Take the Challenge

Martial arts is a pursuit in life teaching many things.  There is also the sporting aspect, as in football, however, everybody in the martial arts is treated equally unlike in ball games ie if you don’t compete or don't do well for the team, then nobody wants to know you.  The Instructor is always there for you, not just during the season. 

People, particularly kids, need to be roughed up a little to experience and be aware of the various elements of the environment.  As parents, we tend to be too overprotective and shield our kids from these elements.  However, nearly all parents want to know if their child can swim in the deep end of the pool.  Martial arts kind of pepare kids for this sort of thing (including adults).

The worse thing anybody can do is to give up the martial arts because it takes a special kind of person to take up that challenge in the first place, but it takes an even more special person to not give it up.  What do we think of someone giving up a uni or TAFE course?  It’s a sign of failure regardless of the excuse.  I have been told by many students, if it wasn’t for their Instructor and parents giving them enouragement, they would not be where they are today. 

My incentive for doing the martial arts is about doing the things I don't think I can do.  What I also really enjoy about the martial arts is the people who have stuck it out with me for a very long time.  Hope to see many more.

The Writing on the Wall

Most will agree an Instructor’s credibility is largely based on experience and ability to teach. So it is important for an Instructor to maintain focus on what the martial arts are all about and get the best education.   This means stepping out of the circle and picking up new skills, from scratch if necessary.  'Who's got got time to put certificates on the wall, I'm too busy training on the floor (John Will)'. 

To be a good Instructor he or she needs to constantly update and acquire new skills so they can pass onto students.  Some Instructors will also dedicate themselves to other arts and pick up a certificate along the way.  In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu all you get is a belt and handshake (sometimes not even that) but it is the promotion which makes it exciting.  I always say the longer between the grades (in a system), the bigger the excitement when  you get promoted.  I have been given Black Belt certificates in systems I have never trained in.  When asked, by one guy, what did I do with it, I said, 'it's in my wallet'.  I won't give you detail but you can guess the response. A certificate only means something by whom given and what for.

Whilst the world needs specialists most people, today, need to indulge in other areas because of the multi-skilling demands of society.  But that should not detract from anyone wanting to train in the one system, however, the Instructor or their school should be able to provide other opportunities.

Certificates and trophies are our pride and joy, and to everyone around us, but my philosophy is 'the floor is more important than the wall'.

Respect please!

Respect for the martial arts is about respect for the Instructor, school and the persons you train with.  This is why BJJ have a motto LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR.  One of the message this conveys is that the martial arts is not just about the individual, it is about everybody.  We train together and help each other, to get better. 

Many times, there are individuals who forget respect at the expense of others, to feed their ego; this happens in full contact fighting and BJJ.  Professionals don't do that because their motivation is not driven by ego and they have respect with every person in the room regardless of ability, so why isn't it there in amateur groups?  One of the main reasons for this may be the culture settings based on competition.  Competition is good and those who do not compete can at least gauge their ability with those who do.  I get great value paying someone to wrestle because the trainer is there to help me, not themselves.

People and schools have to be aware or reminded that not all people who walk through the school doors are there to make a career out of martial arts or there to be treated as training props.  Schools are for everyone who has interest in the martial arts and wants to do their best.  In a nutshell, for a school to become professional, Instructors need to be professional.

Student or Client?

Loyalty is a great thing amongst friends, employees and family.  This is a subject which was raised in conversation amonst Martial Arts Instructors recently.  The one I think is also important is the student’s loyalty to his or her teacher and school.  As a Teacher, I admire the friendship, connection and trust built over time with my students but that is not always sustainable with everybody. 

Students want as much as they can from their teacher and school and they in turn usually pledge a long term relationship with the teacher and the school.  Students do not want to be treated as clients, they want to be treated as friends.  Some people go to great lengths to prove their loyalty which is something which is usually built over time.  Those who understand it would find it very hard to break that bond but sadly there are those who don't understand. 

This is not new; every Instructor has a story to tell and this is when I, as a Teacher, have to treat some students as just clients which is sad from a teacher’s point of view to think that way.  The best way for a Teacher to handle this is to think of the many good people and students he or she will spend many years together with.  A school without loyalty is only a school with clients.

Stubborn is Good

There are many different ways to acquire skills in the martial arts other than from instruction.  To illustrate by example, I was having difficulty, for some time, submitting one of my ‘stubborn’ blue belt grappling students (let’s call him Jim) who always defends himself by laying down as a corpse and clinging onto his lapels.  He can't do much from that position but at least he can survive.  So I gave it a shot at Rob’s BJJ school the other night.  It worked well until my opponent pulled a ‘rabbit out of a hat’ and I ended being choked out by the lapel of his Gi.

So you can guess what happened next when I was wrestling with Jim again.  With a sense of Déjà-Vu, Jim’s on his back again and I pulled the same ‘rabbit out of the hat’.  Now that’s what I call magic!

So learning can also be acquired from what other people do to you.  In this case I have learnt something and so has Jim.  I guess you can say it’s a ‘win, win’ situation.  We become very good at something and then, almost always, somebody finds a way to conquer it, which can be a good thing because it stimulates us to come up with something else. 

I wonder what Jim is going to come up with next.