This is one of those posts that we have wanted to make for a very long time. Martial arts, dedication, commitment what does that mean? We wanted to wait until after summer before addressing this in a blog post, as many of our members like to take the summer off with good reason. But the same students are often dismayed when they come back to see that their peers have surpassed them in many ways because they trained throughout the summer. Then, as teachers, we have even a harder job of trying to motivate these students, and assure their parents that they can catch up. In worst case scenarios the students become so demoralized that they just want to quit.
It's really frustrating for us who watch these kids train, work hard, they all have the ability to gain mastery of themselves and of the art, but it requires discipline and commitment. Meaning, it will not always be easy or convenient. Martial arts is not about instant gratification, it is about development of the mind, , body, spirit, character and work ethic. It is about about searching for a deeper understanding with every move. Many times students will get frustrated because they're not moving forward with the next technique or form. Everybody is interested in learning something new, however if if we were to progress a student on to the next new move, form or rank without them having mastered the prerequisite material the student would be even more confused and never gain a deeper understanding of the moves or him or herself.
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”-Bruce Lee
Commitment: Take our son Jack for example, at about 6 years old he wanted to quit. Class was pretty hard for him, it was hard for him to see his peers doing better. Jack wanted to quit, however he was not putting in the work required to succeed. As a parent this is a really hard thing to negotiate, do we let him quit knowing that he didn't put forth the work to feel successful? He made a commitment to train in Karate, he asked to train and we both told him that this is a real commitment, for him and us. Were we to go back on our word and let him quit because it got hard? Because he was crying? Because he said he was bored, and that he'll never get it?
No, we did not. We had a family meeting and decided on the parameters that would fulfill his commitment. When he reaches these benchmarks we hope he has the prerequisite skills protect himself should he need to. At that point he should also have a very strong understanding of martial arts, commitment, discipline and work ethic.
Dr. Carol Dweck’s book “Mindset” discusses how our generation is really crippling our children by giving them false or empty self esteem by simply telling them that they're awesome at everything without ever really having to work hard for for their accolades. Dr. Dweck contends that success is in the journey/struggle, not the destination. It’s in the work where the magic happens.
We guarantee you that at one point or another you or your child will want to quit karate. I did, my wife wanted to quit Martial Arts as well. Jennifer would leave the floor from her martial arts school, go in the locker room and cry many times, but she was determined to not let herself get psyched out. Being the only woman in a class of men was really tough.
My own journey has been anything but easy. When my son Jack was first born, I would wake up at 5 o'clock in the morning, help Jennifer feed him, get Jack ready for daycare and drop him off at 8. Then, I would then go to work, train five people one on one, then drive over Somers to help my instructor- teach three of his classes, take my black belt class, then drive back down to Croton and train under another instructor for another 2 hours, getting home at 11 o'clock at night. It wasn't easy, it was really hard, I was tired and life was super busy. There were times I wanted to quit, but I made a commitment. Had I quit, I would not have the school I have today. I wouldn't have the honor of knowing such wonderful families and teaching such spirited students.
Martial arts teaches us to keep working harder every time we want to quit. Each time we push through the difficult times we experience another success and gain more confidence in ourselves and our abilities. The dojo provides us with a proving ground for life, let’s not waste the opportunity.
Sensei and owner of Croton Karate. Sensei has been a student of Martial Arts for over 20 years. He teaches all classes, and knows every child by name. Croton Karate is one big hardworking family.