Karate is Scary, Hard and Boring
Wait a minute. Now, how are we supposed to get any parent to put their child in karate with this thinking?! This is what I tell every parent yet we still have so many students. How does that happen? Well, let me back up a little and it may make complete sense.
When I started this karate school 16 years ago I needed to get enough students just to keep the doors open. I thought I had to teach karate and make it FUN. So, we played a lot games and tried to make everything fun.
Well, I learned very quickly from our parents this was not what they really wanted. It clearly was not about being “fun” and something their kids “liked”. Fun and like were not what parents demanded from us and even more importantly, not what their children needed. This is when I began to discover we had something powerful in our hands. What did we have? First let me go back even a little further.
The world of a child and the world of raising a child is much different than when we grew up. There are two things which have contributed to the difficulty of raising children today – technology and parents unknowingly over protecting their children. To make a long story short, these two things create a completely new and different environment where everything comes so fast and too easy for children. We do want to protect our children and help them live a good life but we do not want them to live an “easy” life. If every child is always told they are the smartest or prettiest. Or, if every child gets a trophy. If we step in and handle all of their problems and stresses they develop into “weak” children.
What do I mean by weak? Well the schools are uncovering a crisis. Children have four areas of development – Physical, Cognitive, Emotional, and Social. We are doing fairly well in two but in the other two our children are falling further and further behind. Physically, because of advances in nutrition and medicine, our children are more advanced than we were. (Except in the area of fitness). Cognitively they know far more than we did. Our schools are doing a great job. (Just try helping your child with their homework!)
But for the last two our children are struggling and falling behind. Emotionally, young children are slow in developing basic self-regulating skills like focusing, listening, following direction, keeping their hands to themselves. They have difficulty handling frustration and anger. As they get older they cannot handle setbacks or when things get hard. They quit or give up too easily. As they get even older many are debilitated with anxiety, fear and sometimes anger. What ever happened to work ethic?
I think I don’t have to say much about what is happening to our kids socially. Kids struggle to make friends, cannot read social cues and cannot look people in the eye. Remember when teens used to get in trouble at the shopping malls. Do you know where they socialize now? In their bedrooms on their smartphone.
Okay, so now we can get back to the first question. What I learned from our parents is they wanted help making their children stronger. And, I don’t mean just stronger physically. They desire to make their children stronger emotionally and socially. The schools are now calling it SEL or “Social Emotional Learning”. So, we evolved by listening to our parents and educators in the schools.
Our dojo has naturally developed into a unique and safe place where parents can bring their children to develop into strong thriving young adults. You can only develop strength and courage under four good stresses – Fear, Hardship, Failure and Boredom. Courage can only be developed in the presence of fear. Hard work and discipline are learned when you struggle or fail. Grit, persistence and perseverance can only be developed by doing hard things you want to give up on or quit. Boredom develops delayed gratification, creativity, curiosity and most importantly, resourcefulness. All children need these strong emotional experiences.
There is not enough room here to go into each in detail. But I tell parents, in order to set up your child for success here you need to be ready for your child to get scared, think this is too hard, and get bored. Like working a muscle, they need these four stresses consistently every day to get stronger.
This is why karate is scary, hard and boring.
For stronger kids,