Friday I did not have many expectations for any workouts as normally I do weight training at 7 AM and had called in canceling that appointment due to the weather the night before. But much to my surprise I was able to fit that work in at 10:30 in the morning and then another surprise with a student coming in to work out a little later in the day. So we worked on some core exercises, forms and sparring. I was very happy with how quickly the lessons were picked up by this student and I got a chance to practice them too.
Today I was forced to think about why students sometimes choose to discontinue their training, both in a personal experience and in teaching our Excellence in Leadership course. It is important for all of us to remember that at Balanced Life Skills our 5-8 year olds and beginning solid belts, white – orange, our main focus is on building confidence and giving the students the courage to push themselves outside their normal box, without pushing them away from the experience of gaining Black Belt Excellence. When we do that we set the foundation to go to even greater places.
There are a few things though that we can do to help maintain our students enthusiasm for their training. Besides encouraging regular attendance, practice at home, and parents watching and being involved, as instructors the more contact we can have and recognition of the students progress the better they feel about their training. Sometimes it is hard for them to see the progress they are making without our pointing it out to them. I am encouraging all the new assistant instructors to remember what it was like to be younger and give each of the students a high five and pat on the back for great effort.
This week I received this, in part, message from my instructor. Continue to watch the happenings here in our school, and if you are interested in being a part of the goals and mission that we have, talk to me and lets see how we can work together to make a difference in our own families and in our community.
I am challenging myself to be better than ever before on many levels and I invite you to watch or even better join me in the challenges on the levels that are good for you. If you read this and are moved by any part of it – please make a point to comment on it here and talk to me. I am here to team up with you!
Here are the words of my instructor:
Come Monday – or any day you decide – you may wake up and realize that you have a new job, a duty, an obligation, and/or a mission. The subject is “self-defense” the definition of which is the key issue.
As a martial arts teacher and a member (recognize it or not) of the international martial arts community, I present you with the opportunity to be something more than a fitness teacher, something more than a teacher of the arts of physical self-defense,more than an instructor in some classical or eclectic martial art, and something far more than a school owner with a particular gross income and student count and tax obligation.
Self-defense, in today’s world, has little or nothing to do with kicks, punches, grappling, and bo-staff training. These aspects of the martial arts are the bowl that holds the mix –they are not “the cake.” Self-defense in today’s world is contained in what we do –or do not –consume. It is in our beliefs about ownership, about conflict, about relationships, about people with fewer resources that you or I, it is about anger and diet and attitude and community and the environment.
A young instructor inexperienced in life, without the understanding and knowledge that comes with life-experience, may have some difficulty in grasping this idea. Age and experience brings the appreciation of what is to have failures and lost dreams, with the burden and gift of being a parent, with the inevitability of losing those you love, and with the crazy brutality and injustice of war, of prejudice, of hatred, and of greed.
Without the educational foundation of history, of philosophy, and of all the things you learn along the path –a young martial arts teacher can be unaware of the value of everything on the periphery of “martial arts” that is not contained in the movements and techniques –and that is not practiced “on the mat” (and this doesn’t, of course, apply to all young instructors, as some people are born aware).
If this last statement rings true to you –then perhaps you are ready to become a martial arts teacher cut from a new –and different –cloth. Perhaps you are ready to be a martial arts teacher with a sense of mission and obligation to the world.
To begin, you must first appreciate and understand that to be a MASTER teacher, you are not going to find your skills easily, nor will they come to you in a best-selling book, a box, a video, or in a weekend certification seminar. You’re going to have to wake up and work and experience and network and be a part of something bigger than your “business” –something bigger than “the ring” or the arena.
Start with teaching anger management –and start that by really studying the subject. Move from there to embrace diabetes education. Why diabetes? Well, besides the fact that it will touch the lives of 1 in 3 children in the next decade, it could be ANY health subject; your job is to become a master of integrating various topics, intelligently, into your school’s curriculum and educational materials. From there you should develop the most active and visible acts-of-kindness program in your community. You must OWN this topic.
Next, tackle an aggressive environmental self-defense program. Read “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv – and integrate environmental education with unstructured outdoor play with your students. From there, custom design your own Ultimate Black Belt Test Program – and start living a real master teacher. I have no loss of ideas, tactics, and strategies for making all of the above the very things that bring students to your schools.
Should you, Monday morning or any morning wake up and recognize that you are being called to action (and that it’s going to make what you may do a LOT more fun and rewarding), please don’t hesitate to contact me.
So this is the challenge that I have before me. When I read this I thought about what it was like to be a parent. When we first become a parent all the thoughts, goals and ideal ways of doing things that rush through us. Sometime along the way we get so bogged down with just making the schedule happen everyday that we just want to get through another day.
Ever felt that way? I have and now all I want to do is be as much help as I can for all of our students, parents and the community so that the ideals and values and all that we wanted for our children and the world can be at least in some small way achieved.
We are very fortunate to have a wonderful community here at BLS working for the same goals. Thank you and lets see what we can accomplish together.