In martial arts….and in life in general, we have a tendency to look at the big picture, the destination, our big goals and can’t help but be overwhelmed sometimes.
All of our doubts and fears begin creeping in and it is easy to become discouraged, lose focus, or just plain lose the drive to continue.
When the destination seems to far away, the goal to big, or the mountain is just to tall to climb, that is when we need to focus on the power of small victories.
After all, what is any huge accomplishment, but a collection of many, many small victories.
The Black Belt that just walked into class…..they didn’t earn that black belt from one grueling black belt test. They earned it from 10,000 regular classes, from 10,000 small victories. From those days they didn’t feel like coming to class, but did anyway. From that time they had a bump, or bruise, or small injury…..but they came anyway.
They reached their destination by taking each mile, each hill, each obstacle step by step.
Each small victory has a way of accumulating as you go. Of helping you gain traction, gain momentum, building speed as you go. Like the old steam powered trains that started painfully slow, and gradually build up steam and momentum until they are rocketing down the tracks unstoppable towards their destination.
The question is not will you reach your goal today, are you equipped for your dreams right now? The question is what step, no matter how small, can you take today? What small victory can you accomplish this very day to keep you on those tracks, moving just the tiniest bit forward, or maybe just from keeping you from rolling back? It might seem insignificant now…..but 10,000 days from now it may be the moment that made all the difference in your entire life.
So get up, get out, and get moving….and win SMALL today!
Joshua Page, Hickory Academy of Martial Arts
You have seen it a million times, on TV, Movies, Plays, in your neighborhood….at Halloween. A cute little kid all decked out in his karate uniform, white belt tied around his waist, punching, kicking and jumping in the air at some invisible person with a big smile on their face.
It reinforces just how popular martial arts are. In fact martial arts can now be seen on television weekly in the form of Mixed Martial Arts Competition, and even the addition of Karate to the Olympics in 2020.
All this popularity begs the question. Why should anyone, especially a child study martial arts?
Here are 5 reasons that help to answer that question:
- “There is no confidence, like self defense confidence” Knowing how to defend yourself not just physically, but verbally is an essential skill for children. Especially, with 1 in 4 children being bullied in America, and an estimated 160,000 kids that skip school to avoid being bullied every single day in the United States. Kids who know how to defend themselves are much more likely to stand up for themselves, and much less likely to be targeted by bullies.
- “No One Sits on the Bench at the Dojo” Martial Arts is unique in the sense that kids are a part of a group, but they still get to progress at their own rate. The stress and demands to preform and deliver for a team is eliminated. A child is free to make mistakes, and to learn from them without being singled out. Also, they get to play every “down”, with no time spent on the bench watching everyone else play.
- “Chivalry is Not Dead” Manners, Self-Respect, and Respect for others may seem like a lost art with children, and adults these days. That is not the case on the mats at the dojo. There is an emphasis on self-respect, they way you are dressed, how you keep your uniform and yourself clean, how you present yourself at the dojo, the respect you show others in your words, and in your actions towards them. Yes Sir, Yes Mam, Please, and Thank You, are all alive and well in the hearts, minds, and voices of children taking martial arts.
- “There are no Keyboards at the Dojo” Children are ever increasingly talking to each other from behind screens. From texting, to FaceTime, to Snapchat, to tweets, the list goes on and on. Martial Arts Classes are a great place for face to face interaction. For children to work together directly. To learn the art of communication, to see face to face how to work with another person.
- “It Takes a Village” Parenting is every bit as difficult now as it ever was. Raising Happy, Safe, Respectful, Helpful, Leaders of tomorrow is too much for even the best parents to do alone. Family, Friends, Teachers, Mentors, and Martial Arts instructors are vital in helping reinforce the values that you are instilling at home. A Martial Arts Teacher or “Sensei” influences not just the way students defend themselves, but he or she is imparting lessons on self-confidence, leadership, kindness, and motivation every single class.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg about why martial arts for children is an amazing resource, about why every child should learn these lesson, but all these words don’t mean much until you see it in action.
We urge you to take your child to a class, but not just any class. Find a Facility that is clean, and instructor that is knowledgeable, that is a Blackbelt of Skill and Character. Someone who you trust to teach your child more than just how to fight, but how to live.
We play a game at the end of class with this big red cube. It has exercises and challenges for the students on each side, except one……one said is for the Teacher. It boldly states Teacher does 25.
Our students love it, they love to see the Teachers drop down and give 25 pushups. Its a great chance for the Teacher/Sensei/Professor/Coach to lead by example, to humble themselves, and remind themselves and their students that Blackbelt is a Verb, and not a Noun. That it is a state of action, not a state of stagnation.
I have seen this cube at a few martial arts schools, and even saw a few with the Teacher Does 25 taped over…….It breaks my heart as an instructor, a student, and as someone who loves martial arts.
Teacher does 25 is a mindset, and a culture that is sorely needed in the martial arts community, in our communities, and our country.
