AS a full-time karate instructor, I consider my profession the most interesting on the planet. Just like a pediatrician who treats kids and traffic policemen who give directions on the streets, I provide discipline and training to aspiring athletes, helping strengthen their character through martial arts training.
I?m surrounded by amazing kids from all walks of life ten hours a day, six days a week. I serve as their sensei (master), second father in school and martial arts super-hero just like Pat Morita of ?Karate Kid? and Chow Yun-Fat of ?Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? movies.
It?s a very challenging job, yet it?s an honor to be part of their colorful lives. Pupils from grades 1-6 are required to join the training as part of their Physical Education class throughout the year.
Here are six karate life lessons that I?ve learned from my pupils:
1. Kids will be kids.
When you consider the age and the mental capabilities of elementary kids ages 6-12, it isn?t surprising that the majority tend to be hyper in nature. It?s just a manifestation of their normal developmental stage. Treat children as your own. Remind them of the danger and injuries they may get if they don?t follow instructions or focus on the correct form. Remember that Macaulay Culkin defeated two grown men just to protect his family?s home through his ideas in the ?Home Alone? movie.
2. Accompany them in training.
A good instructor does not only give instructions. He performs and joins his players in their sporting journey. Kids possess different qualities, but share something in common: short attention spans. Karatedo is a sport that requires strenuous training. You should make your training enjoyable rather than competitive. Try shifting to scientific training to prevent injuries. Avoid engaging kids in the traditional training and full contact system, which is better suited for adults. If they are inspired, they don?t labor at all. We must not push them beyond their capacity.
3. Respect is essential.
By being a keen observer, you can easily identify how most martial artists execute their moves. It?s neither the kick nor the punch which is the most important move in karate, but the bow. The bow signifies respect. It?s a two-way approach to show respect as the student bows in return. Even masters use this to signify respect for each other.
4. Accept mistakes and failures as part of the training.
Nobody is perfect and even masters commit mistakes. Consider them as a challenge to train harder. Give more time for kids to realize their limitations and discover their potentials. During discouraging times, support them as these are very crucial points in their lives. One way to cope with defeat is to share your own lessons based on your training experience.
5. Team up with parents.
In the educational world, everything depends on the partnership between parents and the school personnel. Don?t hesitate to ask full support from parents to achieve optimum performance from your pupils. If a kid joins a tournament, ask the parents to get involved in the training and to be present on competition day.
6. Every day is a blessing.
Make every day a day of new challenges. Make it more meaningful and fruitful than the day before. If you didn?t succeed yesterday, today is an opportunity to make a difference, especially in young minds. Remember, it?s not the money in your pocket nor the medals on your shirt that count. It is the young lives you?ve touched that matter most.
Randy Mengullo is a faculty member and the official karate instructor at the Jack & Jill School-Homesite in Bacolod.