Parents – Help or Hindrance
by: Master Blevins
As a martial arts instructor that has worked with literally thousands of children, I would imagine that my experiences parallel those of little league coaches and elementary teachers in some respects. I am sure that my compatriots would agree that on one end of the spectrum there are parents that are a nightmare to work with and on the other end there are others who absolutely are incredible assets to the training process for their children. Let’s classify them.
The Equipment Manager (EM):
This parent is always supportive. The uniform gets washed and is always ready. The belt is always with the uniform. The EM has adjusted the calendar to make room for class times and all special events and activities. The EM has snacks and a drink for the ride after and is always ready with pleasant positive questions or comments for the budding martial artist. Also, the EM is always present at any exams, events or activities to provide support and encouragement – especially after a disappointing performance. These parents are the dream!
The Mean Coach (MC):
The MC is on the other end of the scale and is the type of parent who always pushes their kids. The MC will question class content or teaching methods even though they don’t really know anything about the subject. They correct their mistakes. They criticize their performance. They make kids practice at home. Nothing the child does is ever good enough to warrant a compliment. The MC might also be late with tuition (for lots of good reasons) is also always re-negotiating for a better (lower) tuition price or other freebies. The MC is also persistent that their kid is amazing (in contrast with the instructor’s opinion) and ready to move up in rank (prematurely always). Gasp!
Now, the reality is that pretty much every parent I have ever met really loves their kids and hopes for the best for their little bundles of joy. And, pretty much every parent falls somewhere in the middle of the two extremes I detailed above. Important to note, it is the parents who are the support mechanism for our school. They often come early and volunteer to help set up and stay late to clean up. They get their kids here and pay their bills. Interestingly, while I need to keep class interesting to keep the student’s attention, I also need to be organized and effective with my curriculum to keep the parents’ attention. These parents are the real customer that I have to satisfy. Strikingly, these parents will be the most important reason and driving force if that child is to ever earn their Black Belt.
I will end with a shortened version of a famous old story. In Japan long-ago there was a famous swordsman named Miyamoto Musashi. This famous Samurai NEVER lost a match or battle. He was so famous, in fact, that warriors from all across Japan came to test themselves against Musashi. This was all to no avail because Musashi was unbeatable. Along came Gonnosuke, a young martial artist who trained with and specialized with the 6-foot hardwood staff. Now, at this meeting, Musashi beat him easily causing Gonnosuke much disappointment. But, this disappointment lead Gonnosuke to a re-examination of his motivation and renewal of his training vows. Now, and here’s the important part, Gonnosuke’s mother started taking an active interest in her son’s training. She helped him discipline himself and develop his technique to the point where it became obvious that it was time for another match against Musashi. This bout had a much different outcome. Depending on which version of history you read, Gonnosuke either fought Musashi to a draw or ended up with the advantage. In either case, Musashi could no longer say that he had beaten all of his opponents. Gonnosuke had his mother to thank! And, obviously, the moral of this story for all martial artists (and their instructors) is that without the parents none of this martial arts training would be possible.
Thank you Parents!