They teach martial arts - and most of them do a dam fine job of it.
However they miss the opportunity that sits right in front of them. This opportunity takes on the form of a student who is ready to be transformed into a human being of incredible value if the instructor can phrase his teaching so it deeply connects to daily life.
So that a lesson allows a student to think clearly under pressure in the traffic.
So that the focus learnt on the dojo floor can be transplanted into the workplace.
So that the creativity learnt when adapting a technique to a new attack can be used to create a method of income generation in a future that hasn't been created yet.
We are told that the majority of jobs that exist today won't be around for the next generation. This means that if we prepare our youth in a traditional way, we are setting them up for failure. We need to give a student the ability to think under pressure when the solution lies outside of their knowledge base. Is this an opportunity for our educational institutions or for martial arts academies? It's both.
When I was a beginner making mistakes, my instructor would shout, "Come on, you know this". He meant that he had trained me to respond to a particular attack and I had frozen. My inability to recall the correct move meant I was ineffective. So I doubled my training. And guess what? It worked. I became machine like in my ability to pounce on a situation and feel comfortable in the moment.
Completely in the moment.
Just like Bruce Lee taught.
Lesson over - result achieved.
Well ... partially.
All this is great for the teaching of self defence. Great for building self esteem. If you can build an ability to defeat an opponent, you feel better about yourself. But teaching someone how to defend themself is not hard. Teaching someone to improve their fitness and flexibility is just a case of regular training and a motivating role model to follow. Teaching someone who can handle the fear of competition just takes experience and the right words. So far, easy for the majority of instructors to do but they miss the boat when it comes to educating a student to handle fear. By fear I mean the fear of creating a life direction that is in line with their values.
- The majority of instructors excel when it comes to showing how to stand up for yourself if attacked. What about standing up for yourself when your core beliefs are challenged.
- The majority of instructors easily teach how to choose a strategy when confronted by a large opponent. Teaching a strategy to handle internal conflict is more valuable but it's never taught.
- The majority of instructors don't struggle to advise a class how to relax under pressure but they seem to struggle with common human weaknesses when in the confines of their own home.
Our world is in need of an overhaul of the highest order. We need stronger ethics in every level of society as our crime rates are far too high. The family unit doesn't seem as supportive as it should be and yet we all realise how important a good upbringing is. Our kids feel like the educational system is pounding them into submission by force feeding them information that has little relevance in the future they are facing. We need creativity to solve the problems created by our current lifestyle but that very creativity is relegated down the list behind fact regurgitation and multiple choice questions.
I can hear you agreeing.
If you teach martial arts, you have an opportunity to engage people on the dojo floor in the rough and tumble world of self defence. You also have an opportunity to engage your students in a process of education that transcends a physical attack. Solving real world problems is a diamond that exists just below the surface of the language used by you every night.
If you only teach a martial art that finishes its application on the mat, you are not part of the solution. You just may be part of the problem.