Since 1993, I have professionally taught martial arts to all ages (including youth and adults). Now I would be foolish to think that my school was the entire reason why many of the young people who went to my school wound up attending prestigious schools like Rutgers, M.I.T., and NYU.
However, in the feedback that I have received from students, what I can say is that my school provided a very supportive and nurturing relationship with learning that created a habit of demanding excellence from themselves.
So what is it that makes a martial arts school special compared to other afterschool activities?
- At our school, character trumps everything else. We produce champions off the mat and on the mat. There is a culture of “failing forward” in the martial arts school. We learn, we practice, we fail, we keep trying and eventually we get better. Martial artists have a very healthy relationship with the word “failure”. We realize that “failure” is temporary and quitting is permanent. We constantly teach our students that winning and losing are events and not who a person is.
- We create a belief in our students that by giving the right amount and type of practice, we can learn practically anything. In martial arts, we talk about an idea called “deliberate” practice. This is where we make a conscious effort to deconstruct and reconstruct movements and positions. Sometimes this can be a painstaking process. However, when a student has the “power of practice” belief installed, it helps them to learn anything else as well. Martial arts, math or biology!
- We have a great culture of support and respect on our mat. Sometimes respect is not often on the tip of many competitors tongues. For some, competition is about winning at all costs, bad mouthing the other team etc. In our school we teach respect, even for our most challenging opponent. Their skills and techniques makes us better.
Many parents who have sons and daughters in our program often say that they never would have considered martial arts for their son or daughter. However, once they have them in our program, they are overjoyed with the lessons they learn on and off the mat, many of these lessons transferring directly into their academic life.