Innovative Martial Arts
15-1599 Dugald Rd
Winnipeg, MB
204-505-2787
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Our Phiolsophy

Martial Arts School Culture pt 1 - Titles

Martial arts schools all tend to have their own unique culture, just like most places do.  In the martial arts world sometimes things can get a little... "overboard" at times.

We've tried to keep our school culture healthy and in the next few articles I want to look at a few pieces of culture and why we choose to do things the way we do.

I guess the first thing to acknowledge is there is no single right way on any of these things.  Just preferences and how they fit into the larger picture of the culture of a school.

The other thing to keep in mind is that martial arts has had a impact on the entertainment industry, but that influence goes both ways.  Some of which are good... others not so much.

So, first topic:  Titles

And boy does the martial arts world love titles.  For a community that stresses the importance of humility some of it seems a little out of place.

In the west we generally had "coach", "instructor", etc.  In Japan it would be "sensei", which isn't a title as much as a honorific, more like Mr, Ms, Mrs, etc but used towards someone in a higher position.  Teachers, doctors, lawyers and other positions of authority.  Roughly translated as "born before", or more along the lines of a way to refer to someone who has experience and is passing that along.

Anyways, other languages have similar words (shifu, euro,  sah buh nim, etc)

But at some point in the 50's / 60's we started getting some serious title inflation...

I am not "Master Andrew", never will be.  language plays a part in how we view things, and I am not anyones master.  Just a coach, that's what I do.  I try to make people better at martial arts.

To put it in context suppose you or your child joined a soccer team and the coach introduced himself as "Grandmaster Joe" and wanted the players to call him that... it would seem a little odd.

Some schools try to keep a "mystic" element to what they do, putting high ranking people as capable of inhuman feats like they are in the movies.  But, we are all just humans, even the most experienced martial artist is still human.  They can't really run up walls, or blast you with chi from across the room.

Even if someone can be said to have reached a mastery level of skill, calling them "Master Bob" in the martial arts seems as strange as calling a master carpenter "Master Stan".

The other thing that we have is language related, but also adds some confusion.  For example the term "Professor" gets used in some styles.  In the native language "professor" means teacher, and is used at all levels.  However in English it has a very specific meaning.

Language and context matter, and in English in Canada we have perfectly suitable words.  I suspect people would give me a puzzled look if I used the term "Doctor" a title for teaching martial arts, however in Rome "Doctore" was the term used for the person training gladiators.

It's sometimes marketing, sometimes ego and sometimes a sort of cultural appropriation.

What makes it more interesting is that when Kung fu went to Japan and karate was formed, it took on Japanese terms.  When Korea was occupied and Karate went into Korea, it took on Korean terms.  When Judo went to Brazil it took on a lot of Portuguese terms.

Yet for some reason in English speaking places we feel using foreign words gives credibility.

Funny little piece of trivia.  In Japanese a front was "Mae Geri", a side kick being "Yoko geri", etc.  The word for kick being "geri", except context matters and on it's own it does not mean kick, but poop.  Without something in front the word should be "keri", not "geri".  So we spent a lot of time practicing our poops until someone informed us of what was getting said :D

For our school we choose to go with first names, or if the child prefers "coach" is also good. Misusing another languages terms is something I've seen enough of in the martial arts, and I think it's a little disrespectful to people that actually speak those languages to be butchering them constantly.

Kids

Birthdays, Birthdays and more Birthdays…

That’s been the theme of things lately… something happened and our birthday parties have gone nuts.  We started doing these a couple years back for students and didn’t really make a big deal of it.

Martial art celebration

Then suddenly we started getting non-students wanting to do parties here, usually because they had attended one for someone else.

Now a weekend without a party is a rarity, and often there are 2-3 in a weekend…

We’ve learnt a lot about what makes a great party, and we’ve delivered a lot of great parties, so here’s some things that make a party work.

Ice breakers.  These are important, not everyone is going to know each other.  Some kids are going to be shy and have trouble engaging with the group at first.  Our parties are very physical and we start each one with a big balloon battle as the kids are coming in.  By the time we get started everyone should hopefully be having fun and moving around.

Structure and organization are key, but it shouldn’t feel that way to the participants.  Down time is the enemy of anyone in charge of a group of excited kids.  If they have nothing to do, they find something to do and then getting the group back as a group becomes a task.  One thing should go to the next quickly and smoothly with pacing to match.  They can’t all be going 100% for a hour straight, they’ll burn out. And if anything goes on too long they will lose interest.  From the time they walk in the door to the time they get picked up, there should be something going on.  Little things matter too, for example when we do a piniata it happens before present opening, not after.  Why?  Because while the birthday kid is opening presents they have their loot to keep them occupied.

Something for everyone.  There are some kids that have a hard time with a big group, anxiety or shyness makes engaging with the group hard.  They might need to observe some parts, but some parts should be set up to get them involved.  Our big group games can be intimidating for a few, but often a one-on-one foam sword battle will get them in the ring.

