Nurturing a Baby

There are times when Instructors might feel teaching beginners, in the martial arts, is a mundane job by having to go over the basics.  Good instructors see things differently.  It's about challenge to get the point across to these very important people.  Beginners are new and have special needs, and need to be  nurtured just like a newly born child needs a parent.  But there is also another underlying factor for the Instructor; the thought process in which a technique needs to be explained to get the point across to the beginner.

During a BJJ class of beginners, the other day, it struck me.  The thought process of going over the basics by verbally explaining the techniques is the very same process of proof reading a document.  Proof reading can be done by reading it out aloud to yourself to see if you can pick up any errors or see if it makes any sense.  I thought, ‘wow’, this is really enjoyable.  I mentioned to the students how I also had learned something by doing the very basic stuff with them because I can see unfolding bits of the puzzle as I was explaining the techniques.  They also said, 'wow' (trust me, I'm having a giggle here). 

The bread and butter stuff sometimes seems to get put on the back burner because we always want to be excited with new ideas and ‘toys’ not realising the basics which are taught to beginners are more important than the higher level stuff because they are the foundations that hold the art rock solid.

It’s Not a Lie if You Believe it

We live in a society where we can get almost anything.  However, people in less fortunate circumstances don't expect much and have to work hard to get what they want.  That is why, in the martial arts world, we are experiencing a belt frenzy because people forget that belts (ranks) are about participation and accomplishment as a reward for their time and effort.  It's fast becoming that people, in the martial arts, expect belts without having to do much.  You can forgive students for thinking that way but not Instructors or Black Belts.  

The BJJ philosophy is don’t ask for a promotion because the only belt you will get is a belting.  One young BJJ white belt last year kept asking me when was he going to be graded.  I said, “You have 23 hours  training.  Your mate has done 43 hours and he’s not even ready for promotion.  Now you tell me when do you think you should be graded."

There are some Instructors, of various disciplines, who like to get in on the act (BJJ) but not having to do the work.  They have contacts and can weasel their way around the system to get their belts in return for favours. It is better these fools stay home and help mum or the wife with the ironing.  They may impress their students but not everybody else.  They should do a risk assessment before making claims because, if found out, that may also reflect on everything else they have done in the past.  Now I know where they get their thinking from – to quote George Costanza (SEINFELD), "It's not a lie if you believe it."

Amazingly, those who don’t ask for gradings are the ones who work really hard and the ones who do ask, do very little.  Clearly, there are some issues here.

Keep Looking

As an Instructor I need to remind students that no matter how many times they have seen something demostrated, they should be looking at it with much more intensity.  I personally have never failed to pick up anything new by watching the same technique over and over again.  It might be only minute detail but that is enough to gratify me for the rest of the day.  This little difference is called development and that is what makes you better at what you do.

 To demonstrate this point to students, I talk about a technique having 100 little steps from A to B; a beginner will possibly see 2 or 3 moves.  The more experienced will see, say, 5 or 6, and so on it goes as we move up the experience ladder.  I ask students what they should be doing is try and find something they have not noticed before in the equation – rumour says it can be accomplished by listening, looking and doing.  If we achieve this mindset through our martial arts, just think about about how well this translates with school or our work.

Development stops when the student ceases to want to learn more.  This usually happens when they feel they know it well enough and no longer have to look or listen.  It’s like a 100 metre sprinter who doesn’t feel the need to listen to their coach anymore because they know how to sprint.  Training is about observation, doing, trying, analysing and repeating.  Many times I might do something in a certain way because it feels right but subconsciously I might not be totally aware of all the little steps from A to B.  It is when I breakdown it down and explain the moves from what I just did.

Never Give Up!

If anybody in the martial arts was to tell you ‘give it up’, you should be asking yourself whether you have lost confidence or is it because they’ve lost their confidence in you?  Students should know a good martial arts instructor will generally not give up on any of their students; in fact, they get more satisfaction working with students who need that extra little help or motivation.

When a young martial arts student may be thinking of throwing the towel in, parents would be doing more harm than good by readily supporting this negative attitude because the only message here is 'it is ok to quit'.   Young people, today, may easily get distracted and are more likely to drop things at a moment's notice only because it is an easy option.  What parent would support their child if that child was thinking of quitting school? 

It is our job, as a parent, to encourage young persons to never quit something they start.  Quitting the martial arts means they are quitting on building confidence, quitting on strengthening their minds and bodies, quitting building character ie they are giving up on themselves.

