ids? No way! I don’t want to teach kids. My martial art is serious.”
There are a fair number of instructors who hold the view that teaching kids is nothing but a form of babysitting –especially teaching the ones who only come up to the height of your knees. And more power to them.
Instructors have to be true to themselves. They have to believe in the way they teach their art. They also have to believe in – and trust –their students. That’s why instructors who do teach children firmly believe that their art can benefit a wide demographic, even the mini-mites.
Especially the mini-mite crowd. But why?
Jiu Jitsu, for example, is a martial art, a serious war art. The wrist throw and the outer reaping throw are weapons. So are the psychological and character-building skills at the very centre of the art. In fact, without these mind skills, the physical skills fall apart. The discipline to face fear head on, to think under duress and to act and react with confidence are essential ingredients in Jiu Jitsu.
But isn’t that exactly what five and-six-year-olds need?
The fear of switching to a new school; the fear of bullies; the fear of being ostracized, of not having one’s voice heard; the fear of seeing mom and dad fight, and then split up. The fear of growing up in a world controlled by adults. The fear of not knowing who you are – too little, too fat, too skinny, too different from the other kids.
Wow. In a way, those little guys sound like adults. Only without the experience and knowledge to handle their problems.
We, as instructors, have that experience.
A four-year-old can learn a break fall but probably can’t blast out an Olympic style hip throw. But she can learn to walk across a Dojo floor with her head held high. A seven-year-old may not be able to disarm a knife attack but we can teach him how to wake up from a nightmare panic free and smiling.
“Do you ever give up?” an instructor asks a line of kids. “No, we never give up!” A phrase like that, instilled, can turn a kid who has nothing into a powerful citizen.
“It sounds good but I don’t have the patience to teach kids.”
Oh really? The years you’ve sweated through to become a Black Belt – that wasn’t patience?
Martial arts instructors are champions, not just on the tournament floor, but in the lives of others. Wouldn’t it be great if we used our martial arts to help build a new generation of strong and caring citizens, people who care about their communities, who are positive about life, people who don’t stick their heads in the sand at the first sign of trouble?
Hey, our martial art training has given us the tools. There’s a whole new generation out there waiting for us to make a difference. Just watch your ankles when they start biting.