Not a martial arts post this, but an interesting bit of news about our Chief Instructor, Master Richard Olpin.
Yesterday he was tested for the IAM Roadsmart ‘Masters’ level driving test. This is recognised as the highest level of civilian driving in the world and is compared to ‘a Police advanced driver, without a blue light..’
Master Olpin was tested by a Police examiner on very challenging roads for nearly two hours, and just to make things interesting he also had the examiner’s boss in the back seat – who is head of driving standards for the whole of the UK. No pressure then!
After the test, which not only included driving at the very highest level but also a comprehensive examination of theory, Roadcraft and legal knowledge he was informed he’d not just passed the test, but had been awarded the highest level distinction, which is held by only about 380 drivers in the UK.
For a bit of perspective, there are around 36 million qualified drivers in the UK, so that means it’s that only about one in every 100,000 drivers have achieved this standard.
That’s an example of Black Belt Excellence. Never accept anything less than your very best. Whatever you do, aim for greatness!
On Tuesday night I had a chance to catch up with a few of the parents after their holidays etc. and as is quite typical this time of year I heard a few tales of the dreaded ‘back to school blues’
Parents often dread those first few days back to school, and teachers are faced by a sea of grumpy faces in class wondering what on earth happened to those smiley energetic kids from a few weeks ago. I’m sure when it came to monday morning, or resuming their regular activities after a holiday break many of you heard those words: “I don’t wanna go”.
There’s almost certainly no rational reason for that other than a knee-jerk reaction to the challenge of getting back into a routine. The back-to-school season is a difficult time for kids. Giving up the relative freedom of summer to go back into a regulated environment is a tough transition for them.
Think about it – At the school we’ve only had a couple of weeks off, but when we also factor in your family holidays etc. too, many of the students have actually not been in class for three or four weeks, perhaps even longer. That’s quite a long time for a youngster.
During their holidays they’ve had less boundaries, probably lots of late nights, lie-ins, and more opportunity to indulge themselves. Now they’re back to school, all of a sudden they feel like ‘we’ have taken all their freedom away. Suddenly the grown-ups are making them do stuff. Shock horror! They aren’t allowed to play all day, they have to go to bed early, get up early, go to boring school all day, do their homework etc.
They don’t see the bigger picture, to them, they feel they’ve lost all their freedom, and somehow it’s our fault. Adults always make us do boring stuff eh! As they have limited ways to feel in control, so they tend to resort to the only tactic they know to exert their will – those dreaded words “I don’t want to” – which roughly translates as I’m not going to do anything you want me to.
Kids live in the moment. They don’t think about next week, next month or next year. All they see is that “I am having fun here and now on my xbox, or hanging out with my friends doing nothing. Why should I get up and do something else?”
As adults, while we can understand this feeling, we also know it is not what is best for them. Especially, if they are facing a new challenge. It is our job to think for the long term and see past the next 5 minutes, hours, days or years. I know it is hard at times, but it’s important to remember the benefits they are gaining which we can understand as adults, even if they don’t see them (yet) as children.
Why did you sign your child up for martial arts training in the first place? Was it just because their best friend was training, or because he saw the Power Rangers on TV? Maybe that’s why they started, but I’d bet there were other more substantial reasons too. You probably thought that the type of discipline provided by the training, the respect for self and others, along with the physical activity, not to mention the very useful skill of self defence would enhance your child as she encountered a world which is not as kind, not as safe, and not as well-mannered as it once was, right?
This cannot be overstated – you made a decision to provide your son or daughter with an set of life skills that cannot be easily attained elsewhere.
Let’s consider another perspective:
What if your child said, “I don’t want to go to school anymore!” You wouldn’t dismiss that easily or bow down to their request. You might investigate if there was a reason or a problem to address, but most likely, you’d explain that school is an essential part of life, and they’ll really appreciate it later, so yes, tomorrow morning they do have to go and take that maths test!
Have you ever tried to learn a musical instrument? It takes a long time to develop the skills necessary to understand, appreciate, and play an instrument, but we persevere. Martial arts are no different in this regard. If we left the decision up to our children, we would never have another musician. Ever. No child would ever voluntarily practice the piano with the necessary dedication it takes to build proficiency. No child would ever attend a music lesson if she thought for one moment missing practice was an option!
You are the parent, and you have to be the stable force in your child’s life.
