When I meet someone for the first time, and tell them what I do for a living, I am often given the response along the lines of, “That’s not a job.”
And to be honest, what I do does not feel like a job.
Yes, I get paid. Yes, I show up every day. Yes, I have required duties that must be performed or there will be consequences. At the most basic levels, it is a job.
The reaction comes from people who view martial arts as a hobby. To some people, undoubtedly, martial arts are a hobby.
But to me, I am not just teaching martial arts. I am making a difference in the life of each child in my class.
There are many things missing from modern society. One of these is a proper placement of the order of family. The values I was brought up with are changing too fast. When I was growing up, we were taught to respect our elders. That is a value that is fading. We have been placing our children on a pedestal. And we have been doing this for so long that the children, in many cases, do not respect the authority of the parents.
And a funny thing happens when the children don’t respect the authority of the parents; they begin to stop believing in authority at all.
In my time in school, if my grades dropped, or if I did not behave properly, my parents went after me. In many cases now, the parents go after the teacher.
The children in these cases not only stop seeing the need to respect the authority of the teacher, through their ability to get the parent to bend the rules to suit the desires of the child then that very child starts to see themselves as the authority at home and at school; they also end up with zero accountability for their own effort, action, and work ethic.
Enter the martial arts class.
Children in a traditional martial arts class must follow rules and protocols. Not following the rules results in instant and undesired consequences.
In the class, there is an authority figure. The instructor teaches and ensures the safety of the students. The instructor shares knowledge, and while still showing the students very high levels of respect, leaves no doubt as to who is in charge and what the structure of hierarchy is at all times. Within the class itself, students must be respectful to and follow the commands of the students of higher rank, and in some cases these students might be younger than them, but this they must do, for the higher rank has more knowledge of the style and has earned their rank through time and effort, which is the real meaning of kung fu.
So, while it may seem that I come in at 6:45 AM, teach martial arts classes until 5:00 or 5:30 and go home, I see it different. I am trying my best each day to make that small difference. Each day is new and is filled with opportunities to change the course of a kid’s life. As long as I hold up, I will continue to fight this fight.