misbehaving_kidOver the years of instructing, I have heard it hundreds of times – “My child was misbehaving so I didn’t allow him/her to come to class”. Strangely, after not hearing it for a while I have heard this, or something similar, from three sets of parents in the past two weeks. Most often, parents expect me to approve of this as a punishment. When my reaction is the opposite, some are quite surprised.

I always say that martial arts class should never be taken away as a punishment. It is totally counter-productive and will do more harm than good.

bowing kid Initially, why do many parents send their kids to martial arts classes? Discipline, focus, structure, anger management, countless physical benefits… the list can go on and on. So you send kids to class to learn these things, but then take them away from the very thing that is teaching them to instill these practices when they act up? If anything, a parent should send them to more classes if they misbehave.Something that is a benefit to the child AND the parents should not be taken away as a punishment. Who is it that is actually being punished at the end of the day? The parents themselves? I think so!

If you are going to take something away, take away things that have no real benefit or aren’t going to improve the child. Often a parent will take away what the child loves as a punishment, but not everything that a child loves is bad for them. Martial arts are a good example of this.

Do you take a child out of school because they did something wrong at home? I doubt it. It should be the same with martial arts. Like school, it should be a priority for parents. There are many lessons and skills that a child will learn in class that are directly applicable to life.

A child misses a class, and like in school, misses something crucial to the syllabus. Is it expected that everyone should be held back and repeat what was done for the benefit of the one? It is, maybe unknowingly to them, the parent who is being inconsiderate.Master and students Children learn by example – does this mean that the parent is unwittingly teaching their child how to be inconsiderate?

The benefits of sending your child to class far outweighs the cons. Please, keep this in mind the next time you want to punish your child by keeping them away from class.

strong foundationThe theme for my classes this past week has been “strong foundations”, more so, keeping foundations in good repair. As I always say, there are so many lessons in martial arts that can be applied to everyday life. This is no different.

For the sake of this article, I am going to assume that you are a part of a good martial arts club and not a McDojang/Dojo.

As a new student you walk into a club and you are taken through the absolute basics. The body is prepared and built up to endure the rigors of martial arts training. There is countless repetition of exercises and techniques. The principles of many movements are learnt through these basic exercises and techniques, and the same principles are later applied to all techniques through the ranks. This is the foundation upon which all of your other training will be built. What is later considered as “basic” training is what will bear the load of all that comes afterwards.

Unfortunately with many, once they start to develop, they think that they no longer need to practice the basics. They are too advanced for this. They focus only on what is required for their “higher” rank. They become rusty with fundamental technique and over time the lack of focus on the “baby stuff” takes its toll and infects every aspect of training.

skyscraperThis is where I use my analogy:

A man decides he wants to build a skyscraper. He decides on 150 storeys. He takes his time and builds a great foundation. Each floor, he builds with care and precision. He eventually reaches his 150th storey. He loves being at this lofty height. He overlooks everything in every direction. His view is unfathomable. He kits this floor out with the best and has only the top amenities. He decides that nothing else on the planet can compare with what he has here and locks himself in, never to leave again.

The years pass and the man love’s his place in the world. Surely, nothing can compare. He keeps it kitted out and does regular maintenance on his top storey abode. He sits and wonders about everyone else looking on and marveling at him.

Meanwhile as the years have passed and the man has sat atop his throne of glory, his buildings foundation and lower floors have begun to crumble. They have weathered badly in time gone by. They have been neglected and have not been maintained. All of the man’s attention has been so focused on his top floor residence that he has forgotten about what it sits upon. The erosion takes its toll and the building comes tumbling down. The man falls all the further and harder because he chose to sit so high among the clouds.

Front punch BW(1)Martial artists, no matter what rank should never sway from doing maintenance on every floor, especially their foundation. In the case of martial arts technique, everything filters up, not down. Neglect of the basics will affect the way more advanced techniques are performed.

The best view in a martial arts building is the basement.

AerobicsThis is a discussion I have had many a time. My answer is pretty standard: Martial arts are for everyone, but not everybody is for the martial arts.

Many people have a misconception about what taking up martial arts means. It should not be like going to join a gym and taking part in aerobics classes (although many McDojangs/McDojos have turned it into that). Martial arts are not about getting into shape. It is a holistic approach to life, being fit just happens to be a part of it. It is far more than joining in on a class on the odd occasion and then bragging that you are a deadly weapon. Martial arts are about learning skills – skills that can have use and effect in all spheres of your life. It is a path you follow and a lifestyle you live. It is a humbling, yet empowering road.

If you are looking for a fun and friendly environment to bounce around aimlessly and lose weight, then martial arts is not for you. While we do have fun and friends can be made in a martial arts class, there is something a lot more serious and deep about the whole experience.

average personIf you don’t want to put yourself into, often, tough and uncomfortable situations, then martial arts is not for you. Sometimes the way to progression is through hardship. This is how we learn to adapt.

If you don’t want to take the odd beating and suffer disappointments, then martial arts is not for you. Egos are broken down and confidence is built up both mentally and physically in martial arts.

If you want to train only when you feel like it, then martial arts is not for you. The way we grow is through consistency, despite the ups and downs we go through.

If you are not willing to be better than average, then martial arts is not for you. You need to be willing to be special. You need to commit to becoming better than average. You need to be able to push and be pushed.

customer always rightIf you want to go somewhere where “the customer is always right”, then martial arts is not for you. The Instructor is always right, and too bad if you don’t like it. The modern “consumer” can never understand this. There are no “customers”, only students.

Practicing martial arts is about going after something that may prove difficult, but doing it anyway. It is about ups and downs, but never giving up. It is about commitment – something that the modern age doesn’t make much time or space for. It is about joining a brotherhood where bonds are formed on suffering, defeats and victories. It is not always a cup of tea, in fact, it hardly ever is. Being a martial artist is a calling and changes your outlook on life in many ways. Instead of merely “doing” martial arts, you become a martial artist.

If you don’t like what training in martial arts is about, then go join a class designed for your needs. That is the beauty of choice. Martial arts don’t need to bend to suit people. There are other things out there that are for that. If it was an easy path, everyone would be doing it and everyone would be a master. But it’s not.

tkd classMartial arts can be the most rewarding thing in the world, but it doesn’t come easy. It’s not merely about attending classes; it is about the lifestyle and everything else that goes with it.

Martial arts are for warriors! Not everyone has what it takes.

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