Jonathon Hourigan, Author at Black Belt Plus Martial Arts Centre

All posts by Jonathon Hourigan

The Difference Between Discipline and Punishment


In this blog post, our chief instructor Jonathon Hourigan talks about how to develop self-discipline in children and the difference between discipline and punishment.

Click here to take a look back at our monthly themed posts for some more great tips, tricks and advice on subjects like confidence, courage, bully prevention and self-esteem.


JONATHON: Hi mums and dads, Jonathon Hourigan from Black Belt Plus here in Burleigh, and today I want to talk about how you can develop self-discipline in your child. In our martial arts school, we say to our students that self-discipline is doing the things you know you should do without being reminded. One of the things you could do as a parent is learning to reinforce those skills at home. It’s important to remember that self-discipline and discipline go hand in hand. And the difference, there’s a difference between self-discipline and punishment.

To help your child at home, you can do a number of things. When you see them showing self-discipline, praise them. Give them responsibilities so they can practise self-discipline, and also model self-discipline yourself by doing it, so when they see you making your bed and showing respect to others, then they’re learning that quality as well. So, that’s my take for today, see you soon. Bye.

6 Simple Steps To Boost Self-Esteem

Tips to Boost Self-Esteem - Black Belt Plus Martial Arts Centre

In this blog post, our chief instructor Jonathon Hourigan recaps what you have learned from the blog series of how to build you child’s self esteem. So, here are the 6 simple tips that are important to help your child build their self esteem:

1. Show how much you love them by showing them affection.

2. Compliment your children.

3. Help them set little goals.

4. If you need to criticise or reprimand them, reprimand their behaviour, not them as a person.

5. Show your children that you’re proud of them.

6. Tend to your self-esteem and be the best role model to your child.

Click here to see more of our blog posts.


JONATHON: Hi mums and dad, Jonathon Hourigan from Black Belt Plus in Burleigh. We’ve had our blog series going of how to build your child’s self esteem, and I’d like to finish off the blog today with just a recap of the tips that are important to help your child build their self esteem.

Firstly is to show how much you love them by showing them affection. Sometimes in a busy day we forget about this, so that’s really important. Secondly is to compliment them. Let them know how proud you are of them. That’s a really big one. Also, helping them to set little goals, like learning how to make their bed, and then progressing on to bigger chores really boosts their self esteem. Remember if we need to criticise or reprimand them, we reprimand the behaviour, not the person, and then they can learn that it was their actions, not them that was inappropriate or bad. Going on from there, it’s important to show your children that you’re proud of them, and this is a big one as well. So by doing that on a regular basis, that will make them feel good. Never compare your child to another child. So everybody’s an individual, and everybody progresses at their own rate. Lastly, it’s important to tend to your own self esteem, because you’re the best role model that they could have, so if you’re working on your stuff, then they’re going to follow you. So that’s been our blog on self esteem, and I look froward to speaking with you soon. Bye.

How Can I Increase My Child’s Self Esteem?

increase my child's self esteem

In this blog post, our chief instructor Jonathon Hourigan addresses a question he gets asked a lot by parents. “Can you help me increase my child’s self-esteem?”  Last blog post, we talked about how we can build a child’s self esteem through physical skills and they were balance, and speed, co-ordination and strength, and so on. In this video, we will talk about some of the skills that we pay particular attention to here at Black Belt Plus Martial Arts Centre, but we will also give you some helpful tips and advice on how you can nurture and build upon your child’s self-esteem at home.

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JONATHON: Hi mums and dads, Jonathon Hourigan from Black Belt Plus here in Burleigh. Last blog, we talked about how we can build a child’s self esteem through physical skills and they were balance, and speed, co-ordination and strength, and so on. In this blog I want to talk about how children can help to build their own self esteem. So in our school and at home we encourage these things to be done. Firstly we start off with encouraging children to have good posture, standing straight, looking confident. From there we encourage them to smile, and also to help each other, and that can be in the form of they give each other praise when we’re doing races and games. And also, if somebody falls over or makes a mistake, nobody laughs, they just tend to cheer them on.

