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Is Your Child Learning to Value Hard Work?

“Defend Your Black Belt”….

On Saturday morning eleven lucky Ohana Karate Junior Black Belt students were given the opportunity to participate in a special two hour experience during the Spring Black Belt Bootcamp.

This new addition to the Ohana Karate leadership development curriculum is called “Defend Your Black Belt”. Before I reveal what happened it might be best to share an old legend I recently read on Tim Elsmore’s blog (


There once lived a rich businessman who had a lazy and fun-loving son. The businessman wanted his son to be hard-working and responsible, to realize the value of labor. One day, he summoned his son and said, “Today, I want you to go out and earn something. If you fail, you won’t have your meals tonight.”

The boy was callous and not used to any kind of work. This demand by his father scared him and he went crying straight to his mother. Her heart melted at the sight of tears in her son’s eyes. She grew restless. In a bid to help him, she gave him a gold coin. In the evening, when the father asked his son what he’d earned, the son promptly presented him the gold coin. The father then asked him to throw it into a well. The son did as he was told.

The father was a man of wisdom and experience and guessed that the source of the gold coin was the boy’s mother. The next day, he sent his wife to her parent’s town, then asked his son to go again and earn something with the threat of being denied the night meals if he failed. This time he went crying to his sister, who sympathized with him and gave him a rupee coin out of her own savings. When his father asked him what he had earned, the boy tossed the rupee coin at him. The father again asked him to throw it in a well. The son did it quite readily.

Again, the father’s wisdom told him that his son had not earned the rupee coin, so he then sent his daughter to her in-laws’ house. He then asked his son a third time to go out and earn something, in order to have something for dinner that night.

This time, with no one to help him out, the son was forced to go to the market in search of work. One of the shopkeepers there told him that he would pay him two rupees if he carried his trunk to his house. The rich man’s son could not refuse and was drenched in sweat by the time he finished the job. His feet were trembling and his neck was aching. There were rashes on his back.

Returning home, he produced the two-rupee note to his father. This time, when the boy was asked to throw it into the well, the horrified son almost screamed. He couldn’t imagine throwing his hard-earned money away. Amid the sobbing, the boy stammered, “Father! My entire body is aching. My back has rashes, and you are asking me to throw the money into the well? I don’t think I can do it.”

At this, the father smiled. He told him that one feels this pain only when the fruits of hard labor are wasted. On the earlier two occasions, money was given to him. Therefore, he felt no pain throwing the coins into the well. The son had now realized the value of hard work. He vowed never to be lazy and to safely keep the father’s wealth. The father handed over the keys of his shop to the son.


Okay, so what happened at this “Defend Your Black Belt”?

Well, since this was our first one the candidates had no idea what to expect. We had to chuckle when rumors spread that they would have to “fight” all the instructors to get their belts. Instead they just endured a grueling two hours of fitness, karate and leadership training where we threw everything in our tool bag at them trying to get them to want to give up, get frustrated or lose faith but THEY DID NOT!

But here is the most valuable part of the event – only two out of the eleven earned their belts back that day! One of the two who had earned their belt back was crying part way through the event because he thought he was doing poorly and was not going to pass, BUT HE KEPT GOING. We knew that black belt meant a ton to him and it showed. The other one just had an unstoppable attitude from the very start and rose several levels above anything we had seen from him before. His relentless attitude separated him from his peers.

The other nine? Well, they did really, really well. So why didn’t they get their belts back. We did this on purpose!

To our delight almost all of them were crushed to learn they had not earned their belts back. Their jaws dropped when we stopped with the two. Most had tears in their eyes. And, none of them asked why. As a matter of fact I am confident some of their parents were more crushed than they were. But that was the value of the morning as we asked them to, as in the old legend above - “throw the gold coin in the well.”

“Prepare your child for the road, not the road for your child.”

‘Till next time!

Yours for Rock Solid (and hard working) Kids,


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