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ATA Chanhassen Family Martial Arts

The power of Discipline

Posted: August 14, 2018

Okay, I admit it. In my younger years as an instructor, I was the happy go lucky type. Not a lot bothered me. If a student didn’t “answer up” loudly or even at all, I’d let it go. If a kid didn’t have his toes fully touching while standing at attention or was even a little wiggly, I didn’t mind. Today, I’m still “fairly” happy go lucky, but I nip the former in the bud a little bit more. Keep reading, you'll find out why.

I think what changed for me was likely equal parts becoming a parent and understanding what some of the adult members and parents of younger students were feeling. What’s more, I was starting to notice the ones that were getting away with a low level of respect and discipline in the past, were now the more senior students that were leading and influencing the culture of our school. We needed some changes.

I still don’t think I’m a disciplinarian like some of the forefathers of Taekwondo were, but I sure don’t have a problem digging in to a kid a little bit more these days (especially if I know the parent is appreciative and supportive). I remember having a profound moment a few years back when we had a younger black belt student who at the time was about 13. He had a good amount of natural talent and wasn’t fully putting in the effort he usually did. That particular day he was trying really hard to be funny, making jokes with others and making excuses about why he wasn’t taking things as seriously.

I could’ve made him do pushups or sat him out of class for a poor attitude, but at his age it didn’t seem like it would make a difference. So, I bent down a little bit and whisper just so only he could hear me and told him, “I think you’re more talented than funny… so quit making excuses and get to work.” I then made eye contact and just let the words sink in.

Based on the look on his face it was easily the first time he had been given some real constructive criticism and he paused for a second, his now red face had told me he realized he was capable of better, so he tightened his belt and got back to work. This time with a better attitude and greater focus.

This has helped our martial arts academy shift away from that of a place where parents bring us their kids expecting us to “FIX THEM” for them, to a place that attracts positive people and fosters personal growth through constructive feedback, the occasional failure or set back, making it into a place of structure and discipline.

To that, a common conversation I’ll have with a parent is along the lines of, “With your support, I’m going to be tougher on your child today because I care more about what they will accomplish off these mats 10 or 15 years for now and less about what color belt they have earned or what place they took in a tournament last weekend.”

Our students, just like people in our everyday lives, enter our academy and train for a reason, a season or a lifetime. It’s up to our team and instructors to motivate, inspire them along their journey and help them become more disciplined each day for as long as we possibly can.

We hope you’ll read this and have you or your family join ours and experience these befits yourself!

- Ken Hoops

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