And at home, well sorry not home, but at school we encourage them to look out for others at school as well, so like for instance, if someone is being bullied then they go over and try to be that person’s friend. So by doing these things we encourage children to be an individual, to realise that they don’t have to be like everybody else, and to just be themselves and be proud of that.

Okay. That’s great. Look forward to seeing you next blog. Bye.

How to Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem and Confidence

build kids self-esteem and confidence

In this blog post, Chief Instructor Jonathon Hourigan talks about how to build kids self-esteem and confidence to stop the bully.  Last week,  we looked at building confidence to use our words to stop bullying in it’s tracks. Once we master the verbal de-escalation we can conquer the physical aspect of training.  In this blog, we talk about the foundation steps we teach our students to help them physically defend themselves. Our aim is to help students be confident and skilled enough to stand up to bullies and keep themselves and others safe here in the Gold Coast.

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JONATHON: Mums and dads, Jonathon Hourigan from Black Belt Plus Marital Arts Centre in Burleigh. I’ve got a second tip today about how to build your child’s self-esteem and confidence. The second thing that we do in our school is work on the physical skill of a student. Now, that can be the same at home.  So we find that building a child’s balance, coordination and strength and speed all helps them feel better about themselves. This can be done with any sport that you might have at home, even if it’s just riding a bike, or riding a skateboard, or learning to surf.  All those things are building this response inside your child that. “Hey, I can do something and it feels good, and I can be proud of myself.”

We do that in many ways here.  Learning how to kick and punch and defend ourselves, and do lots of fitness work, and acrobatics work, and all those things add up. Combining those with using your voice, adds up to developing a child who can say no and stand up to the bully and have that self-confidence to lead a happy, healthy life at school and at home. Hope this helps, and look forward to seeing you soon. Bye.

Self-Esteem Skills to Defeat Bullying

Defence against bullying

In this blog post, Chief Instructor Jonathon Hourigan discusses the positive impact the power of words play to help children their defence against bullying, here in the Gold Coast.

We talk about building and developing self-esteem skills to give your children the confidence, courage and positive mindset that will help them effectively deal with any form of bullying. Black Belt Plus Martial Arts Centre prides itself on providing essential self-defence skills through verbal and physical activities and techniques to empower young children to stand-up against bullying and help themselves and others stay safe.


JONATHON: Hi mums and dads, Jonathon Hourigan from Black Belt Plus here in Burleigh. Today I wanted to talk about how we can help you build your child’s self esteem and confidence. One of the first things that we do in our martial arts school is help the children learn how to use their voice.

The sort of things that you can do at home to help them use their voice is like we do in the classes here. We get them to yell. Maybe that’s something you don’t want so much in the house. Getting them to yell, we get them to say, “Yes sir.” In your case it could be saying, “Yes mum.” Getting them to respond. We get them to introduce themselves to other children, so building that bond there. Also with the bullying situation, is getting them to actually always express themselves. Never let a bully interact with them and just ignore it. Always use their words against a bully.

So they’re the steps that we start with. Really working on the voice first, and then we work on the physical second. So hopefully that’s a tip that you can use a home to help your child to build their self esteem.

Look forward to seeing you soon. Bye.

Effective Punch Technique to Protect Yourself Against Bullies

kids self defence gold coast

In this blog, we show you another snippet of our bullying workshop where Chief Instructor Jonathon will demonstrate how to do an effective ‘punch’ technique to protect yourself against bullies.


TEACHER: They’re not scared of you and you’re scared of them. Isn’t that right? What we need to do is we need to become strong. If you were the toughest fighter in your grade, meaning you could beat anybody, would you walk around the schoolyard being scared?


