The Gentle Art of Learning for Kids
Martial arts has had such a big impact on my life and the life of so many others that I can’t help but share this amazing journey with others. I believe the benefits gained from learning martial arts from the right coach or Academy is invaluable and cannot be replaced by any other activity.
When people think of learning, they think of your run of the mill academic schools; elementary school, middle school, high school, higher education, etc. But learning is an important skill that is utilized(or not) daily because human nature assures us that we have already learned something and have no more to learn from it. These habits are formed in us as children and as we grow up “school” becomes daunting and we think that watching shows or playing games that “turn our mind off” are necessary daily. This skill quickly becomes neglected and people assume that learning is something that we do instinctively, and in some ways we do. But learning, just like any other skill that takes years to develop, is an art. Not just any art, but one that requires you to tackle problems with a positive solution and a raised hand for help.
Growing up in South East Asia I noticed that every school taught martial arts or some form of mobility work for PE. They weren’t all the same. Some did Kung Fu, some Karate, Wushu, Taekwondo, Pencak Silat or Judo. But they all trained a skill. In the minds of the educators hundreds of years before us, exercise without skill development was a waste of time. This tradition has carried on to this day. There was nothing called bullying where I grew up, it was just called fighting, and nearly everyone knew one way or another how to do it. Not only how to fight, but also how to make good friends who would help you fight to protect yourself. Here in the United States of America people go to the principal, school resource officer, self defense classes or even sometimes see therapists when they get bullied. We believe this is because verbal/physical conflict is foreign to them because kids are not taught how to build protection mechanisms like the buddy system, martial arts or other self defense tactics when they are playing classic sports like football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, etc. We’ve raised a generation of kids who, unlike our forefathers, have no idea how to de-escalate a situation on their own, how to fight, or even why to fight. Which should only be in defense of ourselves, our families and for our communities. Please read our Bushido Code Blog for more on When to Fight.
the Top 5 Reasons kids should train Jiu-Jitsu as a martial art:
1 | Family
Martial arts academies are notorious for building camaraderie and unit cohesion. This goes back hundreds of years when villages would help each other improve their martial arts skills to protect their families from raiding parties. At Patriot Jiu-Jitsu you learn Jiu-Jitsu, but you show up for your teammates. Without a team or a coach, none of us are getting very far in anything. It takes a village, literally. The new age of individuality is an attack on our community. We must fight to stay united under one mind and one body.
2 | Respect
In this day and age being disrespectful has become “cool”. Movies and new tv shows constantly display bad attitudes from kids to their parents and coaches, or to each other. Discipline is associated with something bad and the media pushes their secret agenda of shaming parents for teaching their kids discipline while they encourage violence through music and “comedy”. Marketing programs convince kids that the next big toy or video game will prove their parents love. Martial arts teach kids that in order to work together well during training, they need to treat each other as they would like to be treated. If someone treats you badly when you treat them well, you know that while you must still respect that person as their own person, they probably won’t be part of your team. We can never know what war someone is fighting, and so Martial Arts does not teach vengeance . We simply respect that their choices are their own; we will stick to our team and keep our culture and our honor clean. Bad attitudes and bad behavior won’t do them any favors in the end. So, instead of getting angry, feel bad for them. Their journey will be long and hard and maybe even it already is.
3 | Discipline
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither are your dreams. Martial arts teaches kids that they must spend thousands of hours on the mat improving their skill with their teammates and coaches, in order to achieve greatness. Kids are confronted with this in martial arts because if they don’t learn they lose the fight. Then they lose again. Then again. Then again. If they want to win they will persist. If they are not taught to do the right thing even when they don’t feel like it, they will quit. They will take losses over and over again to get to the prize. The black belt. The gold medal. The scholarship. This applies in all walks of life. Education, work, relationships, parenting and more. If you don’t put the time in trying to make each rep 1% better, you will not get to where you want to be. Both good and bad habits take practice. Martial arts emphasizes the importance of building good practice habits, because good habits can be just as hard to break as bad habits, with the right mindset.
4 | Courage
The world can be a scary place for many who have not practiced the skill of courage. Jiu-Jitsu, or the Gentle Art is a fighting style that allows a smaller, weaker man or woman to overcome a bigger, stronger opponent. But even before we get to that level. The first practice of courage is walking into an academy that you haven’t been to, meeting a coach and teammates that you don’t know, and putting on a white belt that states “I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m here to learn.” The white belt requires the highest level of courage. They start at a disadvantage, and they rely heavily on their coach and teammates to help them bring up their level of skill so that they can start to get some wins under their belt. To be a black belt does not take nearly the same level of courage, because courage has been replaced by confidence in their skill set. Courage is a skill, practice it daily.
5 | Attitude
While I’ve placed this reason as the last, it’s certainly not the least important. Bad things happen to everyone. Not all at once but we all experience loss, we all experience heartbreak, we all experience hardship, and when it hits, one of the hardest things to do is to maintain a positive mental attitude. Our minds are extremely powerful and if we don’t teach our minds to use these hard times as opportunities to grow and improve, we will quickly lose our positive mental attitudes and be washed away by negative attitudes that surround us. We may even continue to dwell on the negative and let our minds sink into the quicksand of “Life is bad.” In Jiu-Jitsu you quickly learn that having a bad attitude will rob you of your joy, your training time, your friends and even your opportunities. Maintaining a positive attitude is a practice that we are confronted with during every loss, every bad situation or even sometimes injury. The Gentle Art of Learning helps kids learn to accept the bad and work to create a solution that will stop us from being in that place again. A positive mental attitude is a perishable skill and must also be practiced daily.
One of my favorite quotes by Theodore Roosevelt directly relates to what we should all remember when in pursuit of our dream.
“It Is Not The Critic Who Counts.”