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Teaching Empathy in Karate Lessons

Update: Since its original publish date, we are beginning to see many of the concerns expressed in this article come to fruition. The pandemic made us shelter-in-place. We ordered delivered foods and services rather than having human interaction and don't visit the brick and mortar establishments. In addition, Artificial intelligence is transforming the way we work and spend our time. It's amazing how a few years can make such a marked difference to our reality.

The sad face emoji is not an expression of empathy.

Having empathy means that you value someone’s current position in life. It is more than the click of the mouse.

We are more connected than ever. You may have 2,000 Facebook “friends” but they are more like acquaintances than people with whom you have meaningful relationships.

Yellow smiley face beach balls representing how empathy can be learned in martial arts.

How many of them would help you move? That is the true benchmark of a friend. :)

The heart emoji. The angry emoji. These are as close to artificial intelligence as we can get without 100% human-less automation. With the click of a single button, you can feel good about a cause or make your political views known to the world. Yes, that makes you angry, but what are you going to do to make the world better.

When we see something sad, it may also make us sad, but only for 2 seconds. We forget about it quickly and are not motivated to ACT.


Can’t you visit grandma in the hospital?

Computers can not feel, but like autoresponders in our email, we are now starting to autorespond our affection and other gestures that make us human.

The stereotype of old was the executive whose secretary reminds him of he and his wife’s anniversary. He would then order flowers. The next year, he determined that it would just be easier for them to send the flowers. The secretary began sending gifts and flowers on his behalf. That makes you all touchy-feely, doesn't it?

Fast forward a few years and you probably have your own secretary named Alexa or Siri. They’re able to learn your habits, likes and dislikes even make choices for you.

There is nothing quite like a handwritten note. Today, you can now even automate the most personal of actions that we have left like a thoughtful letter. There are services that use printer-like machines that use real pens to write (AND indistinguishable from your own handwriting!)

We’ve made it so easy to express our opinions that they don’t mean anything anymore.

Group classes like Karate lessons help to teach children to work as a team. In our martial arts program at JMA, for instance, we teach life skills and character traits such as the benefits of hard work, community, and empathy.

Excerpt: Empowered Kids. To read more, you can purchase 'Empowered Kids' at

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