TEACHER: No, you wouldn’t because you’re so tough! Okay. I’m not talking about those people. I’m just talking about being strong. We’ve got to get you strong. Strong in your body but also you’ve got to learn some other things here. This word up here, courage. We’re going to teach you to be strong with your words as well. We’ll get onto that today, but let’s start getting our body nice and strong.

TEACHER: Now with the bully, we don’t want to hurt them, but we do want to show them that we’re not scared of them and they can’t push us around. What we’re going to do is we’re going to learn to do this punch. This is a reverse punch…like that. This is our back hand. This is our power hand, so we’re going to strike to the belly and then we’re going to come back. That’s all we’re going to do. Because if you punch someone to the belly, it doesn’t break anything. There’s no blood, but it forces the air out of their stomach and they might get a bit winded and they might cry, but in a little while they’ll be okay.

TEACHER: Okay. Let’s try that punch. The way we’re going to do it. We’re going to be facing the mirrors like this. We’ve got our right leg back. Hands up like this. This right hand, which is most people’s power hand, is going to go straight to the belly and come back. So you do that strike to the side please, that way. Good. So you do that strike there. Okay, Elliot. Good. Okay. Right. Everybody up.

How to Do A Push Kick – Self Defence Classes To Help You Defend Yourself Against Bullies

Self Defence Classes Gold Coast

At Black Belt Plus Martial Arts Centre, we take bullying very seriously. Chief Instructor Jonathan Hourigan has over 25 years of experience in martial arts has dedicated his career to building innovative programs centred around anti-bullying, practical self-defence and personal development.  Our self defence classes in the Gold Coast will provide you with a series of skills, confidence and courage to stand up for yourself and help others.

In this blog,  we show you a snippet of our bullying workshop where Chief Instructor Jonathan will demonstrate how to do an effective ‘push kick’ technique as a strong defensive option you are confronted by bullying.


JONATHON: So mums and dads, boys and girls, in our martial arts school, Black Belt Plus, the curriculum we use here is the one that I’ve evolved over 25 years of teaching.

So my background is formally Taekwondo, but I really saw the need to develop the curriculum to suit what children need, not just a blanket curriculum that was taught to Korean soldiers.

The techniques that children need are completely different to battle or even what adults need in an assault situation.

So the next technique we use, that shows strength and again doesn’t hurt is … Ben’s fallen asleep, top nap Ben. Okay, now this one’s called a Push Kick. It looks like a Front Kick, but what you do, is you’re going to do it to the front of the body. Okay, you’re going to lift your leg up, touch, and push away like that and then you say, “Back off”. Okay? So again they think, “Awgh, truly that was strong, awgh I don’t want to mess with you, you must be a Karate expert”. Then they go hassling somebody else, so put your leg up, “Back off”. Okay, lets try that, and go. Nice.

martial arts in gold coast

Here are 3 Ways to Beat the Bully On The Gold Coast

bully prevention gold coast


TEACHER: The three things I want you to leave with, I’m going to give you the notes so you can take home to … you can role play this with your mom and dad, and get better at it, but the three ways to beat the bully, we’ve worked on three things, didn’t we? So one was our spirit. Can everybody say spirit sir?

CLASS: Spirit sir.

TEACHER: And spirit was about, to believe in yourself, and to say to yourself, “No one has the right to take my spirit away.” Can you say that again?

CLASS:  No one has the right to take my spirit away.

TEACHER: So these are really powerful words, aren’t they? Okay. The next thing was mind. So everyone say mind sir.

CLASS: Mind sir.

TEACHER: So to educate yourself, and know how to outsmart the bully, because knowledge is power, okay? And then the last one was body. So everyone say body sir.

CLASS: Body sir.

TEACHER: And that was about becoming strong with our body, becoming an excellent martial artist, so that you have the confidence that in your own self-defence capabilities so that you can walk around the school without fear. So that all gets back to the one thing, let’s all say this, your dreams … or say, my dreams.

CLASS: My dreams.

