Making it merely valuable will only ensure you stay level with your competition. Not rise above.
The actress Goldie Hawn, founder of the Hawn Foundation is also creator of the MindUp Curriculum, a school study program designed to reduce conflict, improve self control and self regulation, and strengthen resiliency. She talks to teachers about, “accepting the enormous and critically important responsibilities and challenges that accompany your mission as an educator.”
Martial arts instructors do not and have not ever really capitalised on the incredible opportunity we have to make a real difference in the way that Goldie Hawn hopes.
The MindUP Curriculum concerns itself with SEL - Social and Emotional Learning. Now this area of teaching is what martial arts has a stranglehold on. Namely - the ability to control emotions in the midst of trauma.
“Adele Diamond, neuroscientist and founder of developmental cognitive neuroscience, found that students who learn SEL techniques such as role-playing consistently score higher on tests requiring use of the brain’s executive functions– coordinating and controlling, monitoring and troubleshooting, reasoning and imagining (2007). Other tests describe SEL training as resulting in students being ”significantly more attentive, emotionally regulated, and socially and emotionally competent than those without SEL training (2010).
But are we really doing this in our day to day training of our martial arts students? We are but only by accident.
And any result that happens by accident can not be relied upon to occur regularly.
As business owners we need to ensure that we create a situation that produces high quality effects every day in every class.
If we look at the first practice of a classroom that teaches this curriculum, we see this is where the students practice deep breathing and concentrated listening. It centres the students and opens up their ability to calmly deal with new information.
Hang on. Isn’t that what we do as martial arts educators?
Absolutely. We have done it for as long as systemised martial arts has been around. We have meditated before and after training to ensure the maximum amount of information is retained. So what have martial arts instructors got to learn from the academic education system?
The MindUP Curriculum is centred around 15 lessons that not only teach mindful awareness but also how the brain works to achieve this. Amongst other lessons, students are informed about the pre-frontal cortex, the largest of any primate, and that it is responsible for our ability to reflect before reacting. This ‘executive function skill’ is affected by our emotional state. It means that without any form of control, our emotions override our logic.
Adele Diamond again states that, “engaging in physical challenges and mindful practices that enhance learning and reduce stress activate both emotional response and executive function networks simultaneously”.
That’s EXACTLY what we do in martial arts! We just do it in an ad hoc way as our primary focus has been self defence. Imagine if the main aim was to create a student that handles stress better? Sure, we teach it by using attack and defence scenarios but the real agenda was to build black belts that had complete control over their base urges. Pie in the sky ambition? Research tells us otherwise.
And if it is proven by research, we can rely on it to work every time.
I’d send my kid to that martial arts academy any day.
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