The only thing that is consistent is change…
One of the biggest obstacles to a person, company, culture, etc. is mankind’s inherent resistance to change. However one of the most difficult aspects of being successful in today’s environment is keeping up with how fast things change. Teaching the Martial Arts is no different.
We enjoyed an interesting visit at the Academy from an old student who began training with us back in the early DVCC (Deer Valley Community Center) days. He trained with us for several years reaching a blue belt ranking. He then moved to New Mexico where he continued his training eventually achieving his Black Belt. He had the fortunate opportunity to train with several top Kenpo Black Belts and has become an accomplished instructor in his own right.
During our discussion he commented, “I’m done teaching… People don’t want to work on their stuff any longer… Everyone seems to want everything handed to them.” Without a doubt, the “instant gratification” aspect of our culture is reaching a critical point. I feel we, as a culture, will soon reach a day where we will need to embrace the fact that some things must be developed over time. Just not sure how far off that day is.
However, in reflection… I don’t know if people have changed or if the teaching of the Martial Arts needs to adapt. Yes, one of the attractions to training the Martial Arts is the discipline it tends to instill in participants; the attention to detail, that conscience effort to work towards “perfection.” The Martial Arts aren’t unique in this. To reach a pinnacle of any endeavor requires the same dedication. However, the “old school” aspect of Martial Arts instruction never wavered on its path towards “Black Belt.”
Yet, in today’s business world it seems to have changed. There are schools out there recognized in the industry as “McDojos.” Schools not really interested in quality self-defense more interested in membership and sales. I guess you could say McDonald’s has the same interest in a quality hamburger?
During our discussion, it was apparent to me that there can be a blend (Old School and today’s market) that can co-exist. All sports have different levels of competition: little league, school, college and eventually professional. At each level, the discipline and dedication must be present as the work and expectations are greater. Obviously, due to a variety of reason, the amount of participants reduce as the activity moves to the higher levels. We as Martial Arts instructors need to recognize this same aspect of evolution in activities. People start things for; fun, interaction, healthful activity, etc. Some individuals enjoy the activity so much they want to get more involved. They strive to higher levels of participation and competition. Eventually, they reach a pinnacle to which the participant establishes the part of his/her life that the activity maintains.
For me, I enjoy sharing the value of the Martial Arts to anyone interested in learning. I’m willing to help them achieve the level they desire. In that aspect, I wear several different “hats;” coach, trainer, instructor, teacher and mentor. Each roll has a different form of interaction with the participant with a different expectation. Although I’ve had to adjust my expectations to fit those of the participant, I still enjoy the accomplishments we achieve and the time we spend together. From the short term participant who is just trying the Martial Arts as a new and fun activity to the long term Artist who dedicates years to training, study and completion; there is a lot for me to do, learn and experience.
I can appreciate this Black Belts frustration but at the same time enjoy the fact that I have a different perspective of the value of training Martial Arts.