TEACHER: And goals.

CLASS: And goals.

TEACHER: Are too important.

CLASS: Are too important.

TEACHER: For anyone to stop me.

CLASS: For anyone to stop me.

TEACHER: Okay, great. Let’s have a big clap everybody. We’ve got some really cool wristbands, so Dave’s going to walk around and give you a wristband. CJ is going to hand out a copy of the notes. Now with the notes, you only mostly need one per family, so if there are three of you, just one person put their hand up.


7 Weapons for Improving Kids Grades

improving kids grades

7 Weapons for Improving Kids Grades

Kids are so engrossed with gadgets and online games that it has become even more of a challenge to get them to focus on school work!

As soon as they step out of school, they're onto mobile phones and start tapping away. martial arts gold coast

We have all heard of the negative effects of technology on young minds. They have trouble paying attention and learning new things, they tend to be lazy and all that.

It isn’t surprising to get average scores on their tests or report cards. The thing is, they can’t really be blamed. If we had those during our time, we would probably be just as obsessed.

What we can do, however, is help them achieve better grades by establishing a few guidelines that can help them do better in school.

1. Work as a Team.

Take the time to talk with your child’s teacher/s in identifying problem areas. They may have several observations during class that can help you plan out how best to help your child.

Is your child falling asleep in class? Does your child seem to have trouble seeing what is written in the blackboard or getting along with some classmates?

These may seem like little or unrelated issues but they actually play a big part in learning as well.

Schedule an appointment to discuss these things and take advantage by asking for advice as well as additional materials that may help your child do better. 

2. Know what works best for them.

We all have different personalities, therefore we all have different learning styles as well. Observe how your child studies, suggest alternatives and note what actually works well for him or her.

Some children like using flashcards to help them learn a lesson, others understand concepts better when shown an infographic.

Some need total peace and quiet while there are actually some who need a bit of background noise. Figure out their learning style and use it to their advantage.

3. Set a schedule and stick to it.

Make a schedule for them to follow after school. Maybe your child will study better after a shower or snack. Maybe he or she will need a quick nap first? kids martial arts gold coast

Whatever it is, make sure that enough time is set for studying each subject and that all homework or projects get completed.

Sometimes, low grades are caused by missing homework or late projects because children do not really realise the weight these have on their final grades and that can certainly be frustrating.

Gadgets or television will have to wait until the weekend, and only after all school work and chores are finished.

4. Get them organised.

This one may actually be the only one you need to solve the problem. Give your child simple organisational tips that will help them focus on their priorities and help them stick to their study schedule.

Have them write down all their homework and deadlines in one notebook or a planner so that they can keep track easily.

Have their books and other study materials on one bookshelf beside their desk for easy access. kids karate gold coast

Colour code their subjects and the corresponding books and notebooks for easy reference. Have a whiteboard or cork board by their desk so they can place reminders or important notes there.

These will surely help them in working their way to better grades.

5. Encourage them.

If your child is not doing well in school, it won’t help if you compare them with those who are, or make them feel bad about it.

Instead, boost their self-esteem by constantly reminding them that they are smart enough and that they can definitely do better and remind them that you are always there to help.

Let them know that they already have it in them to do better, they just need to know their priorities, focus and apply more effort.

6. Set Achievable Goals.

You should not expect a quick turnaround. Talk to your child about setting goals that will show continued progress during a reasonable amount of time.

It can mean simple achievements such as not forgetting homework, completing all projects on time, or getting at least 10 points higher on their next test.

Once they are able to achieve that, they will have more confidence to aim higher next time. Kids karate training gold coast

7. Give them due credit.

There is no doubt that it will require a lot of work to improve your child’s performance in school, and most of it will come from them.

So aside from letting them know how well they have been doing and how you have noticed that they are working extra hard, consider giving them a reward. martial arts for kids gold coast

It doesn't have to be anything expensive or big, and might be as simple as letting them skip a certain chore will do the trick.

