There are many factors that can contribute to the success or failure of a student...
One of the fluctuating variables that instructors have to work with at times can have some of the fiercest personalities…
A karate parent may not seem like a big deal, but they single handedly could be the deciding factor at a student’s success or failure. With young student’s parents are not just involved in the enrollment process; they can be detrimental in reinforcing the emotional growth martial arts provides students.
This instrumental role in their child’s journey can be a double edged sword: to have a immensely impacting role on their child’s Martial Arts future and yet at times know next to nothing about Martial Arts.
For those that own their own Dojos and are especially lousy at harmonizing with parents, it could cost them not only their students but their business. It’s a balancing act that any Sifu, Sensei or Master has juggled with and at times may have fumbled.
One of my friends Jennifer Waters just promoted to 5th Degree Black belt in Kempo Karate. She is a amateur MMA fighter and owns/operates 2 Dojos.
Jennifer Waters, front and center after her 5th Degree Black belt test and promotion.
Needless to say, she has done her fair share of juggling.
"Parents that are actively involved with their child's martial arts journey are such a huge asset! Every child wants the support of their parent. With such a challenging physical and mental activity like martial arts, parental support is much needed!”
When parents become too involved they can end up adding more stress to their child and hinder the educational process.
Memorizing the physical movements as well as the philosophy behind the system can be overwhelming for an adult, let alone a child. The key to not frustrating them, is to not rush them.
Mrs. Waters concur’s,
“I think karate parents struggle with wanting their children to understand or "get" the techniques right away. Martial arts takes time. It's no different than any other physical sport, the more your child practices, the better he or she will become over time.”
Time is the key to any student’s study.
Yes, that's how the Ninja Turtles got that good.
Time allows the student to become seasoned and to develop emotionally. Many of the benefits students obtain from Martial Arts are emotionally based; respect, honor, perseverance and self respect. These things take time.
Being inpatient can hinder collaboration with instructors
This could not only add more stress to their child but also can unintentionally undermine the Instructor’s authority. To help keep the peace,
Mrs. Waters suggests,
“I always guide my karate parents to refer back to what the main instructor is coaching your child to do. Use this to help your child reach his/her full potential.”
Mrs. Waters with her dad and some of her students.
When parents collaborate with the Instructors, it opens them up to help re-inforce the morals and principles such as dedication. DEDICATION alone can be the hardest lesson for a child to learn and could definitely require a parent’s encouragement.
Mrs. Water’s completely agrees,
“I believe that parents hinder their children when they let their child give up too easy. Instead of pushing their child to work past the difficulties they encounter, many are willing to let their child quit on a technique, a style, or martial arts in its entirety.”
While some parents might be overly assertive with their child’s study, some can be dismissive.
It’s difficult to be involved with your child’s study if you are absent not just physically but emotionally. In a social media driven world it is all too easy for us to become distracted with our phones while our child is in class.
In agreement, Mrs. Waters adds,
“Watching and taking an interest in what interests your child is not only a self-esteem builder but also will help them learn to practice with their child at home.”
While we as instructors can be analytical of parents, we have to remember the African Proverb...
‘It takes a village to raise a child.”
This is especially true in Martial Arts; hence the role of the Dojo (Karate), the Dojang (Taekwondo), the Heya (Sumo) or the Sasaran (Silat). Instructors are and should be held just as responsible as parents went it comes to encouraging their student.
Some of our Double Dragon students: Ashley (Left), Sami (Center), Dani (Right)
“As an instructor we have to remember to be patient with parents,”
Ms. Water’s reminds us,
“They really love their child and want what's best for them. Keep this in mind, and then try to find some common ground if you are solving challenges together. Ultimately, you have to remember that the goal is not necessarily to improve the parenting of that child but to help that child on his/her journey to becoming a Black Belt."
While Martial Arts can be a very aggressive and explosive study, we have to remember to maintain harmony and peace.
A properly run school has a sense of balance and understanding of each other’s roles. The student knows what is expected of them,
the parent knows their role,
and the Instructor knows not only their role but how to orchestrate all the roles.
The Summer Olympics happens every 4 years...
For some sports it is considered the pinnacle of competitions and an honor to represent not only their sport but their country. Many of the Martial Arts systems are not represented in the Olympics however Martial Artists still look forward to watching the wrestling, judo and Taekwondo.
While tuning in and watching these systems might not seem like such a big deal; not only does it show support for the athletes but it’s supporting Martial Arts being in the Olympics. Most spectators recognize the challenge to qualify as an athlete to compete in the Olympics but what spectators don’t realize is how challenging it is as not only to qualify a sport but to keep it recognized.
Wrestling is one of the oldest sports in the Olympics.
Yes... That old.
It was introduced in the Ancient games in 708 BC. Yet in the 1900 Summer Olympics, wrestling was not recognized. It wouldn’t be until the next summer Olympics that the Freestyle Wrestling would be reintroduced and have weight classes established. The sport was becoming further established when in 2004 women’s wrestling would be introduced.
Yet things took a turn for the worst.
The 2013 IOC or International Olympic Committee voted to remove wrestling starting with the 2020 Olympics.
How could that be?
It all comes down to money. The IOC had been under pressure to reduce events and athletes in each Summer Olympics do to the cost to host such events. The IOC started a program pertaining to “core sports”. “Core Sports” would be protected and continue in the Olympics, but the “non-core sports” would slowly be phased out.
Even after the program was implicated it still didn’t help, so after the London Olympics they re-evaluated the “core sports” again, reviewing studies and results of the London Olympics.
