One of the greatest joys our academy finds, is working with the young kids that come in every week starting as early as age four all the way in to their teens. You wouldn’t find it surprising to know that each and every parent responsible for them wants the very best for them and their future. Any mature adult whose life consists of responsibility knows that much of life has to do with working hard which requires discipline and treating other people with respect. Many of the parents who come to are academy learned these lessons the hard way and want to give their kids a better life by placing them in an environment that fosters the skills they will need later in life. They know firsthand that Martial Arts is about MUCH MORE than learning how to fight and defend yourself. It’s about a lifestyle that pushes you to be your best along with a Sensei and teammates who will hold you accountable. The biggest reasons kids start and stay at our academy are:
Discipline and Respect (Six Blades)
For a parent to go through the trouble of looking, coming to the academy and deciding to sign their child up, that shows a great amount of care and interest for their children’s health and well being. What we find is that many of the parents recognize the failure of organized sports to deliver the lessons that coaching and competition is all about, in order to create a foundation for success later in life. If you read through the list of reasons that parents sign their kids up here you will see that almost every one can and should be achieved through competitive sports. Occasionally the kids are just not interested in sports but maybe they are interested in video games, henceforth finding Martial Arts to be of interest because they romanticize with some of the buff hero-type characters who kick butt in the games they play. Clearly, the parents have an understanding that Martial Arts is the more viable solution for their child to unlock their potential over sports but why? We find that the biggest difference is that the success of most sports teams is predicated on the team’s ability to win which places the emphasis on winning rather than personal development and goal achievement. Every so often you will find a coach that understands that his or her greatest impact will come from the character that you are able to build through sports, but those coaches are few and far in between. The sad part is that most players will never go on to play sports past high school so you can imagine the depression like symptoms that follow losing a sport you trained your whole life for after high school or college. Good coaches understand this and are looking to create a legacy of professionals on and off the field who can apply the many lessons learn into their personal life in the coming years. In this regard, sports like football and basketball are very different from a sport/hobby like Jiu Jitsu that can go on for as long as you want. Both my parents, who turn seventy this year, train a couple times a week and love doing it for not only exercise but the social aspect along with the stimulation their brain gets from learning new things every class. For those who are more competitive, the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) Masters (Over thirty years of age) World Championships is one of the biggest tournaments all year with over five thousand competitors from all over the world!
Due to the intimate nature of Martial Arts however, coaches are often given a greater opportunity to help the students develop and reach more personal goals rather than being focused on winning CIF or State Championships as a team. In addition, most reasonable people are far less concerned with their ten year old being “the best in the world” at something than they are with good grades, physical health, confidence and happiness. If they happen to be successful due to the work ethic they learn and their mindset to set high goals and never stop till they achieve them, so be it, but their focus is the same from day one. “Be a better person than you were the day before.”
While our focus for youth is not on competition and winning the top tournaments, competition is definitely a proven way to unlock your potential. It teaches kids many valuable lessons that many of us, who weren’t brought up with this structure, would have benefited from learning when we were younger. Some of which include:
How to handle failure
Overcoming your fears
Handling stress and anxiety
Learning to perform under pressure
How to treat others
Again, these are all lessons that COULD be learned in sports like soccer, gymnastics, football, basketball, but unfortunately is not the case. People are surprised to learn that when a new student is unable to train at our academy for various reasons (scheduling conflicts, transportation, pricing, distance from academy) we gladly point them in the direction of a neighboring Jiu Jitsu school. Why would we send them to “our competitors” you might ask? Because our mission is to create more black belts in the world and whether they do it at our academy or not, they should absolutely start Jiu Jitsu. To us, this goal is much more important than trying to keep a student, in our humble opinion this is one of the misunderstandings of most Sensei. As a Sensei it is your duty to help your students become the best they can be, as cliche as that sounds, but no matter how long a student stays with you, it is your job to help them, they don’t owe you anything and if they decide to go somewhere else that may be the best decision for them. As long as you give your best, you did your job as a Sensei. Furthermore our competition is not with other Jiu Jitsu schools but rather with sports, so as long as more people are doing Martial Arts it’s a win for everyone! Many of the parents who come here and from the generations past, like us, see a weakening society who is slowly becoming more and more obsessed with electronic devices and other forms of instant gratification. While technology and modernization still have their place, they can take away from the beauty of being strong, fit, healthy and confident. These are the attributes we look to instill on a daily basis inside our academy for the reason that it was instilled in us through the Journey of Jiu Jitsu and Martial Arts. It’s worth knowing that there were plenty of days where we didn’t want to show up. Some of the most talented black belts out there even thought about quitting, but if they had a strong mind or someone around them like a parent or a coach to push them to be better and never give up, their journey likely turned into something they wouldn’t ever trade for all the money in the world! That sounds extreme but that is a view shared by me and plenty of other colleagues within the community who learned a way of living that resulted in some of the most beautiful memories possible and many amazing friendships along the way!