It will make them feel that all their hard work is appreciated and recognised, and it will certainly motivate them to keep up the good work.

Did you realise that kids also improve their school grades by training in the Little Ninjas program here at Black Belt Plus in Burleigh Heads? Check out our latest web special to check it out.

How Martial Arts Will Prepare Your Child For School Success This Year

School success with BlackBelt Plus martial arts program for kids.

How Martial Arts Will Prepare Your Child For School Success This Year

Our team at Black Belt Plus know that children come home from school with grades that you need to worry about, and it can be difficult to address.

Bad grades can be due to various reasons and dealing with it is an important and tricky matter. Some children may have a hard time focusing in class, others are just lazy, while some just really have trouble learning. The struggle is real!

One thing is for sure, parents need to work with their children in order to improve this. We cannot just tell the children to study harder without giving them the adequate help they need.

The first step could be to schedule a meeting with their teacher/s and discuss the problem and the different ways you can help your child do better in school.
One proven way that can help improve their performance in school is by getting them into a great martial arts program such as the Little Ninjas or children's martial arts programs at Black Belt Plus in Burleigh. 

Many people don't know that the skills and training children get from martial arts can apply to school work as well. Most of them actually show improved study habits and overall performance within a few months. And here's why: 

Positive Role Models

As they go through their martial arts training, children will always be surrounded by role models who constantly show and teach them many different positive values aside from the standard martial arts skills training.

These are necessary as they go hand in hand to be able to successfully learn proper martial arts. The teachers empower children to be their best and give them the necessary support and encouragement every time.

The boost in their self-esteem and encouragement they get regularly from their martial arts teacher will subconsciously carry on into their school work.

Physical Fitness

It's pretty hard to do anything well if you're not in tip top shape. You don’t feel confident and hardly have the energy needed to accomplish tasks. 

Once children start training in martial arts, they're constantly reminded to eat healthy, keep fit and exercise regularly even outside the dojo.

Once they are able to feel healthier and better about themselves, they will also start performing better in school and their grades will no doubt improve.

A High Energy, Exciting Environment

Our tech savvy children are accustomed to playing with gadgets and anything on-line, which often means they lack regular personal interaction with others.

Being part of a high energy and exciting environment found in their martial arts classes develops social skills and is a great place to make healthy new friendships. 

Regular Incentives for Effort and Achievement

In the same breath, the rewards system given in martial arts where students earn a new coloured belt every 3 months is similar to that in school.

When they get a certain grade, the children receive certificates or medals at the end of each grading period. They also receive feedback and recognition on a regular basis from their instructors.

As parents we should also recognise our children’s efforts and achievements, not just in school or in the dojo, but also at home when they do their chores or when they simply show good behaviour.

Consider giving them rewards at home as well to motivate them to do better, and it doesn't have to be anything material or expensive.

Also, hearing words of affirmation, such as "You did a great job!", "You make me smile", "Thanks for being such a hard worker", or "Wow! You’re fast!" from their parents or teachers can help boost their self-esteem and encourage them to do even better next time.

A Proven System of Skill Development

The discipline required from martial arts students will carry on outside the dojo. It will be instilled in them so deeply that the children will be able to apply this in everything they do.

They will understand the importance of setting and following a schedule for their homework and other activities.

They will learn to focus and exert their best in everything they do. They will be taught to complete each task properly and never half heartedly.

They will see that hard work is necessary to achieve great things and that excuses will not get them anywhere.

Realistic goal setting also comes into play here, they will have to do their best if they want to get certain results.

By now, you can already tell that martial arts can help children in so many ways.

It prepares children to face the different challenges that they will inevitably go through in life. 

They will exhibit the virtues and social skills they develop through regular training long after they graduate and they will thank you for it! 

If our team at Black Belt Plus in Burleigh can be one of your partners in raising your children to be strong, smart, healthy and well-rounded individuals - call us today 55220755.