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20 June 2002 @ 12:16 pm
Just A Day For Rants, Ain't It?  
Yes, it's that time again...time for me to spout off about how I feel about things. At least I warn you, don't I? I'm not such a bad guy.

It's true, I am a fan of martial arts. I proudly earned my black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and took a smattering of Aikido, Tae Chi, and various weapons training in my younger years. It stands to reason that I will support anyone who chooses to try their hand at any martial art.

There are limits, though. For instance, to get the true, full, martial arts experience, you need to be able to think, judge, and feel. Martial arts is NOT about being able to kick someone's ass. That's merely unarmed combat...you can teach ANYONE that. Behind all that, however, you find the philosophy and discipline of Eastern traditions. That, IMHO, is a great thing for ANYONE to learn. And I have no problem with a child learning it...if they can dig that discipline, it will help them in many, many aspects of life.

However, be fair. A young child is not ready to grasp those mental disciplines that are truly required of martial arts. True, I am referring mostly to American children, but really anywhere that the culture doesn't have that kind of mindset already in place fits in here. Once they can act, speak, and think above a normal little kid, then fine. But one thing I always hated seeing when I was in training were these little kids that had been signed up by their parents. To them, martial arts was just another cool thing to use in play, and a lot of them became bullies with it...and that's ignoring the fact that their young bodies were not built to do such things. These kids are not ready for that sort of thing. Beyond that, my experience was that a lot of these kids were signed up by their parents because they were hyper (as kids will be), and it was a convenient way to get them out of the house for an hour a couple times a week, and to make them burn off energy.

WRONG. Wrong, wrong, wrong. A parent like that should be shot. In the street. To the sound of applause.

It's not an age thing, it's a mind thing. UNless you ARE raised in the Eastern traditions, you have no place in the martial arts before your mind can get around the concept of discipline. The first thing I was taught was the 5 tenets of TKD: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control, Indomitable Spirit. These are cornerstones of my life and person now, because I have found them to be true and wise virtues. They are NOT, however, the kind of thing a child can grasp...not yet. Get him started, sure, but do that at home.

Frankly, I don't think anyone under the age of 10 should be training in the martial arts, but that's just me. And you DAMN sure shouldn't be in training if you cannot focus on them, hence, the stand against the 'hyper' children (who usually aren't that bad, it's just that they are kids). It's the "art" in martial arts that a lot of parents forget, or at least do not understand.

Yes, you've heard this phrase before, but FUCK, that pisses me off.

Incidentally, this came up because I learned today that Di's mother-in-law signed Bug up for Kung-Fu lessons. Not Di, not Bug's father, but her mother-in-law. As if this is something that she has any business doing, and top it off with the fact that she didn't even ask Di for her opinion. That ALSO really pisses me off...I'd have gone off on her about it. Someone else signs my son up for something, without my prior knowledge? They best be wearing a flak jacket when I find out.
Current Mood: enragedenraged
Current Music: Drowning Pool - Bodies
Kesper Northkespernorth on June 20th, 2002 12:46 pm (UTC)
It really depends on the child. I started TKD when I was seven, and I picked up on the mental and philosophical aspects of it right away. I have never once used it in a real conflict situation -- I've simply never found a situation I couldn't talk my way out of, or remove myself from. Which is exactly the things we're taught to do FIRST in the martial arts -- violence is what you use when there is literally nothing else left.
God of Thunder and Rock'n'Roll: Frankensteinarchmage on June 20th, 2002 12:49 pm (UTC)
Exactly...you, on the other hand, I can see being a pretty mental child, like myself. Like I said, it's a mind thing.
~LisaHopephoenxbutterfly on June 20th, 2002 01:16 pm (UTC)

A good martial arts school of whatever flavor will tailor their kids classes to bring the tenents of martial arts down to a child's mental level. In my school kids had to do chores, listen to their parents and keep their grades up. We would bump kids back a belt or not allow testing for breaking those rules. The reason was to teach kids real world examples of courtesy, honest, self-contol and the like. We taught the little kids self-defense and basic moves (stances, kicks and punches) to help with self-defense. But the main goal was to teach them to focus so that they could learn the move advanced stuff when they wouldn't abuse it.

Kids who start young and are taught well become leaders because the bullies get busted or bounced. If the instructor is trying to teach them like mini-adults they then they don't know anything about working with kids. Or are just dumb. My favorite students when I taught were my Little Dragons because they tried with all their heart to learn the basics of martial arts, not the physical stuff but the heart and soul of it.

I agree that Di's mother-in-law was out of line and I'd be pissed too. If Di wanted Bug in martial arts classes she could enroll him herself. But the question needs to be asked does Bug want to learn marital arts? With people to teach him the soul of martial arts at home and in class it could be good for him.

Just my 2 cents.
God of Thunder and Rock'n'Rollarchmage on June 20th, 2002 02:05 pm (UTC)
I do agree that a good school will tailor their classes to kids...at the same time, however, belts are a show of rank in the art, and the concept of not allowing testing or the removal of that rank for things outside of their scope is not a good idea to me. That is not for the instructor to do. Sure, it makes sense, but that's not their job...that is the job of a PARENT to teach, hence my annoyance at those that do not take care of their kids.
~LisaHopephoenxbutterfly on June 20th, 2002 02:29 pm (UTC)
It's not just the instructor who make those choices. It's a team effort with the parents. A child who really wants to learn martial arts will not want to jeopardize their belt or the respect they have with the instructor and parents. Learn a martial art, like any art is a learning tool for the child and a good parent can use it for a teaching tool. I do not advocate martial art education a substitute for parenting it can't be. BUT if a parent is involved it is a great way to teach kids not only the art but how to be better people. The first couple belts in most styles are to teach the basics. Children just learn more basics in a different format than adults. In every style I've practiced the first couple of belts taught the adults appropriate behavior in the marital arts setting. Kids learn the same things to move up in rank. Once they have advanced to learning the more physical stuff if they screw up badly then they haven't learned the basics well enough to have earned thier rank. But like I said it's up to the parents to communicate these things to the instructor.

