For the Martial Arts Instructors out there…

Always on your mind should be the idea of team building. There are those who find this contradictory to the individual nature of martial arts training, but within your school or organization, you should be functioning as a team. Encourage your students, but teach them to encourage each other as well. The best teammates are those who work to improve themselves, their game, and their team. Fostering a team mindset can have dramatically powerful results for your students and your school. Do not allow students to laugh it up at the mistakes of another student. This is especially important when you are working with children. Everywhere a child goes there are places where they are not safe from being made the butt of a joke. This can lead to them to not only leave your school, but completely sour them on martial arts and sports as a whole. This would be tragic in my opinion as martial arts and sports played a tremendous role in turning me into the person that I am. As schools move closer and closer toward becoming centers for basic academics only, children are going to need some sort of physical activity to get them off of the sofa and out from the video game world. Some people honestly need to feel that they are a part of something bigger – an extended family, a church, a tribe, a group, a school, a culture, and so on. There is nothing wrong with having this need, and there is nothing wrong with being willing to fill this need. When a student signs up in your martial arts school, they are becoming a part of something bigger – the art itself, as well as the traditions and histories that go along with the art. As many of the most successful martial arts schools are sport oriented, the ideas of teamwork and sportsmanship are easily used in class. But as martial artists, we should not only want, but actually feel compelled to take these ideas and concepts to a higher level. Instead of encouraging your team to celebrate tournament victories, teach them to also recognize and appreciate the effort involved in improvement. Everyone has a skill or technique or form that is personally challenging to them. Why should you not reward, and teach your students to celebrate some of the smaller victories? We all know that sometimes the simple act of being noticed or having someone recognize our hard work can make us feel incredible. Just imagine if your school was a place where that was happening all the time! Your student would find your school to be a sanctuary from the harsh world, and they would want to be there more than anywhere else.

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