It's a bit misleading when you see a class of young students fall in line and bow to each other at a dojang. The instructor calls out some command, and the class moves to obey. Parents like that. Oh, it shows my child can finally follow orders. It shows my child has some discipline!
I've had some children start training with us recently. In the last month, I've:
- Exercised them as hard as the other adults in the class.
- Smashed my forearm into theirs, inflicting some pain onto targeted areas, and have allowed them to return the same to me.
- Gotten into their personal zone by pushing them up against the wall so that they know how to escape from this position and perform counters that would debilitate me.
- Grabbed them while they're on the ground, and while they're performing their escape, applied some level of discomfort into their ribs as a stress test before they retaliate.
- Increased their spatial awareness and am developing their high level coverage by taken two strike mitts and whacking them on the side of their heads, while they protect themselves by raising their elbows.
They have to apply self control in order to perform many of the moves I've described. They need to concentrate and have the presence of mind so that they don't get hurt; this class is unforgiving - lose focus, and you will instantly regret. These are immediate areas of practice which develop the inner sense if discipleship - the true meaning of discipline.
Discpline to me is not just lining up and listening to someone bark commands. That's just the culture of the training hall you join. Discipline is the ability for you to centre your mind, and to apply yourself.
I also am teaching them elements of The Tenets of Taekwondo. I teach them how to enter the dojang by bowing, how to engage safely and respectfully with other training partners, and how to greet visiting instructors formally. I also say what I want to do, and do what I say I wanted to do - to show them that there is integrity in our action. And just by the fact that we're challenging them bit by bit, and them returning, shows a level of perseverance that is not only commendable but is a notch for their own self worth. Self-control we talked about - which is demonstrated by every one of us at every turn. And then there's indomitable spirit. While this is a little more difficult to learn, they stand in the presence of individuals with indomitable spirit - and they will eventually learn by emulation.
I am happy to chat with you about the benefits of martial arts training for children or teenagers. Please let me know if you have any questions. Or come to our dojang if you live in Perth.
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