Debbie McIver



The foundations of the world were created and established through patience, discipline and humility. Three words that need each other to exist.  Patience is developed and formed through discipline and humility.

It was never my main goal to be a Blackbelt or any other belt.  Actually, I find the combination of a black Gi and white belt quite fashionable.  While the trade off could be a white Gi and Blackbelt, I just don’t sport white as well and will have a problem wearing it after Labor Day prior to Easter.  Learning the Martial Arts to be able to kick butt was not a driving force either. Fighting class has proven to be yet another challenge in itself. It takes as much mental ability as technique to fight properly.

Much thought has to go into every punch and kick with proper execution and good form and balance at the appropriate time and quickly.  In other words you have to develop the ability to think quickly and to be quick on your feet.  My purpose for studying the Martial Arts was to stretch my abilities, both physically and mentally, while developing more patience, discipline and humility, all of which I suffer at times to possess.  The many times I observed karate classes while waiting for kickboxing, never once was I enticed to participate in lessons.  It appeared to be extremely difficult to say the least, not a challenge I dared take on.  I always felt bad for the karate students because of the abuse they endured and never quite understood why they subjected themselves to that abuse.  What were they gaining?  I do not possess a very submissive personality as most discover quickly after meeting me.  I take orders only through business endeavors necessary to advance career and monetary profit.  Understand this – my parents passed away at an early age and I learned fast to depend on only myself.  I raised three children pretty much on my own so I was Queen of my castle and for the most part, still maintain that position.  I have learned, however, through the course of life, the only way to improve any area of your life is to find someone who knows what they are talking about and take instruction from them.

I didn’t decide to join karate to become a part of a great group of girls either; however, I do feel that I am connected to a unique team of amazing women who all strive to be better than they were.  Most of the women in class have lost a large amount of weight and have changed their lives drastically.  For example, I have watched Vanesa not only lose weight and get in shape, but I saw her entire demeanor and personality change.  She is much more confident and not at all cocky, actually more humble and patient.  The great thing is that she developed these attributes prior to becoming a mother, all of which will help her in parenting.  What a better world we would have if every one made self-improvements prior to marriage and parenting.  Unfortunately for some, it takes maturity and many failures to figure these things out.

Learning and practicing the art of karate has proven to be everything that I anticipated and much more.  While it appeared to be difficult, I never imagined what it would require until now.  There is not a muscle, bone, or joint that does not ache, including my brain from trying to absorb and retain all this new knowledge and ability.  The execution alone of these movements at times seem impossible.

Each of our struggles is different.  It takes an enormous amount of patience to be disciplined and discipline to be patient which both produces humility.  In order to maintain your balance while performing these positions with your legs, hips, and arms, it takes strength and determination.  The only way to build the strength required to perform them properly with good balance and form is through practice.  I’ve always heard “practice makes perfect”.  I believe “practice makes permanent”.  An extreme amount of humility is necessary to repetitively perform each kick, kata, and self-defense until you can actually do it right.  Without humility, you would just give up simply because most hate repeated failure.  It is through the failures in our life that we learn and succeed the most.

Sometimes it takes a lifetime of hard lessons and knocks to produce these three very important traits – patience, discipline, and humility.  All of which are the core of good character.  Sadly, in today’s society, parents are not teaching their children, rather they are not modeling these attributes in their own lives.  We live in a society where instant gratification is one the rise and where everyone wants it right away and with little or no effort.  Teenagers, for instance, think they should graduate from high school and make as much as their parents do now. They refuse to start from the bottom and work their way up.  They don’t want to lay the ground work to produce something bigger in the future.  They don’t want to learn from others.  Of course, whose fault is that? It’s their parents’ fault.  For some strange reason, the parents who had to work hard and be patient for what they wanted, disciplined to show up for work every day, save their money, and humble enough to flip burgers or dig ditches, want to spare their precious little ones from the same hard work.  They want to give them everything requiring no effort from their children.  Thus, they never learn the importance of having patience or discipline to work for it.  They don’t want to tell their children “no” to anything.  This is one of the reasons America has the largest percentage of obesity.  We have more obese people because of the lack of discipline to say no to bad foods and to exercise on a regular basis.  We want a quick fix.  I read recently in the newspaper an article about a Catholic Bishop who has turned his attention to obesity and poor health saying the state of West Virginia faces a serious public health problem, fueled in part by bad eating and physical inactivity.  The sad thing is that most adults lack the discipline to eat properly and eat less while exercising more.  So they teach their children to do the same and these bad habits and lack of discipline are passed down generation to generation.  So when someone says everyone in my family is big, actually what they are saying is that bad eating habits have been passed down.  There are more people getting their stomachs stabled and liposuction because they are unhappy with the way they look, but don’t want to work hard to get in shape and to discipline themselves in their eating habits. It takes patience to produce the result which does not come overnight so they give up.  They don’t have the humility to accept they need to make a change and let someone show them the proper way to change.  The same goes for the reason alcoholism, drug addictions and sex addictions are ramped today.  They lack discipline in their lives.  We have more children going to psychiatrists today and using antidepressants than when I was a child.  We also have more violence in our schools and in our homes as well–all because we simply lack patience, discipline and humility.  Most of what is wrong is from the lack of discipline in the family.  Parents have failed to have the discipline of their own to discipline their children.  If you were to change their diet, you would find that most children would not be a hyperactive or as emotional and would not need medication.  It is proven that ADD and ADHD can be controlled through proper diet.  They have even discovered that autism can be controlled through proper diet.

