By: Christopher Davis | Category: Other | Issue: May 2014
Orange belt Carter Stewart, 4-year-old aspiring black belt.
Since opening Martial Arts Academy in 2003, owner and Senior Chief Instructor Chris Velez has earned a reputation for facilitating a program that is fun and effective for all ages.
“Confidence can be difficult to define,” says Velez. “It’s not necessarily an outgoing personality.” Rather, he says, confidence refers to a belief in one’s self and ability. While those who possess confidence have a positive self-image, that image is much deeper than simply appearance. He adds, “Confidence builds when one sees him or her self as naturally successful.”
A large factor relates to how one orients personal perspective. “A lack of self-confidence implies a failure-oriented perspective,” Velez explains. This orientation can be paralyzing, breeding anxiety and fear, which can have real physiological and emotional effects. “If you quit, there’s baggage,” he says.
On the other hand, when one adopts a success-oriented mindset, Velez points out, they assume success. That may not translate to immediate success every time, but in keeping a persistent outlook that expects positive results, success is inevitable.
Martial arts is well-suited for building youth confidence, as opposed to many team sports. This is true partly because team sports often emphasize the top 20 percent of players. Success is defined not merely by a team win, but how many points a player scores. A player who does not consistently score points is often perceived as “not great” or even mediocre. In contrast, martial arts students’ success is defined in relation to mastery of skills, especially discipline, respect, focus and coordination. By its very nature, martial arts study is incremental, which deemphasizes the tendency we have to dwell on “all or nothing” moments.
The path to martial arts success relies on the student’s ability to master skills in a step-by-step process. No one expects a beginner to break boards and leap through the air, and each student is keenly aware of this. Thus, students are more inclined to encourage one another, especially as challenges are encountered. No one’s success depends on another’s failure; that represents a huge shift in mindset from many team sports.
As an instructor, Velez’s role is to set students up for success. The students’ role is to trust the process and the step-by-step challenges that are presented. Velez, who has over two decades of experience, has witnessed the approach work time and again. “Every student hits a point of uncertainty,” he says. “When they work hard and focus, they prove themselves wrong about that uncertainty.” Over time, the student is able to look back and see the steps add up to huge accomplishments, and that builds true confidence.
“Negative opinions about others are everywhere,” notes Velez. “People go out of their way to tell others they cannot do something.” But, when a person feels confident, their success is not defined by the approval of others. “Self confidence is empowerment,” he says. “It is important to define success internally, rather than externally.” Once students catch on to the shift in mindset, it opens the door to incremental accomplishments, which are the building blocks of confidence.
Martial Arts Academy runs instructive programs for all ages at locations in Owasso and Tulsa.
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Christopher Davis is an educator and musician, as well as a writer. A California native, he resides in Tulsa with his wife, two sons and a modest menagerie of pets. When he isn't inspiring young minds, you will most likely find him spending time with his family or playing drums and percussion with Project Huckleberry or the Movetet. In addition to Value News, Davis also writes for Currentland. You can view his work at https://seedavis.wordpress.com.