Responsibility in Martial Arts
Each month at Legacy, we spend about 3 minutes of every kids’ class discussing our Character Skill of the Month. This month, the focus is responsibility.
Martial Arts is the most amazing sport for teaching students of all ages about responsibility. It’s a solo sport, meaning that each student is responsible for his or her own success. Yet, Martial Artists constantly have to work with others and show responsibility in the way they handle their partners and equipment.
Check out how Legacy teaches Responsibility, both directly and indirectly.
Direct Teaching (mainly for Children)
The first step in speaking to children about traits like this is to give them an easy-to-memorize, relatable definition for the trait.
Here’s the Legacy definition:
Responsibility- Something you know you have to do
That’s pretty simple, easy to remember, and even easier to apply to just about any situation a child may encounter.
The next step in speaking to children is to give them micro-tasks that include the word. Here’s a few things that can be heard around Legacy:
“We’re about to work with a partner. Make sure you’re being responsible with your buddy by not goofing around. If you goof around, someone could get hurt, and nobody likes getting hurt.”
“Put your equipment away. Being responsible means taking care of your things, especially if they belong to someone else, so that they don’t get lost or broken.”
“Keep your hands up while sparring. You’re responsible for not giving your partner a target to hit. If they get you, it’s because you left them an opening.”
Notice something important on each statement: there’s a clear cause-and effect. Each action has an immediate effect if they choose not to take care of it. This is extremely important in shaping younger students’ minds.
After the micro-tasks, we give them “Missions”: a large task that they have to complete at home. These usually take 2-3 weeks to finish, and they’re rewarded in front of their class with a special “Mission Accomplished” stripe on their belt.
For Responsibility, we’ll be challenging our students to take on a new chore for 2 weeks, such as taking the dog for a walk, making their bed every morning, or sweeping the kitchen. These tasks are determined by mom or dad, and signed off on before they can earn their special stripe.
Indirectly, how Martial Arts teaches responsibility to Students of all ages
Of all the things Legacy does directly, there’s still many ways that Martial Arts trains Responsibility into each and every student, regardless of the month.
Responsibility through Goal Setting
Martial Arts is traditionally broken down into belts, with the final belt being Black Belt. This simple set-up allows students to see the large goal (Black Belt), and each step required to get there (each belt on the way).
This is the pitfall in many goals: in-between goals. By saying “I’m going to write a book,” would-be authors many times get overwhelmed with the massive amount of work involved. If instead, the author were to say “I will write 500 words every day,” by the end of one year, they’d have written twice as many words as the average book! For comparison, this point in this blog is just over 500 words.
Responsibility through Social Interaction
At least once per class, students are told to work with a partner. This could be in a self-defense drill, where they are simulating an attack. Or, the partners may be working together to complete a form, a pattern of movements they must memorize to test for their next rank.
No matter why students are partnered, there is a necessity for communication and understanding. A student that doesn’t care about their partner and ends up injuring them, will quickly become one of the partners no one wants to work with. Being aware of this builds empathy, respect, and camaraderie between students in the same class.
Responsibility through Cause and Effect
One of the greatest benefits of Martial Arts comes from the “instant feedback” style of training.
No matter what a student is doing, there are almost instantaneous and direct consequences for their actions. This could be a younger student not being focused and end up missing the target, or a student that doesn’t earn their next rank because they didn’t practice.
Nowhere is this feedback more prevalent than in the art of Sparring. This simulated combat is a controlled environment where students try to score points by hitting target areas on their partner. Think, the Karate Kid Tournament, just with more gear and less potential injuries. If a student is unfocused, leaves their hands down, or makes the wrong move in sparring, their partner will score, resulting in instant feedback.
Responsibility through Personal Care
Another essential to any sport is proper personal care.
Lack of sleep, poor diet, and especially low flexibility will cause obvious issues in Martial Arts training.
We combat this by making exercise fun for all ages. Our adult classes have dynamic warm-ups that change constantly, and the each belt is met with new curriculum and challenges. Our kids’ classes leave younger ones begging to exercise more, because the class was so much fun. Imagine having your 8-year-old asking when the next time they get to work out will be.
Our goal is to help all of our students reach their highest potential. Each class is designed to provide the best training experience balanced with the most fun.
Keeping these things in mind, and actively planning out each class in advance for maximum effect, is how Legacy stays responsible to you, our students.
We’ll see you on the mats!
-The Martial Mentor