Very recently I was listening to Dr Michael Carr-Gregg speaking about the fact that, through his work with families over the last three decades, he is seeing an unmistakable increase in disrespectful and contemptuous behaviour in some boys, amongst the worst manifestations of which are the “prince boofheads” who turn their aggression towards women in general, and their mums in particular. He did stress however—and I need to make this very clear—that this was not all boys, but a small proportion.
I found this incredibly interesting since, being involved in teaching martial arts for over a decade now, I have most certainly seen my fair share of these young men.
Martial arts training may not be the complete answer to correcting this behaviour of course, since there may be other issues involved, but I have observed the positive change it makes, often in relatively short periods of time. Participating can and certainly does encourage better social behaviour.
How does Fushicho Martial Arts manage this?
Since our goal is for students to have as much fun as possible in order that they receive the best quality learning, it’s necessary to have very firm and clear boundaries on behaviour to ensure students learn very quickly both what is inappropriate, in any form, and the consequences of it. The outcome is happier students who are very soon enjoying a very positive experience with us and their peers, and vice versa. It is not uncommon for a parent to tell us that they have noticed a positive difference when a child has been training with us, even for only a short time such as one school term.
In conjunction to the boundaries we have in place for conduct in class, the behaviours are built into our syllabus. While the main reason students usually join us is to learn how to ‘look after’ themselves in certain situations, this has the two-fold effect of the individual gaining an understanding of what is ‘good’ behaviour, and the ability to make better choices in the first instance. These are ‘simple’ things such as good manners, which most definitely includes how students behave with their parents and/or carers, as well as other students and the instructors.
The last thing we want to do is produce a highly-competent martial artist who has no self-discipline, so we have high expectations of our students both in respect of physical skills and conduct, with progression to the next level requiring both. As an example, a student who may have to work harder at the physical competencies but always turns up with a great attitude and is a pleasure for his classmates to train with, may move through the levels more quickly than another who might find the physical competencies come very easily, but who is disrespectful and arrogant. After a while, false humility gets pretty easy to spot :).
There is also the added advantage of training with very competent, confident young women who are more than capable of holding their own. Young men who might come in to our classes as the “prince boofhead” type described above very soon learn first-hand that it is not acceptable to behave toward women and girls in any other way than completely respectfully.
It helps too that our students also learn how to accept ‘no’, for example when they’re not ready to move to their next level; of course, we explain very precisely why, whether it’s a perfectly normal situation of physical skills that simply require more training, or if it is a need for an ‘attitude check’. It should go without saying that this applies to all students, whatever age or sex.
Our instructors have long experience with teaching children and young adults, and with those boundaries in place, our students soon become the happy, positive and confident young men (and women!) we all wish them to be. We get to keep loving what we do, and everyone has a fantastic experience all round.