Martial arts is a way of life and thinking not just fighting, we agree. But if a parent thinks that a child is ready for another perspective or that another perspective on things would help and the child wants to learn then it's a good idea, to a point. The youngest kid my instructor would teach was six but only if the kid was exceptional. Usually he wouldn't take a kid under 7, when they are able to accept and understand what he could teach. He also required parental involvement. Without the parents helping to reinforce the instruction at home taking classes is useless.
God of Thunder and Rock'n'Rollarchmage on June 20th, 2002 06:55 pm (UTC)
See, that is my point...the parents. Too many I have seen and experienced have gotten their kids into it solely because they want some time off or their kids think it's 'cool'. I used to teach as well, and more than one parent was pissed at me for being straight with them about their child and their lack of involvement. Luckily, I had a like-minded chief instructor..man, I miss Tor.

I got to get a little more insight into this particular instructor's methods, by the way. Fuck, he's taking them as little as 5! Short version: I already want to go and teach this guy what martial arts is really about.
~LisaHopephoenxbutterfly on June 21st, 2002 08:16 am (UTC)
We agree that parents need to be involved with any martial arts education no matter the age. I'd ask Bug if he wants to learn and find him a REAL instructor or start teaching him stuff at home. (I forgot how old is he?) Some kids can start learn things in little pieces as little as five but not enough to warrant a class. If this guy is taking them that young he is either great with kids (which I doubt) or just wants to make money.
God of Thunder and Rock'n'Rollarchmage on June 21st, 2002 09:18 am (UTC)
Well, down to the specific level here: Bug is 6, and I love the boy to death, but he is not ready for martial arts...he has a long way to go before he can really start learning it. Yeah, some kids can start learning bits young, but I have to be honest about the Bug, and that would be no, he;s not ready. It's not all his fault, it's beena weird situation, but mentally, he's below his age a little bit, mostly due to his situation. We are slowly working on that, and I have confidence in it, but the fact remains that I do not believe he is ready.
Mark of the Harlotbellacrow on June 20th, 2002 02:02 pm (UTC)
a dissenting voice , but not trying to piss you off either.

Di's mother in law is the Bug's grandmother right? So, at this time she possibly has some pretty strong ties to her grandchild, possibly viewing them as stronger than your ties since they are bloodkin.

And while I understand what you're saying about martial arts and the mindset, I think it depends on the child. I plan on enrolling mine as a way to teach them discipline, honor, working with qi, etc. I plan on giving them a sword when they reach puberty and the lessons on how to use it as well.

~ In Peace ~
God of Thunder and Rock'n'Rollarchmage on June 20th, 2002 02:19 pm (UTC)
*G* All things are taken in the spirit of good debate, unless personal attacks, which these aren't. Dissenting views ALWAYS welcome here.

In the first: I make no bones that her ties are closer than mine...nor would I try to usurp those ties. The 'my son' line was more a general thing, not referring to Bug as my own child...badly worded. While I'd LIKE to think of him that way, and I plan to be a father to him (and, I might add, a hella better one than his biological), that line was more a general thing, i.e.: "if someone did this to my child, I'd be pissed".

In the second point: I also agree that it depends on the child, hence the line about it being a mind thing, not an age thing. Mental Maturity is the key here, and in GENERAL, I find that level needed to not be present under 10. There are exceptions of course, and that has a lot to do with how that child has been brought up. As far as weapons go, I am a firm believer in teaching weapon respect and safety, not weapon fear. Kudos to ya.
ratspikeratspike on June 21st, 2002 09:56 am (UTC)
Personally I have mixed feelings on children in the martial arts. I think it can be either a wonderful experience that imparts the child with values and ideals, not to mention building their self confidence and getting them to exercise, or it's just a babysitting service. I suppose I'm just repeating what's already been said, but it really depends on the kid. I've seen my instructor try to work with kids as young as 5 and it just doesn't work. Obviously there are some exceptions to this but in general young kids don't have the attention span or the ability to grasp the concepts they're being taught. Now that I'm being given some of our younger beginning students to work with it's becoming a bigger complaint of mine...trying to teach Chon-Ji to a 6 year old who's doing everything but pay attention is a real test of patience. It's not the kid's fault of course. They're just being a kid! :) There are some schools that have cirriculums geared specifically towards youngsters, though from what I've seen these are more of a playtime with some really basic martial arts bit added in.

You and I are completely in agreement about a child not belonging in martial arts until they're mentally ready to understand the idea of discipline. I wouldn't expect the same level of discipline and self control as from an adult of course but it's still very important. Without it you end up with a room full of obnoxious, screaming boys...something that's not uncommon in some of our kid's classes. I say boys because at our school the girls are well behaved, reasonably focused and hard working. They whip the boys at just about everything. :) We have several kids, and one in particular, whose parents thought that martial arts would teach their little monsters to behave but even after several years it doesn't appear to be working.

I really do enjoy working with the wee ones but I feel quite strongly that parents should give it careful consideration. If the kid isn't ready they shouldn't be there.

God of Thunder and Rock'n'Rollarchmage on June 21st, 2002 10:31 am (UTC)
Exactly, and sentiment shared.

Hey, we have to all get together and do a "horror movies and booze" night sometime in the near future!