy.
  2. Time in the optimal heart rate zone (red) was limited to only 3:55.
  3. The lift itself felt laboured and tense.
  4. It was difficult to get mentally into the zone (see definition below). This was most likely due to the unmatched breathing and additional tension.
  5. Very little was left in the tank towards the end to either increase the cadence or extend the lift.
  6. Spending more time in the white target zone (90% – 100% maximum heart rate) than in the red (80% – 90% maximum heart rate) is an indicator of over training which ultimately leads to increased fatigue and decreased performance. All of which were experienced.

The Zone: Also known as flow, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, the zone is characterized by complete absorption in the process.

Lift 2

The breathing matched the movement of the Bell during roughly 95% of the set. Inhaling through the nose on the drop & exiting the backswing and exhaling through the mouth at fixation and into the backswing.

Breathing 1

Lift 2 Synopsis:

  1. The heart rate rise was smooth and mostly clean.
  2. Time in the optimal heart rate zone (red) was more ideal at 6:39.
  3. The lift itself felt easy and relaxed.
  4. Focusing on each individual rep and it’s corresponding breaths made it easier to get into the zone, mentally & physically.
  5. During the end of the lift plenty was left in the tank to either increase the cadence past 20 rpm or extend the lift.
  6. Spending more time in the red heart rate zone than the white will exponentially help improve performance and conditioning over the long term and decrease fatigue.

 In Conclusion:

On the surface this may not seem or look like a lot, but when you’re talking about caloric burn per minute in the red zone (on average 23), not to mention the after burn hours later… That’s HUGE!

Kettlebell Sport is a game of numbers (along with a good dose of mental toughness and physical ability), so if you are able to increase yours by just dialing in and fine tuning your breathing and relaxation it could be the difference between hitting Master of Sport or Rank 1…  That’s GINORMAS!

Now, when I’m talking about relaxation, it’s not the limp like a noodle kind, it’s just enough muscle tension to get the work done, no more, no less. As a matter of fact, you can actually lift more and lift longer by being relaxed and matching your breathing to the movement, than by generating high tension throughout the lift. High tension lifting impedes the way you breathe, it also creates erratic movement which allows power to leak rather than flow.

Speaking of flow here’s a great quote by Bruce Lee on just that;

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

When your breathing is in sync and flows with life, so will you.

Now stop holding your breath!

By; Coach Tim Bell

OKC / IKSFA Kettlebell Sport Coach and Competitor