By: Lorrie Ward | Category: Health & Fitness | Issue: May 2012
Students learn valuable life lessons including goal setting through martial arts training.
It has often been said that success breeds success. But this statement is missing something: what bred that success in the first place?
Chris Velez, owner of Martial Arts Academy in Owasso, believes that by teaching a child that perseverance and commitment can lead to success, you teach him or her not only what it takes to be successful, but how it feels along the journey – and that journey starts with a goal or desired destination. “The importance of a young person setting a large, specific goal like the ones found in martial arts is seeing that goal through,” says Velez. “Rarely has a young person had the opportunity to set such an ambitious goal and then endure all the pain, time and effort it takes to bring it to fruition; so, in many cases, there isn’t a proper calibration of time and effort that leads to the reaping of a result.”
Velez describes this process as a “team effort,” one that takes a particular type of cooperation from the student, their parents, and the martial arts instructors. The students set their minds to the goal and do the work to reach it. The martial arts trainers make it a priority to teach the students what they need to help them achieve their objectives. The parents help the students set these goals and then provide guidance and encouragement. “If students, parents, and kids are on the same page,” says Velez, “we can recoup the benefits of this formula with major long term and lasting results.”
According to Velez, it is important for parents to realize that most students do not yet have the ability or life experience to follow through completely on a major goal, such as obtaining a black belt. “They still have to learn not to get discouraged at the time and effort it takes,” he says. “The process changes their mindset to a new way of thinking that permeates everything in their life.” This is where parental guidance becomes so important.
“Adults and parents already have a degree of understanding to what it feels like to pursue a major goal, so in nearly all cases, the parent is setting the goal for the child more they are for themselves,” he continues. “As a student goes through this experience, they begin their day to day grind to feel what six months or a year of work feels like, and they begin to calibrate their expectation of work and the amount of time it takes to reap the benefits.”
Velez points out that this whole new mindset will be helpful later in life, as the students will translate this understanding to the work environment. For instance, they will understand what it means to wait through an initial six-month probation to receive benefits on a new job. Velez relates that adults who have never learned the difference between the “feeling” of a waiting period of time as opposed to the “reality” often have to learn the hard way. “They often quit and move on a few times before they learn that’s just how it is,” he says.
Velez believes that through martial arts training, with trainers, parents and students working as a team, the student is set up for success, since it is not left up to chance whether they will make it to the end and martial arts keeps its complete focus on the finish – black belt status. “It seems to me that if a child were to set a goal and not make it in formative years, it is more damaging than never setting a goal at all,” says Velez. “Through this process, they have developed a definiteness of purpose.”