By Scott Campsall
I’m relatively convinced that if a large group of people were surveyed as to why people started learning martial arts, the number one answer would be to learn how to defend themself. This might be quickly followed up with ‘to get in better shape or to be physically active’.
When someone wants a self-defence course, they call the local martial arts school first. They don’t call a hockey league even if there can be several fights during a game. We’re known as the place where people can learn how to fight and fight well.
What martial arts schools are also known for is character development. This could be due to the media’s influence (e.g.: The Karate Kid movies), but I’d like to hope that it has something to do with several good martial arts schools and the way they teach their programs.
People often lose sight of what a true martial arts school should be. It’s not just about learning how to fight. It’s not just about winning competitions. Those things are good, but before deciding on the school that is right for you or more importantly, your child, one should ask what types of programs are in place to make the student a better person. Are they genuinely interested in you or just how many points you can earn their team?
At Okami Kai Martial Arts and Fitness we have several programs in place that are used as tools to increase character development. Our Lil’ Dragons (ages 3-5) focus on Character Words and Phrases each month (e.g. Patience, Sharing, etc.) and get homework assignments so they can think about the word at home. Our older students are tasked with doing activities their parents pick that will encourage self-discipline.
We have a student creed that our students memorize that encourages them to be a better person. It only contains six sentences, but five of them reference ways to improve oneself. Only one of the sentences talks about fighting and even then, it says Karate should be used only for self defence or helping others.
If your martial arts school is focused on fighting and winning tournaments, move on. You owe it to yourself to find a place that will work on you as a person and not just as a trophy collector. Most people compete less than a dozen times during a year. The rest of the year they need to be good people!
Can we teach you how to fight? Yes, but are we willing to show you the true beauty that comes from learning a martial art? Absolutely and trust us when we say, it’s not about the fighting!
There should be substance in martial arts training. If it lacks that, then you can pick up just as much tactical information from watching The Three Stooges. At least they have impressive sound effects when they fight!
Find a school that will work on making you better inside and out. The Three Stooges might be popular, but there are better options when it comes to spending your time, effort, and your money. Martial Arts should be about value and not just about a good slap, eye poke, punch, or joint lock.