The whims of your children will come and go as easily as daydreams. If you are likely to allow their flighty thoughts of fancy to sway your decisions relative to their safety, self-esteem, and discipline, then what next? “Mum, I don’t like wearing a bike helmet.” “Dad, why do I need to learn geography, I’ll never use this stuff.” The list of “I don’t see the point” topics is never ending and you’re going to have to draw the line somewhere. Safety, self-esteem, and self-discipline seem to be a pretty good place to start.
Thanks for sticking with the long post, but it’s a topic that we all come up against this time of year, and often in the new year/post-christmas blues too so I thought it was worth getting something down to think about.
In the long run we all know that the kids love it once they get to class. Much like when we as adults get ourselves off the sofa and go to the gym, or tackle that bit of DIY that needed doing in the garden. It doesn’t matter what their mood is when they come through the door to start the class. What matters is how they feel when they’ve just finished!
As always, if we can help, don’t hesitate to ask. That’s what we’re here for!
There is a wonderful book entitled Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment by George Leonard. In it he describes the journey he took as a 47 year old beginner in the martial art of Aikido. This is a fantastic book that every martial artist should read.
We live in a culture that stresses immediate gratification and instant perfection. Yet, the pursuit of martial arts is a long process, a journey that will wind its way slowly through one’s life. There is no immediacy. As we travel this long slow journey, we will often encounter plateaus. Yes, the dreaded “P” Word. No one likes to hear it and we enjoy them less when we experience it. This is the place; however, we will spend most of our life as a martial artist in pursuit of “mastery”. So, we have to ask as Leonard proposes in his book, “Where in our upbringing, our schooling, our career are we explicitly taught to value, to enjoy, even to love the “plateau”, the long stretch of diligent effort with no seeming progress?”
Many keys to mastery exist and Leonard explains them in detail but the first is to recognize the type of person you are; Dabbler, Obsessive, or Hacker.
The Dabbler tries many things but is never satisfied with any of them, none of them “fit” her style.
The Obsessive goes all out, 110% into the pursuit and exceeds everyone’s expectations for a short time, then comes against a wall and flails about for some time until he completely stops trying and moves on to the next obsession.
The Hacker enjoys the activity and progresses to a medium level of competency but does not get any better, he is satisfied with mediocrity. None of these profiles will give you feelings of satisfaction or accomplishment.
If you recognize yourself in any of these profiles, do not fear there is a fourth type: ∫.
In George Leonard’s book, this is what he says about mastery:
Learning any new skill involves relatively brief spurts of progress, each of which is followed by a slight decline to a plateau somewhat higher in most cases the than which preceded it. The curve (below) is necessarily idealized. In the actual learning experience, progress is less regular; the upward spurts vary; the plateaus have their own dips and rises along the way. But the general progression is almost always the same. To take the masters journey, you have to practice diligently, striving to hone your skills, to attain new levels of competence. But while doing so – and this is the inexorable fact of the journey – you also have to be willing to spend most of your time on a plateau, to keep practicing even when you seem to be getting nowhere. (p14-15)
The Master realizes there will be a slow climb to the top and they will hit many plateaus along the way. You will eventually break through those plateaus with prolonged practice and determination but will also perceive a decline in abilities. Yes, it will feel like your skills have gone down for a time. If we were to graph the Master’s Journey, it would look like the picture below. This should not be discouraging as you will see that you are still progressing upward. It is slow and methodical, and yes, sometimes boring but you are making progress.
This is the journey to Mastery in anything we participate in, especially martial arts because of the intrinsic nature of the arts. The Black Belt Champion (Attitude) and a spirit of perseverance (that Indomitable Spirit) will help immensely along the way by providing focus and discipline.
David Campbell said, “Discipline is remembering what you want.”
Have the discipline to know that the Master’s Journey is rewarding and the end result will be far greater than anything you can currently perceive.
Here are the senses people, especially children and teens, need in order to nourish their self-esteem:
A Sense of Security
Pediatricians reason that a child secure in her ability to face the future, near-term and long-term, has the necessary foundation for high self-esteem. A child, teen, even an adult, that practices a martial art learns new skills. When they see their own progress, that powers belief in one’s own ability to handle new challenges.
A Sense of Belonging
It starts in the family, but Pediatricians say kids need another group to belong to as well. Connecting with other people at school, church, or some organization where members share a common interest further shores up a sense that they belong. In martial arts, people of all ages connect over their shared goal of improving their health and well-being…and having fun while doing it. It’s easy to make friends this way, and looking around in class one sees it happening.
