I have read many articles about the benefits of karate, especially as it pertains to kids. There are boasts that it is a cure-all for everything that can go wrong in a child ‘s life and for the most part, it is true. There are some that make claims that focus on the self-defense/fighting aspect of karate. This is what I want to discuss here today.
While it is true training in karate will absolutely help a kid to better protect themselves from bullies, not all kids are fighters. There are schools out there that focus on tournaments and kumite and continually push kids to compete. Life is competition – it is a dog-eat-dog world out there, and as the quote goes, “The slowest gazelle will be eaten by the Lion, and the slowest Lion will not catch a Gazelle.” But there is much more that karate can do to help an individual become a better person, regardless if they are the victor. The quote mentions the fastest and slowest Gazelle and Lion, but what about all the other in between?
As an instructor that has taught kids for many years, I think I have seen the entire spectrum of personalities ranging from the most aggressive to the most passive, and everything in between. I am certain that any of my colleagues out there would agree they have seen the same. My goal is to see each kid train to reach their potential both as a martial artist and as a person. If all I did was to have my young students compete to be in first place, then I would be empowering one person and leaving the rest behind. Life does not offer second, third, or participation medals. How many of you have watched a kid implode when they found out they did not place in a tournament? What is the lesson to be gained?
The end goal, at least for me, of teaching a young student is for them to learn some of the following lessons:
• Always put forth your very best, no matter who else is “in the race”
• Bring 100% of yourself to the table – don’t try to be what you are not
• Be confident in what you know – you don’t have to boast or be a braggart
• You will not always win, but you will always be a winner
If my students can do any of the above, then I will have succeeded.