By: Lorrie Ward Jackson | Category: Other | Issue: October 2010
Chris Velez, owner of Owasso Martial Arts Academy, explains that children can learn how to deal with a variety of challenges through the martial arts.
Often when parents think of entering their children in martial arts, they consider aspects like physical fitness or self-defense when making their decision. According to Chris Velez, owner of Owasso Martial Arts Academy, there are deeper disciplines to be gained when a child practices martial arts.
“Every student who attends Owasso Martial Arts Academy has different life challenges,” says Chris. “The more they are here, the more their true behavior patterns come out and we can begin to address those challenges.”
Chris goes on to describe life challenges as problems that each person must address in their character that would keep them from success later in life, such as frequently starting something and then quitting, anger management, passivity, poor communication, lack of leadership, and giving in to peer pressure. Chris believes martial arts can deal with these issues in what he calls “an inconsequential environment,” instead of in real-life situations, which can have real life consequences. For instance, a child might be passive in real life and afraid to speak out. During martial arts training, he or she is given a forum and is encouraged to speak out and speak loudly.
Another example comes in the area of starting and quitting. Chris observes that in most endeavors, people approach a time when they want to quit before reaching their goals. He also points out that parents often voice concern about signing their child up for martial arts if that child has a tendency to quit when they get bored. “That is the exact reason why the parent should encourage their child to set a big goal of obtaining a black belt,” Chris explains. “With the support of their families, the child will endure the pain, time and effort it takes to bring that goal to fruition.” During martial arts training, the student is taught to ignore negative feelings now and focus on their goals.
One excellent example of effective goal setting at Owasso Martial Arts Academy comes when a student is involved in board breaking. Because this is an individual endeavor, the student is put on the spot. Chris points out that this provides an excellent opportunity for the student to block out distractions and focus on the task at hand. The nervousness the student experiences before board breaking is much like the symptoms that befall one in a high pressure job situation, a performance, or a physical threat: rapid heart rate and trouble speaking. “These are uncomfortable situations and can be very shocking,” says Chris. “If one were not prepared, they might be tempted to make a bad decision just to tap out, or make the pain stop.” According to Chris, by repeating this process every couple of months as the student advances in board breaking, it becomes easier and easier to endure the symptoms and harness the motivation to complete the task.
“There is a saying, ‘He who is faithful in little will be faithful in much,’” says Chris. “If a student is taught not to quit now, they will be reluctant to quit things later, like school and marriage. We are dealing with the student’s propensities now rather than later, when it truly matters.”