Dave Kovar's Living LessonsSensei Bruce Juchnik was my first karate teacher. He is a good guy and I’m happy to say that, more than forty years later, we’re still in touch. Back in those days, not a lot of children took martial arts and there was no thought put into teaching methodology. Public praise and positive reinforcement was not in Sensei Bruce’s arsenal. As a matter fact, I don’t think I ever heard him say anything positive about me during those first couple of years training. It wasn’t that he was rude or mean, he just didn’t think to give any of his students any positive feedback.

One day, my father came into the school to pick me up. He was a bit early so he sat down for a few moments to watch the remaining part of class. Unbeknownst to me, Sensei Bruce had decided to promote me to blue belt at the close of class. In front of the class and my father, he said aloud, “Dave, he’s a tiger. He is doing great and could be a champion someday. Tonight I’m awarding him his blue belt. He certainly deserves it.” I can’t tell you how amazing it made me feel to have my instructor tell my dad and the rest of class that I was doing great. I was on cloud nine the whole way home. I’ve never forgotten that incident. It reminds me to pass on public praise to my children and my students whenever possible.