If you're reading this you probably have your child enrolled in one of our programs, or are thinking of enrolling your child in one of our programs. We'd like to take this opportunity to give you some insights/tips on a parent's role in the Martial Arts training process. Although we break our programs up into short segments, the ultimate goal of training in a Martial Arts program is achieving the coveted rank of Black Belt. This is by no means an easy task. Industry wide, most people who join a Martial Arts program are destined to quit before the end of their first year. Many more will quit after 2 or 3 years. Only a few ever stick with it long enough to earn their Black Belts.
While the benefits of training in the Martial Arts start to manifest themselves fairly early in any good program, they tend to build upon themselves and grow exponentially greater as a student approaches the Black Belt achievement. Some of the first things students and parents notice is an increase in confidence, focus and basic physical attributes like balance and coordination. As time moves on, more experienced students will gain a greater level of discipline, self control, good decision making, and socialization. Performance in other areas of life (school/work) begin to improve over time as the lessons learned in a Martial Arts program spill over into all areas of a student's life. Once a student gets close to earning a Black Belt they come to a point where all of these benefits are joined by a greater degree of humility combined with an unshakeable belief in self. One grows to learn that despite life's many set backs and difficulties, with dedication and perseverance, any goal can be achieved.
This is the true gift of training in a Martial Arts program. We all know that life can be quite difficult to navigate. Filled with ups and downs and curveballs. Through training we teach ourselves to get back up after we fall, to keep moving forward if we get sucker punched, and to continue to fight for a better position if we find ourselves outmatched. Even the most dedicated students will inevitably find themselves frustrated and feeling defeated many times along the road to Black Belt. Many won't be able to work past those feelings and will quit before they learn the valuable lessons that those experiences have to teach.
As a parent of a Martial Arts student, you will no doubt witness these frustrations in your child. There will definitely come a point at which they make it known in no uncertain terms that they would like to quit. If you are a parent who believes in the benefits that training can bestow, and who wants their child to have a realistic expectation of how long it can take, how hard it can be and how hard one has to work in order to get ahead in life, in a career, and even in a relationship, we strongly encourage you not to give in to the temptation to allow your child to give up prematurely. There are a number of steps you can take to keep your child motivated and engaged on the path to Black Belt.
- If your child expresses discontent, please bring it to the attention of an instructor. Our experienced instructors have inevitably been in exactly the same position your child has been in and will no doubt have some personal experience and words of motivation to share with a struggling student.
- If your child complains or develops an apprehension related to another student, please bring it to the attention of an instructor. Although we make every effort to monitor the kids classes and to teach kids positive team based and sportsmanlike behavior, sometimes a difference in size or skill can be intimidating to smaller and less experienced students. These can be valuable teaching moments for all students in showing them how to work with those that are smaller and less experienced and act as mentors and guides.
- If your child seems like they are on the verge of burning out, don't be afraid to give them some time off. The road to Black Belt is long, and unlike other sports, those who are dedicated spend time in the sport year round. This can be both mentally and emotionally challenging. We have 4 weeks built in to our yearly programs in which we either don't hold kids classes, or kids classes are optional. We encourage you to make the most of those weeks if your child is struggling. In some circumstances it might be a good idea to let them take a full trimester off with the understanding that they will be expected to continue at the start of the next.
- Take advantage of some of the tools that can be purchased for your child that can help keep them motivated and give them opportunities to train outside of the dojo. Being able to train at home can be a huge part of helping your child build their skills faster and give them greater confidence when they come in to the dojo. We recommend the following items which can be purchased through our catalog (click on the links below to go directly to the catalog page):
- Belt Displays - There are many styles of displays that can be purchased ranging in price from $15 to $120. These can be displayed in the child's room and can be a positive reminder of how far they've come and how far they have left to go. Seeing their success displayed in such a way can inspire a child to continue on the path until the entire display is filled.
- Kid Kick Blocker - At $30, this is a great tool for parents to engage with their child at home and help them develop their basic blocking skills. It is a fun activity that can remind them of what is fun about training, and lets them know that you are also engaged in their training experience.
- Versys Spar simulator - This is a slightly pricier piece of home training equipment at $250, but it's versatility makes it worth the money. No matter which of our programs your child is enrolled in, this piece of equipment will allow them to safely practice their techniques at home. If your child is enrolled in our Traditional program, the Spar Simulator can be used to practice punches and kicks. If your child is enrolled in our Jiu Jitsu program, it can be used to practice throws and grappling moves. If your child is an Explorer, it can be used for all of the above!
- Rebreakable Boards - At $47 per board, with 4 degrees of difficulty, these boards can be a bit of an investment, but since they are reusable they will go a long way. It is also another way for parents to engage with their kids at home and help them build their skills, since someone will have to hold the boards for them!
- The Martial Arts Encyclopedia - At $35, this book will provide your child with a wealth of information about the origins and history of a multitude of Martial Arts styles. Since we offer training in several arts and will often times make reference to different arts during our classes, this can be a great reference for them to study up at home and develop their Martial Arts knowledge outside of the dojo.
- Finally, one of the best things you can do to keep your child engaged in the sport is to try out a class for yourself! Children are more inclined to stick with something that they can share with their parents. Participating in one of our adult programs will give you a greater understanding of what your child goes through during training and will leave you in a better position to help guide them on their own journey. It will also leave you with a better understanding of techniques so that you can work with them to a greater degree at home. As an added bonus, you too will experience the same benefits of training that your child does!
We hope that these tips will help you to be better prepared to handle the ups and downs your child will experience during their time in our program. We guarantee that no one ever regrets earning a Black Belt, but plenty of people have experienced disappointment later in life after having given up along the way. Don't let your child give up before they get to enjoy the satisfaction of having achieved something as profound and rare as earning a Black Belt!