Everybody can do the martial arts but very few can be a martial artist.
Being a martial artist requires dedication, positive attitude, inquisitive mind and willingness to help others. There are so many other positive sides to being in the martial arts but sometimes we overlook these because we may get railroaded with distractions that might appear to be a little more interesting at the time (but how long for). Those who fail to achieve Black Belt will often regret it sometime down the track; similarly, those who quit at Probationary Black Belt will also experience failure because it takes 12 months of solid training for promotion to Black Belt 1st Degree which is the final stage of the Black Belt graduation process. Not all schools recognise a Probationary Black Belt as Black Belt because of not fully completing the programme so it is a real shame to throw it all away.
Quitting is not just about leaving the martial arts school. It’s about leaving all those hard years of sweat, blood and tears (pardon the cliché). They also leave the camaraderie behind which is one of the greatest reasons to stay in the martial arts – unique friendship. You have to wonder what is it in their life which has them prompted to give it all away; that could be a concern for any parent or family member.
Mateship outside the dojo can be a big cause for falling off the beaten track in the martial arts. My advice to students is not to get carried away by spending too much time with friends because it can be counterproductive. Beware of friends who will distract you from your training because they have nothing to lose if you miss out on what you love best. They are not martial artists but you are, so they won’t understand. When a Black Belts does drop out, I say WOW because I look at them throwing part of their life away. There has been a number of times I have been able to talk students out of quitting which has been a blessing to them and they are now Black Belts and still actively training. They are proud to say ‘I am a Black Belt, not ‘I used to be a Black Belt’.
Be proud to be a martial artist, be more proud to be a Black Belt and even more proud to continue being a Black Belt. Everybody can see your belt around your GI but if you look closely it is there every other time because the belt is a representation of who you are.
When instructors hear ‘I NEED A BREAK’ from martial arts students, what does that really mean? Instructors accept students will leave from time to time for a variety of reasons but ‘I NEED A BREAK’ coming from long time students is a little hard to fathom for any instructor. Kids don’t have a mortgage or second job so they really need to come up with a better excuse.
In particular for young people this is sadly the first step to say ‘it is OK to give up’. If the martial arts were the most important thing they wanted to do when they first took up training with the goal of achieving a black belt one day then I would think that positive energy and drive will now be lost which will eventually filter in other areas. I’ve seen it many times over.
It is not a matter of why some people quit and others do not. It is really about those who strive to achieve and others who will make a decision based on a few badly chosen words. I like telling parents do not let children rule the roost. There are many times as parents we do not let children make decisions in many situations because we may regret it later but some of us may overlook that when it comes to the martial arts.
Too many parents come running to me after a few months of their child quitting (sometimes years) to say what a terrible mistake they had made because their child had developed a bad attitude or were losing confidence. I remember one parent coming to me a year later asking to help him with his son who was hanging around with the wrong crowd and had become a graffiti vandal. All I can do is listen because I was no longer in a position to do something about it.
If you think the kids need a break then I would ask parents to monitor that spare time and not waste it with social media and electronic games or even hanging around with people you do not know.
When any student leaves the martial arts they lose valuable skills, knowledge, self defence, fitness, positive mentoring, and good friends in a positive social circle they have come to respect and enjoy each others company.
Just something to think about.
I have been giving some thought lately that one of the important jobs as Instructors is to train people to live a healthy and prosperous life. Starting them off young makes it easier but we can also help the late starters who need their lives to change. Nobody can deny the martial arts can build confidence and self esteem. There are also the health aspects because everybody knows too well how important it is to keep fit throughout your life, otherwise, your well-being will gradually decline and you will most likely lose incentive to do anything about it too far down the track.
People will often say, ‘I don’t have time’. As an instructor I have to train people to make time. To ensure the martial arts will be a life long pursuit of passion so they continue into their senior years where exercise will even be more important.
The martial arts is one of those activities which can become a way of life and even a life of passion compared to other activities which tend to be temporary such as some of the fun ball games. Not detracting the fact you will get fit with these activities but how long for? Because they are not a way of life or a life long commitment; however the martial arts are a different story. It’s truly amazing just to hear some of the stories and comments from students, past and present, about the martial arts having a big positive influence in their lives whether it be life success or even saving a life.
Those who have been in the martial arts should ask themselves, ‘where would I be if I weren’t in the martial arts’?