Every January and February, a super-contagious disease spreads called “quit-itis” through Martial Arts schools across the country. Whether the school teaches 50 students, or 500 students, kids around the world suddenly become inconsolable when it comes to attending the very same classes that they were so excited to be a part of just 2 weeks ago.
What the heck is going on?
“He LOVED Martial Arts before Christmas!”
“She just wants to try new sports now.”
“They cry every time I say to get ready for Karate!”
I’ll give you some insight into the mind of a child to tackle this tough problem, but first, something really important that you need to know:
You’re. Not. Alone.
My training in the martial arts started in 1984 when I was 9 years old, a gangly youth with a bowl hair cut in a small town called Hayle, in Cornwall. I started in Martial Arts because it was that or go to the Boxing gym (where some of my bullies went). Dad got sick of me coming home with bruises and black eyes from the bullies who were forever beating me up, Dad thought I needed “toughening up” and wanted me to go to the Boxing gym as well. Mum agreed but didn’t want me to going somewhere where it was likely I was going to be beaten up again but in the context of it being a “sport”. Mum had read about the ethos and philosophy of martial arts so persuaded my Dad to enrol me in that instead.
After a few weeks of training I learned to love the martial arts and one day when I realised my basic skills meant I could roll away from being tripped in school by one of the bullies, I started to enjoy the training immensely. Within a few months the physical bullying stopped as I only needed to physically defend myself once and soon the word got around that I wouldn’t take it anymore. The only “bullying” I ever received after that was name calling or teasing but by then my confidence was already sky high and I didn’t let it affect me. I achieved my first Black Belt when I was 17, which was very rare in those days for someone my age. Martial Arts literally changed my life, I became a resilient person and very determined.
However, all of my development in these important life skills were only really possible because my parents never let me quit. Sometimes, I made it really difficult for my mum to take me to class, but without her pushing me and reminding me that this was good for me, I would never have earned my first Black Belt or gone on to establishing Tring Martial Arts Academy some 35 years later. Mum taught me a very valuable life lesson – dedication! I learnt from an early age that quitting wasn’t an option and it has served me so very well throughout my school, college and work life.
I thought I would share my own personal story of martial arts training because whilst your child is currently loving the classes I know from experience that there may be times when he/she doesn’t want to come to class. I want you to know that you are not alone, I expect most children to want to quit training at some point but it is how you handle this desire that will not only affect them short term but also set them either on the road to success or the road to failure in their future lives. During the time your child has been with us we have taught them a number of important concepts and one of the most important is self-discipline. The only time we get an opportunity to strengthen our self-discipline is when we lose the desire to persevere. This could be due to discouragement, fear, feeling overwhelmed, bored or unchallenged. But like muscles in your body, perseverance and self-discipline grow stronger with use.
As you probably saw at class we use self-discipline on small little things to strengthen it for when we really need it. For example, if your child’s arms are tired, and doesn’t think they can do anymore push-ups. But his instructor asks for just one more….they try and to their surprise they do it. They didn’t quit when the going got tough, they dug in and persisted. This little success echoes loudly in the character development of this young person.
The real test of character comes not when things are going well for us, but when we are challenged. Self-discipline is at the heart of commitment, perseverance and integrity. Without self-discipline, people can often take the easy way out. And as time goes by, that can lead to lying, deception, quitting and disappointment.
Therefore, if at any point during their training that they start to become difficult to bring to class or tell you that they want to quit training, please let us know. My team and I have been working with children since 2005 and have become experts in helping to re-motivate them.
One excellent way that my mum got me to come to class was to get me to do household chores 20 or 30 minutes before we needed to leave (like tidy my room or toys), and then when it was time to go I was ready in my uniform at the door! We have learned that children are present-focused, so giving them something they don’t want to do, like tidying their rooms will often make it easier for them to get ready for class.
By the way, in November 2018, my mum visited Tring Martial Arts Academy from her home in Cornwall. Mum came up to watch my 5th Dan Black Belt Assessment which was only the second time she saw me test since I was 17. Unfortunately, my Dad passed away when I was 21 so at the end of my assessment I dedicated my success in life and in the martial arts to the life skills they taught me early in life: Quitters Never Win, Winners Never Quit!
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