Frequently, parents bring their child to the dojo with despair in their eyes. “We’ve tried everything to get Johnny to calm down, but nothing seems to be working!”
Parents enroll their child in the martial arts as a last resort, desperate for him to learn to cope with the stressors of life and school. Many times, the parents are at the end of their ropes, not knowing what to do about the bad attitude, the poor grades, and the defiance.
Nothing special is done for these children. They learn the same techniques as the other students, they are expected to pay attention and follow along.
Within three to six months, the parents come to the sensei (teacher) amazed that their child’s grades have improved, his attitude is better, and he is more outgoing and gets along with others.
This used to puzzle me. Yes, the instructors were great, but what makes the difference in such a short time?
Here is why the martial arts makes such an impact in people’s lives.
The brain must be equally stimulated in both right and left hemispheres. A balance can only occur in the body when the brain is functioning properly.
In the martial arts, both sides of the body are worked equally. If you throw 100 punches with the right arm, you will throw 100 punches with the left arm – right, left, right, left. This repetition not only makes the arms strong, but the brain is also strengthened – right, left, right, left.
The students are also taught to show respect. Showing respect is one of the most obvious attributes of a traditional martial arts school. You will see the students bow at the door, bow to each other, bow to their sensei. There is a lot of bowing that goes on in a dojo.
It is not learning how to properly kick and punch that causes the child’s self-confidence to grow. It is the atmosphere of can-do and the positive reinforcement for a job well done. “I can’t,” is not an option in the dojo.
As the child’s confidence grows, so does their participation in school activities. Because of the intense physical training of the martial arts, a child who was a couch potato before will find sports easy for him. And, not surprisingly, if he had one before, you will one day realize your child no longer complains about his bully.
I can say with complete certainty, everyone who comes through the dojo doors leaves as a better person. Gone is the wimpy kid. In his place grows a fine young man or woman that has no qualms about standing up for themselves and for others.
HOW TO PICK AN INSTRUCTOR
If it interests you to have your child enroll in the martial arts, it is best to find a school that teaches traditional styles, because much is lost in the training of morality and respect in the nontraditional schools.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A MARTIAL ARTS INSTRUCTOR
“It is better to spend three years looking for a good master
than to spend ten years with a bad one.”
Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming
1. The history of the instructor’s training is important. It is not the style he has learned, or the rank he claims, but the number of years he has studied and practiced. Many practitioners start training at a young age, so age is not as important as knowledge and training.
2. Beware of masters that claim to be an expert in a number of styles. They have spent a short time studying many styles instead of mastering one or two.
3. Observe the instructor at teaching.
a. Is his morality sound?
b. Does he have a regular training schedule?
c. Does he adequately explain the tradition and history of his style?
d. Is he stable, smooth, quick, and protective of vital areas while performing?
e. Do his explanations of techniques and sequences seem reasonable?
Visit different dojos and learn about different styles. Take your time to find a good school. The martial arts can be a benefit for a lifetime if properly grounded in the beginning. Technique and attitude are important. The students should look sharp but not full of themselves.
Ego does not have a place in the martial arts. As you progress up the ranks, or put years into your training, you will learn techniques that are not taught to beginners. A beginner does not possess the discipline necessary to learn advanced techniques.
With practice comes discipline. This is when the student begins to unravel the real meaning behind the art.