What’s the Rush????
I had this idea for a small writing and as I was reading one of my last post about age limits for black belts, I did find I may be repeating myself too much. BUT, I keep seeing over and over again the rank “children” are given that is just not deserved. It is not the student’s fault they are given unearned rank but the fault of the teachers and parents.
I don’t write this to take aim or stabs at any particulate school or instructor but to try to put some more info and education out there so the future possible student/parent can make to proper decisions for themselves. I’m not a Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris, and I will not change the world of martial arts in my life time, but I have slowly becoming well received in my own town and I hope I can maintain my standards with my students and they will then carry it on.
Most martial arts have become to Americanized in many ways. The easy breakdown of this is, it has become more important to keep the kids 110% happy all the time because we are afraid they will quit. Some of this now falls onto the parents, who have let their kids quit because they got yelled at in class or because the class is too hard or they have to work harder than they want to. Sorry to say but hard work and extremely hard work is what martial arts is all about.
I never hear stories of parents taking their kids out of football because they got tackled too hard or because they had to run laps around the field for misbehaving. If anything they get in more trouble when they get home. I do not know why it is like this, but my personal guess is that they see more tangible rewards with sports like trophies, winning games & tournaments plus the possibility of playing for a college and the pro’s later in life.
Earning your black belt to me should be like walking across the united states. Walking & running not driving or flying. It will take a very, very, very long time, but imagine all that we could see while doing this. How many beautiful sights there are and how many ugly nasty disgusting places there is. You will have some good days, some great days, and some pretty awful and painful days.
The overall goal would be to make to the opposite ocean, and that should be the day we die. All the time in between is the journey to live in each minute and love it for what it has given you. Each day will give you love, if you accept it. It will give you hope and dreams if you look for it. It will give you pain and heart ache to make us stronger. It will also give us a purpose in life, be it searching, teaching, living, or loving.
I recently saw a picture of a student who got their brown belt in TKD and I think they were about 9 years old. Like previous posting, in martial arts (any martial arts) there comes maturity with rank. I am not talking about giggling during fart jokes, but an overall maturity. We don’t give car keys and a license to a 14-year-old do we?? They could probably drive a car pretty good with a little practice, but in the end they are not old enough or mature enough to make the decisions needed in the moment in driving if something was to go wrong.
Same with martial arts. Some of these “kids” get these higher ranks and they begin to think too highly of themselves or their ability. And yes I have seen their ability and it is not very good. They have the potential to get into a situation they are not ready for and then may put themselves in harm’s way. Do they know any better? No of course not, they got their red belt just like 50 of their friends did so they must be strong, tough and smart, right??
Now how do we go about in learning what may be right or wrong?? I wish I had the answer but I do not. I may be able to point out directions for you to look at and some personal advice but thats about it. This is your journey or your student/child journey. If I was to say take one directing you might miss out on something great or it could be the better path without us knowing it. Best advice is do your research!!!!! There is no deadline in choosing a martial arts school. Most run all year-long and you can check them out at anytime. Just call them and ask.
What do we look for that good and bad?? I have found a couple great articles through Google, just type in what your questions is and there will be several pages or blogs about it. I suggest read them all first, then try to makes some opinions of your own. Compile all your data first. There is the chance that a bad school or bad practices from a school are being praised by someone who knows no better. Try look for “What to look for in a martial arts school”.
I can tell you about my own journey, so read on if you wish… I moved myself and family from one of the coast to central Iowa. I had trained with my instructors for about 13 years before moving. I had wanted to open my own school but didnt know how or where to begin, so I was looking around the area for a school to join.
While visiting the first school I found in my town, the first thing I saw when checking them out was a little girl about 8 yrs old, already with a brown belt with techniques so very sloppy and another telling her how great she looked. Next thing I saw, was another brown belt barley able to pull off a side kick belt high. The class had about 35 students which I was a little excited for a large school, but it was white belts to black belts, do drills with eery rank doing something different, running into each other, almost kicking each other by mistake, one instructor, and everyone very sloppy.
I was not very impressed. During forms, no one was instructing anyone, each rank was on their own, and to end the class (and every class I watched or tried out) they did breaking with boards cut down to little slivers. Little kids and lower ranks, I understand, but older kids and adults breaking 1 or 2, 4″ boards with a side kick and having the rest of the students so impressed, showed me, this was not the school for me…. I had to move on.
Other places I check out were very similar, with kids in ranks they did not deserve. Giving break or rest periods in class for the people to hang out and chat, and I even saw one place that let one kid take breaks and go sit on the floor by his mom while she fed mim M & M’s for 5 minutes…
This has gone off the track a little bit but, it’s all part of the same story. Places like these, are in too much of a rush to get you in and promote you up the ranks so your friends will join up with you and everyone can be a black belt before middle school and they take you money and give you nothing in return.
It’s not a race, it should be a very nice slow jog or walk to the finish line. I am by no means perfect nor do I ever claim to be. I may have many flaws to work on, and if I was to go in front of my instructors to do some techniques or forms, they would find many little things I need to work on myself. After almost 19 years in training, they would find mistakes, be it fist position and even breathing. The deeper we get into martial arts the more there is to learn. we don’t learn a form and forget about it, we learn it, test it, then learn more about it. It’s a never ending process that we grow to learn and love and that will make us the better martial artist than most.
So in closing, I suggest take your time, enjoy your journey and always look back at where you been as much as you look into your future….