Everyone tries hard but…

Did you learn what you needed to BEFORE trying your best?

This seems to be one of those “isn’t it obvious that I know what I’m doing” things whenever someone is actively seeking to accomplish the goal.

Well…it doesn’t always seem to be true in the martial arts. Between the industry putting promotions on a schedule regardless of quality and so many people believing that if they show up enough it’ll be given to them, I’m quite uncertain if the student truly has learned their material or not.

There have been several times over the past 25 years of teaching where a student told me that they know everything and are ready to test. The worst of these couldn’t even tell me the name of their required form. Another is the one that asks why we do something in that manner and retorts that they don’t like to do it that way including the “Why-don’t-we-just-do-it-like-this” phrase.

There is a lot to learn in any martial art. The number of techniques and patterns and drills/steps can be ridiculously huge. My Song Moo Kwan Taekwondo curriculum is large and demanding, so I can see their struggle. The problem isn’t so much the curriculum, though, as it is their willingness to WORK. There’s a question that gets asked frequently in class – How many times should you be asked to do something? The answer is “Once.” So, I can give a student adjustments and corrections to help them develop further but, if they don’t choose to work on them, how do they get better?

This is a piece of the martial arts that has been lost, in my opinion. The continued challenge to grow and develop in skill and as a person is left out. When test requirements only involve performing material, growth is lost. This grow is the real part of the martial arts! The stuff that is used in most advertising and marketing material.

That we can get a class to line up, bow in, and do drills is NOT discipline. How can you tell? Does the student behave the same way at home? Doing drills on command in class doesn’t equate to having learned or developed discipline. Watch a class closely and you will see all of those who are working to become better and those who are following commands. That is not martial arts.

Until the student chooses to make these concepts – discipline, esteem, control, indomitable spirit, courtesy, and integrity – part of their everyday behavior/actions, then they haven’t learned martial arts. They are martial athletes or martial dancers.

What do you choose to do now that you’ve learned?

Author: Master Robert Frankovich

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