Calm Me Maybe

A blog dedicated to the eternal pursuit of happiness through all-natural methods of rest and relaxation

How 3 books and my karate family changed my life

on October 17, 2013

By Karly Gombert, guest blogger (writewelldaily)

Photo credit: Estelle Steiner

Photo credit: Estelle Steiner

Hello, all. My name is Karly and I’m 21 years old. I’ve been practicing a Korean style of karate called “Chun Kuk Do” since I was 11.

Since beginning as a participant in one of Presti Karate Centers’ summer camp sessions, I earned my first and second-degree blackbelts, taught my own classes, started and coached a demonstration and competition team, competed in local and world tournaments and became part of a loving and supportive family.      

I have had the same instructor since I first started—a wonderful and insightful man who I credit with many of the reasons why I am the person I am today. He recommended most of these stories to me, and encouraged me to take their lessons to heart, saying they would help me through most of the problems I was facing then, and some that I would in the future. So, I’m sharing these stories with you. May they touch your lives the way they continue to touch mine.

1. Thinking Body Dancing Mind

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

This book by Chungliang Al Huang and Jerry Lynch is definitely for non-fiction readers. Written by a sports psychologist (Lynch) and well-known Tai Chi practitioner (Huang), the book explains several tips and tools to aid in mental stability, processing, visualization and much more. The authors provide examples and interviews with business people and athletes, showing how their suggested strategies can be implemented successfully.

Overall, the text is rather dense for younger readers, but it’s definitely a great text to have around for reference and inspiration. The authorial duo has written many other books discussing how to better your life, business, mental and physical health. This text is an easy read with nothing but benefits to be gleaned.

2. Ender’s Game (By Orson Scott Card) 

Photo credit: Creative Commons

Photo credit: Creative Commons

Speaking as a victim of bullying, martial arts was essential to my mental and physical wellness in both middle school and high school. It wasn’t hard to see the change that occurred after a few months of training. I was more confident in my abilities and myself. Knowing that I had the tools to protect myself, and those I cared about, gave me the strength to ignore the hurt of persecution and focus on my education and my family. But, before most of this, my instructor went out of his way to lend me his copy of this book, Ender’s Game. He told me that I should read it, saying it would help me understand a lot about what I was going through.

The story follows the adventures of Ender Wiggin, a pre-teen boy who was bullied and ostracized for being a third child. (Because the story is set in Earth’s future, where there is a strict two-child policy, Ender’s existence is unusual). Soon after, he is recruited by the military as a part of their child-prodigy training program in their war against an alien race known as the “buggers.”

Photo credit: Karly Gombert

Photo credit: Karly Gombert

Ender quickly sets himself apart from his classmates, and moves through the ranks quickly. Without spoiling the ending, I will say that the fate of Earth depends on his leadership. When I finished the book, I brought it back to my instructor. Taking it from me he said “See, being smart is not a bad thing. Don’t let other people tell you what you should be.”  

3. A Bundle of Sticks

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

This book by Patricia Mauser McCord follows the story of Ben Tyler, a student being targeted by bullies to the point that he’s forced to physically eat mud. After this, Ben’s father enrolls him in karate classes regardless of Ben’s unwillingness to fight.

During Ben’s training he comes to terms with his own feelings as he develops his self-defense skills. The significance of the title and Ben’s fate are revealed later in the novel, but both are crucially important.

This story speaks to so many situations, and it’s such a quick and easy read that it’s a shame to leave it unread. Ben’s story is one that we can all relate to. Specifically regarding a fight we wanted to avoid or trying something new we’re skeptical about.  

 A Bundle of Sticks is a story of growth, forgiveness and peace. It’s a great read for kids and adults so don’t let it pass you by. These three books helped me connect with myself, mentally and

Photo credit: Shannon Myers

Photo credit: Shannon Myers


Though the stories distinctly vary from science fiction to non-fiction and young adult fiction, their messages permeate social and personal issues that affect, or have affected, most of us at some point in our lives.

Life is not easy, nor will it ever be. I found these books because of my great experience with karate and the instructor that I was blessed with, but I hope that this post will help you or someone you know overcome anxieties.

Thanks for reading, dears. Keep calm and carry on.


5 responses to “How 3 books and my karate family changed my life

  1. Reblogged this on Write Well Daily and commented:
    Check out this guest post I did for Calm Me Maybe!

  2. John Presti says:

    Ms Gombert, This is wonderful that you pointed out that not only your martial arts training helped, but some good reading material helps and really lets all of US know that Chun Kuk Do training is more than just kicking and punching. Its truly life skills we teach. I give credit for such material you mention from black belts who care about all martial arts training!

  3. Pat Davis says:

    Ms. Gombert:

    That sounds so formal because I sometimes still see the little girl who started taking lessons at a time that seems so long ago now. But its truly fitting now because of the great woman you have now become.

    As Mr. Presti mentioned in his comment, it’s nice to see the influences of Chun Kuk Do training beyond the physical training.

    Also, glad to hear how suggested reading affected your life through self-esteem improvement. They had the same effect on me.

    Finally, kudos for the professionalism apparent in your presentation here.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words and continued support. I can’t explain how much it truly means. Know that I will carry our time together with the fondest affection. I only hope to impart on others the same guidance and love that I have been so blessed to receive.

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