Monday, October 20, 2014

You've Been Dropping Your Child Off at Karate Class and You're Just not Seeing Improvement

I grew up in Warren, Ohio in an age after Andy Griffith and before the Brady Bunch. The general rule of expectation in the Meredith household was - be home before the street lights went on. I can remember leaving the house after breakfast (cereal I poured myself) and I didn’t see either parent before supper. I was out again by 7:00 PM and back home right before bed.

I never played baseball on a baseball diamond, unless you mean the vacant lot at the end of the street where we had laid down some big rocks, a Frisbee, and a trash can lid. For good and for bad, those days of Americana seem to be gone, replaced by organized activities with safety equipment, night lights, trained referees, and parents cheering from the sidelines.

Take a parent with two or more kids, each with three activities (sport, music, karate), and you have the classic Soccer Mom, Lacrosse Dad, and maybe a few Piano Grandpa’s. Martial art classes can be a welcome addition as there is no need to bring your collapsible lawn chair with the heated cushions, and aluminum plated signature series Starbucks mug. Just drop the kids off as you swing through the parking lot, and then go pick up the dry cleaning, some groceries, and a refill on your tall half-skinny half-1% extra hot split quad shot latte with whip.

It is true that watching someone else practice martial arts is about as entertaining as editing the out-takes from last year’s fishing show - once voted as the most boring job in the entertainment field. (I could make a case here for YOU joining up so you’d be part of a class rather than a spectator, but let’s leave that for another day.)

I am a believer that martial arts will improve a person both inside and out. It will improve self confidence, self esteem, attitude, discipline, patience, and perspective - as well as many physical attributes. But let’s focus on just two.

Martial arts will improve your child’s discipline. But here’s the rub - if your child doesn’t have a discipline problem, then the improvement will be (naturally) modest, and likely the same reasons that led them to having *some* discipline in the first place will be augmented in the class.

But if the reason you brought them to class was because of a lack of discipline, then all I can guarantee is that they'll will be very disciplined when they’re are in class. If you don’t stick around to learn how discipline is maintained, and then reinforce that same structure outside of class - you won’t see much improvement. (By the way, discipline is a result of mutual respect and achievement, not force or failure.)

Consider this. You bring your porker of a kid to class to lean him out. We put him through 50 minutes of calisthenics, forms, fighting drills, and physical activity blended with mutual respect and etiquette. He then goes home to Cheetos and “Super Planetary Death-Ray II” until the next class. Guess what - he’ll remain a porker!

I’m not suggesting you have to stay for every class as you might for a soccer tournament, but you need to stay for some - and not just tests. See how endurance, and etiquette, and discipline are fostered - then reinforce those same techniques at home. The benefit to your child will be tremendous.

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