We also do not teach them patience and humility so they are not patient and humble with others.  When someone doesn’t respond the way they want or makes them mad, they just shoot them.  Rarely do you find children today who are patient and disciplined enough to save their allowances or gift money to purchase their first car.  They expect their parents to pay for it.  My children have all had to work and save their money to pay for their vehicles and insurance.  They had friends whose parents paid for their vehicles which made it hard to make them understand why I wouldn’t do the same.  It is not because I don’t love them or don’t want to pay for these things.  I know it will help them develop responsibility as well as patience and discipline; and, of course, lets not forget humility.  My oldest daughter’s first car was an old blue hatch-back Honda Civic.

Some people have patience and discipline in some areas of their lives, but not in others.  It’s where you’re the weakest that determines the true test – whether it’s with food, smoking, exercise, etc.  I don’t have a desire to smoke so it requires no discipline on my part not to take a puff.  Eating properly and exercising regularly are my tests.  I have to be extremely disciplined to work exercise into my busy schedule and to say no to foods that I love.  Karate is helping me with that because just showing up for class when you know the abuse you will suffer, but the great results it will produce in the long run.  Taking lessons at 7:15 a.m., especially when it’s cold, takes an extreme amount of effort and discipline.  It takes even more patience to repeat over and over the same thing class after class until you perform it right with good balance and form.  It also takes humility to learn something new and look like a complete idiot while trying to perfect it and repeatedly failing.  I never thought I would pass the written test; much less remember Taigo 1 and 2.  Remembering it is one thing, actually performing it with perfect form is quite another task.

The fundamentals of anything in life, whether its sports, parenting, marriage or career begin with patience, discipline and humility.  Without these three attributes, all of the above will fail at some point and progression will come to a halt.

While I am only at the start of learning and understanding the Martial Arts, I have already gained more patience, discipline and humility.  While I have a long way to go to develop these attributes and manifest them in my life, I can see a difference in my personal life and business.  The reason I enlisted in Sensei Brian Pena’s karate class at The Karate Dojo was to become a better me – more patient with my children, grandchildren and peers.  Through my patience, they will learn patience.  I want to show more patience with business colleagues and clients.  I especially want to discipline myself to not eat crap and make myself exercise more.  I need discipline to keep my mouth shut, especially where my children are concerned.  I am learning that it is better to keep some things to myself – not throwing pearls to the swine.  It’s all about timing, knowing when and who you should share insight and wisdom.  For example, in respect to my son, I have learned to not respond to every idiotic comment or action.  There are some things you just have to learn on your own and through your own error.  Unfortunately, they may repeat some of my failures through stupidity rather than make new failures to learn from.   As a parent, I feel like I have paved the way for them to learn so much through my life experiences, abilities, challenges and failures and add to and take away to make their lives richer and more fulfilling and rewarding.  It is my hope that they will see a new me through my journey in the Martial Arts and the patience, discipline and humility it produces will be reflected in every aspect of my life.  I want something greater for my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  I want to pass a torch that’s worth passing and will shine on for generations to come.  You are never too old to learn something new. Your body may try to hold you back at times, but the mind will always over power the body.  I hope through my attempts at enhancing my being through Karate, others at the Dojo will use me one day as an example and it will inspire them as others have inspired me.  I am grateful for the opportunity, the ability, and the willingness to start a journey that will last a lifetime and I know the reward will make it worth the effort.