Cool stuff matters.  Part of a great party is making it a special occasion for the birthday child.  Letting them do a little extra, having them battle all of their friends.  Having them cut their cake with a full sized sword.  Having them smash a piniata with a wooden sword (which they get to take home as a souvenir).  Having them demonstrate all the drills and games.  It’s their birthday, and their day to feel special and get the photo ops in.

If you want more information on our birthday parties visit this page: http://www.innovativema.ca/school-info/birthday-parties/

Kids

The Most Important Experience…

One thing I’ve noticed lately is a some parents want to give their kid a wide range of experiences.  Trying a little of everything to see what they like.  This is awesome, kids should experience as much as they can without getting overloaded.

But one thing to be careful of is skipping a very important experience, and that is seeing things through.  Learning what it takes to not just taste a skill, but to get good at it.

Whether it is music, dance, martial arts or pretty much anything.  Most people are, at some point, going to think about and possibly want to quit.

You start something, you get real excited about doing something new and it’s great… but pretty much everyone in anything is going to have a point where they want to stop.

It makes sense, we go through stages in learning.  And different people have a hard time with different stages.

For a lot of people, getting started in the first place is the hardest thing.  That first trip through the door.  If all you do is sample different activities you might get good at starting things, and that is a good skill to have.  But learning to coup with the other stages is just as important.

Once you get started you quickly realize how much you don’t know and how hard it all is at first.  (Conscious incompetence in the 4 stages of learning).  This is the second hurdle to get over.  Showing up and learning a skill, even when it is not going well.  We start playing a instrument with a vision of playing well, or start martial arts with a vision of being able to pull things off.  But it’s hard, it takes time, and in the beginning… everyone doesn’t know what they are doing.

If you can get past the second stage you get to where you know what you are doing, but it doesn’t yet come naturally.  You have to think about it and be deliberate.  (conscious competence) .  At this stage there is a lot of repetition, It’s not as much learning new things as it is making things you know instinct and second nature.   The repetition and frustration with making mistakes when your brain tells you that you know better can get the better of you here.

And finally, you get to where things flow.  Where you can pick up a instrument and freestyle, where you can wrestle and move well instinctively.  Where the real joy of the skill kicks in and creativity and the “art” side of it comes out.  At this stage, for those that make it.  Quitting is a lot less common, it becomes a part of you.

That is a experience worth having, taking a skill to the point of unconscious competence.  No one regrets getting to this stage, but a lot of people wish they had.  The number of people that will say they wished they had kept at playing guitar, or kept at martial arts, or stuck with painting is a very high number.  But finding someone that says “I wish I’d been able to quit years ago when I wanted to” is a lot harder.

A short introduction to something is a good experience, taking a skill to the point of unconscious competence, where it becomes instinct and creativity… that is a truly amazing experience and one worth more then any number of introduction to _____’s.  Give your kids the experience of “Mastery”, and the process of reaching it.  It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

4stages_learning

Kids

Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn’t listening

It’s really basic stuff, but easy to forget. Teens need a place to belong, and something to belong too. And there is a period in there where it’s sometimes hard to fine. If they don’t find it in a productive and healthy place, it’s easy to find in a unhealthy place.

Kids hit a age where they feel they should be more independent then they are able too, where there is a gap in between being a “kid” and being able to work and gain independence. I think the best thing that can be done at this age is to keep them involved in something outside of school and to help them find a way to feel they bring value to something.

https://mosaicscience.com/story/iceland-prevent-teen-substance-abuse

Goal Setting

New Years Resolutions

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It’s time to start thinking about them again, and what you want to do in the next year. I know there are a fair number of people that don’t believe in setting them, or believe they fail so why bother?

So here’s a couple things to consider:

Every business that does well sets annual goals. Why? Because goals work, but you have to do them right. If a business said “double sales this year” and that was it, they probably wouldn’t do well.

Goals need to be broken down, and a plan for reaching them set out. Their will be annual goals, quarterly goals, monthly goals and often weekly goals. As well as a plan that to get their, and regular check ins to change course if needed.

Personal goals are no different, if you want to lose 25lbs this year and that’s all you set as your goal… well come December 2017 you may realize you need to lose 30 more to reach your goal…

Instead break it down, that’s 2 lbs a month (far more manageable) or 1 lbs every 2 weeks (even more manageable). And mark that in your calendar. Start with your current weight, and then every 2 weeks for the next 3 months fill in your goal.

If you miss a 2-week mark, concentrate efforts and hit the next marker. If it is measured and monitored it will get done.

Next you need a plan, it’s great to want to reach a goal, but without a plan it’s not going to happen. Think of a plan like a map. Look at where you are, then where you want to go and then you can map out a path on how to get there. Every now and then pull out the map, make sure you are still on course, if not figure out where you are and plot a new course.

So set the goals, break them down, write out the plan and then track them. When they don’t work it’s most often because we didn’t do those things.