Did you realize that it takes a doctor an average of 20 years of schooling and 4 years of additional training to finally get to practice medicine on their own? There are of course the 12 years of elementary, middle, and high school. Then these individuals go off to college and breeze through a 4 year bachelor degree. Now at this point they commit to 4 additional years of med school. Upon successfully graduating they are then faced with an average of 4 years of being an intern and resident physician under the tutelage of more experienced doctors. All of that just to be able to see their own patients and help people with their health needs. 

When it comes to health care I find that most people fall firmly into three catagories. There are those who refuse to visit a doctor no matter how severe your particular ailment seems to be. Nail gun to the skull? “I’ll just give it a good tug and put some alcohol on it.” Arm bending the wrong direction? “I’ll just use the other one for a week or two.” Ran over by a car? “I’ve been meaning to breathe less anyway.” You know the type. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who visit the doctor for any and every discomfort no matter how insignificant. They tend to schedule an appointment for things like “my breath smells a bit worse than usual,” “my left pinky toe doesn’t look like the right one,” or “I could only eat three plates of food at Golden Coral.” Anything worse than these dangerous situations they skip the doctor and head straight to the ER. You know these folks too. 

And then there are the most frustrating of all; those who use Google and Mayo Clinic to do their own research, come to their own diagnosis, prescribe themselves the best medicine or treatment option, and then visit their doctor to tell him what to do. They come in with their 30-minute online PhD and proceed to teach their physician about the latest research findings. Chances are you know these individuals as well. 

Now before you get triggered please know that I am going some where with this 😉 

To become a master instructor requires an average of 20 years of martial arts training and an additional 4 years of teaching. You of course have to be a master martial artist which in most disciplines requires 20 years of consistent training and testing. But to be a master instructor you need around 20 years of teaching time which can only happen once you’ve achieved the rank of black belt in the first place. All of that just to be able to knowledgeably lead and guide students’ martial arts journey.  

What I’ve noticed over the last 25+ years of martial arts instructing is that the way you approach your health care tends to be the way you approach your child’s martial arts training. First, we have the parents who have very little concern for their child’s progress or success. Attend two classess per week? “Meh. I’m sure twice a month and 10 in a row before testing will be fine.” Purchase sparring equipment? “Nah. You can get all the training you need hitting a heavy bag.” He doesn’t want to attend because he’s playing with his friends when it’s time to leave? “No way. My kid definitely hates martial arts and somehow fakes a smile as soon as class begins.” 

Then there are those who are overly concerned. They fall into the “I’m going to make my child practice at home for 2 hours everyday because Michael Jordan did,” “I told her that she had to win 5 gold medals at this tournament or we were quitting,” or “I’m going to yell at you during class through the lobby windows because the instructors aren’t tough enough.”  

Finally and worst of all, we have those who question everything we do. They take their three years of middle-school softball experience in the 90’s and apply it to martial arts training. They have watched 20 classes from the lobby and are now naturally just as knowledgeable as the instructors. They have known their child since birth and we have known them for only months or years so naturally we can’t teach them as well.  

If you’ve been around a martial arts school for more than a week or two you most definitely know all three of these parents. Chances are you can personally relate to one of them more than the other, and hopefully by now you are thinking “Mr. C did not represent me in a flattering light, and I don’t want to be ‘that guy.’ So what can I do to fix it?” I am so glad that you asked, and as usual I have some ideas 😉 

For those less concerned 

  • Get all of the necessary equipment. You would not send your child onto the football field without a helmet and pads or onto the baseball field without a bat and glove. All activities have required equipment and martial arts is no different. You will absolutely need targets for at-home practice, sparring gear for safely practicing fighting, and uniforms to be able to move freely and unrestricted. 
  • Attend and test regularly. Regular practice is essential for progress both mentally and physically. Testing regularly may not seem important, but it is absolutely necessary to create a mindset of achievement and reward effort.  
  • Don’t self-diagnose problems. Our instructors are experienced and knowledgeable in all aspects of martial arts training. We should be your go-to reference and assistants for any motivation or behavior related issues.  

For those overly concerned 

  • Don’t force it. Make it fun. Yes, your child needs to attend regularly. Yes, practice at home is beneficial. But forcing either of these encourages push back and can create resentment. Instead, be positive and encouraging, and focus on the fun not the sweat. 
  • Remember you are a cheerleader not an instructor. We’ve got the martial arts side down. Let us do our job and simply praise your child’s effort. Say things like, “I love to watch you practice,” and, “It looks like you’ve really improved your technique.” You can address struggles but in a positive way. “I could tell you were struggling with ________________. Don’t worry. You’ll get it!” 
  • Trust the process. I assure you that we have a foolproof plan for your child to not only reach the rank of black belt, but to also help you raise a confident and respectful adult. Sometimes it seems they aren’t growing much or they aren’t receiving much attention. This is by design. Part of the improvement process is being left to grow on one’s own. 

For those inexperienced experts 

  • Recognize that your child is unique but also similar. While he/she is a special individual all children follow similar growth patterns and development paths. We know what our students are capable of at every age and rank. So while we have never worked with your child we have worked with tens of thousands of others who progressed in martial arts exactly the same way. 
  • Remind yourself  that you are not a martial arts instructor, and if you actually are keep in mind that you are not one at our facility. No matter what level of experience you have we are experts in our curriculum and our plan for our students. Let us lead them down our path to success. 
  • Listen to the instructors, and take their advice. There are no ulterior motives. There is no hidden agenda. Like you, we simply want what is best for your child.  

Trust me. I’m a doctor.