Real Life Skills Education
The bad habit martial arts instructors should avoid is teaching life skills to kids without a system in place to measure and reward a child’s progress. Sometimes life skills — respect, focus, self-discipline, et cetera — are taught as an afterthought, or merely tacked on to whatever martial art technique is being presented by the instructor. When belt test time comes around, the students are tested on their techniques (as they should be), but they aren’t tested on the life skills they were supposed to learn.
One way to avoid this error is to create curriculum in which life skills are required knowledge for a student’s belt test as much as any physical technique. This is precisely what we have put into action at Gravity Martial Arts. At the very least, students should be expected to know the definitions of the life skills taught in class. Every class we bow and say “respect.” Sometimes I follow up with a question: “What does ‘respect’ mean?” I want my students to understand the life skills being taught, so our curriculum must be a life skills education first, using martial arts as the vehicle to communicate and practice those life skills.
A solid martial arts education is important. Good technique, a healthy body and mind, and knowledge of how to keep oneself safe contribute greatly to one’s confidence and sense of self-worth. But we always remember we aren’t training gladiators or street fighters: we are equipping the future leaders of the world with the tools, skills, and knowledge they need for success!