Teaching “A Whole Lot More”!

Earlier this week I sent out an e-mail about what martial art we teach and I received nice feedback. One parent responded with some insightful feedback that I loved;

Hi Josh! It’s funny, when people ask me about Ryer and why we love it, I actually don’t say any of these things! I say things like “it’s martial arts for kids as a vehicle for character development and learning about discipline,” and “in addition to martial arts kids learn how to handle bullying, to defend themselves and each other, to gain confidence, and to feel in control of their physical selves.” So, really, you are teaching CTS but you’re also teaching *a whole lot more.* ~ Very Best Regards, Laura

Laura is absolutely right and this was again reinforced this morning when I received more feedback from a parent. This parent had also asked about the descriptions of some of the “black stripe” concepts that I think make up what Laura meant by “a whole lot more.” These concepts are my interpretations of the Verbal Judo for Martial Arts schools that we have integrated into our curriculum. Here’s three of them…

Mushin = “a calm, cool mind and body”

Mushin is a Japanese term that directly translates to “no mind”. However in our academy we refer to it as meaning “a calm, cool mind and body”.

The idea we convey is that your Mushin is always on. You are trying to go through your day being calm all day long.

E-Guard = “emotional guard”

We have a saying the kids remember, “When I don’t get want I want, I stay calm.” The idea is that you are going through your day with your Mushin always on and there will be things that will mess with your calm mind such as not getting what you want, which could result in getting mad or sad. It could also be an activity that gets you super excited and you lose a little control. In those moments when your Mushin is being tested, we want our students to use E-Guard to remain calm and make decisions from a place of calmness… not emotion.

I recently had a mat chat where I compared “E-Guard” to the idea of protecting a castle. All kids love castles! We talked about one group being in the castle protecting it and then there’s another group trying to get in and take it over. The outside group is looking for the weaknesses of the castle “an easy way in”. The inside group is guarding the castle, but they too must know the weaknesses of the caste and look for ways to strengthen these weaknesses. Once the kids were intrigued by this description, I then said, “You are your own castle. We must know our weaknesses and then learn to strengthen them when someone outside of us is trying to attack; whether this is verbally or physically.”

L.E.A.P.S. = “Listening, Empathy, Ask, Paraphrase, Summarize/ Solution”

We want the students to think of LEAPS as a tool in their “mental toolbox” much like a hammer in a real toolbox. When you need to place a nail in a piece of wood, you go to your toolbox and get the hammer. When you have a misunderstanding or argument with someone like your parents, a sibling, friend, etc; then we go to our mental toolbox and use LEAPS. First we need to listen to the other person. We try to understand what they are feeling. If we can’t figure out what the problem is then we ask nicely. As the kids get older in the academy, we teach them to paraphrase and put the problem into their own words. You then reflect it back to the person in order to get them to confirm our understanding of the problem and from that we can hopefully solve the problem.

Another idea from LEAPS is to teach the kids the idea of “Active Listening” using both our ears and our eyes to listen when someone is speaking to us or when they speak to others. This will improve listening skills as well as show respect.

Teaching “A Whole Lot More”!