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I was proven wrong by the first class. The striking class with Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and his dad/coach Ray Thompson was a pleasant surprise. Here where two clearly experience instructors not only providing realistic drills but discussing the technique and theory behind each drill that was obviously Kempo based (and yes some of the students were kids and women).
It was also an eye opener. As I watched it became clear that very few students had any martial arts basis to go off of. Some of the students didn’t even know what a proper fighting stance was. The Thompson’s were introducing them to literally basics and principles such as...
There is technique in MMA. It comes from the basis of whatever system you choose to start with. You have to learn the basics and hone your technique otherwise you’re just another bozo jumping around in gym shorts.
After class I got a chance to talk to Stephen.
A funny history lesson: My Grandmaster Sifu Ed Parker Sr. was Elvis’s instructor and it was Elvis’s involvement in martial arts that inspired Ray Thompson to start martial arts.
Stephen replied, “No, because of the way I move I don’t worry about it. I see these guys, you can tell (they’re effected) by the way they talk but they get that way in the gym. You have to train smart. When we spar we work light, we work the body not the head. You just have to train smart.”
Training smart was something he had brought up in the class repeatedly even discussing his former injuries and how he listens to his body to determine work outs at times.
Stephen didn’t even hesitate, explaining the importance of learning to defend yourself regardless of age and that it helps teach modesty and respect. He also brought up bullying, that learning to defend yourself will deter bullies.
Pretty much what all proper martial artist instructors have been saying since the beginning of time that no one wants to listen too. Now at Upstate Karate they teach various styles of martial arts. I have been somewhat confused about this in the past and I had read articles and rants online about learning too many systems and never mastering one. “Some people feel that by doing MMA you aren’t mastering a system. Your response?”
I can relate as an instructor. The countless times a student missed class for a week because of a track tournament or even a fatigued student because of back to back practices; at times the parents seeming to be more concerned with the quantity instead of quality of sport activities. I had a wonderful time talking to Stephen. He appeared to be a genuine guy that enjoys not only doing martial arts but teaching it, even taking time during the seminar to help the younger kids in the class. The complete opposite of what I expected.
We later watched the class by Carlos Condit ...
This ended up being pretty much a drill class. Carlos introduced incorporating elbows into blast double take downs and double under clutches. This was interesting to me because I had never heard of such things but as I watched the students you could tell that because they lacked the power principles most would have to try hard to take someone down or get pulverized in the process. The main lesson I walked away with from Carlos was a comment he made that indirectly connected back to Stephen’s interview...
“The more wars (sparring) you have here (gym), the less you have out there.”
Carlos responded, “Yes my son’s been doing Jujitsu a few years. He’s 6. I don’t train him, I just play and wrestle around, let it be fun.”
There are many different systems of martial arts and at times I think parents get confused on what is what and which they should enroll their child in. So I asked him for advice he would give parents thinking of enrolling in martial arts.
Carlos believes and advises, “Take out the competitive aspect and let them train and have fun. When they have fun it allows them to make mistakes and grow.”
I think in turn MMA has the potential to be no different from a singular martial art. It really just depends on where you train and who you train with. Unfortunately with the popularity growth of UFC I believe we will see more MMA versions on McDojos popping up. Anyone who’s contemplating training in a MMA style should take their time to do their research and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The trainers that enjoy the sport and know what they’re doing will welcome the questions because they have the knowledge to answer and are worth your time.
Is it fair to assume if martial artists spend so much time contemplating war, then love is going to come up eventually.
My Sifu once advised,
“Date someone in martial arts.”
I’ve contemplated that statement, wondering if that really is the secret to a successful relationship. As marital artists our equilibrium is naturally set to balance life and mat, but what happens when a third party becomes involved? Haven’t we all heard the phrase,
“You’re going to the dojo again?”
Let's be honest, we've all been there and done that...
I was visiting two of my married Kenpo friends; discussing sparring with them when I found out they never sparred together. They practice techniques and forms together… but they didn’t spar. They worried it would cause bad feelings and resentment between the two of them if one was either hit too hard or just right.
As a person that loves to spar, the idea of working techniques/forms and eliminating sparring sounded like hell to me; like building a relationship with someone and removing sex from the equation.
This entire time I had been day dreaming what it would be like to date a fellow martial artist—thinking how wonderful it would be to work out together and for someone to finally understand my passion for the art.
Relationship goals... Or Urban Myth?
In reality it’s a naive concept.
No relationship is perfect and we tend to lose sight of what is important. Finding a partner that supports us and respects us for who we are. Every relationship is different and will have different needs. If someone loves you for who you are (and you are a martial artist) then they should respect and love that part of you because it’s who you are.
I’m no relationship expert but I am a martial artist and I hope my future partner recognizes from the sparring to Kenpo kisses (bruises) and the long mat hours are not only what I enjoy but they are making me a better person every day.
Jesalyn Mae Harper
Hello my name is Jesalyn. I'm a divorced single mom and a karate addict...
I am currently a 1st Brown belt in American Kenpo and a Junior Instructor at Double Dragon Kenpo Karate under JR Diaz, I am part of the Parker/Planas Lineage and study Karbaroan Eskrima with JR Diaz, under Guro Ed Planas
Antonina "Black Panther" Shevchenko
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Carlos The Natural Born Killer Condit
Ed Parker Jr.
Fight Or Flight
Huk Planas World Gathering Kenpo Camp
Jennifer "Warrior" Waters
Josei Heishi Jiu Jitsu
Long Beach Internationals
Martial Arts History Museum
Martial Arts Mania
Mixed Martial Arts
Rick St. Clair
Stephen Wonderboy Thompson
The Martial Arts Woman
Valentina "Bullet" Shevchenko
Women In BJJ