Leadership is defined by action, by holding to not just the same standard you hold those you lead to, but exceeding that expectation, in the hopes that those you lead might do the same.
What opportunities for growth and leadership have you “taped over”?
My challenge to you is to rip that tape of today, that sting is much less than that of keeping it on.
“As a martial artist I get the opportunity to work and study with some truly amazing people, I also get to meet some people who are truly amazed with themselves. I met one of the two today. Which prompted the following observation: Any self proclaimed Master, is most likely a poor judge of character. True talent, true knowledge, and skill needs no proclamation. Real Mastery is usually marked by humility, generosity, and kindness.”
The greats, do not need to tell anyone they are great. It is evident in the way that the speak, the way they move, the way they instruct on the mats. More importantly, it shows in the way they treat others, the life they live, and the example they set off the mat.
To become a Teachers Teacher, a true Master, like Helio Gracie, like Rickson Gracie, like Pedro Sauer, like Gichin Funakoshi, requires a commitment, vision, and effort that very few can ever conceive, and even fewer will ever achieve.
Anyone can claim greatness, but the lack thereof is readily seen in their actions. There is no way to talk your way into a set of skills that are gained through a lifetime of effort, to fake the deep level of understanding that comes through years of study and dedication. Simply put you can’t google your way into mastery.
Good manners, common courtesy, and respect seem to be in a bit of a decline in recent history.
With the advent of social media, and the power of anonymity it provides, it is easier than ever to say and do things that you might not do in person. In a society that seems to be speeding up exponentially, people just don’t seem to have the time……..for patience.
Popular culture is bombarded with examples of this type of behavior, even our Presidential Debates have taken on a decidedly “Jersey Shore” feel to them. Most of the popular shows, movies, and media are filled with topics, and language that are anything but respectful, courteous, and kind.
As we go speeding through our day, inundated with bad examples, running eternally late, tethered to our devices is it any wonder why manners seem to be in short supply?
In fact manners might be considered one of the great challenges ours and future generations face. Why is that you might ask? Because manners….how you speak to others, how you treat others, how you act to the people we meet, the people we love….and those that we have trouble dealing with is in direct relation to the amount of self respect we have for ourselves, for the respect we have for the people around us, and is a direct reflection of the morals, and principles that guide our lives.
Can you have good manners, and be devoid of solid morals and guiding principles? Of course you can (See: Eddie Haskell), but you cannot have solid morals and guiding principles without having good manners.
Yes Sir, and Yes Mam are the building blocks of something far more important…..Respect.
That is one of the most powerful lessons Martial Arts teaches us. Having an environment, where it is the rule, and not the exception to use manners sets the stage for mutual respect. Having an environment where there are high expectations or consequences for what comes out of your mouth, fosters responsibility. Being held to a high standard of behavior on and off the mats, is a great way to build a leader.
From bowing on the mats, to shaking the instructors hand, looking classmates in the eyes and thanking them for a good class, bowing to an opponent before you fight and hugging them after the match is over, respecting the hierarchy of belts, and being expected to demonstrate and perfect required lessons/techniques, to helping new students…..the list goes on and on and on. Martial Arts is one of the few places where manners are expected, morals are not just taught, but displayed by the teachers and high ranking students, where respect, kindness, humility, and perseverance are celebrated, encouraged, and taught…..one on one, without screens, without phones, and without apology.
-Joshua Page, Hickory Academy of Martial Arts
However the circles we run today set the foundation for success to come.
Success and life seem like they should be linear, but like everything in the universe they undergo constant changes, beginnings and ends that at first glance seem like a cat chasing his tail, a beautiful disaster, but on closer inspection are all nessesary pieces of an amazing and purposeful puzzle.
Embrace the choas of today, to experience the beauty of what is to come.
Thank the people who……get under your skin, that annoy you, that are rude, difficult, selfish, and sometimes just downright mean.
They are the ones who reflect all the things we don’t like about ourselves……help us overcome them, that force us to be better, make us rise above the petty and unpleasant parts of our personality.
Our kindness and forgiveness towards them, spills over and helps refine us into the men and women of character we want to become.
The currency of our lives, slipping uncontrollably out of our hands.
It drags, it flies, but always marching ever forward.
Take a moment to breath, to appreciate, to fully be a part of the time slipping by us all.
Be connected to the people and things you love and enjoy.
Share your love, share your smile, share your time…..none of them are infinite…..but somehow together we can make them last forever.
Your dreams are only in reach while you are awake.
Rise from your Dreams to rise up to the challenges and opportunities that will make them a reality.
Take the step most won’t. We all dream, but most of us won’t take that first step towards our dreams and desires.
Do not rise gently, but with purpose, with intent and clarity, and when that seems impossible, simply rise and put your head down into a run, or exercise, or anything difficult until it does.
Finally and most importantly smile. Smile and enjoy the ride……you are one of the few awake people, living their dreams.