Martial arts training is about achieving goals and to understand life is about persistence no matter how hard things may seem to be.  MARTIAL ARTS today is now part of growing up.  Giving up is a poor excuse, not a valid reason.

More Rubbish (part 2)

How many times have you picked up something and you didn’t know what it was or couldn’t find the directions on how to use it.  So why did you buy it in the first place?  Shopping is a form of therapy and coming home with something is a sense of accomplishment, empty handed is a sign of failure for many people.

Specials!  Everybody likes a bargain so they’ll buy something they don’t need because it gives them something to talk about the next time they are sitting with a friend at a coffee shop.  Fuel  docket savers; you want to save money, don’t spend money.  Spend $10,000 on junk and you earn a free flight then you have no idea where to go.

Junk is something you bought a few months ago and you wish you had never bought it. There are better ways to spend money.  To quote, John Will, ‘there are two things worth spending money on – good food and knowledge'.  I agree whole heartedly with this.  At least these things will not be something taking up what precious room left in the house and gathering dust, and you won’t be regretting it in 6 months time.

Good luck with Clean Australia Day.

Time to Get Rid of Rubbish

I’m talking about junk, the stuff that has been accumulating in your house for years.  Have a good look around and see if any of that stuff is worthwhile keeping anymore.  Ask yourself these questions:

1.     Did you forget you had it?

2.     Has it got dust on it?

3.     Did you trip over it?

4.     Is it worthless?

5.     Would you buy it again?

6.     Do you regret you ever bought it?

7.     Does anybody want it?

The answers to these questions should be able to make us realise 90% of the stuff we buy is junk!  We can’t help ourselves because we have made shopping an activity or even a hobby.  We shop because it makes us feel good and we buy things because we think we need  them.  They end up in a pile reducing the little precious room we may have left in our house.  Of course there is ebay if you want to get rid of things and you may end up with a smile selling your rubbish not realising you sold it for a fraction of what you actually paid for it.  And when you don't sell, it’s much worse when your friends don't even want them just giving them away.

My point – get to those seminars where you get value for your money.  I still spend money but I don't waste them on junk.  I know it's not rubbish I am paying for.  When you throw rubbish out you won't even miss it.

Shocking Experience

Everybody experiences a ‘wakeup call’ in some form or another at some stage of their life.  Although, it can be a shock to the system the outcome can be quite positive because this enables us to take action before it might ever happen again.  Wakeup calls are a warning to prepare, otherwise, be prepared to face the same consequences again.

Wakeup calls can be a catalyst for improvement in our martial arts training.  Our first tournament match can be a shock to anybody’s system but it is what we do after that to be able to handle the same situation again in a positive manner.  The same goes for that street encounter that might not go so well.  With the homework all done, the second and third time round, those situations don't turn to be as much of a shock.

In BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), there comes a time when you come up against an opponent who throws you in all sorts of disarray.  My attitude is ‘many thanks for that.  You have prompted me to do something about it.’  The lesson here, SHOCK, DISCOVER, LEARN & FIX. 

They say adrenaline is good for performance in these situations but too much of this medication will work have the opposite effect; besides you cannot control the right amount of dose for maximum performance but you can attain knowledge which can eliminate those shocking experiences.

So remember, if you are feeling down one day, you will feel that 'high' the next day when you take action and do something about it.  I hope I haven't shocked anybody.

Time to Act (children)

I know it’s a long time between blogs but, nevertheless, I have enjoyed the break.

Let me start off with the problems with some of the parents might be having with their children in the Allan Shai-Hee (still going strong)martial arts at any school.  It’s a known fact that children can get bored with just about anything and I wonder how much this would concern a parent of the amount of time and money they have spent on their child.  A child can get bored with school but there would not be any decent parent on earth who would allow that child to quit.  Why?  Because the parents know what’s best for them.  The martial arts is also good for them;  physically strengthening their bodies and minds, boosting self esteem and confidence, providing some security in their life that they may be able to protect themselves and others are just some of these benefits.  These are the same benefits for adults.  But sometimes parents forget these are the reasons they enrolled their in the martial arts in the first place.

Parents always talk about how young persons, in society, stand up to them so what chance do their kids have?  Maybe, it’s time the parents take a stance with their own children because this education is also an investment for the future.  We as parents are usually over protective so it does not make sense why any of us would ignore opportunity for our kids to develop important skills.  Sometimes children have to be treated as children because they cannot make decisions what’s best for them.  The kids I have taught long term have cedrtainly developed into great adults which is really pleasing for me.  Time to act.