While it may appear we are preparing for your belt test next week, the real life lesson may well be: Life does not wait until you are ready!
Let me share a few stories to help explain. Often when working with both children and adults, I will hear: "Sensei, I don't think I am ready yet?" or a parent saying "I think we are going to skip this belt because they are not ready!"
In the same way, when starting a child in karate many will timidly say "Can I watch first?" or with an adult they will say "Can I just observe a class first? I am not in shape." (Or course you aren't, that is why to start karate?)
I will illustrate it in one more way. Have you ever known anyone with "test anxiety"? Or where their performance on a test never reflects what they actually know?
Almost everyone does this in our "perfection" world of never making mistakes and fearing failure. For our children, is it any wonder why? Think about it. Our children live, for the most part, in a highly "success-rich" environment. All us well-intended parents want our kids to be successful at everything they do. We only want them to be the best at school, starter on their team, and only winning. Real failure and struggle is rare. Where do you think the term helicopter, lawnmower and now snowplow parents came from.
In the dojo we actually create a "failure-rich" environment. We intentionally teach material that is too hard and we teach it too fast for most to even get close to good at it! You and your child will need to get use to seeing them fail and struggle. In the end you will barely notice failure and appreciate the fact that failure and struggle is what will make them stronger not just physically but even more, mentally and emotionally. (Have you ever seen a young child have a complete breakdown or tantrum when they do not get something right or do not get their way?)
If you notice, we start by developing the habit of raising your hand and volunteering even if you are not ready. I ask "Who is ready to test right now?!" Then get every single student to raise their hand with enthusiasm and an "I am Sir!' I remember when I was young and shy. I would never raise my hand.
The next thing we do is reward the courage and guts to answer a question or perform a technique or kata by making sure they know they will always have a safety net here. I like using that analogy because you should never fear grabbing that trapeze bar because we will always be there to catch you when you fall. (Notice I said "when" you fall and not "if" you fall.). We reward bold mistakes.
Finally, the main message and lesson we are teaching your child is: "You are as ready right now as you are ever going to be!"So, stop worrying about failure and give this your very best right now!
When your child is being tested they are being taught to bring a powerful attitude and mindset of "Bring it on!" and "When I am tested I only get stronger and NEVER give up!"
We are preparing them to succeed and achieve in life because"Life does not wait until you are ready!"
Yours for stronger kids,