A Sense of Purpose
Purpose channels energy in a meaningful direction. Most importantly, it’s got to be a direction and purpose that the child cares about, rather than one someone else forces upon them. When forced, we resent. And with no purpose, one becomes bored and aimless, which pediatricians claim can lead to trouble.
Martial arts has a road of achievement built into it. A child or teen that starts down this path can see measurable targets to aim for in their progress. Each belt earned means one has been tested and measured by someone else, an experienced instructor. Martial arts creates a testing system that most kids want to take. That’s a sure sign of self-esteem, when one happily looks forward to another chance to test their progress.
A Sense of Personal Competence and Pride
Who doesn’t want one more place in the world where we can hear the words, “Good job”? Instructors float through the class, watching student technique. Hard work pays off with these verbal pats on the back. It feels good to know someone’s judging you, and approving.
A Sense of Trust
A children need to trust their parents and themselves. Martial artists consider integrity as part of their black belt lifestyle. Students help each other in class, and that gives them more opportunities to trust, and to be trusted.
A Sense of Responsibility
Advancing up through the belt ranks means more responsibility:
- responsible for welcoming new students,
- responsible for assisting classmates with their technique, and motivating them through physically demanding drills,
- responsible for setting a tone and culture of humility, respect, and positivity.
A Sense of Contribution
Instructors have students aid in class instruction by demonstrating techniques in front of their peers. Contributing to class progress builds self-esteem.
A Sense of Making Real Choices and Real Decisions
Allowing the child or teen to decide to stay with their martial arts training gives them practice to make other decisions about which direction to take their life.
A Sense of Self-Discipline and Self-Control
The American Academy of Pediatricians say this one is critical. The good news? Martial arts hits this one on the bullseye.
The doctors argue that children need expectations, guidelines, and opportunities to test themselves. This is the foundation of martial arts classes.
A Sense of Encouragement, Support, and Reward
This comes from instructors and classmates. Lots of encouragement, coaching, and of course rewards ranging from the verbal, “Nice job” to the tangible, a new belt earned.
A Sense of Accepting Mistakes and Failure
Look, some aspects of martial arts can be difficult. And that’s a good thing. It makes the progress all the sweeter. But along the way, students stumble. And this also is good. It’s an opportunity to learn how to face challenge in the eye, and keep applying effort when something doesn’t come easy.
Martial arts instructors pride themselves on corrective coaching until a student finally masters a technique.
A Sense of Family Self-Esteem
Last but not least, youth self-esteem begins within the family. Affection, pride, and the self-esteem of family members all impact a child’s self-esteem development. Imagine the momentum and lift a family would experience if multiple members all enjoyed the above benefits from martial arts.
“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.”
Original post by Brian Carmody at ‘A Krav Maga Life’
We’ve seen some amazing changes in our own students. Check out these other posts with some junior success stories from the Ilyokwan Black Belt Academy
Would you like to see your child achieve this same level of success? Give us a month and we we GUARANTEE you’ll see a change in your childs attitude, confidence, discipline and respect. Click the button below to register for a 30 Days FREE guest membership
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Last weekend we saw a post on Facebook from the mum of one of our junior students. This is what it said..
I have had a private text from school asking me to attend assembly tomorrow and not to say anything to Alex….. Can’t help thinking whats he done or not done?!
Sounds ominous, but then the next day’s update:
He got a Gold Star!! For being kind, working hard, making his teacher laugh every day with his sense of humour and growing in confidence daily. Result was I cried but am so very, very proud of him
Excellent, thats great to hear! Even better when she followed that up with:
I think the Ilyokwan Black Belt Academy has been the greatest thing helping his confidence. Thank you Richard Olpin!!!
This is the real power of personal development through the martial arts programmes we teach here at the Academy.
It’s not just about punching and kicking, it’s about developing real life skills. Here we see a child developing into a kind, hard-working and confident young man and his mum attributes those improvements directly to the positive start he’s gained from his training here at the Academy.
Well done Alex, we’re so pleased, and very proud of you!
Thanks again to our friends at St Joseph’s School in Nympsfield. We have a number of students in common and I know we share some similar goals to help them develop as well-rounded, confident and positive individuals.
If you’re interested in giving your family a real a Positive Start in life, then get in touch. Try our programmes free of charge as our guest for 30 days, and you’ll see the rewards for yourself!